Minority welfare: Sparkling promises, less delivery!

Rashi Aditi Ghosh/ Zee Research Group

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is bragging about a ten-fold increase in the expenditure on minorities’ welfare during its second tenure. A Zee Research Group (ZRG) analysis of Prime Minister’s 15-point programme, however, reveals that mere increase in expenditure doesn’t guarantee better delivery. In fact, the performance of the UPA’s flagship initiative for the welfare of minorities remains below par and a saga of missed targets. Experts too, acknowledge the gap between rhetoric and reality on the ground.

On May 22, 2013, the UPA government released its report card on completion of four years in the office. A major highlight of the report is a ten-fold increase in expenditure from Rs 143.53 crore in 2006-07 to Rs 1593.23 crore in 2012-13 on minority welfare programmes.

Despite spending the taxpayers’ money, the record of the government remains dismal. Currently, Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for the upliftment of the minority community includes schemes like Sarva Sikha Abhiyan (SSA), Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), and National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP).

In fact, the performance of SSA - a key scheme part of the 15-point programme under the administrative control of the Human Resource Ministry - is way below targets since 2009-2010. The coverage target of new upper primary schools constructed under SSA in districts with substantial minority population has decreased from 94 per cent in 2009-10 to 45 per cent in 2012-13. While UPA can take solace from a 15 per cent increase in the coverage target of new primary schools constructed in 2012-13, the targets in both categories remain unachieved.

That there is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality has been acknowledged by none other than Wajahat Habibullah. Talking with ZRG, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) chairperson said, “The government report cards generally show a very rosy picture but our own assessment on the ground tells a different story. Except the pre-metric scholarship scheme for minorities, none of the schemes under the PM’s fifteen point program performed up to mark.”

Similarly, the performance of ICDS part of PM’s 15-point program under the administrative control of the Ministry of Child Development has declined. While 62 per cent of Aanganwadis under ICDS were operational during 2009-2010, their share has declined to 40.83 per cent in 2012-2013.

Likewise, the performance of NRDWP under Department of Drinking Water Supply is also not up to the mark. While 14 per cent of habitations were covered under NRDWP in 2009-2010, only 6.39 per cent of habitations were covered under NRDWP in 2012-2013.

As these schemes are implemented by similar agencies which haven’t delivered efficiently over the years, there is little chance that they will be implemented differently in future too, says Harsh Mander, a former National Advisory Council (NAC) member.

“Most of the minority centric schemes lack implementation because of the overall administrative inefficiency and lack of guidance for the beneficiaries. Politicians in India are only concerned about their vote banks and unfortunately every now and then new schemes are introduced without rectifying the existing infrastructural lacunas,” he stressed.