Hyderabad: The financial woes for the Union ministry of minority affairs persist as the Budget estimate remains almost the same, with only a marginal increase for a few schemes and programmes.
The allocation for the ministry has seen a slight rise, moving from Rs 3,097.6 crore in the last fiscal year (2023-24) to Rs 3,183.24 crore for the upcoming financial year (2024-25). Unfortunately, this meager increase offers little solace, especially considering the challenges faced by minorities.
Last year, the ministry of minority affairs experienced a substantial 38% budget cut, raising concerns about the government’s commitment to empowering minority communities. Despite discontinuing some schemes, the recent budget allocation reflects a significant decline in the ministry’s overall budget.
One of the noticeable impacts hits is the field of education, with a decrease in the allocation for total education and empowerment of minorities. Critical schemes like the Maulana Azad National Fellowship, Nai Udan (support for students clearing prelims of UPSC and state commissions exams), and pre-matric scholarships for students in classes I-VII have already been discontinued. These cuts directly impact the educational aspirations of minority students across the country.
Additionally, schemes aimed at skill development, livelihood, and special initiatives for minorities have also faced substantial budget cuts. In the previous financial year, programmes like USTAD (skill training for traditional art/craft development), Nai Roshni (leadership development of minority women), and Nai Manzil (integrated educational and livelihood initiative) have received nominal budget allocations, raising concerns about their effectiveness.
As the budget landscape remains largely unchanged, the plight of minorities in accessing quality education and skill development opportunities remain a distant dream.