First time in 40 years of its history, Minority Commission to be headed by a little-known 'social activist'
Mumtaz Alam, IndiaTomorrow.net,
New Delhi, May 25: After facing criticism by Opposition and a section of media for keeping the post vacant for two and half months, the Narendra Modi government on Wednesday appointed a little-known ‘social activist' Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi as Chairperson of the National Commission For Minorities (NCM).
‘Social activist' Rizvi will take charge from former IAS and former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Naseem Ahmad who headed the commission from 4.3.2014 to 3.3.2017. The contrast between the profiles of the two runs across the 40-year history of the NCM. Most of its chairpersons since its inception in 1978 have been former judges, civil servants, academicians or big politicians.
It is different this time.
"So far the tradition was that the Commission had a retired judge or bureaucrat as its chairperson or member. It is perhaps for the first time that all the members are social activists who know the ground realities," the PTI news agency quoted unknown sources as saying about the Wednesday's appointments.
Rizvi, said to be from Lucknow, reached Delhi on Thursday and met Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. Naqvi hugged him as a younger brother and shared photos on Twitter. If one goes by the congratulatory messages on the post, it seems Rizvi has been close to BJP's youth wing.
Personalities who headed NCM from 1978 to 2000
Since 1978 till the end of 20th century, the following personalities were chairpersons of the NCM. Chairperson is appointed for a period of three years:
1978-1981 : M.R. Masani (24.2.1978 - 31.5.1978) and Justice M.R.A. Ansari (28.7.1978 - 23.2.1981)
1981-1984 : Justice M.H. Beg
1984-1987 : Justice M.H. Beg
1987-1990 : Justice M.H. Beg (till 31.3.88) and S.M.H. Burney (since 1.4.88)
1990-1993 : S.M.H. Burney
1993-96 : Justice Mohd. Sardar Ali Khan
1996-1999 : Professor Dr. Tahir Mahmood
NCM chairpersons in 21st century
In the 21st century, NCM has so far got half a dozen chairpersons, all highly-qualified with some IAS officers and some IFS. And before joining NCM, they had become renowned figures.
One of them, Mohammad Hamid Ansari (Indian Foreign Service) had served as Ambassador to various countries including UAE, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Before joining NCM, he was Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University. And after leaving it, he has been serving as Vice President of India (since 2007).
2000-2003 : Justice Mohd. Shamim (Retd. Judge, Delhi High Court)
2003-2006 : Sardar Tarlochan Singh (Member of Parliament)
2006-2009 : Mohammad Hamid Ansari (ex-IFS, diplomat, vice chancellor and currently Vice President of India) and Mohamed Shafi Qureshi (3.9.2007- 2.9.2010), a prominent politician and the founder of Congress Party in Jammu and Kashmir
2011-2014 : Wajahat Habibullah (ex-IAS, first Chief Information Commissioner of India)
2014-2017 : Naseem Ahmad (ex-IAS, former vice chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University)
NCM was established as safeguard of constitutional and educational rights of the minorities in 1978 as a non-statutory body but after the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, it became a statutory body.
New NCM team
Apart from chairperson Rizvi, the government has also appointed four members of the panel. They are: George Kurian (BJP leader from Kerala), Sulekha Kumbhare (former Maharashtra minister), Sunil Singhi (Jain representative from Gujarat) and Vada Dasturji Khurshed, chief priest of Udvada Athornan Anjuman.
Anticipating likely questions about the ability of the new team, Minister Naqvi said: "These are very capable people. We hope they will do justice to the issues relating to minorities"
One may question the motive of the government behind not appointing a heavyweight like Naseem, Wajahat or Hamid but one can only wish Rizvi and his team the best !