Published On:07 November 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Ardous task ahead for new minority affairs minister

By Syed Amin Jafri

The induction of K Rahman Khan as minister of minority affairs in the Union cabinet reshuffle last week has been widely welcomed by a cross-section of minorities in the country. The 73-year-old Rahman Khan, a well-known legislator and parliamentarian from Karnataka, brings rich and varied experience to his new assignment. A former deputy chairman of Rajya Sabha and an ex-chairman of Karnataka Legislative Council, Rahman Khan was a member and later chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on the functioning of Wakf Boards.

Rahman Khan faces arduous tasks as the new boss at the ministry of minority affairs. He is incidentally the third minister to hold this portfolio, after Abdul Rahman Antulay and Salman Khurshid, since this ministry was formed in January 2006. The ministry, among other things, handles important subjects such as PM's new 15-Point Programme for the welfare of minorities, follow-up on Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission reports, multi-sectoral development programme for minority-concentration districts, central scholarship and free coaching schemes, computerization of wakf records, schemes of National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation and Maulana Azad Educational Foundation and other initiatives for the empowerment of minorities, including women.

First and foremost task before the new Minister is to ensure higher allocations of funds for his ministry in the ensuing financial year 2013-14 and subsequent years. During the 11th Plan period (2007-12), the ministry was allocated Plan funds of Rs 7,000 crore and the actual expenditure worked out to Rs 6,826 crore. The Steering Committee on the Empowerment of Minorities for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan has projected a requirement of Rs 41,685 crore for the five-year period (2012-17). The allocation in 2012-13 has been pegged at Rs 3,135 crore. Over the next four years, the ministry has to step up allocations to Rs 9,600 crore annually to reach this target. The higher quantum of funds is required for covering more beneficiaries under the existing schemes and for the nine new schemes contemplated during the 12th Plan period.

Another key issue awaiting his attention is that of 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities out of the 27 per cent reservations for the Other Backward Classes. The sub-quota, effective from January 1, 2012, could not be implemented, since the Andhra Pradesh High Court set aside the office memoranda earmarking 4.5 per cent reservations out of OBC quota for minorities in central educational institutions and public employment. The Supreme Court refused to stay the High Court orders when the Union government filed a special leave petition.

The Union government contends that the sub-quota is applicable to only those minorities who are already included in the list of OBCs. The sub-quota is not based on the grounds of religion but on the consideration of backwardness and the quantum of reservation is proportionate to minority population among the OBCs. There are 411 Muslim OBC castes out of a total of 2,423 OBC castes included in the 27 per cent OBC quota. Muslim OBCs account for one-sixth of all OBC castes and the sub-quota works out to one-sixth of the quota for all OBCs. The ministry of minority affairs will have to argue its case strongly in the Supreme Court, since the future of state-level quotas for minorities will depend on the verdict on this SLP.

Rahman Khan will also have to incorporate changes in the Wakf (Amendment) Bill 2010 by addressing the concerns of Muslim community and the recommendations of JPC on wakfs that he headed earlier, before bringing it to Parliament for enactment. Equal Opportunity Commission Bill is another legislation that has to be pushed through without further delay.

There are minority-related institutions which are not under the purview of the ministry at present, such as Central Haj Committee under the ministry of external affairs and National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions and National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language under the ministry of HRD. He would need to strive to bring these institutions under the ministry of minority affairs to ensure greater cohesion in their functioning.

(Courtesy: The Times of India)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on November 07, 2012. Filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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