TCN special: Misra Commission report excerpts- Part 11

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Misra Commission report excerpts – home page

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Institutional Structures for the Development of Minorities

At the national level, the Minorities Commission was set up in 1978. It was a non-statutory body until 1992, when Parliament enacted the National Commission for Minorities Act, and set up the first statutory commission in 1993, called the National Commission for Minorities (NCM). The Main objective of NCM is to safeguard the interests of minorities. The state governments of A.P., Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Jarkhand, M.P.., Manipur, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, U.P., West Bengal, Uttaranchal and Delhi have also set up State Minorities Commissions. The National Minority Commission is actively engaged in looking into the interests and welfare of the Minorities.

The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) was set up in 1994, to provide special focus to the economic development of Minorities. The main objective of the NMDFC is to promote economic and development activities for the benefit of the ‘backward sections’ among minorities, giving preference to women and occupational groups. The NMDFC provides funds for self employment at concessional rates to minorities living close to poverty line (families with an annual income of less than Rs.40,000 in rural and Rs. 55,000 in urban areas. By the end of the 10th Plan, the NMDFC is projected to distribute Rs 1065 crores to cover 3.01 lakh beneficiaries, with an outreach of 2.19 percent of the eligible ( Double Below Poverty Line families). The National Minorities Development Finance Corporation reaches the beneficiaries through State Channelising Agencies (SCAs) nominated by the States and through Non Governmental Organizations ()NGOs). Presently, the NMDFC has 35 SCAs in 25 states and two union territories and a network of more than 150 NGOs throughout the country. Mainly term loans of up to Rs. 5 lakhs and Micro Finance of Rs. 25,000 per beneficiary are provided through the SCAs and the NGOs which have benefited 3.41 lakh beneficiaries so far. These two schemes cover about 96 percent and 3 percent of the loan funds disbursed by the NMDFC. While Muslims and other minorities have benefited from the activities of the NMDFC, the total flow of credit from the NMDFC is comparison to other financial institutions is extremely small. This limits the impact of NMDFC assistance on the economic progress of minorities. Moreover, obtaining a guarantee from the State government remains the biggest hurdle to getting a loan from the NMDFC. Also, due to financial constraints, the state governments are reluctant to guarantee loans.

The Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF), set up in 1989 and funded by Ministry of Minority Affairs, promotes education among educationally backward minorities. It provides financial assistance for establishment and expansion of schools residential schools/colleges and laboratory and infrastructure facilities, establishment of computer and vocational centres, construction of hostel buildings, and Maulana Azad National Scholarships for Meritorious Girl Students, as well as Maulana Azad Literacy Awards. The Foundations has a corpus fund of Rs.200 crore. Since inception, the Foundation has sanctioned grant-in-aid of Rs 93.42 crore to 718 NGOs all over the country. Muslims and Buddhists have been the main beneficiaries as educationally backward minorities. During 2005-06, the Foundation has released scholarships amounting to Rs.10.82 crore covering 10832 beneficiaries. The Foundation also awards literary awards for outstanding performance for promoting education amongst educationally backward minorities and organizes in-service teacher training programmes in the states of Rajasthan, U.P. Maharashtra and Jharkhand. The Foundation is also running a vocational training centre at Ajmeri Gate, Delhi, imparting training to about 250 women in the trades of Cutting, Tailoring, Textile Designing, Arts & Crafts etc.

The Central Wakf Council, a statutory body, implements various charity and educational programmes for weaker sections of Muslims. A wide variety of charitable activities, including establishment of public hospitals, asylums, libraries and caravan/serais, children’s education, care and rehabilitation of physically disabled people, stipends for the poor and destitute, have traditionally been carried out under the auspices of the Wakf ( i.e. endowment of property for charitable purposes). The Wakf Act, 1995, provides for better administration and supervision of Wakfs through State Wakf Boards, which have been constituted in 23 States and 5 UTs so far. The Central Wakf properties, and implements the educational and charitable programmes for welfare of weaker sections. The Council also participates in developmental work by implementing certain schemes, with grant-in-aid amounting to Rs. 28.20 crore up to the year 2005-06. In Turn, the Council extended loans of Rs 28.47 crore to 14 States up to March 2005. Through its Education Fund, the Council implements scholarship programmes for poor students pursuing technical/professional courses, grants to poor students, matching grants to State Wakf Boards for providing scholarships to school students and establishment of vocational training centres in Muslim concentrated areas. Up to March 2006, a total of 10802 scholarships were awarded by the Council to students of technical degree courses. However, there is scope for greater interventions for educational and economic empowerment though better management of Wakf properties.

The National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language, registered society under the Ministry of Human Resource Development is responsible for promotion of the Urdu language. It helps to establish a link between the Urdu-speaking population with technical and vocational education. It has established 228 Computer Application and Multi-lingual DTP Centres out of which nineteen Centres are exclusively for girls. This programme has produced 13,161 girl students as medium level professional during the last five years. The Council has launched a Diploma in Calligraphy and Graphic Design in 12 Centres including three exclusively for girls. A national programme of Urdu learning through Hindi and English medium on distance mode has been launched as also a Diploma Course in Functional Arabic. The Council has received a grant of Rs 82.21 crore from the GOI since 1996.

The National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions set up in 2004 to advise the Centre and state governments on any matter regarding the education of minorities as also to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice. The National Minority Educational Institutions Commission Act, 2004 allows for direct affiliation of minority educational institutions to central universities. According to this, any minority educational institution seeking affiliation to a central university will be granted such affiliation. The Commission can also look into specific complaints regarding violation of the constitutional protection guaranteed to minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice, and also any dispute regarding affiliation to a scheduled central university. Within one year establishment, the Commission received over 250 complaints, petitions and several suggestions. The Act was extensively amended in 2006 empowering the Commission to enquire into complaints regarding deprivation of or violation of rights of minority institutions and also disputes between minority educational institutions and a university relating to its affiliation.

The National Monitoring Committee for Minorities Education: This Committee was meeting periodically since then. A Standing Committee established within the NMCME has visited the States of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala for discussions with representatives of minority communities, minority educational institutions, state governments and a cross-section of the people. Thereafter it has submitted its Report to the Government in November 2005. Its recommendations are under examination in the concerned ministries, departments or state governments for further action.