Budget 2024-25: Only 10% Minority Education Allocation Used

Budget 2024-25: Only 10% Minority Education Allocation Used

The budget document shows that the government spent only Rs 257.37 crore in the fiscal on various financial schemes for minorities, including as pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means scholarships.

Musab QaziUpdated: Friday, February 02, 2024, 11:05 AM IST
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Only 10% Minority Education Budget Used |

The religious minorities got only a fraction of the funds allocated for their educational empowerment in the financial year 2022-23, reveals the interim budget 2024-25 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the parliament on Thursday.

The budget document shows that the government spent only Rs 257.37 crore in the fiscal on various financial schemes for minorities, including as pre-matric, post-matric and merit-cum-means scholarships. That’s barely 10% of the Rs 2,515 crore outlay for the programmes announced two years ago. The poor utilisation has gave way to the government reducing the allocation for the schemes to Rs1,689 crore in 2023-24 (BE; budget estimate) and Rs1,576 crore in the current fiscal year.

Cancellation of multiple centrally-sponsored scholarship programmes

The sharp cut in the ministry’s budget follows cancellation and truncating of multiple centrally-sponsored scholarship programmes around a year ago. In November 2022, the Centre issued a notification to limit the Pre-Matric Scholarship for minority communities' students of Classes 9 and 10, which until then was given to all school-going children. A month later, it announced the discontinuing of the Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) scheme, under which fellowships were provided to minority research scholars. Padho Pardesh, a scheme of interest subsidy on education loans for overseas studies, was also brought to an end in January last year.

However, as the budget document shows, even the schemes that are still operational aren’t getting adequate funds. Only Rs 29 crore out of Rs 515 crore (5.63%) allocated for the post-matric scholarships in 2022-23 was actually spent. In the same year, the merit-cum-means scholarship, awarded to minority students in professional and technical courses, got less than Rs 35 crore despite Rs 365 crore being earmarked for the programme.

Dismantling the entire minority ministry

While the expenditure for post-matric scholarship increased from last year's Rs 1065 crore (BE) to Rs 1145 crore, most of the other schemes saw steep cuts. Only Rs 33.8 crore has been earmarked for merit-cum-means scholarship, down from Rs 44 crore in 2023-24 (BE). The allocation for the programmes to provide skill development and livelihood have been cut down by 95%, with a meagre Rs 3 crore provided in the budget.

The experts said that the government appears to be dismantling the entire minority ministry, one scheme at a time. “This approach is not correct. It’s a gross injustice and flies in the face of the government's slogan of sabka saath, sabka vikas and sabka vishwas,” said Javed Alam Khan, a researcher at the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability.

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