The Bihar government keeps announcing its figures for benefits given to Muslims — boundary walls for 4,409 graveyards, Rs 2.34 crore as education loans, Rs 8.10 crore as employment loans to 815 people. The figures have been updated until December, some from the start of a scheme and some for 2013.
For all the government’s claims, however, the number of graveyards fenced is way short of the target, as is the employment loans distributed, while the the education loan is being disbursed at a pace that can’t match up to the target announced.
Muslims account for 17 per cent of Bihar’s votes. With Nitish Kumar having snapped ties with the BJP, and Lalu Prasad too having set his eyes on that vote-bank, the minority welfare department is more keen than ever to publicise its achievements.
Minority Affairs Minister Shahid Ali Khan told The Indian Express, “In 2004-05, the department’s budget was only Rs 3.45 crore. That is over Rs 200 crore now. We have also created a directorate for better monitoring of our schemes.” A welfare officer had been posted in each district.
A look at the various schemes, their targets and actual progress:
MUKHYAMANTRI VIDYARTHI PROTSAHAN YOJANA: Started in 2007, it gives Rs 10,000 to students placed in the first division in the class X finals. From 2,627 in 2007, the beneficiaries rose to 29,070 in 2013. The government says the scheme has encouraged students to perform.
MUKHYAMANTRI ALPSANKHYAK SHIKSHA RIN YOJANA: The government has targeted disbursal of Rs 50 crore as education loan in the next five years. Since 2009, however, only Rs 2.32 crore has been distributed among 292 students.
MUKHYAMANTRI ALPSANKHYAK ROJGAR RIN YOJANA: The target was Rs 125 crore in five years; only Rs 8.10 crore has been given to 815 beneficiaries since 2009.
MUKHYAMANTRI ALPSANKHYAK MAHILA PARITYAKTA YOJANA: Entailing one-time help of Rs 10,000, this scheme has benefited 8,088 women divorced or deserted by their husbands.
HUNAR SCHEME: The state has given 51,768 Muslim girls aged between 10 and 16 vocational training, with Rs 2,500 each to buy kits so they can be self-employed. The ongoing third phase targets 50,000 girls.
HIGHER GRANTS: The grant to the Sunni Waqf Board is up from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 50 lakh, that to the Shia Waqf Board from Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. The Haj Samiti gets Rs 40 lakh per year instead of the previous Rs 8 lakh, and Tarakki-e-Urdu Rs 8 lakh instead of Rs 4 lakh.
GRAVEYARD FENCING: The number declared is out of 8,084 identified for cement fencing to help prevent clashes over land. While the scheme was being implemented with MLAs’ local area development funds, it ran at a good pace. Once that was scrapped three years ago and the money routed through the CM’s Local Area Fund, it has slowed down. Sources in the minority welfare department say it was effective when block development and circle officers were being held accountable. “Now the fund comes from the divisional level and land disputes are no longer resolved fast,” said a source. The minister conceded results have not been as desired in the last year and a half.
MADRASA GRANTS: Besides 1,128 madrasas getting grants (and whose teachers’ salary is at par with the recommendations of the sixth pay commission), the government is also looking at 2,459 private madrasas, of which 205 have started getting the grants. So have 72 non-government primary minority schools. From this academic year, Muslim students of classes I to X, both in madrasas and in schools getting grants, will get scholarships.
URDU TEACHERS: The state announced it would appoint 29,000 Urdu teachers to posts vacant for years. After a special eligibility test last year , 15,300 Muslim candidates will be appointed in the first batch.
BHAGALPUR RIOT RELIEF: The state recently extended the term of a judicial commission it had set up. Of 39 cases freshly investigated, 26 have had chargesheets filed and local courts have delivered a verdict in five. The government recently increased the pension to the families of 374 victims from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 a month.