NEW DELHI: Politicians may talk big when it comes to minorities—like 4.5 per cent reservation for Muslims—but when it comes to spending money, ministries and bureaucrats are small spenders. As per the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, the Ministry of Minority Affairs could not spend allocated funds under ongoing Plan schemes and programmes during the last three years. It surrendered Rs 33.63 crore in 2008-09, Rs 31.50 crore in 2009-10 and Rs 587.70 crore in 2010-11 respectively to the Ministry of Finance. The committee failed to understand why such a huge amount meant for ongoing schemes such as Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) for Minority Concentration Districts, Pre-matric Scholarship Scheme, and computerisation of records of state Waqf boards was relinquished.
The committee was not convinced by the ministry’s excuses that some states and Union Territories did not send adequate and complete proposals on schemes like Computerisation of records of State Wakf Boards, Multi-sectoral Development Programme for minority concentration districts well before December 2010. It observed MsDP being the ministry’s flagship programme, every effort should have been made to utilise the funds by approving the plans of all the districts on time.
Though the scheme for leadership development of minority women was launched with much fanfare in January 2010, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has not spent a single rupee for the implementation of the scheme. Funds for the scheme were earmarked in the Budget Estimates and Revised Estimates in the year 2009-10 and 2010-11.
The standing committee found it very disturbing that even after two financial years, the scheme has shown no progress after its launch.
Says BJP MP Shahnawaz Hussain, who’s a member of the Standing Committee and also Parliamentary Selection on Minority issues, “Apart from our standing committee report, I’ve pointed out several times in the select committee meetings that Central Government schemes are faultily designed. The provision of high rate matching grant fixed by the Centre to avail these schemes, must be removed. State governments often do not have that kind of money to spare. That’s why we, from our party, has been saying the Centre policies on minorities—whether its on funds or Muslim quota or Sachar report—are more of a window-dressing to catch votes rather than actually improve lot of the community.’’
Says Rashid Alvi, Congress spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member, “The Opposition and regiional parties raise a hue and cry about the collapse of federalism and do not implement programmes beneficial for the common man, especially the backward communities. The Central government’s hands are tied. It can legislate, allocate funds, but it is for the states to utilise them for the good of our people. However, we have find a way to overcome this problem.’’
If the same parameters are applied to the minority reservation quota issue, it has to be seen how the Centre would take along the states on board for implementation of the minority quota.