Saturday, December 12, 2009

Waqf Board Hassles

It may come as heartening news to many that the famous Mehdi Baug, a century-old complex of mosques, residential buildings and shops in Nagpur (Maharashtra) has been taken over by the Maharashtra State Waqf Board. The Waqf Board is in charge of administering to the charity trusts in the country.

According to an interesting report by Manoj Nair, published on September 15, 2009 in the Mumbai Mirror, “their jurisdiction over the much-contested property is significant because 60 per cent of the 30,000 Muslim trusts in the state are waging a failing battle to keep away encroachers.”

The report goes on to point out that many of these institutions were earlier administered as public trusts by the charity commissioner, “but they either sold properties or allowed trespassers to have a free run of it “

These properties include mosques, dargahs, schools, orphanages and agricultural land. These were given away as endowments for the pleasure of Allah from philanthropic groups and individuals to the poorer members of the community.

According to rough estimate, in Mumbai alone, out of nearly 1,200 such trusts, half of them are involved in litigation to remove encroachers.

Mehdi Baug, built around 1890, is one of the largest properties to be owned by a Muslim trust in the state. Estimates vary about the value of the buildings and agricultural land owned by the trust, but some say it may be to the tune of Rs 1000 crore. Descendants of the philanthropist who bequeathed the properties for religious purposes had challenged its takeover in the High Court and later, in the Supreme Court.

Besides the sprawling Nagpur estate, the trust also controls properties in Ujjain and Jabalpur. “There was no committee for managing the it and various groups fought among themselves to control it. Many buildings had already been sold,” said chief executive officer of the Maharashtra State Waqf Board,S.S. Qadri.

Though in the past, Waqf officials themselves have been accused of allowing the illegal sale of properties, the current board members say that the trusts are in safe hands now.

“Registering the properties under the Waqf Act is the best guarantee to ensure that they are available for the use of the community. Earlier, trustees misused loopholes in public trust laws to get the charity commissioner’s permission to sell properties,” Qadri said.

Advocate Mubin Solkar who has dealt with Waqf matters said that there was a lot of resistance from some trusts to to register under the new provisions.” Their contention is that they are public trusts and not Waqf institutions. They want to continue their association with the charity commissioner. But there are benefits of registering the trusts under the new provisions,” said Solkar.

“The properties remain for the perpetual use of the community as the act of donation is irrevocable. Except acquisition by the government for a specific purpose, the properties cannot be sold.” Qadri said.

Seeing he move to streamline the Waqf properties by the government and the attempt to register them under the Waqf Act, some Christians in Karnataka are trying to organize themselves to see that Christian trusts also are registered in a similar way to stop the illegal sale of Church properties in the state.

Under the provisions of the Waqf Act 1995, the jurisdiction of the trusts are demed to have been automatically transferred to the board, a provision challenged by some trusts. A majority of such institutions number about 12,000 are in Marathwada. So far only 50 per cent of the trusts in the state have got themselves registered under the Waqf Board.

In Mumbai itself, the board is in the process of taking control of 25 acres of largely agricultural land—a third of it encroached—in Chinchoti near Vasai. The land belongs to a dargah in Chinchoti Phata near Vasai.

The state board believes that with new powers granted to them through amendments to the Maharashtra Public Premises (Eviction) Act, they are now in a position to take control of these properties and remove encroachments. ”Earlier, when we asked the district collector for help in removing encroachments, the entire administrative process took a long time. There was no effective deterrent against illegal occupiers,” Qadri said.

By: Ahmed Kamal Khusro

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Problem of Unemployment

India as a nation is faced with massive problem of unemployment. The problem of unemployment has become a colossal. Various factors have caused this problem. There are individual factors like age, vocational unfitness and physical disabilities which restrict the people. External factors include technological and economic factors. There is enormous increase in the population. Every year India adds to her population afresh. Every year more than 5 million people become eligible for securing jobs. Business field is subject to ups and downs of trade cycle and globalisation. Economic depression or sick industries are often closed down compelling their employees to become unemployed. Technological advancement contributes to economic development. But unplanned and uncontrolled growth of technology is causing havoc in job opportunities. The computerisation and automation has led to technological unemployment. Strikes and lockouts have become inseparable aspect of the industrial world today. Due to this industries often face economic loses and production comes down. Since workers do not get any salary or wages during the strike period they suffer from economic hardships. They become permanently or temporarily unemployed.

Today young people are not ready to take jobs which are considered to be socially degrading or lowly. Our educational system has its own irreparable defects and its contribution to the unemployment is an open truth. Our education does not prepare the minds of young generation to become self-employed on the contrary it makes them dependent on government vacancies which are hard to come. Our state right from the beginning of the Five Year Plans has introduced several employment generating schemes and programmes over the years but in the absence of proper implementation and monitoring have failed to achieve the required targets.

The UPA Government has come up with Rural Employment Guarantee Programme which aims to provide employment to people living in the villages. This is a laudable programme if implemented sincerely because it will provide employment to people during natural calamities like drought, floods etc. The remedial measures for reducing unemployment may lay greater emphasis on creation of opportunities for self-employment, augmentation of productivity and income levels of the working poor, shift in emphasis from creation of relief type of employment to the building up of durable productive assets in the rural areas and instead of attempting to revert somewhat to protectionist policies the pace of privatisation may be accelerated.

The problem of unemployment means the problem of providing work to those who are willing to work. A large number of educated and uneducated people, who are capable of work and are also willing to do it, roam here and there without any job. So the problem of unemployment is involuntary joblessness. In our country this problem has assumed an acute form. There are a large number of people who are either partly employed or wholly unemployed. The lives of such people, as well as of their families, are extremely miserable. India cannot claim to be a welfare state so long as this problem remains unsolved.

Since the problem of unemployment is mainly an economic one it is essential, therefore, that the economic policy of the country be overhauled. In our country, labour is available in abundance. We should provide avenues for employment for them through cottage and small-scale industries. Besides this, stress must be laid on family planning. Every effort must be made to check the rapid rise in population. This will help a great deal in the solution of this problem. More stress should be laid on technical and vocational education. The present bookish education which produces clerks alone should be restricted. When people get technical and vocational education, they will not hanker after services on completing their education. They will come out well

Our country cannot advance economically, politically, or socially, unless the problem of unemployment is solved. Many a social evil is spread through the unemployed. Frustration, drug-addiction, even suicides are, by and large, the evil results of unemployment. Unrest and disorder increase in society. It is, therefore, the duty of the Government to make every possible effort to solve this problem. However, we may stress again that the problem cannot be solved till the population explosion is not checked. The two are closely inter-linked, and the people must be made to realise this through an adequate process of social education.

(The writer can be contacted at Rly. Qtrs. No. N-423-A, Central Colony, Post: New Bongaigaon, Dist: Bongaigaon, Email ID:

By Mithun Dey
Article from The Organiser