Jayanth Jacob, Indian Express , November 02, 2006
NEW DELHI, NOVEMBER 1 : The UPA government has initiated an exercise to identify backward districts and blocks with a significant minority population to ensure better implementation of welfare schemes. But according to sources, the focus of the exercise could be Muslims, considering the country’s demographics.
The government on its part says the move is aimed at collecting “recent and accurate” data. As per the existing information — based on the 1971 Census — the government has identified 41 districts with a considerable minority population. However, the data consists of only population figures and doesn’t include any socio, economic or human development parameters required to establish that a district is backward.
Talking to The Indian Express, Union Minister for Minority Affairs AR Antulay said: “Collecting latest data which has indicators to show backwardness along with population figures means that we can identity the areas where welfare schemes should be most focused on.”
But he claimed that “welfare schemes are meant for all minorities which are economically and socially backward, and not for any particular community.”
The government aims to identifying more than 100 districts and blocks across the country which have at least a 20 per cent minority population and are faring badly in health, education, sanitation facilities, school enrollments, employment opportunities, purchasing power, women empowerment etc.
The exercise will be carried out by state governments which will pass on the data to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Once the list is complete and has been vetted by the ministry, it is expected to be placed before the Cabinet.
The UPA government has been planning ways to ensure that minorities get due benefits from welfare schemes especially after the reworked 15-point programme this June.