Minority affairs ministry is not just about Muslims: Khurshid (Sidebar, to go with Khurshid main interview)

June 10th, 2009 - 3:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Darshan Desai
New Delhi, June 10 (IANS) Minister of State for Minority Affairs Salman Khurshid says his ministry is “not only about Muslims” but will have all of India’s minority communities covered by it.

The implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations for the development of Muslims would also be a priority for his ministry, Khurshid said.

“This ministry is not only about Muslims but has all minority communities under its ambit. It needs a proper direction; minority affairs has a lot of potential.”

The minority affairs ministry was formed in 2006 and senior Congress leader A.R. Antulay was in charge in the last Congress-led government. He lost the Lok Sabha elections.

Muslims, who make up 14 percent of India’s over 1.1 billion population, form the largest minority group in the country. Over six percent are Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains.

On the Sachar proposals, Khurshid said a “focussed multi-sectoral development plan” has been chalked out and would be implemented in 90 districts each with a population of more than 25 percent Muslims.

Another identifying tab for the districts was their social and economic indicators, he said.

Khurshid said this would be implemented by the respective state governments while the centre would provide the funds for the purpose.

The report of the Rajinder Sachar Committee, appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to study the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community in India, brought to the fore their under-representation in government jobs and the general backwardness of the community. The report was tabled in parliament in November 2006.

(Darshan Desai can be contacted at darshan.d@ians.in)

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