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“Minorities Being Brought Up Without Any Bias”  — Najma Heptullah


Irrepressible, Unobtrusive, unstoppable, relentless, enervating Union Minister for Minority Affairs Dr Najma A Heptulla in the spirit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas” is engaged in all round welfare of all Minority communities — Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis — under her Ministry. Absolutely positive, she’s forward-looking — there’s no looking back nor any mudslinging of any kind for her — as she cogently evinces in an exclusive interview with JUST IN PRINT.


Q: How exactly are You uplifting/benefiting the six Minorties under Your Ministry?

A: We are bringing up all the six minority communities — Sikhs, Parsis, Jains, Buddhists, Christiansand Muslims notified under the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs — completely unbiased so that they are on par with other communities confidently. We are wholeheartedly doing this under the aegis of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Sabkaa Saath, Sabkaa Vikaas”.  …In 2015-16, for the first time in the history of the Ministry, there was no cut imposed in the earmarked Plan Budget at Revised Estimate (RE) stage and it was maintained at original level of Budget Estimate — Rs 3712.78 crore. The Ministry spent about 98% of the entire plan budget in 2015-16.

Further, Government has increased the Plan Budget of the Ministry to Rs 3800 for 2016-17, an increase of more than Rs 168 crore over the 2015-16 expenditure level, which is again a significant rise. Ministry of Minority Affairs made consistent efforts in last two years to fulfil the agenda set in the manifesto for the minorities and achieved them by formulating new schemes/programmes and reorienting the ongoing schemes. The whole focus of the Ministry revolved around the vision and mission set by the Prime Minister to achieve “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas”.

Q: How far socio-economic empowerment for the Minorities is being pursued by Your Ministry?

A:  The Ministry for socio-economic empowerment of the Minorities is focusing on education particularly girls’ education; livelihood and entrepreneurial opportunities; strengthening of Waqf Boards; preservation of rich heritage of minorities; equal opportunities in education and employment; modernization of Madarsas; Augmentation of skills and traditional arts/crafts; development of inter-faith consultative mechanisms. Further, despite fiscal deficit in the country, the present Government considered continuous increase in the budget allocation which has hugely helped the Ministry to reach out to all sections in the Minorities.

Q: For the first time, World Bank is taking interest in the welfare of Minorities…

A: Yes that’s abs true. The Ministry has launched Nai Manzil aiming to benefit the minority youths who do not have a formal school leaving certificate i.e. those in the category of school drop outs or educated in the community education institutions like the madarsas, in order to provide them formal education and skills, and enable them to seek better employment in organized sector thereby equipping them with better lives. This scheme has been approved with the cost of Rs 650 crores for five years. 50% funding is from World Bank. It has approved funding of US $ 50 million. This is for the first time in the history of minority welfare programmes when World Bank has agreed to support such programme. Rs 155 crore has been earmarked for 2016-17 for implementation of the programme. This scheme is also significant in that it combines the formal as well as skill education for school dropouts which will significantly enhance their career growth.

Q: What is USTAAD?

A: USTAAD is new ambitious initiative of the present Government. USTAAD is Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development. The scheme is aiming at settinbg standards of traditional skills, design development, capacity building and updating the traditional skills of master craftsmen and artisans, documentation and presentation. It is also aiming in engaging the trained master craftsmen / artisans in training of minority youths at various specific traditional arts/crafts.  …For the first time, NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology), NID (National Institute of Design) and IIP (Indian Institute of Packaging) are working in various craft clusters for design intervention, product range development, packaging, exhibitions, tying up with e-marketing portals to enhance sales and brand building. This is for the first time. Out of earmarked budget of Rs 17.01 crores, Rs 16.90 crores (more than 99%) has been utilised.

Q: How is E-commerce developed by Your Ministry?

A : The Ministry (of Minority Affairs) has signed a MoU with the E-commerce portal shopclues.com for facilitating the market linkages of crafts and training of minority craftsmen in E-commerce. This is also for the first time that the benefit of the immense outreach of the E-commerce platform will be available directly to the poor craftsmen. For the current financial year, the Ministry has earmarked Rs 20 crores for this purpose. The progress of it is indeed encouraging.

Q: To what extent Seekho aur Kamao is successful?

A: In conforming with Modi Government’s priority for “Skilled India” and “Make in India”, ‘Seekho Aur Kamao’ has been strengthenedand expanded and the outlay (for it) has been expanded by almost 11% or Rs 192.45 crores in 2015-16 were allocated for training of 1,13,000 minority youths. …In the coming days, Minority Youths and all others among all Minority Communities will be all round self sufficient. Ministry of Minority Affairs is aiming only that and is whole heartedly working in that direction/s.

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