New Delhi: Minorities Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan on Monday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for accusing the government of "appeasing" Muslims through schemes and said it is their "rights".
"I have to question the wisdom of people who call it appeasement... One should not think that through these schemes we are doing any favour to them (minorities). Because for various reasons they have remained backward. If someone in the family remains backward you do not leave him...," he said after launching two schemes for minorities.
One of the schemes was aimed at imparting skills for minorities -- `Seekho aur Kamao` (learn and earn) and the other at reversing the trend of declining population of Parsis -- `Jiyo Parsi` (live long Parsis).
Khan said the country has to repay its debts to the Parsis who have contributed so much to nation-building.
In view of their dwindling population, he exhorted young Parsis to marry early and have children as it is necessary for them to reverse the decline, which stands at a little over 61,000.
The target groups of the scheme would include married Parsi couples, community members of marriageable age who seek assistance, and adult boys and girls for detection of diseases resulting in "infertility" with consent of their guardians.
Medical interventions and outreach programmes will be major components of the effort, the ministry said.
Through "Sikho aur kamao" scheme, the ministry hopes to arm minorities, especially Muslims who suffer from particularly high school dropout and unemployment rates, with vocational skills so that they could make a living on their own.
The first batch of 50 such youngsters was given advance job letters by Khan.
He also dismissed suggestions questioning the need for a separate ministry for minorities, saying if the critics see the works his ministry is doing, they should "hang their heads in shame".