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Minority Affairs Ministry gets short shrift in the Union Budget

Minority Affairs Ministry gets short shrift in the Union Budget
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Minority Affairs Ministry gets short shrift in the Union Budget

Highlights

The 2021-2022 budget estimate for the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) records an increase of 20.12 per cent on the revised allocation but it is 4.34 percent lower than the budget estimate of the current financial year 2020-2021

The 2021-2022 budget estimate for the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) records an increase of 20.12 per cent on the revised allocation but it is 4.34 percent lower than the budget estimate of the current financial year 2020-2021.

The allocation for MoMA in the Union Budget for ensuing fiscal 2021-22 is pegged at Rs 4,810.77 crore. It is Rs 805.77 crore higher than the revised allocation of Rs 4,005 crore of the current fiscal. On the face of it, the budget estimate of 2021-22 appears to be higher to the revised estimate of 2020-21 but, when compared to the budget estimate of Rs 5,029 crore in the fiscal 2020-21, the allocation is lower. In the Union Budget for 2021-22 with overall allocations of Rs 34,83,236 crore, the minority affairs allocation of Rs 4,810.77 crore accounts for a meagre 0.14 per cent. In the current year, the minority affairs ministry was allocated a share of 0.16 per cent and this dropped to 0.12 per cent in the revised estimate

The minorities (Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains) constitute for almost 20 per cent of the population in the country. But the allocation for them in the union budget is far, far meagre compared to their proportion in the country's population. In the central sector schemes in the education sector, the pre-matric scholarships got an allocation of Rs 1,378 crore in the next fiscal as against Rs 1,330 crore in the current fiscal, an increase of Rs 48 crore. However, the post-matric scholarships received Rs 67 crore less next year compared to the revised and budget estimate of Rs 535 crore in the current fiscal.

The allocation for the merit-cum-means scholarships for professional and technical courses is being cut to Rs 325 crore from Rs 400 crore in the current financial year. In the next fiscal, Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme for minority students is allotted Rs 99 crore and it is Rs 76 crore less than the 2020-21 allocation of Rs 175 crore. The interest subsidy scheme for educational loans for overseas students received a cut of Rs 6 crore as it only gets Rs 24 crore as against Rs 30 crore in the 2020-21 budget. Rs two crore has been cut in the allocation for financial support for students clearing Prelims conducted by the UPSC and it received only Rs 8 crore compared to Rs 10 crore in the current year. The total cut in the education empowerment sector comes to Rs 110 crore.

Whereas the skill development and livelihood schemes received a reduced allocation of rupees Rs 175 crore. The allocation for Nai Manzil - the integrated educational and livelihood initiative – was reduced to Rs 87 crore from the current fiscal's allocation of Rs 120 crore. Next year's budget allotted only Rs 47 crore for the scheme for upgrading skills and training in traditional arts/crafts for development (USTTAD) compared to the current year's allocation of Rs 60 crore.

The scheme for leadership development of minority women received only Rs 8 crore compared to Rs 10 crore in the current fiscal. For equity contribution to the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC), the allocation has been reduced to Rs 153 crore, which is Rs 7 crore less than the allocation of Rs 160 crore in the current fiscal.

The special programmes for minorities got a cut of Rs 12.80 crore in next year's outlay. The allocation for the scheme for containing the population decline of small minority community (Parsis) and for Hamari Dharohar for conservation and protection of culture and heritage of minorities has been reduced by Rs one crore each. Lastly, research/studies, publicity, monitoring and evaluation of development schemes for minorities got allocation of Rs 41 crore only as against Rs 50 crore in the current year.

On the other hand, under the centrally sponsored schemes, the education scheme for madrasas and minorities has been provided Rs 174 crore. For Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakaram (earlier known as Multi-Sectoral Development Programme—MSDP), the budget allocation next year is Rs 1,390 crore, entailing a cut of Rs 210 crore in this year's allocation of Rs 1,600 crore.

The actual expenditure of the current fiscal will be known when the year draws to a close on March 31. The actual expenditure for the financial year 2019-2020 stood at Rs 4,431.10 crore. Thus, the Union government has provided the allocation for the next fiscal year based on the revised estimate of the present fiscal 2020-21.

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