Three Definitions of Minorities

Based on the actions taken by the State of India, three different definitions of the word “minorities” can be identified. Depending upon the purpose intended to be served, one of the three definitions is used. Here is a short introduction to the 3 types.

Type 1: “Minority need to be Majority”

This definition kicks in when a particular privilege is to be granted.

The spatial unit used under this definition is a area, block or district.

Illustration:

Under the PM 15 point program, various resources such as houses, toilets, roads, banks and other vital infrastructure which every citizen of the country requires is to be given, the definition of minority is an area, block or district where they are actually in majority. These units are variously called as MCDs, MCBs and so on.

Type 2: “Minority cannot be Majority”

This definition activates when a benefit is to be exclusively retained.

The spatial unit used under this definition is a state.

Illustration:

Article 30 of the Indian Constitution became necessary to ensure minorities do not suffer, due to their numerical inferiority, in being able to run educational institutions so they can sustain and grow their religion, culture, language etc.

In areas where the minority are in majority (as per definition 1 above), minorities have by definition numerical strength. They can naturally take measures to sustain and grow their culture and language. Further, as per the RTE law, all kids entailing the benefits should compulsorily join schools within a small radius of their locality. Thus, if RTE were made applicable in MCD/MCB areas, there simply is no threat to minority schools.

To overcome this logical khichdi, definition 2 is used. For the purposes of opening educational institutions, minority status is decided on a state basis and not on a district or block basis.

Type 3: “Only Minority can be Minority”

This definition is used when “non-minorities” need to be deprived of a benefit.

The spatial unit used for this definition is the Country.

Illustration:

In many states of India such as Jammu Kashmir, Kerala and Arunachal Pradesh, Hindus are numerically inferior. Therefore, they qualify as minorities under definition 2 given above and can obtain benefits such as protection under Article 30 and exemption from RTE.

To overcome this logical avial, definition 3 is used. Under this category, minorities are decided on a national basis. Various arguments such as overall literacy rates, employment percentages are used to justify this. And counter arguments showing literacy rates of minorities in 2011 being more than that of Hindus in 2001 are discarded without consideration.

Conclusion:

Following are the 2 golden rules that can be derived from the above analysis.

  1. Only minorities can be minorities.
  2. If majority are actually in minority, refer to rule 1.
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Is the NDA denying minorities their rights?

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!

Budget numbers

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.

  • Claim 1

“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).

  • Claim 2

“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)

  • Claim 3

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.

Conclusion

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.

Amendment to Article 15 of the Constitution

In order to further the cause of #Core2 and #Core3, here is a proposed amendment to the Constitution of India.

The PDF version is available constitutional-amendment-article-15-draft.

============================================================================

THE CONSTITUTION (ONE HUNDRED AND XXXXXX AMENDMENT) BILL, 2017

A BILL

further to amend the Constitution.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-eighth Year of the Republic of India as follows:—

  1. This Act may be called the Constitution (One Hundred and XXXXXX Amendment) Act, 2017.
  2. It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.
  3. In article 15 of the Constitution, under section 1, the following sub-section shall be inserted, namely:–

“15 (1) (a) In all matters concerned with access to, control over, or distribution of, any material resource of the country that is not private-owned, the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.”

 

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

All citizens in this country have equal rights to the resources of this country. There cannot be any discrimination when it comes to the State distributing the material resources of the country. Such discrimination leads to appeasement of certain sections of society that can only harm the nation in the long term. Needless to state, such discrimination is also unconstitutional.

It is to be noted that the proposed amendment will not conflict with the objectives of the special schemes sanctioned by the Constitution for the development of socially and economically backward sections of the society.

In order to ensure the original intent of the founders of the nation with regard to Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution is brought to fruition, and to ensure the spirit of the Constitution makers with respect to Article 39(b) is explicitly upheld, it is necessary to amend the Constitution, as above.

The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.

 

New Delhi

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