Author : Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi-led NDA Government is committed to the inclusive growth of minorities following the principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”, and has continuously increased the Plan Budget of the Ministry of Minority Affairs. In 2016-17, Rs. 3800 Crore have been earmarked which is a significant increase of more than Rs. 168 Crore over the 2015-16 expenditure level. In the last year 2015-16, the Modi Government has spent 20% higher than was spent in 2013-14 in the last year of the earlier Government, which is a substantial hike.
Ministry of Minority Affairs has made intensive efforts to promote education and employment among minority communities and taken important initiatives in last two years. A new scheme “Nai Manzil” has been launched in 2015 as an integrated education and livelihood initiative. This scheme has been approved with Rs. 650 Crore and it will benefit about 1 lakh minority youth. This is for the first time in the history of minority welfare programmes when World Bank has agreed to support such programme with 50% funding. Rs. 155 Crore has been earmarked for 2016-17 for implementation of programme. This scheme is also significant as it combines the formal education as well as skill development for school dropouts which will significantly enhance their career growth.
In conformity with priority of the Government for “Skill India” and “Make in India”, the skill development initiative for minorities “Seekho aur Kamao”. It has been strengthened and expanded and the outlay in 2015-16 has been increased by almost 11 times (over the level of 2013-14 of Rs. 17 Crore) by the Modi Government and Rs. 191.96 Crore has been sanctioned for training of about 1.23 lakh minority youths. Altogether in 2014-15 and 2015-16, 1.43 lakh minority youth have been trained. In 2016-17, the budget has been further increased to Rs. 210 Crore for training of 1.25 lakh minority youth.
Ministry implements an exclusive scheme “Nai Roshni” for Leadership Development of Minority Women with an aim to empower and instill confidence in women by providing knowledge for interacting with Government systems, banks and intermediaries at all levels. In last two years of the NDA Government (2014-15 and 2015-16), Minority Affairs Ministry has trained more than 1.30 lakh women with Rs.28.98 Crore in 24 States. Recently, the implementation of the scheme has been independently evaluated by the NITI Aayog and they observed that the programme has been appreciated by most of the segments of the population of the society and it has assisted in creating confidence among minority women and developing leadership spirit in them.
The Government is aware of the problem being faced by the traditional craftsmen/ artisans. Due to poverty and non-updation in the skills to match global trends, many craftsmen/artisans are leaving their skills in search of other occupations. The Government cannot afford this huge loss of heritage of the country. Therefore, Ministry of Minority Affairs launched another new scheme “USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/ Crafts for Development)”.
The scheme aims at setting standards of traditional skills, design development, capacity building and updating the traditional skills of master craftsmen and artisans, documentation and preservation. It also aims to engage the trained master craftsmen/artisans in training of minority youths in various specific traditional arts/crafts. Ministry has engaged National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), National Institute of Design (NID) and Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) to work in various craft clusters for design intervention; product range development; packaging; exhibitions, tying up with e-marketing portals to enhance sales; and brand building. Ministry has also signed MoUs with e-commerce portal to establish linkages with National and International market.
Ministry established Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS),MANAS a special purpose vehicle, in 2014-15 to address skill development needs of minority communities and its linkage with concessional credit to provide sustainable livelihood through self-employment and entrepreneurship.
MANAS has made special efforts on skill training of students of Madarsas and other traditional educational institutions. So far, MANAS has collaborated with 39 traditional educational institutions of various minority communities including 31 Madarsas. The efforts for Madarsas have particularly been made to provide door step skill development facility for Muslim girls in minority concentration areas. If no such Madarsa for Muslim girls are available, MANAS arranges the training facility in the neighbourhood. Since inception, MANAS has covered about 65,000 minority youths for skill training.
For disbursal of scholarship in the students’ bank accounts, Ministry has completely shifted to Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) on National Scholarship Portal (NSP) in 2015-16.
The step has minimized the tiers involved in fund flow and thus reduced the delays in payment. Moreover, DBT mode and linking bank accounts with “Aadhaar” has helped the Ministry in accurate targeting of beneficiaries and curbing pilferage and duplications.
Under Free Coaching Scheme, the financial assistance is provided to prepare the minority students for competitive examinations for medical, engineering, Government jobs, etc. In the last two years of the Modi Government, the fund flow has been doubled from Rs. 23.00 Crore to Rs. 45.00 Crore and coverage of minority candidates has also increased from 9997 to 16,427 candidates.
Ministry, in its endeavour to preserve rich cultural heritage of minorities under “Hamari Dharohar”scheme, curated “The Everlasting Flame International Programme”, a programme which was one of its kind, involving 3 travelling exhibitions on Parsi Culture namely ‘The Everlasting Flame’, ‘Painted Encounters, Parsi Traders and the Community & No Parsi is an Island’, and ‘Threads of Continuity’ during March-May, 2016 at the National Museum (NM), National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) and Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) respectively. For the first time, the articles for Exhibitions have been brought from British Museum, London; Hermitage, Russia; Iran, Uzbekistan etc. to showcase Parsi culture.
Ministry is also taking steps for protection and management of Waqf properties. Therefore, Ministry has taken initiative for GIS mapping of Waqf properties with the help of IIT Kanpur, Roorkee, Mumbai and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC). It will enable Waqf Boards to detect and prevent encroachments on precious land resource.
National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) provides concessional loans for self-employment to minorities.
Since 2012-13, Equity Infusion to NMDFC was disturbed because the then Government had not increased the Authorized Share Capital. During the period of earlier Government in 2013-14, no Central Government Equity could be contributed. For the first time in history of NMDFC, the Modi Government on 10.02.2015, has doubled the Authorized Share Capital of NMDFC in one go i.e. from Rs. 1500 crore to Rs. 3000 crore. Since then, Ministry has already contributed Rs.290 Crore as equity to the NMDFC. This has enabled NMDFC to leverage more loans to minorities.
Transparency in Governance being high on the agenda of the Modi Government, Ministry has launched online portals of Seekho aur Kamao, MANAS, Nai Roshni (a women empowerment programme), and Nai Udaan .
(a scheme to support candidates who clear Preliminary examination of UPSC, etc. for preparation of Mains). Vital information have been kept in public domain on these portals.
Ministry of Minority Affairs will leave no stone unturned for realizing the objectives of each programme and outcomes on the ground. Ministry is also focusing on the simplified mechanism to achieve the goals. The people friendly procedures are being adopted to ensure Good Governance and effective and timely delivery of services and benefits to the minority groups targeted by our welfare schemes.
*The author is Minister of State (Independent Charge) Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India.