Other States

Assam Budget proposes development corporation for Muslims, gold for brides

A development corporation for indigenous Muslims and a tola (11.34 gram) for brides of all communities and e-bikes for girl students securing first division in higher secondary exams were among a slew of sops in the ₹1,193.04 crore deficit Budget that Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma presented in the Assembly on Wednesday.

The Budget for 2019-20 fiscal has provision to splurge on 160 Hindu temples and monasteries across Assam with a total annual grant of Rs 4.11 crore – a whopping 451% increase from the ₹91.03 lakh for the current fiscal. These religious places would also be provided a one-time grant of ₹1 lakh each to set up CCTV camera for enhanced security.

A few mosques and dargahs are among more than 800 religious destinations to be provided ₹10 lakh each for infrastructure improvement. But the focus of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party appears to be on creating a development corporation for the indigenous Muslims, who have been demanding a council like some ethnic groups.

According to the 2011 census, Assam has 1.18 crore Muslims, out of which the indigenous or Assamese Muslims are estimated to be 72 lakh. Prior to the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP had promised to protect the identity of the indigenous Muslims against the larger Bengali-speaking migrant Muslims.

Such a development council “will take up various programmes aimed at the holistic development of this section of the society,” Mr. Sarma said in his Budget speech.

“Once the corporation is formed, I will immediately allocate a sum of ₹100 crore for taking up various developmental and employment-related activities,” he added.

Gold for brides

The Finance Minister announced a ‘golden gift’ for brides of all communities who customarily provide gold at the time of the wedding. The facility will be for economically weaker sections with an annual income of below ₹5 lakh.

“I am happy to announce that we shall give one tola gold, costing around ₹38,000 today, to brides... The benefit under this scheme can be availed upon formal registration of the marriages under the Special Marriage (Assam) Rules, 1954 and will reach the beneficiaries right in time for the social marriage,” he said. ₹300 crore has been allocated for this scheme named after Arundhati, the wife of sage Vashisht.

Mr. Sarma also announced the introduction of a scheme to provide battery-operated e-bikes to all girl students who secure first division or above in their Class 12 examinations for commuting to their places for higher studies.

For parents of schoolchildren whose annual income is below ₹2 lakh, the Finance Minister announced an admission fee waiver besides providing free textbooks up to degree level. The scheme, called Gyan Deepika, currently covers up to Class XII.

Free rice

The Budget had focussed attention on tea plantation workers, who account for 17% of Assam’s population and are a major vote bank for the BJP.

“The government has decided to provide rice, which is presently provided at the rate of Rs 3 per kg, free of cost to 4 lakh families in the tea garden areas as well as 2 kilos of sugar per month,” Mr Sarma said.

Beyond the tea estates, 53 lakh households would be provided rice at ₹1 per kg under the Affordable Nutrition and Nourishment Assistance Yojana. The current rate is ₹3 per kg, he said.

“We will start the pilot implementation of this scheme from March, for which ₹377 crore has been allocated,” Mr Sarma said.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 9:36:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/assam-budget-proposes-development-corporation-for-muslims-gold-for-brides/article26193024.ece

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