The sorry tale of how the Congress has failed Muslims on a key promise yet again – Haryana
Posted On June 27th, 2021, Posted By - Admin
The sorry tale of how the Congress has failed Muslims on a key promise yet again – Haryana
Despite it’s professed secularism, the Congress seems utterly apathetic to Muslim concerns, The prime minister’s 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities, unveiled in June 2006, lies in shambles seven years later.
The agenda did do its bit to swing Muslim votes to the ruling Congress party in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, but the promises made in 2006 have stayed unfulfilled. The programme remains invisible on the ground, and the whole idea now looks like just another blank shot fired by the UPA Government.
The programme—a package of multiple schemes—was drafted to address development deficits in identified districts of minority concentration by providing basic amenities and setting up socio-economic infrastructure. It was announced soon after a committee headed by Justice Rajinder Sachar submitted a report on how badly off and State-neglected Muslims were in India. The report—in the overall national interest of equity—highlighted the necessity of ensuring Muslims equal-opportunity education, jobs and residential options across the country. It also called for State intervention in aid of what it revealed as a religious minority in extreme deprivation.
Though the Government did not portray the PM’s 15-point programme as a redressal mechanism in direct response to the Sachar Committee report, it was obvious that the two were interlinked. In any case, this programme figured prominently along with the NREGA in the Congress party’s campaign for the 2009 General Election. The party got the dividends it sought too.
However, while the rural guarantee scheme has kept expanding all these years, the PM’s 15-point programme seems to have reached nowhere. Information obtained through a series of RTI applications shows that it never took off in the manner the Government expected its minority supporters to believe. Even half a decade after its implementation, the programme has achieved none of its aims. If information on its implementation is sought through an RTI application, all one gets is the blabber of officials and attempts to pass on the buck.
Take the case of Haryana’s Nuh district in the so-called Mewat region, one of the country’s most underdeveloped minority-dominated areas. According to information provided on 23 April this year by the Mewat Development Authority’s public information officer (PIO): ‘The district administration has not yet constituted a committee for effective implementation of the Multi-sectoral District Plan (MsDP).’
Now, the MsDP is a key component of the 15-point programme that was to cover 90 districts across India—identified on the basis of a set of backwardness parameters—that have a large minority population. As per guidelines, the district administration was to set up a committee that would be responsible for consolidating development and welfare proposals made by line departments and other agencies for their approval at higher levels. The committee must also oversee the implementation of various projects under the MsDP and send regular reports to the state administration and Centre. In his response to the RTI application, the PIO of Mewat also admits that the construction work being carried out under the MsDP in the district has been extremely slow and that the Minority Affairs Ministry has been kept informed about this from time to time.
“Mewat is not an isolated case,” says Moradabad-based RTI activist Saleem Baig, who has obtained such information from several parts of the country showing how the PM’s 15-point programme exists only in name.
The programme’s implementation is pathetic in Uttar Pradesh, which houses 21 of the 90 districts identified in 2006 for attention. When Baig sought details of the implementation of the MsDP between 2007 and 2012 in Moradabad, one of these 90 districts, the response he got was a shock in itself. Dated 1 March 2013, the reply of the District Minority Welfare Officer of Moradabad’s is curt: ‘No information in this regard is available in the office records.’
When Baig asked for information on the status of the programme in Bareilly, another minority dominated district of UP on the list of 90, he got a reply on 27 February this year from the office of the District Minority Welfare Officer stating that ‘this office has not received any funds under the Prime Minister’s 15-Point Programme for the Welfare of Minorities.’
Baig’s attempt to get information on programme implementation from the office of the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh was also a disappointment. The reply he got from the PIO of UP dated 14 May 2013 lists all the districts in the state where the MsDP is being implemented and advises Baig to seek information from the respective districts.
That the state of affairs is pretty bad in UP is confirmed by two letters obtained by Baig through another RTI application. Both the letters are written by YP Singh, joint secretary, Union Ministry of Minority of Affairs, to Javed Usmani, chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh. The first letter, dated 16 July 2012, says: ‘Two main bottlenecks have been observed in the implementation of this programme in your state. First, the Central share of funds released by this Ministry to the state government does not reach the districts/implementing agencies in time. There has been an abnormal delay of more than six months in many cases in the release of the Central share by the state government to the district/implementing agencies. The second bottleneck observed is the lack of involvement by the district administration while sending proposals and in implementation of projects.’
The second letter, dated 7 September 2012, is clearly intended to remind Usmani of delays in the release of Central and state funds by the state government to the beneficiary districts, and again asks for an executing agency for the projects to be decided upon. The letter also reminds him that ‘utilisation certificates have become overdue for the funds released during the year 2009-10 and 2010-11 respectively’.
Of the all-India list of 90 minority-dense districts, one is located in the national capital. But the picture of neglect in this district—located not too far northeast of the PM’s official residence at 7 Racecourse Road—is no better than elsewhere in the country. This is clear from YP Singh’s letter to PK Tripathi, chief secretary, Delhi. According to this correspondence dated 16 July 2012: ‘For the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012) Rs 22.10 crore was allocated for one district of Delhi under MsDP. Out of the total allocation, only Rs 10.99 crore (50 per cent of the allocation) could be released to the state government so far, as the utilisation certificates for the first instalment of the central share of funds for the projects have not been received from the state. To be precise, utilisation certificates […] released during 2010-11 are still pending even after more than one year of release.’
A report in The Times of India on 22 May last year had noted how poorly the programme had progressed in Andhra Pradesh during the six years of its existence (at the time). The report said that since 2006, when the programme was announced, the state-level committee chaired by the state chief secretary had met only once—in January 2011.
When the Sachar Committee had presented its findings, there was a stunned sense of reality acknowledgment in minority quarters and much debate on the condition of Muslims in the media and official circles. The PM’s 15-point programme had raised expectations among the deprived that after decades of post-Partition neglect by the State (despite myriad promises), corrective measures would at last be taken. This is believed to have helped the Congress raise its tally of seats in the Lok Sabha—with a surprise showing in UP, for example. But that was more than four years ago, which is enough time for the party to have delivered on its promises. In New Delhi, all eyes in the ruling dispensation appear to have shifted to its hunt for new game-changers in 2014, be it the direct benefits transfer scheme or Food Security Bill. This, even as the PM’s 15-point programme gathers dust. Source:firstpost
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