Indian Muslims need reservation, inclusive government policies and affirmative action to join the mainstream of national life, civil society members and academics said at a seminar here Thursday.
The seminar -- 'Round table on Muslims, inequity and the post-Millenium Development Goals framework' -- was organised by Oxfam India at the Constitution Club in the capital to emphasise the status of Indian Muslims in the context of the UN Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).
The speakers deliberated on the MDGs and the status of the country's Muslims against the backdrop of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission reports, besides discussing inclusive development agenda for the minority community beyond 2015.
"Development among Muslims can only take place if they are politically empowered. And that can come about only if they are given reservation," said Anis Ansari, vice-chancellor of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti University in Uttar Pradesh.
"Article 341 of the Indian Constitution needs to be changed so that Dalit Muslims can avail of the same benefits as their Hindu counterparts," he added.
Mumbai-based civil society activist Asghar Ali Engineer said the government as well as Muslims need to "address issues like security, poverty and gender discrimination among Muslims". "We also need to implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission report," he said.
The National Commission for Religious and Linguistic Minorities, headed by former chief justice Ranganath Misra, in its 2007 report suggested that instead of the 27 percent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs), 15 percent should be set aside for Muslims and Christians, leaving 12 percent for the OBCs.
Under the present arrangement, minorities (Muslims and Christians) get 8.4 percent reservation, while 18.6 per cent goes to the OBCs.
"We should start addressing the problems of Mulims from an Indian perspective," said columnist and writer Nilofer Suhrawardi.
"If we wish to have an inclusive society, we should have inclusive thinking. Only then can we think of inclusive development," said Navaid Hamid, founder secretary of the South Asia Minorities Forum.
Mumbai-based veteran activist Ram Puniyani felt that inclusive development could not take place in isolation. "Till insecurity among Muslims prevails, inclusive development cannot take place," he said.