New Delhi: A recent RTI disclosure has revealed that nearly half of the funds allocated for minority educational programs has gone unutilized. Furthermore, an analysis of budget expenditures on minority-focused initiatives reveals a consistent pattern.
This raises concerns whether educational schemes, benefiting individuals from the minority community, are deliberately being neglected.
Data acquired through the Right to Information (RTI) Act by activist MA Akram reveals a concerning trend regarding the utilization of funds designated for the fee reimbursement scheme for students, covering both tuition fee reimbursement and maintenance costs.
Despite an allocation of Rs 305.8 crore for these purposes, a substantial portion, amounting to Rs 174.23 crore, remained unutilized.
Similarly, the Centre for Educational Development of Minorities, responsible for offering coaching for competitive examinations, did not fully utilize over half of its allocated funds. Approximately 48% of the budget allocated for educational programs, targeting the minorities, remains unused.
The Mooknayak talked to Assistant Professor Maya John from the University of Delhi who saw it as a commentary on the political commitment.
She remarked, “The significant amount of unutilized budgetary allocation for minority education suggests not only a lack of political commitment to the socio-economic and educational advancement of minorities but also raises concerns about the intentions of the current administration.”
This indicates inefficiencies in the allocation and utilization of funds intended to support students’ educational expenses. It also underscores the need for improved oversight and accountability mechanisms to ensure that allocated funds are effectively utilized for their intended purposes.
“By promoting a partisan majoritarian agenda, the current government seems to disregard the harsh reality that the majority of minorities in the country face educational disparities and come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, contributing significantly to unemployment rates,” she said.
Established in March 2005 by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Sachar Committee report had also brought attention to the issue of inequality faced by Indian Muslim at the national level. The report seems to be still relevant.
“As highlighted in the Sachar Committee report, minority groups like Muslims require enhanced access to quality education to secure meaningful employment and live with dignity.
Regrettably, there has been minimal progress since the release of the report. The purported failure to utilize allocated funds is profoundly concerning,” she added.
According to the interim budget analysis by a daily, the budget for overall education empowerment of minorities saw a slight reduction, amounting to nearly Rs 125 crore.
This decrease reportedly resulted from the cancellation of scholarship schemes like the pre-metric and the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF).
Minister for Minority Affairs, Smriti Irani, informed the Parliament that MANF was discontinued due to its overlap with various other government fellowship schemes for higher education, which also cater to minority students.
Additionally, the allocation for the Education Scheme for Madrasas and Minorities has been reduced from Rs 10 crore in the previous budget to Rs 2 crore. The revised budget in this category was Rs 5 crore.
A professor from the Aligarh Muslim University, who wishes to remain anonymous, talked to The Mooknayak regarding the state of education of minorities.
In a resentful tone, he said, “My larger concern is that the party in power can get away with anything they do. They are not bothered about the health or education of their electorate. They are even okay with hurting the interests of minorities because that will help them keep their vote bank intact. Even for OBCs, Dalits, many decisions are being taken which will potentially harm them.”
“It is not at all surprising to me,” he said.