Chidambaram enhances funds for the marginalized

February 29th, 2008 - 9:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Friday enhanced the budgetary allocation for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) substantially. Braving disruption from opposition MPs, Chidamabaram announced Rs.24.59 billion for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (SJ&E), which deals with the welfare of the marginalized sections of society, compared to Rs.22.60 billion allocated in 2007-08.

The budget allocates Rs.10 billion for minorities for the coming fiscal against the Rs.5 billion allocated to the Ministry for Minority Affairs for the current fiscal ending March 31, 2008.

The Ministry for Tribal Affairs has got Rs.21.21 billion against 17.19 billion allocated in 2007-08.

Minorities, SCs and STs account for over 40 percent of the country’s population, and used to be traditional voters of the Congress before the emergence of regional leaders like Lalu Prasad in Bihar, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh, who weaned them away from the Congress fold.

Though the OBCs account for around 42 percent, as per the findings of National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), the Ministry of SJ&E has been given only Rs.1.85 billion to be spent on their welfare in 2008-09 against Rs.1.56 billion in 2007-08.

Chidambaram in his budget speech announced scholarships worth Rs.8.04 billion for SC students in pre- and post-matriculation classes and Rs.1.95 billion for ST students. The government will spend Rs.1.64 billion giving scholarships to OBC students in pre- and post-matriculation classes.

Rs.1 billion will be disbursed as scholarships among the minority students in post-matriculation classes in 2008-09.

“I propose to allocate a sum of Rs.750 million in 2008-09 to the Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship Programme,” Chidambaram said, adding that the scheme supports SC and ST students pursuing M. Phil and PhD courses.

“I have provided Rs.39.66 billion for schemes benefiting SCs and STs exclusively, and Rs.189.83 billion for schemes where at least 20 percent of the benefits are earmarked for SCs and STs,” Chidambaram said in his speech.

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