Recently the Minister of Minority Affairs in a written reply in the Lok Sabha answered a few questions about minorities in India.
Who are the minorities?
- The minority has been defined under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992.
- As per this section of the NCM Act, “minority”, for the purposes of this Act, means a community notified as such by the Central Government.
Constitutional provisions: -
Right to Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 and 30)
- Article 29 - Protection of interests of minorities.
- Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.
- No citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
- Article 30 - Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions.
- All minorities, whether based on religion or language, shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.
- In making any law providing for the compulsory acquisition of any property of an educational institution established and administered by a minority, referred to in clause (1), the State shall ensure that the amount fixed by or determined under such law for the acquisition of such property is such as would not restrict or abrogate the right guaranteed under that clause.
- The state shall not, in granting aid to educational institutions, discriminate against any educational institution on the ground that it is under the management of a minority, whether based on religion or language.
Note-Minorities are not defined in the Indian Constitution
- There are currently six minority communities in India
- Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains, have been notified as minority communities by the Central Govt.
Legislative measures for empowerment of minorities
- Law and order being a State subject, measures for the safety of minorities in the domain of the State Governments.
- Any case related to minority brought to the notice of National Commission for Minorities (NCM), under the aegis of this Ministry, are taken up with concerned authorities in respective governments by NCM under Section 9 of the NCM Act, 1992.
Government schemes for empowerment of minorities
Educational Empowerment of Minorities
- Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme – For Class I to X
- Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme – For Class XI to Ph.D.
- Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship Scheme – For Professional and Technical Courses
- Maulana Azad National Fellowship – For M.Phil. and Ph.D
- Free Coaching and Allied Scheme (Naya Savera) –
- For Competitive Examination of Professional Courses and Government Jobs.
- It is to assist students/candidates belonging to the notified the minority communities by way of special coaching for qualifying in competitive examination for recruitment to Group „A‟, „B‟ & „C‟ services and another equivalent post under the Central and State Governments including public sector undertaking, banks, railways, etc. or for admission in technical/professional courses.
- Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship for Meritorious Girls belonging to centrally notified Minorities (Maulana Azad Education Foundation)
- Padho Pardesh– Scheme of Interest Subsidy on Educational Loans for Overseas Studies.
- Nai Udaan - Financial support for students clearing Prelims conducted by UPSC, SSC, State Public Service Commission, etc.
Economic Empowerment of Minorities
- Employment-oriented Skill Development Initiatives –Seekho Aur Kamao.- It is a placement linked skill development program.
- Nai Manzil – A scheme for formal school education & skilling of school dropouts
- Gharib Nawaz Employment Training for providing short-term job oriented skill development courses to youths belonging to minority communities (MAEF)
- National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) – NMDFC provides concessional loans to minorities for self-employment and income-generating ventures.
Improving the living conditions of Minorities
Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK):-
- It is an area development scheme.
- The Ministry has identified 1300 backward Minority Concentration Areas (MCAs) for the implementation of this scheme.
- It is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for creating socio-economic infrastructure as well as basic amenities for uplifting the quality of life of minorities in the MCAs.
- The amenities are meant for all segments of the society including minorities.
- The thrust of the Scheme is to allocate at least 80% of the resources for education, health and skill development, out of which 33-40% are to be specifically allocated for women-centric projects.
Also read: Cultural And Educational Rights