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About CPS

About CPS

The Muslims are the largest minority in India. However in spite of the Constitutional safeguards they have been excluded from the socio-economic and political processes leading to life in extreme poverty and deprivation.

The Sachar Committee report acknowledged that Muslims in India had become “backward.” They are deprived of education, jobs, health facilities and political participation. This situation is coupled with a sense of fear and insecurity emanating from communal violence. Fearing for their security, the report says, Muslims are increasingly resorting to living in ghettos around the country. Branding of Muslims as anti-national “has a depressing effect on their psyche,” the report says further, noting Muslims live in “a sense of despair and suspicion.” The report found that 52% of Muslim men were unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men.

Among Muslim women, 91% were unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 couldn’t read or write. While making up 13.4% of the population, Muslims accounted for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they held less than 5% of government jobs. The Sachar committee recommended creating a commission to remedy the systemic discrimination and promote affirmative-action programs. The Prime Minister announce the New 15 Point Program in 90 minorities concentrated districts of the country for improved access of entitlements by the minorities. So far, very little has been achieved in terms of implementation of this program.

The social and political rise of the forces of communalism and religious hatred culminating into flash-points such as demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992, regular occurrence of communal riots at different places in the country and finally the Gujarat genocide  in 2002 coupled with the stereotyping of Muslims as the other and as jehadis  have resulted into the community being under siege. The muslims and now increasingly Christians face brutal attacks from communal forces leading to loss of lives and property with very little protection from the state.

Within the muslim community equality for women and a democratic leadership are yet to be achieved. The community suffers from lack of political representation. Increasingly, the major towns and cities of India are marked by ghettos dominated by muslim homes with shrinking of spaces of co-habitation and co-existence. The polarization is very visible in the pattern of living across cities specially in western and northern parts of the country. The Prevention of Communal and Targetted Violence [Access to justice & reparations] Bill 2011 is pending before the Parliament.

 ActionAid’s work so far

ActionAid has played a key role in bringing the issues of the excluded communities to the forefront of the development discourse ever since inception. Work with minorities and particularly muslims was taken up on a serious basis in the last decade. We worked very closely with the Sachar Committee appointed by the Prime Minister of India to study the socio-economic condition of the muslim community and suggest ways to alleviate the situation. We conducted a national study on the socio-economic conditions of muslims and submitted the findings to the committee and the larger civil society. This was the first step in our long-term commitment to work with the community. It turned out to be an extremely learning process for us which helped us chalk out a broad direction for our future course of action. It also gave us invaluable civil society contact and opportunity to work together with different peoples’ groups.

ActionAid was at the forefront of resisting communal violence and upholding peace, justice and secularism in Gujarat and later on in various states such as Rajasthan, M.P, Orissa etc. ActionAid has a major strength in the form of peace cadres who resist communalism and work for peace and harmony at the grassroots. We are part of the peace community nationally and regionally in South Asia.

ActionAid has a close association with the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan [Indian Muslim Womens’ Movement]. It is a mass organization of muslim women, led by muslim women which fights for the citizenship rights of the whole community and particularly muslim women.

It works for the rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India. In its fifth year, the Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan’s membership has crossed 24,000 members across 15 states. BMMA strives to build an alternative progressive voice of the muslim community. Mindful of the patriarchy that has prevailed in the community and the denial of womens’ rights consequently, the BMMA strives to build muslim womens’ leadership across the country. In different states it works on the issues of education, jobs, security, law and health. 

Why the Centre for Peace Studies

We need a civil society collective to work for the rights of minorities, particularly muslims, and to uphold communal harmony and secularism. There are a handful of groups and individual activists who are active on these issues but there is need for a national collective whose core agenda and action would be decided by these concerns. The Centre can be a joint platform where all the key players working on these issues converge around a collective agenda. This would not only make the struggle more powerful it would also lessen the risk factor involved in such an endeavor.

Objectives

  • To uphold the citizenship rights of the excluded communities specially minorities
  • To oppose communalism and uphold communal harmony and peace in society
  • To build solidarity amongst civil society groups towards upholding secularism

Activities

The Centre has undertaken the following activities in the first year. Some of these have continued beyond the first year:

  1. A national study to assess the implementation of the PM’s New 15-point Program
  2. Regular updates, policy briefs on issues in secularism, minority rights, rights of muslim women etc
  3. Peace fellows working pro-actively towards these objectives
  4. Continuous campaign and advocacy on the core issues through articles, reports, partnerships in public actions
  5. Fact-finding into the Muzaffarnagar riots

Expected Outcomes

Following could be some of the likely outcomes in the coming years:

  • Increased access to entitlements by the minorities particularly muslims and muslim women
  • A pro-people civil society voice is heard around issues of communalism and secularism
  • Coverage to core issues in the national and local media with a secular perspective
  • A deeper and more sympathetic understanding of the condition of minorities in civil society

Program Management 

The Centre’s secretariat is located in Ahmedabad but the coverage of issues and partnerships  would be national. The Centre is headed by a convenor and has a small number of full-timer staff. The convenor continuously seeks mandate from the Advisory Council comprising key civil society players from across the country. The Centre has fellows, both women and men, spread across grassroots throughout the country. Some eminent activists can also be fellows. The Centre works in close partnership with civil society groups, activists, fellows, AA partners spread across the country, AA regional offices, decision makers in the public institutions, media, academia etc. Sauhard Manch is the community platform where community based campaigns are undertaken.