By Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed
Justice Rajinder Sachar, author of the Sachar Report of 2006, dies in Delhi.
For most readers this sad news may not mean much - people die and Justice Sachar was 94.
However, Justice Sachar was a man of lofty character, upright, truthful, compassionate and a true secular-humanist. He was a justice of the Delhi High Court.
The family was originally from Gujranwala but like millions of other Punjabis was forced to abandon hearth and home in 1947. His father Bhim Sen Sachar was a leader of the Punjab National Congress of pre-partition days.
He belonged to the left-wing of the Congress Party and had good relations with Muslim leaders of the Punjab. Mian iftikharuddin was a close friend of his.
Bhim Sen Sachar was a Minister in the Coalition Government Headed by Sir Khizr Hayat Khan Tiwana. It consisted of members of the Punjab Unionist Party, Congress and Sikh Panthic Parties. It was THE LAST ELECTED GOVERNMENT OF UNDIVIDED PUNJAB .
Justice Sachar was head of the committee established by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the situation of Indian Muslims.
The Sachar Report provided detailed information on the Indian Muslim community. The report showed that although Indian Muslims were 13.4% of the Indian population they were grossly underemployed both in the public and private sectors; roughly only 6% only.
It was noted that Ashraaf Muslims - that is those belonging to the aristocratic and upper middle class families were not doing badly but Muslims from the poorer sections including artisans and craftsmen and Dalit Muslims were in a very bad shape.
Socially they were above Hindu Dalits but below Hindus of Other Backward Castes.
He recommended several measures to uplift Muslims including educational and economic assistance. He just stopped short of pleading for reservations for Muslims because it was politically a sensitive issue going back to the partition syndrome.
As expected he was fiercely criticized by right-wing and conservative Hindus.
However, both Justice Rajinder Sachar as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showed great courage to have the research done and published.
Rajinder Sachar was born in Lahore while Manmohan Singh was born in village Gah, Jhelum district. So, they were from our part of the Punjab.
Despite being driven out of their homes they both retained secular and humanist convictions.
I met Justice Rajinder Sachar when I was doing research on the Punjab partition book. He was a thorough gentleman. My condolences to his family.
(Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed is Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Stockholm University; Visiting Professor Government College University; and, Honorary Senior Fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. Latest publications, The Punjab Bloodied, Partitioned and Cleansed, *(Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2012), won the Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at the 2013 Karachi Literature Festival and the 2013 UBL-Jang Groups Best Non-Fiction Book Prize at Lahore and the Best Book on Punjab Award from Punjabi Parchar at the Vaisakhi Mela in Lahore, 2016. And , Pakistan: The Garrison State, Origins, Evolution, Consequences (1947-2011), Oxford, 2013. I can be reached at: email@example.com)