Date: 7/29/2004


Manmohan moots quota for economically weaker minorities

By Indo-Asian News Service

New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Pained by the low representation of Muslims and other minorities in many walks of life, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday mooted quotas in education and employment, particularly for the economically weaker sections among them.

This is among the measures to be considered by a national commission to be set up for uplifting the socially and economically backward sections among religious and linguistic minorities, the prime minister said in his inaugural address at the Conference on Minority Welfare and Education here.

Another commission would directly affiliate minority-run professional institutions to central universities in a bid to upgrade their standards, the prime minister said.

He also promised additional funds for the National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation and steps for the promotion of Urdu.

"I am distressed by the low representation of minorities, particularly Muslims...including in the public and private sector," the prime minister said.

He said his United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's priority was to empower minorities socially and economically through greater attention to education and employment.

"On our part, I can assure you of the commitment of the UPA government and our supporting parties in the Left in systematically removing barriers that prevent empowerment of minority communities, as well as among the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes," Manmohan Singh said.

The proposed National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions would go a long way in ensuring government's plans to promote modern and technical education among all minority communities.

The prime minister mooted collaboration between the government and minority-run educational institutions for effective delivery of welfare schemes to the targeted population.

"Community-based educational institutions can be effectively used as a means to promote a number of other important social objectives, such as provision of primary health care and family welfare.

"These institutions can also be used to promote the delivery of better services by the state to segments of the population that otherwise are harder to reach, particularly women and the girl child among minorities," he said.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil, Human Resources Development Minister Arjun Singh, representatives of political parties and religious and community leaders were among those who attended the daylong conference.