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ARTICLE: Government Committed to Inclusive Growth of Minorities
Friday, 01 February 2013 05:29


 

Government Committed to Inclusive Growth of Minorities

The Ministry of Minority Affairs was created on 29th January 2006 to ensure a focused approach towards issues relating to the minorities and to facilitate the formulation of overall policy, planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities. The Ministry aims for inclusive development of minorities notified under National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, viz. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis. The Ministry adopted a multi-pronged strategy for development of minority communities with focus on:

educational empowerment;

area development;

economic empowerment; and

strengthening of minority institutions.

The Ministry has made intensive efforts for educational empowerment through Pre-matric, Post-matric, Merit-cum-means based scholarships and Maulana Azad National Fellowships. Online Scholarship Management System (OSMS) has been developed and launched for the on-line applications under Merit-cum-means Scholarship scheme. Now it has also been extended to Post-Matric Scholarship scheme as well. During 11th Plan, these schemes have been a great success and Rs.2672 Crore have been disbursed to more than 1 Crore 40 Lakh students belonging to minority communities including more than 30% eligible minority girls. During current financial year of 12th Plan period (till December 2012), Rs. 826.03 Crore have been released to support education of more than 50 lakh minority students under Scholarship programmes. The Ministry has also taken action on Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) under Merit cum Means Based Scholarship Scheme. To strengthen the efforts towards educational empowerment, the corpus of Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF), an autonomous body under the Ministry, has been raised from Rs.100 crore to Rs.750 crore to award scholarships to meritorious minority girls. We endeavour to raise the corpus further to Rs.1500 Crore to expand coverage of minority students. MAEF has also increased the number of meritorious girl students to 25,000 for award of Maulana Azad National Scholarship.

Under Area Development strategy, the Ministry has two major programmes viz. Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme and Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP). In order to intensify the Government’s efforts and bring in synergy with the programmes of other Ministries/Departments, Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme for minorities was launched in June 2006. This overarching programme envisages specific interventions with definite goals to be achieved in a specific time frame. The programme aims for enhancing opportunities for education, ensuring an equitable share in economic activities and employment, improving living conditions through infrastructure development for minorities, and prevention and control of communal disharmony.

Through Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme, the Central Government ensures equitable allocation of resources for development of minorities by earmarking 15% of target/outlays under important flagship development programmes of Government - Integrated Child Development Services, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Swarna Jayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana, Indira Awas Yojana, Swarnajayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana, Upgradation of ITIs into Centres of Excellence, Priority Sector Lending through Banks etc. Further, special initiatives have also been taken for providing quality education in Madarsas and infrastructure development of Minority institutions under the scheme of Department of School Education and Literacy, and for recruitment of minorities by Department of Personnel and Training.

MsDP is the flagship programme of the Ministry. The programme aims at improving the socio economic conditions and basic amenities for improving the quality of life and reducing imbalances in rural and semi rural areas of 90 identified Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs). Under this programme, identified “Development deficits” are addressed through a “District Specific Plan” for provision of better infrastructure for education, sanitation, housing, drinking water and electricity supply besides income generating activities. These district specific plans are formulated by the respective State/UT Departments dealing with minority welfare and in this way provide ample opportunities for innovation and participation from Panchayati Raj Institutions and local bodies. Three tier monitoring mechanism of MsDP with involvement of People’s Representatives makes this programme more focussed.

During 11th Five Year Plan, Rs. 2963 Crore were released by the Ministry under MsDP to 20 States/Union Territories (UTs) to create infrastructure. The States which performed well under MsDP include Maharashtra, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. During current year of 12th Plan period (till December, 2012), Rs. 503.23 Crore have been released to various States/ UTs under MsDP for construction of 4719 houses under Indira Awas Yojana, 142 Health Centres, 1790 Anganwadi Centres, Installation of 15161 hand pumps, 918 additional classrooms, 26 School buildings, 12 Polytechnics, 39 ITI buildings and 102 Hostels for minorities. Under Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme, Rs. 171960.71 Crore have been extended under Priority Sector Lending through banks to minorities and 269770 houses under Indira Awas Yojana have been sanctioned. In addition, the percentage of recruitment of minorities in Central Government Ministries/Departments has reached the level of 15%.

During 12th Five Year Plan, expansion of Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme is high on agenda. Restructuring of MsDP is being done for sharper focus on minority concentration areas, and extending the benefit of this programme to blocks and cluster of villages.

In order to enhance economic development of minorities, the National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC) provides concessional loans to minorities through its State Channelising Agencies (SCAs). The SCAs identify the beneficiaries, channelize the lending and also make recoveries from the beneficiaries. In the 11th Five Year Plan Period, a total amount of Rs. 977.21 Crore was disbursed to 467909 beneficiaries under Term Loans and Micro Finance to the minorities who are double below the poverty line. During 2012-13, till December, 2012, a sum of Rs. 185.25 Crore has been disbursed to 50737 beneficiaries. The Ministry also provides financial support to SCAs through grant in aid scheme for development of their infrastructure and delivery system. To expand the coverage of minorities under the schemes of NMDFC and strengthen the delivery mechanism, NMDFC is in the process of restructuring.

From the year 2012-13, the Ministry has started implementation of an ambitious scheme for “Leadership Development of Minority Women” with objective to empower and instill confidence among minority women including their neighbours from other communities living in the same village/locality, by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, Banks and other institutions at all levels. The outlay for financial year 2012-13 is Rs.15 Crore. The physical target under the scheme during 2012-13 includes providing training to 40,000 (forty thousand) women belonging to notified minority communities with a mix of women from non- minority communities not exceeding 25% of the project proposal. The trainings are organized through Non-Governmental Organizations on modules viz. Leadership, Government Systems, Diseases among Children and Prevention, Public Distribution System, Schemes/Programmes for Minorities, Life Skills, Health and Hygiene, Nutrition, Home Management, Family Planning, Issues related to women and Waste Water Sanitation & Solid Waste Disposal. So far, Rs.10.45 Crore have been released to 64 organizations of 12 States for implementation of the programme for 36950 women during current financial year.

The Ministry is making all efforts to implement the recommendations of Sachar Committee. The decisions taken by the Government on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee have been grouped in various categories for the sake of convenience viz. measures for affirmative action, education, skill development, access to credit, special development initiatives, Wakfs and miscellaneous. Ministry has taken up action for implementation of these recommendations by involving all stakeholders including other relevant Ministries/Departments. In addition, the Ministry takes periodical review meetings in order to monitor the progress of implementation of the decisions of the Government.

The Ministry has also initiated constitution of Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC). The objective of EOC is to ensure equal access to opportunity, entitlements/ rights to deprived groups belonging to minority communities. The EOC would help to secure equitable development of policy and implementation of programmes in public administration and private enterprise.

An Assessment and Monitoring Authority (AMA), under the aegis of the Planning Commission, has also been constituted to evaluate the extent of development benefits which accrue to different Socio-Religious Communities through various development programmes of the Government.

A “National Data Bank” has been created to maintain disaggregated data for various socio-religious communities which is to be collected by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation to enable the evaluation and assessment of flow of benefits to minorities on a regular basis.

To improve the management of Wakf properties and streamline the functioning of State Wakf Boards, the Wakf Amendment Bill 2010 was passed in the Lok Sabha in May, 2010. The Bill was then referred to a Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha where Report was tabled on 16.12.2011. The Bill is under final stages of formulation and will be sought to be put up for consideration and passing of the Rajya Sabha in the Budget Session 2013-14.

The Ministry has also launched the scheme for “Computerization of records of State Wakf Boards” in 2009, and introduced a web-enabled portal software called Wakf Management System of India (WAMSI) to develop centralized database for all State Wakf Boards covering areas such as, registration of Wakfs, Litigation tracking, Mutawalli return assessments, leasing details of properties and a document management system. 25 States/UTs have set up their Centralized Computing Facilities and have taken up the computerization of Wakf properties. As on date, a total of 1,82,233 Wakf properties have been registered. Further, the work of digitization of the Wakf records has also started in most of the Wakf boards.

In addition, the Ministry is contemplating to formulate a new scheme for Skill Development of Minorities. The Ministry intends to intervene to help workers engaged in growth-oriented sectors to become part of the larger network of market oriented firms engaged in that sector. For those caught in the stagnant sectors, a transition path is required to be evolved. Skill up-gradation, education and credit availability, will have an important role in both these strategies.

The Ministry understands that for inclusive growth of the minorities, among other interventions it is also important to make them aware about the Government’s welfare programmes. For intensive awareness generation, Ministry draws an annual Media Plan with the help of DAVP, All India Radio, Doordarshan, NFDC etc. at the beginning of each financial year for multi-media campaign. In addition, the audio-visual publicity is also done through Private FM Channels, Digital Cinema, Exhibition vans, LCD screens at public places etc. Simultaneously, Ministry has taken initiatives to monitor the outcomes and quality of implementation of Government programmes for minorities through independent agencies. Social Audit and concurrent monitoring of Area Development schemes/programmes has also been envisaged during 12th Plan.

We are aware that our friends from minority communities deserve more attention. However, we hope that our humble efforts will certainly bring visible change in the standards of living and upliftment of the minorities.