“Our initiatives have begun to impact the status of minorities”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday flagged his government's achievements in protecting and advancing the rights and interests of Dalits, minorities and other marginalised sections. He cited, among other things, a slew of pro-minorities schemes launched in the wake of the Rajinder Sachar Committee's report.

Dr. Singh made a special mention of the recently-announced sub-quota of 4.5 per cent for minorities within the 27 per cent OBC reservation, saying he was happy that his government had gone ahead with this decision.

The Prime Minister was delivering the inaugural address at a seminar organised here by the Dalits and Minorities International Forum.

Referring to the persisting impression that his government set up the Sachar Committee, but was lackadaisical in implementing its recommendations, he said the reality was the opposite.

“I have often heard people comment that we have not implemented the Sachar recommendations. I want to tell you today that this is not true at all. We have not only drawn up schemes and plans based on Sachar recommendations, these initiatives have begun to impact the status of minorities,” he said.

Recruitment of minorities had increased in government jobs, security forces and the banking sector, and simultaneously priority sector lending for minorities had gone up from 9 per cent to 15 per cent. Besides, 40 lakh scholarships were awarded to minority students, and minority-specific development programmes implemented in as many as 90 minority-concentration districts.

The Prime Minister also listed the supportive measures for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the backward community of weavers; among them primacy given to Dalits in procurements made by the State and the announcement of a Rs. 3884 crore loan waiver and a special package for the handloom sector.

The seminar was organised by Ram Vilas Paswan, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader and chairman of the Forum, and attended by delegates from around the world.