Also wants rise in Budget allocations for religious minorities
NEW DELHI, 1 March 2013:(*M Madhu Chandra):The Union Budget for 2013-2014 has conclusively shown that till religious minorities get a special component plan on the pattern of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, there will be little actual devolution of funds for their development, Christian Council president Rev Dr. Joseph D’Souza has said.
The Budget allocations for the next financial year fall far short of expectations, especially of the Christian community, India’s second largest minority, Council secretary General s Dr. John Dayal said.
While presenting the annual general budget, finance minister P Chidambaram allocated welfare sub plans Rs. 41,561 crore to the scheduled castes and Rs. 24,598 crore to the Tribals – which cannot be diverted and must be spent for the designated purpose.
However, Government data shows that a large component of budget allocations for religious minorities in the past have remained unspent. There is little indication in the budget how the government intends to ensure that the moneys are spent on the target communities and specially to the Christian community, which has not got its fair share of these funds, Dr. Dayal said. The community must be assured that it will get its share of funding on a pro rata basis, specially in area development schemes and scholarships.
The finance minister has allocated Rs. 3,511 crore to the Ministry of Minority Affairs, a notional increase of 12% over the budget estimates of last. Year. The government has also allocated Rs 160 crores to the Rs 750 crore corpus of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation, the main vehicle to implement education schemes and channelised funds to non-government organisations for the minorities, but this alone does not increase direct support to disadvantaged children desirous of education.
In actual terms, only the pre-matric scholarship sees a real increase from Rs 540 crores to Rs 810 crores. The post matric scholarship sees only a small increase from Rs 405 to Rs 450 crore. Both schemes need much more resources, apart from funding to make them known to small towns and village populations.
The Christian community is the least benefited by the Multi Sectorial Development Programme in selected minority Districts, a scheme that benefits only one minority group. And even here has been reduced sharply from the Rs 1,077.60 crore in 2012 budget to Rs 887 crore in the 2013-2014 crores. This scheme will benefit the Christian community only when it is sharply focused on the population figure for minorities at the block level. A block level focus will benefit Christians in Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Punjab, apart from areas is many other states which are currently left out.
The Christian Council has, however, welcomed Mr. Chidambaram’s gender budget of Rs. 97,134 crore and child budget Rs. 77,236 crore in 2013-14. Dr. D’souza said women belonging to most vulnerable groups, including single women and widows, will be to some extent helped in living a life of self-esteem and dignity. It is good that the ministry of women and child development had been asked to design schemes to gender discrimination especially at the work place.
Released for publication. For further information, please contact John Dayal at +919811021072
The All India Christian Council (www.christiancouncil.in), birthed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.
M Madhu Chandra is the Regional Secretary – AICC
Mobile Number is--9774303076