Measures for Welfare and Development of Minorities

Approach towards Welfare and Development of Minorities
The Constitution of India has not only upheld the long secular tradition where people of many faiths have lived together in harmony but also makes special provisions to protect the educational and cultural rights of all minorities, religious and linguistic. Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India guarantee the rights of the minorities, religious and linguistic. Articles 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India guarantee the rights of the minorities to conserve the language, script and culture and to establish and administer education institutions of their choice whether based on religion or language.
Removal of Disparities and Inequalities
Indian took the road to planned development keeping in view the vast regional and inter group disparities at the time of Independence. It was considered necessary to take up national initiatives for socioeconomic development for removing the distortions of the past through a conscious policy of state intervention into the highly iniquitous social stratification structures. India’s development planning rests on the twin planks of growth and justice and is aimed at raising the quality of life of her people.
The Constitution of India provides a strong framework for socio legal action for removal of disparities.
In post independence India, a large number of constitutional and legislative measures and many forward looking policies and programmes have been directed at integrating the historically disadvantaged sections of society to include the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes, Minorities and Women in the mainstream of national development.
A large number of welfare measures have been taken specifically for the benefit of weaker sections, primarily targeting the scheduled castes (SCs) Scheduled Tribes (STs), other backward Classes (OBCs), and the people who subsist below the poverty line (BPL). From time to time, a special thrust has been provided for the minorities. It is important to appreciate that a very significant proportion of members of minority communities fall within the above mentioned categories. There are minorities within the BPL category and within ST and OBC categories as well.
In analyzing the welfare measures that affect the status of minorities, efforts made by the central and state governments to reach education, health services, subsidized food, drinking water, shelter, and other basic needs to the people have to be included. Several schemes are being implemented for poverty alleviation, rural and urban employment, formation of self help groups (SHGs) aiming at income generation, and so on. All these schemes have an impact on the well being of the citizens of India, irrespective of religion.
Prominent among programmes, schemes and institutions available to all populations currently are: ICDS and Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), Sarvshiksha Abhiyan with focus on SC, ST, BPL, OBC, Minorities and Girls; Swranajayanti Gram Swarozga Yojana (SGSY), Swrnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SSRY), Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), National Rural Health Comission, Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, National Slum Development Programme, The Bharat Nirman Programme (Irrigation Rural Housing, Rural Water Supply, Rural Electrification, Rural telephony, Water Conservation Ground Water Management, Rain Water Harvesting, Micro Irrigation); National Rural Employment Guarantee Programmes / Act, The national Commission on Farmers, National Horticulture Mission, Joint Forest Management; Access To Credit & Risk Management, Focus On Priority Sector Lending, Micro Credit; Micro Small and Medium Development Act of 2006: State Financial Corporations; SIDBI, NABARD, National Highway Development Programme, among others. However, keeping in view the specific problems and requirements of some groups and areas, separate provisions are made through enactment and special programmes / interventions, as in the case of SC, ST, OBC / Minorities, Women, Children backward regions / districts, the unemployed and the poor among all.
Social justice requires that fundamental human rights of the members of all communities are protected by the State.
The New 15-point Program for Minorities outlines a framework within which the welfare of minorities can be ensured through due democratic processes, with the involvement of civil society groups and enlightened members of minority as well as majority groups.
Planned Development of Minorities: Policies, Programs and Statutory Mechanisms
Five Year Plans
In the initial years, a separate focus on minorities was not considered necessary, since developmental planning in India unleashed a process of growth and all-round development, which had an effect on the minority groups as well.
However, from time to time, a special thrust was provided for minorities as well. This additional thrust has become more prominent in the previous decade, particularly since 2001, and with the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07). This is because by then some issues of access emerged, with some gaps showing up in the achievements with regard to minorities.
In the Eighth Plan (1992-87), three national-level apex bodies were set up to give a greater thrust to the economic development of weaker sections of society. These apex-level bodies were: (1) The National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC, set up in 1992); (ii) The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC, set up in 1994-95); and (iii) National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC, set up in 1996-97). While NMDFC was specifically meant for the religious minorities, the other two included them amongst the targeted beneficiaries.
The Tenth Plan (2002-07) recognized that economic growth must be accompanied by enhancement of human well being. This would be reflected through achievements in key indicators of human Development to include poverty reduction, expansion of employment opportunities, universal primary education, increase in literacy rates, reduction in gender gaps in literacy and wage rates, reduction in population growth race infant mortality and maternal mortality rates, and universal access to drinking water. The development strategy adopted in the Tenth Plan took into account the fact that despite overall growth, “a large number of our people continue to live in abject poverty and there are alarming gaps in social attainments” (Tenth Plan document).
The Tenth Plan (2002-2007) explicitly formulated programmes for social and economic empowerment of SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities in the frame work of growth and social justice. Education, health and participation in governance were emphasized as effective instruments for social empowerment of the weaker sections. Economic empowerment through specifically designed programmes best suited to their skills and requirements, would be re-invigorated. The Tenth Plan outlined specific protective and promotional measures for minorities in educational and economic spheres. Provision of basic amenities and services to backward minority concentrated pockets were to be ensured. Modernization of education, technical and vocational education, appropriate technology and development of entrepreneurship along with necessary financial support would be key strategies during the Tenth Plan, leading to social and economic empowerment of the minorities.
Exclusive efforts in the Tenth Plan were to be made to promote the educational development of Muslims, specifically of their women and girl children by modernizing and mainstreaming their traditional educational system and institutional viz. Madarasas, through adopting syllabi being followed in the regular education system. Both protective and promotional measures as per the constitutional provisions in favour of minorities were to be taken in order to inculcate a sense of security and prevent marginalization and isolation of minorities by mainstreaming and generating responsive awareness amongst civil society.
Vision for the Eleventh Plan (2007-12): Towards Faster and More Inclusive Growth
The 11th Plan provides as opportunity to restructure policies to achieve new vision based on fast, more broad-based and inclusive growth. It is designed to reduce poverty and focuses on bridging the various divides that continue to fragment our society. The 11th Plan aims at putting the economy on a sustainable growth trajectory with a growth rate of approximately 10 percent by the end of the Plan period. It envisages productive employment at a faster pace than before, and targets robust agriculture growth at 4 percent per year. It also aims to reduce disparities across region and communities by ensuring access to basic physical infrastructure as well as health and education services to all. Thus, the 11th Plan is committed to ‘Bringing on Par: SCs, STs, Minorities and others left behind’ in line with our constitutional commitment.
Education is the one of the most effective instruments of social empowerment and is vital for securing horizontal and vertical mobility. Schemes for the educational enlistment of the SCs and STs hove borne fruit although the gap between the general population and the SCs and STs is still at unacceptable levels and need more vigorous efforts. Educational programmes need to be continued with redoubled vigour among all other backward sections including minorities, particularly among poor Muslims, who have fallen far behind the national average in all aspects, particularly in the field or education. Areas dominated by backward communities like poor Muslims will require special focus in the Social sector and schemes for creating infrastructural facilities will have to be properly implemented in these areas. Further, the Plan will explore ways of creating incentives for students belong to these communities and work towards the economic and political empowerment of Muslim women by increasing their access to credit and ensuring their presence in decision-making bodies. A 15 point programme for the welfare of minorities has been circulated to all state governments which reflects a new beginning and has the potential of improving the quality of life of Muslim population. An effort should be made to ensure that state governments and central Ministries/departments implement this programme. The Planning Commission may develop appropriate guidelines to ensure that Plan schemes in the relevant areas are consistent with this intention.