Gargi Parsai

Centre announces measures to improve status of minorities

Three exclusive scholarship schemes proposed

Wakf Act to be amended to address deficiencies

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday announced measures to improve the share of the minorities in government jobs and to study the anomalies in the representation of Muslims in Parliament and the State Assemblies.

An Equal Opportunity Commission would be set up to look into the grievances regarding discrimination against Muslims.

There would be a multi-pronged strategy to address the educational backwardness and skills development of Muslims.

Efforts would be made to promote micro-financing and step up priority sector lending to the minorities to 15 per cent over three years as a response to the findings of the Sachar Committee.

Tabling a statement on the “follow-up action” on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report on the “Social, Economic and Educational Status of the Muslim Community,” Minorities Affairs Minister A.R. Antulay said in the Lok Sabha that it was a “historic occasion and a historic statement.”

Mr. Antulay said guidelines had been issued to improve the share of the minorities in the government, public sector enterprises and banks. A high-level committee had been constituted to review the Delimitation Act regarding anomalies in the representation of Muslims.

Targeted intervention would be made in 90 backward districts, which had a concentration of the minorities, for creating employment opportunities and the improvement of basic amenities.

An inter-Ministerial Task Force would recommend strategies to improve deficiency in civic amenities and economic opportunities in 338 identified towns and cities with a substantial population of minorities.

Public sector banks would open more branches in areas with a concentration of Muslims, and financial institutions would promote micro-finance, especially among women.

As part of the strategy to address the educational backwardness, the outreach of upper primary schools would be expanded, particularly for girls.

A special literacy drive would be taken up in blocks with a concentration of Muslims. The Madarassa Modernisation Programme would be revised, and the mid-day meal scheme would be extended.

The follow-up plan proposed three scholarship schemes exclusively for minorities.