Report to the people 2004-07 by Ministry of Minority Affairs news desk

Following are the excerpts from the Report to the people 2004-07 on the Ministry of Minority Affairs. The Report was released by the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on 22nd May, 2007.

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Minority affairs have been given focus through creation of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. A bill for providing Constitutional status to the Minorities Commission has been introduced in Parliament. A Commission has been set up to identify how best the welfare of socially and economically backward sections among minorities, including through reservation in education and government employment, may be ensured. A High Level Committee chaired by Justice Rajindar Sachar has submitted its report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India and the report has been tabled in Parliament. The UPA Government is following up on the recommendations, with a view to acting swiftly on the recommendations so that effective measures are taken soon for amelioration of the condition of minorities.

The overall communal situation remained under control and there has been a sharp fall in the number of communal incidents. Timely and effective action was taken in some of the recent communal incidents. The National Integration Council has been reconstituted and has met after a gap of 12 years. The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill has been introduced in Parliament for prevention and control of communal violence, protection of witnesses, expeditious disposal of cases, immediate and effective steps for relief, rehabilitation and compensation to the victims of communal violence, and expeditious investigation and trial. The trend of communalisation of education has been reversed. The National Curriculum Framework for School Education has been revised. All autonomous bodies under the Ministry of HRD were requested to review those activities that have possibly given rise to the perception of communalisation of education and to take suitable corrective measures.

The Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for Welfare of the Minorities has been recast as follows to make it monitorable, to focus action sharply on issues intimately linked with the social, educational and economic uplift of minorities, to provide for earmarking of outlays in certain schemes and through location of developmental facilities in minority concentration areas, and to prevent communal disharmony and violence:

(A) Enhance opportunities for education

Ensure equitable availability of ICDS services, Improve access to school education,

Give greater resources for teaching Urdu in primary and upper primary schools, Modernise madarsa education, Pre- and post-matriculation scholarship schemes for meritorious students, and Improving educational infrastructure through the Maulana Azad Education Foundation

(B) Equitable share in economic activities and employment

Earmark a percentage of physical and financial targets under self-employment and wage employment schemes for beneficiaries belonging to minority communities who live below the poverty line, Upgrade of skills through technical training by locating a certain proportion of all new ITIs in areas predominantly inhabited by minority communities and upgrading a proportion of existing ITIs to Centres of Excellence, Enhance credit support for economic activities through strengthening of the National Minorities Development Finance Corporation and targeting an appropriate percentage of priority sector lending by banks for the minorities, Give special consideration in recruitment under the Central Government to the minorities and advise state governments to do likewise, and launch a scheme to coach candidates belonging to the minority communities

(C) Improve the living conditions

Ensure equitable share in rural housing scheme of Indira Awaas Yojana,Effect improvement in the condition of slums inhabited by the minorities

(D) Prevention and control of communal riots

Prevention of communal incidents, Prosecution for communal offences,

Immediate, adequate and prompt assistance for rehabilitating victims of communal riots

Implementation of the programme is being closely monitored. Earmarking of 15% of physical targets and financial outlays of schemes has already been done in respect of most schemes included in the programme. The corpus fund of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation has been substantially increased.

The establishment under statute of the Commission has ensured that provisions of the Constitution that give minorities the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice are implemented effectively. It gives minority educational institutions the right to seek affiliation to any university of their choice, overcoming problems faced in seeking no objection for establishing such institutions, and provides for resolution of disputes relating to minority status of educational institutions.

The condition of pro rata equity contribution by states has been waived and the Centre has increased its equity share while enhancing authorised share capital. An expert committee of bankers has been constituted to study the functioning of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation and recommend measures for revamping the organisation in order to enable it to discharge its functions more efficiently. It is expected that following its restructuring the Corporation would expand its operations and its reach significantly.

2,180 new residential Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya schools have been sanctioned over the last three years for providing free residential education up to class VIII to girls belonging predominantly to the minority communities or weaker sections of society. 84 polytechnic level institutes situated in areas having a concentration of minority communities have been identified for upgrading, while 12 new ones are proposed to be set up in such areas. Special allocations, over and above the normal plan grant, have been released through the UGC to Central universities that cater to the needs of the minorities. Schemes for pre-examination coaching of candidates belonging to the minority communities, earlier confined to Government institutions, have been expanded to include reputed private coaching institutes having a track record of showing good results in competitive examinations. Grants have been given augmenting the corpus fund of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation from Rs. 70 crore to Rs. 200 crore to enable the Foundation to expand its coverage in promoting education amongst the educationally backward minorities, through the Foundation’s programmes of scholarships, awards, training, etc. Provision of Rs. 108 crore has been made for a multi-sector development programme in districts with a concentration of minorities. Outlays for the pre- and post-matriculation and the graduate / post-graduate merit-cum-means scholarship programmes for students belonging to the minority communities have been enhanced. Over the past three years, nearly four thousand Urdu teachers have been put into position through appointments against newly created posts or through payment of honoraria to existing teachers for teaching Urdu language in blocks / districts that have a concentration of economically backward minority communities.

The Haj Committee pilgrim quota has been raised substantially to 110,000 for Haj 2006-II. Several measures for improvement in facilities for pilgrims have been introduced, including enhanced accommodation norms in Mecca, more proximate accommodation facilities in Madina, improved health facilities, etc. State Haj Committees have been given an increased role in Haj management in terms of regulation of activities of private tour operators, deputation of State Haj Committee and Waqf Board employees as helpers or khadim-ul-hujjaj, etc.

Doordarshan has launched an Urdu channel to meet the information, education and cultural needs of Urdu-speaking people, thereby affording their linguistic aspirations and identity a medium of expression and also helping preserve and promote its rich cultural and literary heritage. Efforts are being made to convert this into a 24-hour channel.