New Delhi: The number of beneficiaries under most schemes launched by the Ministry of Minority Affairs has declined since 2019-20, Union minister Smriti Irani said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.
While allocation for some schemes increased between 2019-20 and 2021-22, the number of beneficiaries under them declined, she added.
Irani was responding to an unstarred question by All India United Democratic Front MP from Assam, M. Badruddin Ajmal. He had asked for the quantum of funds allocated, utilised, and the number of beneficiaries under the central schemes implemented for the educational and socio-economic empowerment of minorities.
There are six centrally notified minority communities, namely, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Parsis and Jains.
The details under the category “physical and financial achievement for various schemes” showed that the number of beneficiaries and allocations has declined over the last three years.
In 2020-21, the decline in the number of beneficiaries and allocations could be attributed to COVID-19. However, data for 2019-20 and 2021-22 showed that in many cases the allocations and beneficiaries remained low even after two years.
Number of beneficiaries fell in several scholarship, coaching schemes
The number of beneficiaries for the post-matric scholarship came down from 7.43 lakh in 2019-20 to 7.14 lakh in 2021-22. The funds released or sanctioned also reduced from Rs 482.65 crore to Rs 465.73 crore during the period.
Under this scheme, the Union government provides scholarships to minority students from class 9 to Ph.D. To be eligible for this scheme, the beneficiary’s family income should not be more than Rs 2 lakh per annum. Separately, 30% scholarships under this scheme are earmarked for girl students.
The number of beneficiaries under the Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme also declined from 1,251 in 2019-20 to 1,075 in 2021-22. The funds released or sanctioned under this scheme dropped from Rs 100 crore to Rs 74 crore during the two-year period.
The fellowship is provided to minority students who clear the UGC-NET or Joint CSIR UGC-NET examination. Their family income is not more than Rs 6 lakh per annum.
In the ‘Naya Savera’ fellowship scheme, the number of beneficiaries reduced from 9,580 in 2019-20 to 5,140 in 2021-22.
Under this scheme, free coaching is provided to students belonging to minority communities whose family income is not more than Rs 6 lakh per annum. This scheme helps them prepare for various competitive entrance examinations.
Under the Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship scheme – which is meant for only girl students belonging to minority communities from classes 9 to 12 – the allocation of funds fell from Rs 165.20 crore to Rs 91.60 crore over the last two years. The scholarship is given to students whose family income is not more than Rs 2 lakh per annum.
The number of beneficiaries under this scheme dropped sharply from 2.95 lakh in 2019-20 to 1.65 lakh in 2021-22.
Number of beneficiaries declined in employment schemes
According to the minister’s response, five employment schemes, namely ‘Seekho aur Kamao,’ USTTAD, ‘Hamari Dharohar,’ ‘Nai Roshni’ and ‘Nai Manzil,’ were merged into a single scheme called the ‘Pradhan Mantri Virasat Ka Samvardhan’ (PM VIKAS) in 2022-23.
Under the ‘Nai Manzil’ scheme, the number of beneficiaries has declined sharply from 22,359 in 2019-20 to 5,312 in 2021-22.
In some schemes beneficiaries rose, but funds were cut
In some of the schemes for minorities, while the number of beneficiaries increased, the funds released or sanctioned declined between 2019-20 and 2021-22, data showed.
For instance, under the pre-matric scholarship scheme – which is also provided to minority students from class 9 to Ph.D. – the funds were cut from Rs 1,424.56 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 1,329.17 crore in 2021-22.
However, the number of beneficiaries in this scheme rose from 55.68 lakh in 2019-20 to 57.10 lakh in 2021-22.
Similarly, in the ‘Nai Udaan’ scheme that supports minority students appearing for UPSC, SSC and PSC examination, the funds released or sanctioned dropped from Rs 8.01 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 7.97 crore in 2021-22. The number of beneficiaries, however, rose from 1,539 to 1,641 during the same period.