NEW DELHI: Muslims suffer from identity-based discrimination and sporadic violence, former Vice- President Hamid Ansari said today and pitched for their empowerment through focussed affirmative action and providing them development opportunities by embracing their problems politically, socially and economically.
Ansari said Indian Muslims constituted 14.2 per cent of the population.
"(They) are afflicted, like many others. by deprivation and underdevelopment. In addition, they (Muslims) specially suffer from identity-based discrimination and sporadic violence. There is also perceptual deficit," he said after launching a book, 'Working with Muslims-Beyond Burqa and Triple Talaq', authored by Farah Naqvi.
Referring to a 2006 report, Ansari said many Muslims suffered from "multiple development deficit" and pitched for their empowerment "through focussed affirmative action".
The former Vice- President said this would enable them to avail benefits like other citizens and take them to a point where the government's 'Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas' slogan 'becomes meaningful'.
Speaking about the book, he said at times when both developmental sector work and under-served minority communities were looked upon with certain ambiguity, the book 'sheds new life on the work being done' for the Muslim community.
He said many of the non-government organisations (NGOs), mentioned in the book, operated in spaces left vacant by the state and remained isolated despite the dream of a New India by 2022 being promised by the government.
Ansari said the NGOs often work on a small budget and provided development opportunities focussed on health, education and empowerment of the deprived people.
He said NGOs reported in the book that they felt easier to work in education domain, particularly the girl education, among Muslim community.
"It would be interesting to see if in the future, the NGOs are able to provide their constituent with an engaging and empowering learning environment that will catalyse genuine growth and development (of the Muslim community)," he added.
Ansari said major segment of the Muslim community were poor, powerless and have no access to amenities and opportunities, and stressed for the government to address such issues.
He said the author of the book has rightly concluded that constitutional promise of equality was only achievable with 'development reaches to the last in the line'.