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Special package for minorities ready

The Task Force, appointed by the PM, has recommended a special scholarship, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2007 23:40 IST

Minorities in 380 towns and cities are all set to get a special package from the government, months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured of ‘fair share’ in government resources to them.

The Task Force appointed by the PM to suggest a road map for improving socio-economic condition of minorities has recommended a special scholarship for economically backward minorities, similar to the one for OBCs, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The scholarships would be given on basis of a mean test (annual income of the family) to the students from these communities.

Most of the recommendations related to minorities in the working group of education have been included in the recommendations, a task force member said. It includes recommendations like upgrading madarsas (religious schools) and reservation for backwards among minorities in education institutions run by minority organizations.

The task force headed by Planning Commission member Balchandra Mungerkar has also recommended building of new schools and hostels for minorities and girl students from these communities. The HRD ministry has proposed opening of 1,500 new schools in these identified towns and cities.

The task force wants improvement in Muslim enrolment in higher education, which is just eight per cent. The number of Muslim graduates is only 1.8 per cent of the total graduates. Each university should have a special cell for minorities, the task force has suggested. The University Grants Commission will soon submit a detailed plan to tackle the problem of poor representation of minorities in higher education, a member said.

To improve overall hygienic condition, the task force want special allocation for minority-dominated areas in UPA government’s flagship schemes like National Rural Health Mission and National Urban Renewal Mission. “Special allocation for construction of roads and health centers should be made from the available funds,” a member said, adding that the allocation so far has not been adequate. Municipal bodies should be instructed to carry out special development drives, he added.

The task force, which has secretaries of six ministries as members, wants special financial incentives for them to start business or set up industries. The task force has recommended special schemes for these 383 towns and districts.

Specific recommendations on improving employment rate among minorities have also been made. The National Sample Survey Organisation had recently stated that employment rate among Christians was lowest among all religious groups, resulting in a demand for reservation by Christian groups.

chetan@hindustantimes.com.