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Wednesday, 14 August 2013

India: Rahman Khan urges Rahul to bring Islamic banking on 2014 agenda

NEW DELHI: Making perhaps the strongest-ever pitch for the introduction of Islamic banking , minority affairs minister Rahman Khan has told the Congress leadership that Muslims were increasingly viewing Centre's continuing resistance to the introduction of Shariah-compliant banking as interference in the affairs of the community. 

The minister said interest-free banking, better known as Islamic banking, would prove to be a boon by mobilizing vast capital from Muslims that can be used for welfare activities of the community while helping them to practice the religion as laid down by the tenets of Islam

Khan's request to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, as part of welfare proposals to woo Muslims, marks a renewed as well as , possibly the strongest bid to lift the bar on Islamic banking that has riled community principals for some time. 
The RBI had earlier said that Islamic banking would require amendment to banking regulations since not charging or paying interest would violate present norms. 

Khan argued that Islamic banking could be done within the constitutional framework, with government needed to set up a separate "regulatory authority" to bring the proposal to life. 

Congress appears unlikely to accept the request but the lobbying is significant. Khan has called it part of future vision to renew the confidence of the key social group in the ruling party. He has flagged three steps - Islamic banking, mechanism to review terror cases against Muslim youth and making scholarships open-ended - as "new ideas" to woo Muslims. 

Adding urgency to the proposals, Khan suggested they be executed before the 2014 elections. 

Sources said Khan has submitted a detailed note to Rahul in which he suggested measures to step up the party's post-Sachar Muslim welfare agenda. The suggestions are his feedback from interaction with Muslim leaders, intellectuals and social activists, he said. 

According to the minister, Islam prohibits receipt or payment of interest, a reason why many countries have initiated financial institutions based on Shariah principles. He said while India has the second largest Muslim population in the world and guarantees freedom of religion, the bar on Islamic banking curtails this freedom for Muslims. 

"This (Islamic banking) will enable Muslims of India to invest their savings in accordance with their religious faith and the savings invested in such an institution will help in the economic development of the Muslim community in the country," the proposal said. 

(The Times Of India / 13 Aug 2013)

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