2012 yearender: Not much forward movement for Minority Affairs Ministry

K Rahman Khan

The Minority Affairs Ministry did not see much forward movement in 2012 as its key initiatives like sub-quota, Wakf reforms and equal opportunity commission failed to see the light of the day.

The only silver lining for the ministry was that it over-achieved its target of scholarship in the last financial year.

The year also saw K Rahman Khan from Karnataka replacing Salman Khurshid as Minority Affairs Minister.

Ruling out the contention that his ministry is confined to dealing with minor affairs like scholarship and small loan distribution, Khan said one of the important tasks is to see that the Prime Minister's 15 programme for minorities is implemented and they get their share in all central government schemes.

At the same time, he acknowledged that "monitoring of the schemes is a problem".

During the financial year, loan of around Rs 17,02,000 crore was extended to minorities under priority sector lending while around 2,70,000 houses under Indira Awas Yojana were sanctioned under Prime Minister's New 15 Point Programme.

A sum of Rs 438.93 crore was released for scholarships this year. It also disbursed loans worth Rs 133.25 crore to 32,374 minority beneficiaries.

While the ministry inched slowly towards its old commitments like bringing a bill to amend the existing Wakf law or setting up the omnibus body of equal opportunity commission, it continued to battle criticism on the minority sub-quota issue.

The decision taken by the Cabinet on December 23 and later notified decided to carve out a sub-quota of 4.5 per cent for minorities within the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs. Since then, the Election Commission put on hold the implementation of the measure in four election going states, while Andhara Pradesh High Court rejected it and the Supreme Court expressed reservations against the move.

Khan, who took charge of the ministry in last week of October after the Cabinet reshuffle, expressed confidence that the contentious bill on Wakf reforms will be brought in the Budget session next year.

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