Today, the Hindustan Times has published an article titled “How the NDA is systematically denying minorities their rights” in which the authors, owing allegiance to the Congress party, make several claims trying to prove that the Modi Government is actually denying the benefits of many of the schemes that exist for minorities.
If one were to accept the claims in this article as-is, the only conclusion to draw would be that the NDA Government is anti-minority and is systematically removing all their benefits. The perception on the ground though, albeit with RW supporters, is the exact opposite i.e. that the NDA Government has increased its support and appeasement of minorities. Hence a closer look at some of the claims made in the article is necessary.
Allocations for minority welfare
In the third paragraph, the article says this
“First, the allocations for minority welfare have consistently declined since the time the BJP assumed office”
A little later in the 8th paragraph, the same article says this
“Even though it has nominally enhanced allocations for welfare schemes meant for minority development…”
It is quite evident the authors themselves are unsure whether the NDA Govt has increased or decreased the allocations!
The article claims the following are the allocations for the year 2016-17
“It has dropped from Rs. 27, 172 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 9,930 in 2016-17. In percentage terms, it has come down from 1.93% of the budget (2012-13) to 0.50% in 2016-17.”
The authors have not given any link to the sources for these numbers. Let us look at some actual numbers.
Total plan outlay for minorities in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12) : 7283 crores
Total plan outlay for minorities in the 12th Five Year Plan (2013-18) : 17323 crores
Total minorities welfare department budget in the year 2012-13 : 3135 crores
Total minorities welfare department budget in the year 2017-18 : 4195 crores
Using the same reference years as in the article, the budgetary allocation for minorities welfare has gone up by 33% from the Congress Govt days to now.
Earmarking percentages in the PM-15 Point Program
The MoMA oversees a program called the “Prime Minister’s 15 Point Program for the Welfare of the Minorities”. Regarding this scheme, the article makes the following claim.
“The BJP ….. did not explicitly mandate that a percentage of the plan component of the budget be earmarked for minorities in proportion to their population”
Further down in the article, the authors make the following recommendation
“It would be expedient to mandatorily earmark 14% of the fiscal and physical outlays in the schemes under the PM15-PP for minorities”
On the 8th of February 2017, in response to a Starred Question (vide number 100) on the PM-155 Point Program, the Minister in charge of MoMA stated the following on the floor of the Lok Sabha
“All these schemes / initiatives are being implemented by participating Ministries / Departments, either exclusively or by earmarking of 15% of overall physical / financial targets (under the concerned scheme / initiative) or by monitoring the flow of funds in the minority concentration areas for the welfare of minorities throughout the country”
It is quite clear from the minister’s response that the Government is already earmarking 1% more than what the Congress is demanding.
Multi-Sectoral Development Programme (MSDP)
Several claims are made under this category. Let us look at a few.
“It is being implemented in 90 districts with high concentration of minorities”
On the 2nd of December 2015, in response to an Unstarred Question (vide number 546) on the MSDP, the Minister in charge of MoMA stated the following on the floor of the Lok Sabha
“The Multi-sectoral Development Programme (MsDP), was launched during the year
2008-09 in 90 identified Minority Concentrations Districts (MCDs)…”
“The programme has been revamped in 2013-14 for better focusing and better
targeting on minorities. A total of 710 Minority Concentration Blocks and 66 Minority
Concentration Towns falling in 196 districts have been identified as per Census 2001 for implementation of the programme…”
So it was the Congress which focused on only 90 districts to implement this program in the beginning. The program has actually now expanded to over 196 districts (a 100% increase).
“It has been well documented that a majority of Muslims are not counted in the BPL lists because of various reasons. Consequently, these funds are either diverted to non-minority beneficiaries or remain unutilised.”
Firstly, The authors do not provide any pointers to those “well documented” reasons due to which majority of Muslims are left out of the BPL lists.
Secondly, in the 12th Five Year Plan spanning 2013-14, out of a total outlay of 530316 lakhs for the MSDP, an amount of 415380 lakhs has already been disbursed to the various States by the Central Government. This means even with a full year to go, more than 78% of the funds have already been disbursed!!
(Note: These funds are allocated on an yearly basis and disbursed. So it is simply not possible that the entire 78% was disbursed by the Congress in 2013 itself)
This claim is regarding the number of projects sanctioned & completed under the MSDP
“Union government said that in 2014-15, 4,70,165 projects were sanctioned for minority development but none were completed. In contrast, in 2013-14, when the UPA was in power, 52,698 projects were sanctioned and 16,967 were completed”
At first glance, it appears as if the NDA Government increased the total number of projects from 50+ thousand to 4.7+ lakhs without executing any of them. A closer look reveals the truth.
In February of 2014, just few months before the UPA Govt term ended, a new project was added to MSDP. This scheme is called “Digital Literacy under Cyber Gram” (DLuCG) and it imparts digital literacy in minority concentrated areas. Under DLuCG, each individual target (person) is considered as a project.
Under this scheme, the two states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh (till recently – a non NDA state) have been allocated a total of 3.43 lakh “projects” – most of which is still incomplete.
Since this scheme was non-existent during the Congress rule, it is totally incorrect to compare the project size of 52K back then with the project size of 4.7 lakhs now.
Detailed budgeting and expenditure tracking
The article makes the following suggestion
“In addition, to ensure proper monitoring of these schemes, a separate budget statement with details of targeted and non-targeted expenditure must be detailed”
The Ministry of Minority Affairs, in its website, has a separate section for its schemes. In this section, minute details of every single scheme including budgets, grants, state-wise disbursement list and records of past several years are maintained and is available for download freely. It would have been good if the authors had at least once glanced through this website.
The article in Hindustan Times has several factual inaccuracies with regard to the handling of schemes for minorities by the NDA Government. It is quiet clear from available data that the present Government is in fact increasing its focus and spending on minority welfare schemes.