New Delhi: The Narendra Modi government’s effort to uplift the conditions of minority communities — सिर्फ़ News had reported the government’s deal with the World Bank first among all private news outlets — is in full swing. Union Minister for Minority Affairs Najma Heptulla addressed the All India Regional Editor’s Conference here today. In her opening brief, she said that the government was committed to “sabka saath, sabka vikas” through implementation of well-knit interlinked initiatives. The minister said that, going by the national priority, her ministry had taken many new initiatives to strengthen the efforts towards economic empowerment of minorities through skill development and education.
Elaborating on new initiatives undertaken during last 20 months, Heptulla informed that her Ministry had formulated and launched a new scheme ‘Nai Manzil’ on 8 August 2015. The scheme will benefit the minority youth who do not have a formal school leaving certificate — those in the category of school drop-outs or educated in the community education institutions like the madarssahs, with a view to enabling them to seek better employment in the organized sector and thus to equip them for better lives.
The scheme has been approved with a cost of Rs 650 crore for five years. The World Bank has approved the funding of $50 million and recommended the scheme to countries in Africa faced with similar developmental challenges.
Focussed implementation of well-knit interlinked initiatives will ensure ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ — Najma Heptulla, Union Minister for Minority Affairs
The minister explained that skills and crafts practiced by minority communities no more remained lucrative and became unattractive rendering these craftsmen to look for other means of livelihood. She said to make these skills and crafts more profitable and another new ambitious initiative of the Government, “USTTAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development)” was formally launched on 14 May 2015 at Varanasi. The scheme aims at capacity building and updating the traditional skills of master craftsmen and artisans. The scheme will also set standards for traditional skills. The trained master craftsmen/artisan will train the minority youths in various specific traditional arts/crafts.
To further support the initiative, artisans and craftsmen, the ministry has signed a MoU with an E-commerce portal shopclues.com for facilitating the market linkages of crafts, Heptulla added. The ministry has also engaged National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), National Institute of Design (NID) and Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) to work in various clusters for design intervention; product range development; packaging; exhibitions, fashion shows and publicity; tying up with e-marketing portals to enhance sales; and brand building. Out of earmarked Budget of Rs. 17.01 crore for 2015-16, Rs. 15.29 crore has been released.
The minister said that in conformity with her government’s priority for “Skill India” and “Make in India”, the skill development initiative for minorities “Seekho aur Kamao” (learn and earn), has been strengthened and expanded. and the outlay has been increased by almost three times and revised allocation of Rs.192.45 crore has been made. For 2015-16, the target is to train 1,13,000 trainees (revised targets) with Rs 192.45 crore (revised allocation). Rs 143.15 crore was already sanctioned for training of 92,330 trainees by 31 December 2015.
An online portal for Management Information System (MIS) for Project Implementing Agencies (PIAs), trainees, trainers, location of projects etc. has been launched by the ministry. The other initiatives of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, she briefed about included the establishment of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS), a special purpose vehicle, to address all skill development needs of minority communities, award of about 86 lakh Scholarships During 2014-15, “Padho Pardes”, for providing interest subsidy on educational loans taken from Banks by minority students for higher studies abroad, unique initiative of “Hamari Dharohar” aimed at preservation of rich heritage and culture of minorities, by supporting curation of iconic exhibitions, calligraphy, preservation of old documents, research and development, restructured Multi-sectoral Development Programme or Jan Vikaas Karyakram, for area development programme, “Nai Roshni” for Leadership Development of Minority Women by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with Government systems, banks and intermediaries at all levels, concessional loans by National Minorities Development & Finance Corporation (NMDFC for self-employment, activities and initiatives of the National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO).
During 2014-15, the Budget of the Ministry was Rs 3,711 crore, which was further increased to Rs 3,712.78 crore for 2015-16. The Ministry of Minority Affairs was created on 29 January 2006 for formulation of policies for welfare and socio-economic development of 6 notified minority communities namely, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains, which constitute more than 19% of India’s population.