‘With cut in funds, minorities will be pushed to sidelines’

In the Union Budget of the current financial year, the Ministry of Minority Affairs’ allocation had been slashed by 38 percent from the previous year.

Published: 13th February 2023 07:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th February 2023 07:56 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: With a drastic cut in the budgetary allocation of the Minority Affairs Ministry and the discontinuation of scholarships, civil society groups and Parliamentarians feel that the minorities will be further pushed to the sidelines by the move.  

In the Union Budget of the current financial year, the Ministry of Minority Affairs’ allocation had been slashed by 38 percent from the previous year. Advocacy groups point out that the curtailing of funds for pre-matric scholarships, education schemes and various skilling programmes was uncharitable as it will be a huge upset for the Muslim community.

While the allocation for pre-matric scholarships fell from Rs 1,425 crore to Rs 433 crore, funds for skill development schemes such as ‘Nai Manzil, mostly targetting minority women, plummeted to Rs 3.4 crore from the previous fiscal’s Rs 332.91 crore. While the funds for research schemes for minorities were halved to Rs 20 crore from Rs 41 crore, under ‘Education scheme for Madrasas and minorities’ saw a drastic cut from Rs 160 crore to Rs 10 crore this year.

On the one hand, the government is cracking down on child marriages, and on the other, it is doing away with beneficial schemes for minorities, says Hasina Khan of Bebaak Collective, an umbrella organisation of Muslim women’s groups. “The government’s move to discontinue Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) and other scholarships show its anti-minorities stand. Now the cut in budget allocation for minorities will deprive minorities, especially women of availing of higher education. If the government is serious about stopping child marriages, why are they scrapping education funds?” asked the functionary.

The government discontinued MANF – for minorities pursuing MPhil or PhD in December last year, saying that the scheme “overlaps with various other fellowship schemes for higher education being implemented by the government and minority students are already covered under such schemes”. 

Fellowships like MANF were implemented on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report in 2006, says Rajya Sabha MP and IUML leader P V Abdul Wahab. Wahab moved a Private Member Bill in the ongoing Budget session of the Parliament to implement the recommendations of the Sachar Committee on the social, economic, and educational situation of Muslims in India. 


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