By Special Correspondent
New Delhi: Now it is official that the Union government under Prime minister Narendra Modi -whose pet credo is ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas- has reduced the amount for the minority welfare. This was admitted by Union minister for minority affairs Smriti Irani in Parliament on Thursday.
In a written reply, Smriti Irani stated that the government has decreased the money allotted for numerous minority-focused programmes between 2019–20 and 2021–2022. The number of beneficiaries under most schemes launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs has declined since 2019-20, she added,
Between 2019–20 and 2021–22, some schemes received more funding than others, but fewer people benefited from them, she noted.
She was responding to a non-starred question posed by M. Badruddin Ajmal, an MP for the All India United Democratic Front from Assam. He had asked for information regarding the amount of funds allotted, used, and the number of recipients under the national programmes put in place for the socioeconomic and educational empowerment of minorities.
There are six minority groups that have been centrally notified: Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Parsis, and Jains.
She replied that the information under the heading “physical and financial achievement for various initiatives” demonstrated a decrease in beneficiaries and allocations during the previous three years.
The decrease in beneficiaries and allocations in 2020–21 could be related to COVID–19. Data for 2019–20 and 2021–22, however, revealed that many times, even after two years, the allocations and beneficiaries remained low.
Beneficiaries of employment schemes are fewer
In response, the minister stated that in 2022–2023, five employment programs—Seekho aur Kamao, USTTAD, Hamari Dharohar, Nai Roshni, and Nai Manzil—would be combined into one programme known as the Pradhan Mantri Virasat Ka Samvardhan (PM VIKAS).
The number of recipients under the “Nai Manzil” programme has dramatically decreased from 22,359 in 2019–20 to 5,312 in 2021–2022.
Beneficiaries increased in several programmes, but funding was reduced
Data showed that while there were more beneficiaries in various minority-focused programmes between 2019–20 and 2021–2022, the amount of monies released or sanctioned decreased.
For instance, the pre-matric scholarship programme, which is available to minority students from grade 9 to doctoral level, saw a reduction in funding from Rs. 1,424.56 crore in 2019–20 to Rs. 1,329.17 crore in 2021–22.
The number of programme participants, however, increased from 55.68 lakh in 2019–20 to 57.10 lakh in 2021–2022.
Numerous coaching and scholarship programmes saw a decrease in beneficiaries.
The number of post-matriculatory scholarship recipients decreased from 7.43 lakh in 2019–20 to 7.14 lakh in 2021–2022. The amount of money released or authorised decreased during this time from Rs 482.65 crore to Rs 465.73 crore.
The Union government offers scholarships to minority students from ninth grade through doctoral study under this programme. The family income of the beneficiary must not exceed Rs 2 lakh annually in order to qualify for this programme. Additionally, this programme dedicates 30% of the scholarships to female students.
A similar reduction was seen in the beneficiaries of the Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme, which went from 1,251 in 2019–20 to 1,075 in 2021–20. Over the course of the two years, the amount of money released or sanctioned under this scheme decreased from Rs 100 crore to Rs 74 crore.
Minority students who pass the UGC-NET or Joint CSIR UGC-NET exams are eligible for the fellowship. Their annual family income is not to exceed Rs 6 lakh.
The number of grantees in the “Naya Savera” fellowship programme decreased from 9,580 in 2019–20 to 5,140 in 2021–2022.
Students from minority communities who come from families earning no more than Rs 6 lakh annually are eligible for free coaching under this programme. This programme aids in their preparation for numerous competitive entrance exams.
The amount of money allocated for the Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship programme, which is only for female students from underrepresented populations in classes 9 through 12, decreased from Rs 165.20 crore to Rs 91.60 crore during the past two years. Students are eligible for the scholarship if their family’s annual income is less than Rs 2 lakh.
Beneficiaries of this programme decreased significantly from 2.95 lakh in 2019–20 to 1.65 lakh in 2021–2022.
The funds provided or sanctioned for the “Nai Udaan” programme, which aids minority students taking the UPSC, SSC, and PSC exams, decreased from Rs 8.01 crore in 2019–20 to Rs 7.97 crore in 2021–22. However, throughout that time, the number of recipients increased from 1,539 to 1,641.