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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

RTI query spurs women empowerment

Gulam Jeelani , Hindustan Times  Lucknow, July 15, 2013
First Published: 11:18 IST(15/7/2013) | Last Updated: 11:20 IST(15/7/2013)

Launched in 2009 to empower minority women, union government’s Nai Roshni welfare scheme had not moved beyond papers till just a few months ago.

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Now, four years after it was first mooted, work on the scheme has finally begun, thanks to an RTI query filed by an Uttar Pradesh-based activist.

Centre’s ministry of minority affairs had initiated Nai Roshni to empower and instill confidence in minority women, including Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis, through knowledge, tools and techniques that help them interact with government systems like banks and other institutions.

A budget of Rs. 23 crore was set aside for the scheme with an aim to benefit as many as 40,000 women in its first phase, following Sachar Committee recommendations on socio-economic conditions of minorities in the country.

But till as late as June 2013, not a single penny was spent on implementation of the scheme.

In fact, it was an RTI query by Saleem Baig, an activist fro m Moradabad , which exposed the actual state of the scheme.

Baig, in his application, had asked the PMO about initiatives taken by the Union government to implement Sachar Committee recommendation.

He sought details about the welfare schemes launched, the funds allocated and spent and the beneficiaries.

In reply, Anurag Bajpai, director and chief public information officer (CPIO), ministry of minority affairs, revealed that ‘’Nai Roshni’’ scheme was launched in 2009 and added the scheme was being implemented.

“When I came to know about the scheme through RTI, I wrote to the prime minister and K Rahman Khan, the minister of minority affairs, for answers. I did not get any response,” Baig said.

Instead, after Baig’s RTI query, the Union government made an appraisal of the scheme, through standing finance committee, about its implementation in 2012-13.

Last month, the government invited proposals from eligible organisations for conducting training programmes for minority women.

The proposals are to be submitted to district magistrates through district minority welfare officers, who in turn will forward it to the ministry concerned directly after verifying the credentials of the organisations.

“I am happy they have woken up now,” Baig added.


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