By Arshad Ajmal,
The governance of Muslim minority affairs in Bihar needs special attention in view of rampant backwardness of the community that constitutes 16.5% of the total population of the State, and also the fact that over the years, the state budgetary allocation for the community has been decreasing.
Budgetary allocation for Muslim minority
It is evident from consecutive budget document that the allocation for minorities has been downsized during the years. In the budget of 2005-06 (Buta Singh Governor Rule) allocation for minority welfare department was 0.34% of the total plan size. It was downsized to 0.17% during 2008-09, i.e. half to 2005-06 allocation.
For comparison, table-1 relating to allocation made for SC/ST and Muslim minority is given below that illustrates wider gap between 16.5% Muslim minority and 16.1% SC/ST, specially in view of the fact that as per Sachar Report the backwardness of Muslim community is almost similar to that of SC/ST(below OBC & just above SC/ST). Furthermore, there is also question mark on the quality of spending mentioned for Muslim minority and the SC/ST, affecting the priority of socio-economic development. Table-2 illustrates the difference of spending heads. Thus on both the above mentioned aspects of budgetary allocation and its utilization fail to satisfy the Muslim minority problems.
The comparison of minority with SC & ST is made due to two reasons. First is the report of Sachar Committee, which is a reference point in all minority development discourse. This report and earlier Gopal Singh Commission report points out that the Muslim minority development indicators are sliding down to SC level. The second point is the percentage of both communities. The population of Muslim minority in Bihar is 16.5% and SC&ST is 16.1% (SC: 15.1%: ST roughly: 1%).
The above facts reveal that:
1. Budget allocation for minorities is continuously going down in percentage terms.
2. The size of SC&ST is almost seven times to minorities in the current budget.
3. The allocation for SC&ST is showing upward trend while the minority is on downward side.
Table-2 indicates that:
Apart from meager allocation of fund in comparison to SC&ST allocation, the quality of spending is not good.
On clubbing different heads under education, spending is around 60.29% for minorities whereas for SC&ST it is 72.48%. In terms of amount, spending on education of SC&ST is eight times of the amount for minorities.
On Socio-economic side, 21.10% for minorities whereas for SC&ST it is 26.73% of their respective total allocation. In terms of amount, spending on socio-economic development for SC&ST is 8.6 times higher than the spending amount for minorities.
There is one demonstrative expense of Rupees 4.94 crore on the buildings in memory of Muslim luminaries. This may be called merely a demonstrative expenditure for which spending may be met from other budgetary heads.
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (2nd from right) lights up candle but darkness prevails in the life of the community
The above table demonstrates that:
1. The SC&ST students will get 380 times of scholarships in comparison to minorities.
2. Forty times SC&ST persons will get employment in respect of minorities and also should be noted that minority will only get training.
3. Though this comparison is not compatible but will help in understanding. If we consider ‘help to divorcee Muslims’ means helping the family then SC&ST will get 134 times more benefited families than minority.
1. The state share for minorities development is very low, about ten percent to the total spending. It is about 77 percent for SC&ST.
2. The Centre share for minorities is here above 90 percent. But it should be noted that this amount is due to three central government schemes of scholarships amounting Rupees 42.34 crores and other is Multi sectoral Development Plan (MsDP) for Minority Concentrated Districts (MCDs), for which 261.6 crore has been provided.
Followings steps are suggested to raise the socio-economic and educational status of the Muslim minority in Bihar:
1. Increase the number of scholarship as well as the quantum of amount of scholarship for technical and professional courses.
2. Include useful heads of expenditure by adapting the heads shown in SC/ST spending and from the schemes implemented for minorities development in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
3. Create some innovative heads of expenditure, like establishing Interest-free Minority Cooperative Corporation for economic development of the Muslim minority.
4. New privately managed Muslim minority schools upto 10+2 levels, specially girls’ schools be allowed affiliation from BSEB with financial support on salary head like given in Maharashtra and some other States to encourage community initiative as suggested in the Sachar Committee report.
5. Muslim NGOs and organizations may be involved and supported to run one-teacher school in Muslim-concentrated districts of Bihar to achieve the goal of universal education for the community.
Functioning of Minority Welfare Department
Due to ad hoc arrangement of the department without any regular Secretary, welfare schemes meant for Minority has badly suffered. It appears to be the most neglected department without proper infrastructure and full strength of sanctioned staff. Due to ineffective functioning of the Department, every welfare scheme for Minority remains partially-implemented or unimplemented.
The Department needs immediate activation. Following steps may be taken to revitalize the Department:-
a. the Department needs a regular Secretary
b. adequate infrastructure
c. full strength of staff
d. creation of Grievance Cell
e. Setting accountability to achieve 100% target in implementing the welfare schemes launched by the State/Central Govt. for Minorities.
Minority Scholarship Schemes
It is unfortunate that the benefit of scholarship schemes of State/Central Govt. is not reaching to the most needy students due to lack of proper arrangement and effective mechanism and even fund allocation remains unutilized. Following scholarship schemes have been announced by the Central/State Governments:-
Launched by Central Government
f. Merit cum Means Scholarship
g. Post-Matric Scholarship
h. Pre-Matric Scholarship
Launched by State Government
i. Matric First Division Mukh Mantri Protsahan Scholarship
j. Scholarship after Intermediate (one-time Rs.4000/-)
It is really astonishing to observe that:-
1. The State Govt. has till date completed the distribution process of centrally funded scholarship grant for only two scholarship schemes, namely, (1) Merit cum Means scholarship & (2) post-Matric scholarship (partially and not satisfactorily) for the year 2007-08 amounting to Rs.5.87 crores only. The state government has so far already received 29.97 crore from Central government. It means the state government isonly able to distribute less than 20% of available fund. Thus defaulting for the session 2008-09 and 2009-10 besides default on pre-Matric scholarship scheme for 2007-10 as well as default on completion of renewal process. Moreover, the number of actual beneficiary shorts fall of the targeted number under post-Matric scholarship. It is appalling to note that against the 5442 post-Matric scholarship beneficieries, the number of those, who were renewed, is only 32 students. It is to be remembered that Aqliyat Chhatravirti Morcha has staged agitation first time when the schemes were announced and defaulted by the State Govt. machinery and a detailed memorandum was submitted. (It is to be noted that the Central Govt. has announced scholarship for 63000 students every year under the above mentioned three schemes amounting to around Rs.43 crores for fresh students and the same amount for renewal of scholarship). Table inserted below illustrates the status of the centrally funded Minority scholarship schemes.
|Scheme||Session||Target No.||Amount allocation (Rs. in crore)||No. of Actual Beneficiery||Amount distributed (Rs. in crore)||Status of Renewal|
|Merit cum Means Scholarship||2007-08||1595||3.72||1595||disbursed||Only 1045 beneficieries|
|2008-09||2500||4.70||List of selected students not announced on the website as yet by State Govt.||Even over-delayed the 1stinstallment, as such what to speak of Renewal|
|2009-10||Not even the process started by State Govt.|
|Post-Matric Scholarship||2007-08||5442||2.15||Partial||Not known||Only 32|
|2008-09||12750||8.71||List of selected students not announced on the website by State Govt.|
|2009-10||Process not started by State Govt.|
|2008-09||43542||10.71||List not announced on the website by the State Govt.|
|2009-10||Process not started by the State Govt.|
2. whereas under the State Govt. funded schemes, Scholarship of Protsahan rashi has been distributed for the session 2007-08 only. Selection list under post-Inter education scholarship is yet to be announced for distribution of scholarship amount of Rs.4000/- per student of the college.
Following measures are suggested to enhance the reach of the scholarship programme and to make it meaningful for the students aspiring for higher/technical/professional education:
1. For effective management of the Scholarship scheme, a separate Minority Scholarship & Welfare Directorate should be created with HELPLINE FACILITY, which should be accountable for timely implementation of scholarship & students related welfare schemes for minorities. The Directorate should be responsible for timely announcement of selected students and 100% timely distribution of scholarship.
2. reach of the scholarship should be widened and deepened through advertisement, involving Muslim organizations and Muslim minority schools and colleges.
3. Allocation of fund for scholarship programme under the State Govt. budget should also be raised.
Implementation of MsD Plan
There are seven Minority Concentrated Districts in Bihar for which Multi-sectoral Development Plan has been launched with 100% grant from the Centre. For the current plan period, the Central Govt. has allocated 523 crore rupees to raise the socio-economic conditions of these districts under eight broad indicators of development to reach the national average. People of these districts, the civil society and Muslim NGOs & organizations are unaware of any positive steps of the State Govt. towards implementing the plan. A baseline survey has been done by Human Development Institute (HDI) to prioritize the indicators. The survey has some deficiency in prioritization, e.g. indicator of safe drinking water in Kishanganj district has been shown above national average. Every body knows that the area has heavy arsenic hazards in water in the district (source: Planning Commission report). Much time has lapsed in completing the required formalities on the part of the State Govt. for release of allocated grant from the Centre. It is evident that with the present level of social concern and motivation, the plan can hardly be implemented in these Muslim concentrated districts during the 11th Plan period.
It is suggested that:
1. Implementation of the plan needs State Govt. resolve to raise the condition of Muslim minority;
2. Effective Implementing mechanism should be created under the charge of committed administrator,
3. Members of civil society & Muslim organizations should be involved in Monitoring & Evaluation process,
4. Progress in implementation should be transparent and widely publicized in the concerned districts,
5. Fund should be utilized proportionately on raising all the indicators,
6. Plan should be simultaneously implemented to utilize the grant & to achieve the target within the plan period.
State Plan for Implementation of Sachar Recommendations
Sachar report has been widely publicized and Muslim minority is awaiting positive steps from the Government. Muslim minority can hardly believe any action from the Governments on these recommendations without positive action having transforming effect on their backwardness. But the issues of their backwardness in all walks of life have got wider appreciation among the Muslim minority. They are not going to allow the report dumped.
Following proposals may be considered by convening a meeting of Muslim NGOs, Organisations and Professionals:-
1. The State Govt. of Bihar may prepare and initiate its own plan in the light of the recommendations made by the Sachar Committee to uplift the Muslim community on different indicators of development pointed out in the report.
2. To begin with, some initial steps having evident transforming effects on Muslim minority in Bihar would establish the sincerity of the State Govt. for raising the socio-economic status of the community. It would build some confidence among Muslim minority regarding the concern of Government towards their genuine problems. Muslim NGOs and organizations may also be involved in the exercise.
3. the condition of Muslim Wakf in Bihar is very pitiable. Even survey of the Wakf properties in Bihar is yet to be completed. The process should be completed as early as possible.
4. Alongside completion of survey of Muslim Wakf, a comprehensive plan should be passed for better utilization of the Wakf property towards socio-economic and educational development of the Muslim community. Professionals like architects/engineers, real estate planners, representatives of Muslim organizations and NGOs may also be involved in planning and management of Wakf properties as suggested in Sachar Committee report.
5. Competent persons with better reputation should be inducted in the Wakf Board. Professionals, administrators and social workers should be inducted in the Board.
6. Transparency and Accountability should be the hallmark of the functioning of the Wakf Board.
7. Litigation should be minimized by providing support from other agencies of the State Govt. Wakf Tribunal should activated immediately with adequate infrastructure and human resources.
8. Developmental yardstick should be fixed to measure the effectiveness of the management of the Wakf Board. Financial support should be provided to develop the Wakf assets towards raising the recurring income.
(Patna-based author is noted social activist and Chairman, Al-Khair Charitable Trust)