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commentary

How Not to Do Minority Welfare Rs 6.5 crore was allocated for the con-
struction of a 100 bed hospital, while
Rs 50 lakh was allocated for Kaliabor
Co­llege, in an area which has only about
Kashif-ul-Huda 19% mino­rity students. Similarly, Rs 4
crore was allo­cated for an Industrial

I
While the union budget for n the budget for the 2009-10 financial Training Institute in Nagaon which has
2009-10 raised the allocation year, the government of India has al- 10% minority students and which was
located Rs 1,740 crore to the Ministry already getting funded under a World
for minority welfare, the funds
of Minority Affairs, a whopping 74% Bank scheme.
remain a pittance compared increase from the pervious year’s alloca- This diversion of funds is possible
to the extent of backwardness tion of Rs 1,000 crore. But before one because the minority affairs ministry
and discrimination faced by the yells “minority appeasement”, consider itself makes it possible. For instance, in a
that this amount, earmarked for the wel- letter dated 26 December 2008, an under-
minorities. Further, political
fare of about 20% of the nation’s popula- secretary at the ministry notifies the
disinterest and ingrained tion is just 17% of the total budget. The sanctioning of an amount of Rs 63 crore
prejudices in sections of the National Minorities Commission Act, for Barpeta district of Assam. The letter
bureaucracy often lead to 1992 has noti­fied who comprise the directs the accounts officer under the
minority communities of India. Muslims ministry to release Rs 31 crore under vari-
diversion of funds and unspent
are 73% of the minority population, while ous schemes meant for the minorities in
amounts. The government needs Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Barpeta. Copies of this letter are sent to
to show greater political will others make up the rest. Therefore, a the concerned departments of the Assam
while citizens need to monitor majority of the welfare schemes for mi- government. For each of the projects that
norities are designed keeping in mind the are sanctioned, the ministry issues in-
these schemes at the grass roots.
educational and economic needs of the structions for the state government. This
Otherwise these schemes will Muslim communities. is where it gets interesting and shows
remain crumbs thrown at a Combining the outlays to the Ministry what mechanisms exist for legally divert-
hapless section of India’s citizens. of Minority Affairs, the assets of the ing funds away from the minorities.
Maulana Azad Education Foundation and For the housing scheme titled Indira
the National Minority Development Awas Yojana, the ministry directs “the State
F­inance Corporation (NMDFC), the central will ensure that 20 below poverty line
government spends about Rs 5,000 crore (BPL) families per village in 50 villages
annually on welfare of Muslims. Now per block having the highest proportion
let us take this amount of Rs 5,000 crore of minority population would be selected.”
and divide that by the estimated Muslim So, a “creative” administrator can easily
population in India, which is about identify villages and families with non-
15 crore. What we get is a paltry sum of minority population as long as the block
Rs 333 per capita. Even if the top 20% itself has a high number of minority
of the Muslim population by income is populations. If there is any confusion, a
considered rich enough to not require second guideline gives such “creativity”
support, we get the figure of Rs 417 per the legal cover it requires. It states that
head being allocated by the government. the “BPL families figuring in the wait list,
If this amount is spent pro­perly it would even if they belong to communities other
lead to some benefit to the community. than the minority communities, would
But government schemes designed for be selected in the order of their ranking
minorities are rarely implemented with in the list”.
any sincerity and often funds meant for In other words, funds allocated for
minorities are diverted. minorities are released by the Ministry of
Mino­r ity Affairs with instructions that it
Sabotaging Minority Schemes can and should be spent on non-minorities
A few examples from Assam would illus- on the basis of some other wait list that
trate the manner in which money allo­cated has nothing to do with the ministry itself.
to minority welfare is diverted to areas and This clearly seems to be against the
Kashif-ul-Huda (kashif@urdustan.com) is the projects that will not directly benefit the govern­ment’s own “Guidelines for Prepara-
editor of an Indian Muslim news web site minorities. In Chamguri, Nagaon district tion of Multi-Sectoral District Develop-
Two Circles.net
which has only 4% minority population ment Plans for Minority Concentration
Economic & Political Weekly  EPW   september 5, 2009  vol xliv no 36 19
commentary

Districts” where Clause 7.1 (iii) reads: their schemes are properly implemented, Hostages to the SCAs, both these flag-
“…the funds provided for the minority but this seems hardly to be the case. The ship schemes – term loan scheme and
concentration districts are additional NMDFC depends on the state channelising micro­finance scheme – have been imple-
resources for these districts do not sub­ agencies (SCAs) which are nominated by mented erratically. Out of 27 states and
stitute state government funds already the state governments. Having to work union territories that participated in the
flowing to the districts”. through SCAs impacts the effectiveness term loan scheme, only Kerala shows
Of course, this instruction is not unique of the NMDFC’s programmes. It also has a some consistency in distributing money
to Barpeta. Similar instructions have network of about 200 non-governmental under this scheme. Figures for all
accom­panied all the grant-in aids released organisations (NGOs) throughout India to the other states show inconsistency of
by the minority affairs ministry for 2008- reach its intended populations. Ninety- parti­cipation. Sixteen states have zero
09. All the local administrators have to six per cent of the funds disbursed by distribution in one or more years. Bihar,
show that the block or village they have NMDFC is through the term loan scheme for example, distributed Rs 8 crore in
selected has a sizeable minority popula- which makes available a loan of up to 2004-05, nothing in 2005-06, and Rs 3
tion. Yet the building of schools, toilets, Rs   5 lakh. The corporation annually dis- crore in 2006-07. Another example is
aangan-wadi resources and water hand- burses, on an average, Rs 10 crore under Uttar Pradesh, which has not distributed
pumps may not actually end up benefiting this scheme. Over the past five years it any money since 2006-07! Similar is
the minorities at all. has benefited 1,47,820 people distribut- the case with NMDFC’s microfinance
ing a total of Rs 57 crore. The microfi- scheme. Nineteen states had one or
Low Credit Flow nance scheme of the corporation has dis- more years of no disbursement at all.
The NMDFC, set up in 1994, focuses on the tributed a further Rs 6 crore, benefiting Clearly, since the success of the corpora-
economic development of minorities. It 79,781 people in the last five years. tion’s schemes is dependent on the coop-
provides funds to minorities for self-­ The Ranganath Misra Commission eration of the state mechanisms and the
employment and education, among other report had this to say about the NMDFC: NGOs, the NMDFC does its part to keep
things. With a share capital of Rs 850 them happy.
…the total flow of credit from the NMDFC, in
crore, it has the power to engender posi- comparison to other financial insti­t utions,
The NMDFC pays the SCAs Rs 1 crore in
tive changes among the discriminated is extremely small. This limits the impact of the name of infrastructure development
minorities, specially Muslims, by increas- NMDFC assistance on the economic progress and, in addition it also pays 1% extra in-
ing entrepreneurship through targeted of minorities. More­over, obtaining a guar- terest to SCAs for the loans disbursed.
antee from the state government remains
loan schemes. Over Rs 40 lakh was given in interest-free
the biggest hurdle to getting a loan from the
Unfortunately, it has been able to NMDFC. Also, due to financial constraints,
loans in 2006-07 to NGOs. All this money
raise only Rs 676 crore out of its total the state governments are reluctant to is meant for the SCAs and not for the
promised capital of Rs 850 crore. Sixty- guarantee loans. mino­rities. The NGOs also get financial
five per cent of the share capital is the
government of India’s responsibility, 26%
the contri­bution of state governments JAWAHARLAL NEHRU UNIVERSITY
and union territories and 9% is supposed
to be contributed by organisations and
New Delhi-110067
individuals interested in minorities’
Advt. No. RC/39/2009 Dated : 17/06/2009
welfare. While the government of India
has met 98% of its contribution promise, Faculty Positions at the Jawaharlal Nehru University
only 59% of the state government contri-
butions are in. The most pathetic aspect A number of faculty positions, at the level of Assistant Professor,
is that out of the Rs 76.50 crore expected Associate Professor and Professor are available in various Centres/
contributions from organisations and Special Centres and Schools of the University.
individuals, only Rs 1  lakh has been
raised thus far. Among the states, only Candidates with good academic record, teaching/research experience
and working in related areas of research are encouraged to apply.
Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, and West
University also solicits applications from candidates with research
Bengal have paid 100% of their contribu-
interests that are interdisciplinary.
tions. Some of the worst offenders are
Punjab which has paid only 20% of its For more details see JNU website: www.jnu.ac.in or Employment News
promised contribution, Tamil Nadu with dated 5th September, 2009 or contact Section Officer, Recruitment
only 35% paid up and Uttar Pradesh, Cell, JNU, New Delhi-110067. Room No. 131, Administrative Block,
which has paid up a measly 19% of its E-mail: recruitment@mail.jnu.ac.in
promised contribution.
Even this Rs 676 crore could have an Deputy Registrar (Academic/Recruitment)
impact for the better for the minorities if
20 september 5, 2009  vol xliv no 36  EPW   Economic & Political Weekly
commentary

support to help recover the loans they additional documents, two on official among the Muslims, and minorities in
give out but recovery has been only stamp paper. Many poor and deserving general, to help them know about and
around 57%. The problem with these students are unlikely to have the resourc- correctly identify relevant government
NGOs is not only poor performance. The es and expertise necessary to correctly schemes and also their rights and duties
NMdFC has been forced to take legal ac- deal with all this cumbersome paper- as citizen of India.
tion against some of these NGOs for clear work. A number of students who did qual- Muslims can raise funds, establish
unlawful practices. A total of 51 NGOs are ify complained of not getting the money schools and colleges, and organise self-
facing legal suits by the corporation to that was promised to them. help groups but all these efforts together
recover more than Rs 1.8 crore. cannot match the funds required to meet
The Minority Affairs Ministry has three Solutions the needs of the community over the en-
types of scholarships for minority stu- The solution to all these problems is not to tire length and breadth of India. It is there-
dents, pre-matric, post-matric and merit- have another commission to investigate fore necessary that the government fulfil
cum-means. About six lakh students are matters. The solution is also not in prom- its promises towards minority develop-
to benefit from these scholarships every ulgating other schemes and programmes. ment and Muslim groups need to monitor
year. But just like other schemes of the The first thing the government must do is these schemes at the grass root level to en-
government, it has not been easy for the to constitute a joint parliamentary com- sure proper implementation. There are
intended beneficiaries to access these mittee to monitor the implementation of many other solutions too but, finally, it all
scholarships. The application is six pages these and other schemes meant for the depends on how sincere the governments
long and available only in English. The welfare of the minorities. Second, there at the states and centre are towards
scholarship application also requires six need to be sustained awareness campaigns minority welfare.

A Homage to Neeraben grew with it. Women’s studies changed us


and we changed women’s studies as our
understanding grew, and the fact that a
totally new area had emerged, threw
Maithreyi Krishnaraj open vistas of exploration, ideas and
theorisation. Above all, underwriting the

T
With the death of Neera Desai, an o everyone, she was always “Neer- whole enterprise was a deeply felt concern
era in women’s studies in India aben”, a kind of benign mother for bringing true equality for women. I am
figure, who protected and carried still uncomfortable with the new notion of
has in a sense passed. Her
with her, the brood of women’s studies “empowerment” that by-passes the ques-
contributions were not limited to scholars. I do not believe in hagiography tion of gender equality.
her scholarship and to the because that makes her into a unidi­
mensional figure and misses out on the Feminist Consciousness
development of the women’s
struggle she had in the challenges of the Not many people know of the history of
study centre at the SNDT University,
period, the challenges she faced in remak- how the unit blossomed into a full-scale
Mumbai. She also stood out for ing herself in ever new roles. Like most of research centre gaining recognition across
her unstinting support to young us, she had her strengths and weaknesses. the country and abroad. It was the out-
scholars all over the country, to She was not a “saint” endowed with un- come of a set of fortuitous circumstances,
failing wisdom, preaching to us but a very a period in history, when the time had
women’s organisations and the
human being with human frailties and ex- come. International conferences of the
women’s movement. cellences, angry sometimes, forgiving at United Nations had placed women’s issue
other times, and hence, easy to relate to as centre stage. But what was amazing was
one of us. Most of all, she had a caring that Neeraben long before all this flurry of
nature. One misses the dhoklas and tea activity began, had identified research
that always awaited us when we had meet- and documentation of women’s status
ings arranged at her house. She opened as an important area of concern for a
her doors to meetings of various groups. women’s university.
What is remarkable is how she learnt all In a symposium held at the university
the way. I joined the SNDT women’s studies to celebrate the golden jubilee of the
“unit” as it was then, a small one room SNDT university in 1966, Zakir Hussain
Maithreyi Krishnaraj (maithreyi_krishnaraj@ place, heroically managed by the honor- declared that “whatever else these
yahoo.com) has been researching issues ary director of the unit. Both Neeraben educated women would do, they would
relating to gender for many years.
and myself grew in women’s studies and be housewives and mothers on whom
Economic & Political Weekly  EPW   september 5, 2009  vol xliv no 36 21