TCN special: Misra Commission report excerpts- Part 10

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Initiatives taken for Development of Minorities

High Power Panel under the Chairmanship of Dr Gopal Singh

In 1983 a High Power Panel was appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs headed by Dr. Gopal Singh. This Committee identified Muslims and Neo-Buddhists as two educationally backward minorities at the national level and proposed special efforts for bringing them at par with the rest of the society. Neo-Buddhists have since been placed at par with the SC population for receiving all the benefits. For Muslim minority, forty four districts with concentration of Muslims, based on 1981 Census, were identified for special attention.

The 15 – Point Programme for Minorities, 1983

In May 1983, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi issued a 15-Point Directive on welfare of minorities. The 15-Point Programme for Minorities announced in 1983 focused on priority areas such as: the need to tackle the situation arising out of communal riots and preventing further communal riots and preventing further communal riots; ensure adequate representation of minority communities in employment under Central and State as well as Public Sector Undertakings; ensuring flow of benefits to the minority communities under various development programmes such as maintenance and development of religious places, Wakf properties and redressal of grievances of the minorities. It was felt that in many areas recruitment is done through competitive examinations and often minority groups are unable to take advantage of the educational system to compete on equal terms. Therefore, steps should be taken to encourage the starting of coaching classes in minority educational institutions to train persons to compete successfully in these examinations. Likewise, acquisition of technical skills by those minorities who are lagging behind need to be enhanced as in the long run it would also help in national development. Arrangements should be made to set up it is and Polytechnics by government or private agencies in predominantly minority areas to encourage admission in such institutions of adequate number of persons belonging to these communities.

The National Policy on Education, 1986

The need to take special steps to advance education of Muslims was noted in the National Policy of Education 1986 its Programme of Action (Revised in 1992) and led to formulation of the Area Intensive Educational Development as a Central Government Scheme of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The National Policy on Education, 1986 states the following with regard to minorities: “some minority groups are educationally backward or deprived. Greater attention will be paid to the education of these groups in the interest of equality and social justice. This will naturally include the constitutional guarantees given to them to establish and administer their own educational institutions, and protection to their languages and culture. Simultaneously, objectivity will be reflected in the preparation of textbooks and in all school activities, and all possible measures will be taken to promote integration based on appreciation of common national goals and ideas, in conformity with the core curriculum” This has been reiterated in the revised Policy Formulations, 1992.

The Programme of Action, 1992, first took note of the existing programmes for the Muslim Minorities and suggested a large number of short term, medium term and long term measures to promote their education and technical skills and for their integration in the mainstream though measures such as systematic evaluation of textbooks from standpoint of national integration by the NCERT and intensification of orientation programmes for the Principals/Managers and training programmes for teachers from minority educational institutions. The Programme of Action proposed revamping and expanding UGC Scheme of Coaching Centers for students belonging to educationally backward minorities to cover more minority concentrated areas; a crash programme for school improvement to be implemented on priority basis in minority concentrated areas and the need to establish monitoring mechanisms for monitoring of various programmes for the minorities; location of schools in minority concentrated areas for improved access and facility of Urdu in all schools with required number of students belonging to the Muslims minority. The Women Community Polytechnics need to be set up in minority concentrated areas on priority area.
Major schemes proposed in the Programme of Action 1992 include the Centrally sponsored Scheme of Area Intensive Programme for Educationally backward minorities; the Centrally sponsored Scheme of Modernization of Madrasa education by introduction of Science, Mathematics, English / Hindi in traditional Madarasas and Maktabs on voluntary basis; A Centrally Sponsored scheme of appointment of Urdu teachers in the states where Urdu is spoken by substantial numbers; and a Centrally Sponsored Scheme of language teachers funded by the Government of India to encourage States in achieving the targets in respect of minority education.

The Programme of Action also suggested a number of other schemes e.g. a scheme of in-service training for teachers from minority managed institutions in Sciences, Mathematics, Social Science, English and Career Guidance through SCERTs and other Resource Centers; Scheme of appointment of regional language teachers in minority institutions for national integration and implementation of three language formula; a scheme of remedial coaching in minority institutions.

The Scheme for Modernization of Madrasa Education, 1992, aimed to provide mainstream education to children studying in madrasas, a traditional institution for educating children among the Muslim community. During the Tenth Plan period this scheme was merged with another scheme, namely, the Area Intensive Program for Educationally Backward Minorities. The revised scheme, known as the Area Intensive Madrasa Modernisation Program (AIMMP), retains the major objectives of the previous schemes, i.e. modernizing Madrasa education so that the children can be part of the national mainstream; and infrastructure development of identified institutions catering to educationally backward minorities.

High level Committee on Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community in India (Sachar Committee)

A High level Committee on Social, Economic and Educational Status of Muslim Community in India was set up in 2005 under the Chairmanship of Justice Rajinder Sachar by the Prime Minister and the Committee submitted noted with concern the low socioeconomic status with higher poverty, lower literacy and educational attainments, higher unemployment rates, lower availability of infrastructure and lower representation in civil services including police, judiciary and in elected bodies among Muslim minority.

New 15-Point Programme for the Welfare for the Welfare of Minorities, 2006

A need was felt to review and recast the 15-point programme for Minorities, to sharply focus action on issues intimately linked to the social, educational and economic uplift of the minorities. While pointes relating to prevention of communal riots and provision of relief to riot victims continue to have an important place in the revised programme, there are additional points more closely linked with the development of backward minorities, relating specifically to employment, education and improved living conditions. It was felt that the new 15-Point programme was to be necessary because of the gaps in the previous programme with regard to amelioration of socio-economic conditions and enhancement of socio-economic status of the minority groups. With a view to removing this lacuna and having a more comprehensive programme for minorities, the Prime Minister’s new 15-point Programme for Welfare of Minorities was formulated, and approved by the Cabinet on 22 June 2006. This programme includes:
Enhancing opportunities for education:

Education is seen as a necessary intervention to address problems of backwardness of any community. Opportunities will be enhanced through the following measures:

(1) Equitable availability of ICDS services; The ICDS aims at holistic development of children and lactating/pregnant mothers from disadvantaged sections through nutritional and educational inputs. Blocks/villages with substantial population of minority communities will be covered through ensuring a certain percentage of ICDS projects/centres in such areas.

(2)Improving access to school education: Elementary schools are being opened in localities/villages across the country where substantial population of minority community lives, under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Scheme and other similar government schemes.

(3) Greater resources for teaching Urdu: Central assistance will be provided for recruitment of Urdu language teachers ;in primary and upper primary schools that serve a population in which at least one-fourth belong to that language group.

(4)Modernizing Madrasa education: The Central Plan Scheme of Area Intensive and Madrasa Modernization Programme will be substantially strengthened and effectively implemented.

(5)Scholarships for meritorious students from minority communities: A scheme for Pre-Matriculation and Post-Matriculation Scholarships for students from minority communities will be formulated and implemented, to ensure that poverty does not impede continuation of studies of meritorious students from; minority communities.

(6) Improving educational infrastructure through the Maulana Azad Education foundation: government shall provide all possible assistance to the MAEF, to enable it to expand its activities with the aim of promoting education amongst the educationally backward minorities.

Equitable share in economic activities and employment: all communities and groups constituting a nation should have equal share in economic opportunities and employment. Proactive measures are necessary if one or more communities lag behind and become increasingly marginalized. Under mentioned Government programs then need to focus towards these communities, with earmarking of targets:

(1) Self-employment and Wage employment for the poor

a) Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), primary self-employment programme for rural areas, will have a certain percentage of physical and financial targets earmarked for beneficiaries belonging to the minority communities living below the poverty line.

b) Swarnajayanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana (SSRy), the equivalent programme for the urban areas, will have a certain percentage under both its major components (Urban Self-Employment Programme and Urban Wage Employment Programme) earmarked to benefit people from the minority communities living below the poverty line

c) Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), aimed at providing additional wage employment in rural areas, will have a certain percentage earmarked for beneficiaries from minority communities living below the poverty line. A certain percentage of allocation will also be earmarked for creation of infrastructure in villages that have a substantial minority population.

2) Upgradation of skills through technical training: Provision of technical training to the large population of minority communities engaged in low-level technical work or in handicrafts would upgrade their skills and earning capacities. A proportion of all new it is will therefore be located in areas predominantly inhabited by minorities, and a proportion of the existing will be upgraded to ‘Centre of Excellence’ on the same basis.

3) Enhanced credit support to economic activities:

a) The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) will be strengthened by government provision of greater equity support to enable it to fully achieve its objectives.

b) Bank credit, essential for creating and sustaining self-employment initiatives, will have a target of 40 percent (of net bank credit from domestic banks) fixed for priority sector lending. The priority sector includes agricultural loans, loans to small-scale industries and small businesses, loans to retail traders, professionals and self-employed persons, educational loans and micro-credit. A certain percentage of priority-sector lending in all categories will be targeted for the minority communities.

Recruitment to State and Central services: Recruitment of personnel for police personnel at State and Central levels will be advised to give special consideration to minorities. In the case of Railways, Nationalised banks and the Public sector enterprises, such special consideration will also be ensured. Also an exclusive scheme will be launched to provide pre-examination coaching for competitive examinations in government and private institutions for candidates from minority communities.

Government will also provide funds to pay the fees on behalf of meritorious candidates from minority communities.

Improving the conditions of living of minorities: A large number of people belonging to minority communities live in slums in urban areas; and are often amongst the poorest of the poor in the urban areas, without access to proper housing. Measures indicated below will ensure:

(a) Equitable share in rural housing scheme: The Indira Awas Yojana, which provides financial assistance for shelter to the rural poor living below the poverty line, will have a certain percentage of physical and financial targets earmarked for the minority community beneficiaries.

(b) Improvement in conditions of slums inhabited by minority communities: A certain percentage of physical and financial targets under the National Slum Development Programme (NSDP) will be earmarked for slums predominantly inhabited by the minority communities. Under NSDP the Central government provides assistance to State governments for developing urban slums through provision of physical amenities, community infrastructure and social amenities.

Prevention and control of communal riots: The welfare of minority communities is linked to the effectiveness of measures adopted to address the issue of prevention and control of communal riots as under:

(a) Prevention of communal incidents: In areas identified as communal sensitive and riot prone, police officers of known efficiency, impartiality and secular record must be posted. The prevention of communal tension should be one of the primary duties of the police and administrative officers.

(b) Prosecution for communal offences: Special courts should be set up so that offenders who incite communal tensions or take part in communal violence are speedily tried and punishment meted out.

(c) Rehabilitation of victims of communal riots: Victims of communal violence should be provided immediate relief and prompt and adequate financial assistance for rehabilitation.

The 15-point Programme also provides that care shall be taken to ensure that wherever applicable, there is separate earmarking of the physical and financial targets for the minority communities under each programme/scheme, preferably ion the ratio of the all-India population of each minority community. Thereafter these targets shall be further split State-wise for each minority community in the ratio of the population of the minority community in that State. This will ensure that the benefits necessarily reach the target group in the proportion of the population of the group in each State.

Budgetary Support For Operationalisation of New 15 Point Programme

The Budget sends a clear signal that the welfare of minorities as a targeted social group has been put on the same pedestal as that of SCs/STs and OBCs, worthy of specially designed schemes and exclusive provisions. In a way, it marks the continuation of the approach which saw the responsibility of “minority welfare” being carved out of the social justice ministry to be entrusted to the just-created ministry of minority affairs. An allocation of RS 63 crore has been made for the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation over last year’s RS 16.47 crore. The Budget also makes a special allocation of RS 108 crore for multi-sector development programmes for minority-dominated districts. The number of districts with at least 25 percent minority population is estimated at 103. Three different scholarships have been introduced for minority students. Rs.72 core has been earmarked for pre-Matric scholarships, Rs.90 crore for post-matric scholarships and Rs 48.60 crore for merit-cum-means scholarships at undergraduate and PD levels.