NEW DELHI: The UPA thinks ‘garibi hatao’ doesn’t get votes anymore. Keeping the 2014 elections in mind, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the government’s minority face, Law Minister Salman Khurshid, recently in a spot over his statements on an employment sub-quota for Muslims, are giving the finishing touches to a massive government programme that will formulate policies on the basis of caste and religion. Call it the ‘mother of Sachar Commission’—a committee appointed in 2005 by the prime minister to mine data on the socio-economic and educational conditions of Indians—the UPA has gone a step ahead by clearing the decks for a National Data Base (NDB).
The NDB will be a central body storing and disseminating all data of all of India’s socio-religious categories. The agency will thus be to all socio-religious groups what the Sachar Commission has been to Muslims.
The decision to form the NDB—which may easily be called termed as UPA II’s ultimate political carrot dangled before the minorities—was taken at the highest level, including the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi, Khurshid and Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI) Srikant Kumar Jena. Once implemented, the NDB would make decisive changes in the way government schemes are conceived and implemented as religious identities would be a decisive part in the planning process along with other socio-economic indicators.
Just like the Sachar Commission report has become an inevitable part of every development discourse involving the minorities, the NDB would become the basis for all future development process for all communities in the country. The government would be able to conceive tailor-made schemes and programmes for any community on the basis of its development indicators as has happened with Muslims after the Sachar Committee report. The UPA had announced the prime minister’s 15-Point Programme after the commission pointed out the relative ‘backwardness’’ of Muslims.
The NDB, the ‘largest repository of all data banks,’ will have the minutest details of all Socio Religious Categories (SRCs), including their social, economic and educational status, details of employment, credit flow and participation in welfare schemes. The NDB’s primary aim would be “to address specifically the data requirements for creating policies and programmes relating to the development of religious minorities like Christians and Muslims,” says a draft note.