NEW DELHI: While the union ministry of minority affairs received a higher budget allocation in the 2022-23 union budget, funds for Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) which promotes education among educationally backward minorities, was cut down by over 99 per cent as compared to last union budget of the year 2021-2022.
The Minority Affairs Ministry was allocated Rs 5,020.50 crore in the 2022-23 budget which is 209.73 crore more than the budget allocation made for the year 2021-2022. The budget estimate for the Ministry of Minority Affairs in the financial year 2021-22 was Rs 4,810.77 crore and later the revised allocation was Rs 4,346.45 crore.
The funds for MAEF were brutally cut down from the last allocation of Rs 90 crore to 0.01 crore this year. The government also slashed funds for some programmes for ‘Skill development and livelihood’ of minorities bringing down the overall budget of ‘Total Skill Development and Livelihoods’ from 573 crore to 491.91 crore.
This newspaper reached out to authorities at MAEF but they refused to comment on the matter.
MAEF, as per the ministry, is a "voluntary, non-political, non-profit making, social service organiSation established to promote education among the educationally backward minorities".
Interest in the investment of the Corpus Fund given by the central government is the only source of income for the foundation. The schemes of the foundation are for expansion and upgradation of existing institutions and improvement in the educational status of backward minorities.
For skill development initiatives, which are aimed at improving chances of employment opportunities for minority communities, the budget allocation was reduced from the current year’s Rs 276 crore to Rs 235.41 crore. The budget allocation for Nai Manzil scheme was almost halved from Rs 87 crore to Rs 46 crore. This scheme is targeted at providing placements to at least 70 per cent of the youth trained under this programme in jobs that would earn them basic minimum wages.
Funds for augmenting Madrasas and funds for promoting ‘Leadership Development of Minority Women’ was also slashed in the latest budget. Under ‘Education Scheme for Madrasas and Minorities’, a budget allocation of Rs 160 crore was made in the budget in comparison to Rs 174 crore made in the last budget and under the ‘scheme for leadership development of minority women’, Rs 2.50 crore was allotted in comparison to the allocation of Rs 8 crore made in the last budget.
The ’Education scheme for Madrasas and Minorities’ grants financial assistance to introduce modern subjects in Madrasas, to provide training to teachers and to augment school infrastructure in minority institutions. The ‘scheme for leadership development of minority women’ is meant to provide leadership and skill training to women belonging to minority communities.
Of the total proposed allocation to the ministry, an increased budgetary allocation was made mainly for schemes for educational empowerment of minorities such as the pre-matric scholarship scheme and the post-matric scholarship scheme. Around Rs 1,425 crore budget allocation was made for the pre-matric scholarship scheme and Rs 515 crore was made for the post-matric scholarship scheme in the union budget for the year 2022-2023 in comparison to Rs 1,378 crore and Rs 468 crore allocation made to the two schemes respectively in the last budget.
Among the schemes for which budgetary allocations were hiked are the Qaumi Waqf Board Taraqqiati scheme, scheme for containing population decline of small minority community such as the Parsi community in India, Merit-cum-Means scholarship for professional as well as technical courses for under-graduate and post-graduate students, Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakaram etc.
The government also made a higher budgetary allocation for the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) giving its Rs 12.70 crore in comparison to the Rs 12 crore made in the last budget.
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi hailed the 2022-23 budget and said it advances the opportunity for self-reliant India amid the Covid pandemic. Naqvi said amidst the global economic crisis, the budget binds together trust and development with the thread of “self-reliant India". "This is an inclusive budget in line with the government's vision of Sabka Saath, Sabka vikas, sabka vishwas," Naqvi told TNIE.
The budgetary allocation for other prominent schemes run by the ministry such as Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minority Students and the scheme for providing free and subsidised coaching for minority candidates preparing for UPSC, SSC, State Public Service Commissions etc remained the same in the new budget at Rs 99 crore and 8 crore respectively.
The mandate of the Ministry of Minority Affairs is to ensure a focused approach towards issues relating to the six notified minority communities in India namely Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Parsis and Jains.
The mandate of the Ministry includes the formulation of overall policy and planning, coordination, evaluation and review of the regulatory framework and development programmes for the benefit of the minority communities.