Govt mulls special component in Budget for minorities
October, 07th 2011
With apparently an eye on the upcoming Assembly elections especially in Uttar Pradesh, the Centre is toying with the idea of having a special component for minority welfare in the Union Budget.
The proposal, which also includes providing funds for minority-related schemes directly at the block level, has been mooted in an inter-ministerial memo being discussed by the government.
The move was initiated after some Muslim MPs approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Monsoon Session of Parliament with complaints that schemes for minority welfare were not being implemented properly.
Singh is understood to have asked the MPs to meet Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia with their grievances. It was later decided to take up the issue for inter-ministerial consultations which could culminate in a note for consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs.
The move comes ahead of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Gujarat and Goa next year.
The note seeks to make a case for having a special component in the Union Budget for minorities which constitute 18% of the country's population.
Recently, the Prime Minister's Office had ordered a study to assess the impact of programmes for minorities and identify gaps which could be plugged in the 12th Plan period.
The PMO has directed the Minority Affairs Ministry to assess within two months as to what extent the Multi-Sectoral Developmental Programmes (MSDP) launched on the basis of Sachar Committee recommendations have improved the lot of minorities in the 90 identified districts across the country.
The MSDP were launched in 90 minority concentrated districts in 2008 as part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's 15-point programme following Sachar Committee recommendations.
The government has earmarked Rs 3,000 crore for these schemes of which Rs 2,100 crore has already been released, sources said.
Under the MSDP, government also has scholarship schemes for minorities in four categories -- pre-matric, post-matric, merit-cum-means for professional courses and fellowships for higher studies.