New York: The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI), a US-based organisation working for the educational and economic uplift of Indian Muslims, has commended New Delhi for laying special emphasis on educational and social fields in the union budget.
A press release quoted Akram Syed, NRI entrepreneur and president of AFMI, as saying, "The special emphasis on education and social sectors is the highlight of this year’s budget and the government should be commended for it."
Syed has identified as positive several elements of the budget presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram in parliament Tuesday. One is the 31.5 percent enhancement of funds for education with a total outlay of Rs.241.15 billion.
Primary education will benefit with the fund allocation being enhanced from Rs.71.56 billion to Rs.100.41 billion, the release stated.
Currently, around 10 million children below 14 years of age are not going to school. There will be an increased drive to recruit more teachers and set up new schools. About 500,000 additional classrooms will be constructed and 150,000 additional teachers will be appointed.
Another positive aspect of the budget, according to the release, is the increase in fund allocation for the national Urdu education programme to Rs.130 million from Rs.100 million this year.
Syed, however, expressed his disappointment over the government’s decision to limit tax exemptions to donations and charity given to religious institutions alone. He said tax exemption should be extended to non-profit institutions working for education, economic development and healthcare.
"In addition to religious activity there are several other worthwhile social causes.
"Organisations engaged in these noble causes are also deserving of the tax exempt status to attract donations. The government needs to adopt holistic and creative approaches to human development," the release quoted Syed as saying.
AFMI is a North America-based grassroots organization dedicated to the socio-economic and educational development of Muslims and other underprivileged masses of India.