Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has allocated Rs. 3,511 crore to the Minorities Affairs Ministry, an increase of 12 per cent over the last fiscal. The enhanced amount was allocated in spite of the Ministry failing to utilise the funds provided to it in last year’s budget.
The Minister allocated Rs. 41,561 crore for the SCs’ plan and Rs. 24,598 crore for tribals'’ plan while making a strong statement that the funds won’t be diverted. But Paul Divakar of the Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan alleged that most of the government’s flagship schemes “inherently have no relation to the development of SCs or STs.”
“Most of the flagship schemes like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, the National Rural Health Mission, the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana, to name a few, do not have a mechanism for directly addressing the needs of the SCs and STs,” Mr. Divakar said.
He further alleged that the quality of allocation for the SCs and STs by the Ministries was less in the growth sectors and more in the survival areas. “The Ministries which allocate for growth and economy have hardly any allocation for the economic entrepreneurial activities of SCs and STs.”
Under the Minority Affairs Ministry, the Maulana Azad Education Foundation, which is the main vehicle to implement educational schemes and channelise funds to NGOs for the minorities, was allocated Rs. 160 crore, which will add to its present corpus of Rs. 750 crore.
Accepting the proposal by the foundation to initiate medical aid, Mr. Chidambaram allocated Rs. 100 crore to launch the initiative.
Experts such as the former member of the National Advisory Council Harsh Mander talked about the need for larger allocation of funds for minorities, especially after the government “acknowledged the development deficit of the minorities through the Sachar Committee report.”
He argued that the minority schemes were not necessarily designed to effectively target minority households and settlements, while adding the need for universal scholarships, as opposed to present provision of limited scholarships, in order to boost their educational prospect.