India Intelligence Report

   Budget Quota for Minorities


The Government announced a 15 point program to focus action sharply on issues intimately linked with the social, educational and economic enhancement of the minorities including a quota of 15% of the budget for them in certain schemes.

The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced that “The Cabinet decided that 15% of the funds may be earmarked where ever possible in relevant schemes and programs for the nationally declared minorities.” Government insiders say that the purpose of this plan is an attempt to prevent communal incidents, ensure prosecution of communal offences, rehabilitation of riot victims among minorities, and boost welfare of minorities.

Specifically, the Government plans to enhance education opportunities, ensure equitable availability of integrated child development scheme services, improve access to school education, provide greater resources for teaching urdu, modernize madrasa education, create scholarship for meritorious students from minority communities, and improve educational infrastructure through the Maulana Azad education foundation.

Furthermore, it also plans to boost self-employment schemes, create wage employment for the poor, upgrade skills through technical training, provide enhanced credit support for economic activities, and recruit to state and central services.

To improve living conditions of minorities, the Government will directly enforce equitable share in rural housing scheme and improvement in condition of the slums inhabited by minority communities.

The existing 15-point program for the welfare of minorities was formulated on May 1983 covering different aspects for action, commonly known as the ‘Prime Minister’s 15-points program for the welfare of minorities’.

The Government says that these will be covered under the equitable share in economic activities category. It is not clear if this means that the Government is planning to implement some sort of backdoor reservation for minorities. Also, it is not clear why minorities are given such special focus. Is it because the Government feels that they need additional support due to failed policies of the past or is it because of upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Reserving quotas in budgets has become a new mantra for the Government. A few days ago, another Minister had said that {a portion of the budget will be reserved for scheduled castes and tribes [Insert Budgetary Quota Plan]}. It is not clear if these policies are even constitutional as the Indian Constitution does not allow discrimination on any grounds. While these policies can be argued that it is part of the positive discrimination as in the current Reservation plan, the extension of this logic to budgets is highly contestable.