The Telangana government has sought information from several of its departments to encourage Muslim officers and seek their willingness to work in the Minorities Welfare Department (MWD), which is facing a dearth of senior qualified staff.
In an UO note recently sent to all government departments, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar stated that several agencies of the MWD have been facing a shortage of staff, and that while some of these agencies mandate that officers should be Muslim, in others, it is ‘more practical’.
“All the Departments of Secretariat, Telangana State, Hyderabad, are therefore requested to obtain and furnish the willingness of Muslim officers working in departments under the administrative control (including under their HoDs) in the cadre of Deputy Secretary to Government and Assistant Secretary to Government or in posts equivalent to these cadres who are willing to work in the Minorities Welfare Department, as early as possible preferably by 15-2-2021,”(sic) the note states.
Agencies of the MWD include the Telangana State Urdu Academy, Telangana State Waqf Board, and Telangana State Haj Committee, among others.
According to senior officers, there has been no recruitment in the past several years, and those who were serving in the capacity of deputy secretaries or assistant secretaries have retired.
Interestingly, the G Sudhir Committee, which studied the socio-economic status of Muslims in Telangana in 2016, noted that there is a poor representation of Muslims in government departments in the State. As on July 28, 2016, there were 3.37% Muslim employees in the welfare departments. The representation of Muslims in 23 departments was 7.36%.
The committee’s report submitted to the government observed that over half of Muslim employees working in State government departments are ‘last grade employees’ and that only 1.43% of them are gazetted officers.
“We are indeed facing a massive shortage of staff. Even in the districts, there is a need for supervisors, and in some places District Minorities Welfare Officers. There are only a few Muslim officers. In fact, several of those working at the Waqf Board are on consolidated pay or are outsourced,” a senior officer who did not wish to be quoted said.
Meanwhile, activists expressed concerns over the moving of Muslim officers from other departments to the MWD. S.Q. Masood, an activist who has worked extensively on welfare schemes, said, “The G Sudhir Committee report says that representation of Muslims, or inadequate representation, in government departments indicates inclusion. We should also look at consequences, in terms of representation, of moving Muslim officers from other departments to the MWD.”