‘No move on minority reservation'

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Salman Khurshid
Salman Khurshid

Vidya Subrahmaniam

Logistical problems in implementing uniform reservation policy: Salman Khurshid

NEW DELHI: Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid said on Saturday that as of now the government had no plan to move on the Ranganath Misra Commission's recommendation of a 15 per cent education and job quota for minorities. He said for his Ministry, the guiding force was and continued to be the Rajinder Sachar Committee's report on large-scale deprivation among Muslims

Addressing a press conference here to mark the completion of one year in office of the second United Progressive Alliance Government, Mr. Khurshid said the aim of his Ministry was to move away from viewing reservation as a one-stop measure and instead broadbase affirmative action so that it became a platform for empowerment and access to opportunity.

Asked specifically about the growing demand by Muslim groups for reservation, the Minister said there were logistical problems in implementing a uniform reservation policy. West Bengal, which had taken a decision in principle to reserve 10 per cent seats and jobs for Muslims, was still to reach the Supreme Court-imposed 50 per cent ceiling on reservation. On the other hand, there was no scope for a 10 per cent reservation in Uttar Pradesh.

When his attention was drawn to Tamil Nadu, which had exceeded the 50 per cent ceiling, the Minister said the court was clear that the ceiling could be breached only in extraordinary situations: “In the normal course, we would be foolhardy to go beyond the 50 per cent.”

Mr. Khurshid said that over the last year his Ministry had shown progress on all indicators, and was on target for new goalposts. When a reporter sought his views on the rash of recent fatwas from the Darul Uloom Deoband and other Maulanas, Mr. Khurshid said he did not want to be drawn into the fatwa controversy. He said there could not be a louder condemnation of the fatwas than the achievements of his Ministry.

The Ministry, he said, had started in 2006 with five ongoing schemes and a budget allocation of Rs. 130.89 crore. By 2009-2010, it was running 12 schemes on a budget of Rs. 1,740 crore. Not only four schemes were added in the current fiscal, the budget allocation for the Ministry was up by 50 per cent to Rs. 2,600 crore. The Ministry had spent 98.33 per cent of the 2009-2010 allocation, the bulk of this, Rs. 1243.80 crore, going to the various States and Union Territories under the Multi-Sectoral Development Programme launched in 2008 in 90 targeted Minority Concentration Districts (MCDs).

The Minister denied that the States had shown insufficient interest in lifting the Central funds for the 90 MCDs, arguing that the programme had a longish gestation period because of which the results were not immediately apparent. “You would see the impact this year,” he said, adding National Level Monitors had been appointed to oversee the MCD programme as well as other schemes and measures formulated by his Ministry.

Mr. Khurshid said that since 2007-2008, 1,759 public sector bank branches had been opened in the 90 MCDs. In the same period, the authorised share capital of the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation had been raised to Rs. 1,000 crore, while the share of minorities in priority sector lending had reached 13 per cent (accounting for Rs. 1,08,850.89 crore). Also, government guidelines resulted in an increasing trend of minorities recruitment in government and the PSUs.

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