Little has changed for India’s minorities: Qureshi

February 17th, 2008 - 11:40 am ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, Feb 17 (IANS) Over the years little has changed for India’s minorities, with a big gap between what is said and what is done for their welfare, says National Commission for Minorities (NCM) chief Mohammad Shafi Qureshi. “I do not doubt the sincerity of the government in improving the socio-economic status of Muslims and other minority groups. Still, there is a considerable gap between what is said and what is finally done,” Qureshi, a former governor and noted Congress leader from the Kashmir valley, told IANS in an exclusive interview.

“The nation cannot progress if a vast chunk of population is left in the lurch,” he said. Religious minorities comprise 18 percent of India’s one billion plus population.

“Funds are not a problem. The programmes are in place, but their implementation is in a shambles. Actually, little is done to execute the programmes. As a result, there has only been a slight change in their status over the years,” he said.

The government earmarked over Rs.14 billion for 2007-08 for the ministry of minority affairs, a substantial increase from the initial Rs.5 billion announced in 2006-07. The total allocation for minorities in the 11th Plan has been pegged at Rs.70 billion for the ministry.

Qureshi said: “As the report of the Justice Rajinder Sachar Commission gives us a correct picture of the ground realities, there is a need to give deep thought to the all round development of minorities in the country.”

He said education was the key concern vis-

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