‘Ignoring Minorities In The Union Budget Is A Disservice To Constitutional Ideals’: Markazi Taleemi Board Director


India Tomorrow

NEW DELHI—Markazi Taleemi Board (MTB) Director Syed Tanveer Ahmed has termed ignoring minorities, accounting for 21 percent of the Indian population, in the Union budget as a “disservice to the Constitutional ideals.”

MTB, in collaboration with the Institute of Policy Studies and Advocacy (IPSA), New Delhi, All India Education Movement (AIEM), New Delhi, and Centre for Education Research and Training (CERT), New Delhi, organized an online post-budget consultation to deliberate on the social sector spending of the Union Budget 2023-24, exclusively focusing on the education and minorities.

Chairing the online post-budget consultation, Mr. Tanveer recalled the goals of the Constitution of India, which are to promote socialism, equitable growth, establish a humane economic structure, for reducing the gap between ‘haves and have-nots’, and work for the welfare of deprived communities. He anticipated that the Union Budget could play a vital role in achieving those goals, and the consultation was not organized only for analysis but to take further the concerns raised in the meeting to the next level.” Advocating the need for monitoring the current budget, he noted that MTB, along with IPSA, is working on the agenda of creating awareness among the citizens about the government budget, both central and state, financial literacy, advocacy etc.

The meeting was moderated by Dr Abdul Rasheed Agwan, President of IPSA. Prof Asheref Illiyan, Head, Department of Economics, Jamia Millia Islamia, economist Dr Jawed Alam Khan, Professor Khwaja Shahid, President of AIEM, a PhD scholar from JNU, Mr Dawa Sherpa and Mr Roshan Mohiddin, Director of CERT addressed the meeting, which was chaired by Mr Syed Tanveer Ahmed, Director of MTB.

Delivering the inaugural speech, Dr Abdul Rasheed Agwan pointed out that there is an overall decline in the budget of flagship education schemes of around 13% from the previous budget, and the minority budget has been reduced by about 38%. Calling the Health and Education vital social sectors, Dr Agwan stressed to focus on allocating the quality budget for these two sectors. He expressed concern that India’s spending on the above-mentioned sectors was lower than the developing and developed economies.

Noting that the current Union Budget needs to be looked at in the context of global recession, unemployment, laying off of Information Technology employees, the overall grim future of the world and domestic economies with a high rate of inflation, unemployment, growing inequality in India etc., Prof Illiyan acknowledged various positive initiatives in the agriculture, health and education sectors. However, Prof Illiyan too voiced concern over cutting budgetary allocation for various central flagship programmes.

Dr Jawed maintained that increasing capital expenditure is appreciable, but it should be avoided at the cost of social sector budgeting. Dr Jawed said, “Currently, the country is facing low consumer demand, high inflation, unemployment and growing inequality. In this context, there is a need to spend more on major flagship programs such as Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), the mid-day meals scheme, the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan, and other schemes of the Social Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Minority Affairs, etc.”

Highlighting two significant aspects of the budget – capital investment and Digital India, Prof. Khwaja said, “There is an 11% increase in the education budget, and there is also expenditure on Skill India.”

But he expressed disappointment over some aspects, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expenditure on education and drastically slashing the budgets of various major central schemes, including teachers’ training, Padhna Likhna Abhiyan, Adult education, literacy schemes, exemplary schools, the National Scheme for Tribal Girls, the mid-day meal scheme etc.

Prof. Khwaja also expressed the need for a discussion on the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MoMA) and a mechanism to make the delivery system of the MoMA schemes more efficient. He also appealed that the concern on the MoMA budget should not be reduced to a ‘Muslim Issue’.

Mr Dawa Sherpa raised the question of accessibility and attempted to examine the budget in that regard. He said, “There is a hierarchy even within the education system and the budgetary allocations because only 21 per cent of enrolment in higher education happens in government institutions, and out of this, 50 per cent of funds earmarked for higher education goes to two per cent of institutions where only two per cent students are enrolled, like the IITs and IIMs.”

Mr Roshan expressed his concerns about zero funding for UPSC, SSE, and State Public Service Commission training and coaching by MoMA. He asked where “sabka saath sabka vikas” was in the budget.


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