New Delhi: The Ministry of Minority Affairs sharpened its focus in the year gone by launching new schemes as well as toning up the existing ones to reach out to minorities, mostly Muslims.
The year also saw Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan stoking controversy on the issues of arrests of "innocent" Muslims in terror cases and job reservation for them, both of which he believes are of genuine concerns but have been denied redress due to "adverse" political propaganda.
One of the notable achievements of the ministry was the perceptible rise in the recruitment level of minorities in central government organisations as it increased to 7.37 percent, according to the ministry.
Aiming at enhancing vocational skills among its target population, the ministry launched a new scheme `Seekho aur Kamao (Learn & Earn)`. The scheme promises to upgrade the skills of the minority youths in various modern and traditional vocations depending upon their educational qualification, present economic trends and market potential.
The scheme will guarantee at least 75 percent employment of trained minority youths and out of them 50 percent will be in the organised sector. A minimum of 30 percent seats are reserved for minority girls and women, the ministry said.
It also launched "Jiyo Parsi", which is meant to reach out to the Parsis with financial, medical and consultancy measures to help them increase their numbers. Continuing with his efforts to reach out to minorities, Khan also launched a helpline number, calling the service `khidmat`, which offered people a chance to interact with trained operators about numerous schemes run by the ministry and how they could avail them.
The year also saw the passage of Waqf Amendment Bill, 2013. The law would ensure proper commercial utilisation of Waqf properties spread across the country and generate revenue for socio-economic development of the entire Muslim community.
The bill also aims to strengthen Waqf institutions and streamline their functioning.
The ministry also gave a push for "leadership development of minority women" with the objective to empower and instill confidence among them by providing knowledge, tools and techniques for interacting with government systems, banks and other institutions at all levels.
With elections due in a few months, the ministry expedited its various flagship projects, like multi-sectoral developmental programme and scholarship schemes.
It intends to spend Rs 1250 crore on area development in 710 minority concentration blocks and 66 towns and Rs 1770 cr on scholarship programmes in the current fiscal.
Under area development it has approved the projects proposals of Rs 1151.01 crore and Rs 731 crore.
Khan also pushed for constitution of a task force to review terror cases against Muslims youths, arguing that many of them were innocents put behind bars by cops, who targeted them more out of their profile than any real merit. However, any concrete action has not been taken on his demand yet.