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Declining budgetary priorities for development of minorities in Delhi

New Delhi: Delhi’s minority population is about 18.22% of the total population of the state, i.e. 35,18,126 persons in all. SCs (16.75%) and OBCs (48%) also have significant populations in the national capital.

By combining the populations of minorities, SCs and OBCs in the NCT of Delhi, there is a vast population of weaker sections (83% of all) in the national capital. As may be noted hereunder, this majority population of Delhi does not have adequate access to the fiscal provisions in a significant way, as budgets of the state reveal year after year.

From the assessment of Five-Year Plan (FYP) documents, for the period from 1997 to 2002, it may be noted that the government of Delhi included minorities for the first time in its planning process as a part of its on-going few small-scale programmes in terms of budgetary allocation and coverage of the beneficiaries.

In the 10th FYP, a proposal was made to create a cell related to the welfare of minorities. Delhi Government runs schemes meant for SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities mainly related to education and vocational training.

The Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, established in 1993, does not have a separate department to take care of the development and welfare of minorities, particularly Muslims. Until 1997, SC and ST department was required to look after only the welfare of SC/ST populations of Delhi but with the reorganisation of OBCs as a separate group of population, the welfare activities relating to OBCs was designated to this department from that year onwards.

In 2002, the department was also assigned the welfare of minorities as its key responsibility out of many others. It is really paradoxical to note that though no Scheduled Tribe has been notified in the NCT of Delhi, yet ‘ST’ has been included as a section of concern in the name and function of the department since its very establishment. Perhaps, it was to facilitate members of the STs settling in Delhi in due course of time.

Accordingly, the Department for the Welfare of SC/ST/OBC, working under the Ministry of Social Welfare, is a nodal agency looking after the minority affairs, under which the ongoing programmes target minorities jointly along with other weaker sections of the state population.

Besides this department, there is the Delhi Minority Commission which does not directly implement any scheme but it monitors the schemes implemented by other departments for the welfare of the Minority communities of the National Capital Territory.

Delhi Waqf Board is also running some welfare schemes for Muslims of the state. Urdu Academy, Delhi, chaired by the Deputy Chief Minister of the Government of NCT of Delhi, is another body promoting Urdu as a minority language in schools and otherwise, in addition to the state’s Directorate of Education which supervises education in Urdu as a mother tongue.

Delhi SC/ST/OBC Minorities & Handicapped Financial & Development Corporation is a channelising agency of the National Minorities Finance and Development Corporation for implementing the latter’s scheme in the state.

All these are the authorised bodies of the Government of Delhi that more or less shape the developmental course of Muslims residing in the national capital apart from those of other weaker sections in Delhi through policy-making and financial support.

Besides, people of minorities have also been benefitted from some universal schemes for all sections of society as implemented in the NCT of Delhi.

The Government of NCT of Delhi could not provide due financial provision to fulfil demands of the Department of SC, ST, OBC and Minorities in the state’s annual budget.

Graph shows the size of the total budgetary allocations made for these social groups from 2017-18 to 2021-22 as compared to the total expenditure of the state during the respective period.

The data shows that there is only a marginal increase in the total fiscal allocation to the department in the state’s total, may befor compensating the cost of inflation and added population year by year.

It is evident here that during the entire period of the present Government of AAP, the allocation to this welfare department have increased in terms of amount but not in terms of the percentage of share in the total budget.

The above figure reveals that the percentage share of the allocations to SCs/STs/OBCs/Minorities was 0.70% of the total budget of the NCT of Delhi in 2017-18, which has become 0.72% in 2021-22, i.e. almost the same.

In the year 2023-24, the budget allocation for SCs/STs/OBCs/Minorities in the total budget has further declined to 0.50 percent. In fact, out of the five budgets approved by the present Government in the preceding years, this department’s share in terms of percentage share of the total budget has actually got down in three of them.

In the last budget of the previous Government of INC, the total amount allocated to this department in Delhi’s 2013-14 budget estimates was of Rs 368.42 crore in the overall budget of Rs 37,450 crore, i.e. 0.98% of the total expenditure.

Thus, it may be inferred here that though the present Government has been voted to power mostly by the weaker sections of Delhi, their percentile share in the state budget has in fact got reduced from the previous establishment, affecting their developmental and welfare needs to a significant extent.

It is not clear from the available information how much amount the sub-section of Minorities and among them how much amount for Muslims had actually been allocated in these annual budgetary provisions.

The implementation of the Scholarships of the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA)in Delhi reveals that only a fraction of applying students of the Muslim community are actually receiving the same.

During the year 2020-21, only 17.70% beneficiaries in Pre-Matric Scholarships, 23.27% beneficiaries in Post-Matric Scholarships and 25.06% beneficiaries from Delhi’s Muslim community could avail the respective scholarship as against a larger approved quota under each of these schemes and despite a large number of applications received under each scheme.

There is a decline in the amount of grants from the MoMAunder MSDP/PMJVK from Rs. 26 crore in the 11th Plan of 2007-12 to Rs. 13.63 crore in the 12th Plan, becoming almost half of the previous. It may be either due to late or inadequate of submission of projects on the part of Delhi government to MoMA or an inadequate amount approved by MoMA.