Modi govt changes scheme meant for Muslims to include all minorities

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Cabinet Committee chaired by the PM changes Multi-sectoral Development Programme to Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram and it will include districts where the minority population is 25%

Continuing with the practice of renaming old schemes, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the proposal for renaming and restructuring of Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP) as Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) on Wednesday.

The Committee increased the budgetary allocation and the number of districts where it would be implemented. With this the government has also decreased the percentage of population which would be covered under the scheme. Earlier only those cluster of villages where the minority population was at least 50% were considered, but now the population criteria has been lowered to 25%.

As per the cabinet decision, the area to be covered under PMJVK would be 57% more as compared to the existing MsDP. The MsDP covered 196 districts of the country whereas PMJVK will cover 308 districts of the country. Funding of the scheme would be from budgetary provision of the Ministry. The Expenditure Finance Committee, Department of Expenditure, has recommended for the continuation of the programme as PMJVK at the cost of ₹1200 crore for year 2017-18, ₹1,320 crore for 2018-19 and ₹1,452 for 2019-20 and the total is ₹3,972 crore.

Funding of the scheme would be from budgetary provision of the Ministry. The Expenditure Finance Committee, Department of Expenditure, has recommended for the continuation of the programme as PMJVK at the cost of ₹1200 crore for year 2017-18, ₹1,320 crore for 2018-19 and ₹1,452 for 2019-20 and the total is ₹3,972 crore.

“Increase in the budget allocation and the number of districts to be covered is music to ears but on ground it is basically not only dilution but the defeat of the basic purpose of this scheme” says Zafar Mehmood, member of the Sachar Committee.

“Though the scheme is for minorities, the basic purpose of it was upliftment of the Muslim community but with the population criteria being brought down to 25%, it means that more districts could be covered and the money could be spent in those districts where the minority population is a mere 25% and the non-minority population would be 75%,” added Mehmood. His apprehension was that the districts which would have non-Muslim minority population concentration of 20% and five percent of Muslim population would be entitled for this scheme and this would defeat its purpose.

The Sachar Committee, which was formed in year 2005, by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, gave its recommendations on how the status of the Muslims in the country could be improved. Under the light of Sachar Committee recommendations, the Multi Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP) was initiated.

“This programme is well-intentioned but it had some problems also. The planning Commission appointed monitors to see the implementation of the scheme. These monitors were of the view that the work is being done but the districts are so big in our country that the efforts were not being reflected on ground. Most of the work done under this scheme was carried out in those districts where the concentration of Muslim population was not fifty percent. After this it was decided that instead of districts, blocks should be identified with the current population criteria and about 700-odd blocks were identified. With this new scheme where the number of districts have increased and the population criteria had been lowered, the purpose of this scheme stands defeated,” pointed out Mehmood.

President of the Fatima Academy, an NGO which works in the field of education in old Delhi, Aijaz Noor, says, “We thought that in the fifth year of governance, the Modi government should work towards uplifting the weaker sections, including Muslims, after their repeated bypoll defeats and increasing incidents of violence, but the dilution of this programme shows that we were wrong.”

Pointing towards their agenda, Noor says, “This shows that the PM is not interested in ‘sab ka vikas sab ka sath’, but it is sab ka vikas only with the scheme meant for minorities.”

“The total population of minorites in the country is 19% and 73% of this 19% are Muslims. So, 73% of such dedicated schemes should be for Muslims but it is just opposite or rather less. The percentage of scholarships that Muslims get from these schemes is less whereas other minorities, who are not that backward, get the bigger chunk,” adds Mehmood.

Mehmood added that the government should rethink this policy if it really wanted the nation to grow as no nation could be strong if one section of its people were weak and backward.

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