Noting that the benefits of schemes drawn up for the minorities have not "flowed equitably" to the beneficiaries, Prime Minister Manmmohan Singh has urged chief ministers of all states and union territories to fix fresh targets under the new 15-point programme drawn up for their welfare.
In a letter sent before he left New Delhi on Sunday on a nine-day two-nation tour, Manmohan Singh emphasised the need of a mechanism to monitor the implementation of the schemes and said that at the central government level a committee of secretaries would do that and submit a report to the cabinet.
The prime minister asked the states to put in place a similar mechanism so that the programme receives "due" attention at the "highest" level.
Manmohan Singh also emphasised the importance of maintaining communal peace and harmony and providing a fair share in central and state government jobs to the minorities.
The prime minister's letter comes shortly after furious family members of the Muslims killed in bomb blasts in Malegaon Friday refused to accept compensation offered by Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh and instead accused him of neglecting the development needs of the Muslim-majority town.
The 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities had been drawn up by then prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1983 "to counter the menace of communal disharmony and violence, ensure representation to minorities in government employment and provide a fair share to them in programmes for economic empowerment", Manmohan Singh recalled.
Over the years, he pointed out, a large number of developmental schemes had been introduced to address specific problems relating to education, health, employment, and shelter for the poor and the under privileged. Most of these programmes were either area-specific or had defined target groups.
"Naturally, the poor and the underprivileged amongst the minorities are included in the target groups and are entitled to an equitable flow of benefits to them under these programmes. However, available evidence does not inspire confidence that the benefits of these schemes have flowed equitably to the eligible sections amongst the minorities," he pointed out.
"In view of this, it has been felt necessary to recast the 15-point programme to include specific interventions that would ensure equitable flow of benefits to the minorities in accordance with our broad developmental goals.
"The importance of maintenance of communal peace and harmony and provision of a fair share in central and state government employment, including the public sector undertakings, to the minorities remains undiluted and these continue to be fundamental constituents of the revised programme," Manmohan Singh asserted.
The complexity of the programme and its wide reach made it important to fix specific targets for each segment and for each state and union territory, the letter stated.
"At the (central government), the progress of implementation, with reference to targets, will be submitted to the union cabinet. A similar mechanism could be put in place in your state/union territory to ensure that the implementation of the programme receives due attention at the highest level.
"I look forward to receiving your cooperation and assistance in the successful implementation of this programme," Manmohan Singh wrote.