Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

March 2008
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Community Round-Up

Planning Commission Identifies
By A Staff Writer
New Delhi

The Planning Commission has identified 251 towns and cities with a concentration of minority population across the country which needs ‘special attention’ of the government.  It has suggested the government give priority to these pockets while implementing existing programmes for the minorities. It has also suggested that in the annual work plans of the on-going government projects like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) and other programmes should be made available to minorities. In case of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), it has suggested to extending the Mission to the minority concentration towns.

Government had earlier roughly identified 338 such pockets in the country. The government had arrived at the figure of 338 towns on the basis of each of them having a minority population of over 25 per cent. These were selected from a list of 937 towns and cities in the country  having a  population of over 50,000.

The high-level task force headed by Planning Commission member Bhalchandra Mungekar identified 251 towns and cities on the basis of socio-economic indicators as also other basic indicators which are less than the national average. According to sources the planning commission report is now under consideration of government. It is also in the process of inter-ministerial consultations.

The 11-member inter-ministerial task force, headed by Prof. Mungekar, had four special invitees and a joint-secretary of the ministry of minority affairs as the convener.

It may be recalled that the Centre has also worked out a Rs 3,780 crore scheme for the development of 90 minority concentration districts in the country. The multi-sectoral development scheme to be executed in the Eleventh Plan envisages the scheme’s execution through district-level development plans, said sources. Other than a focus on minority concentration towns, the government has also said that it will be focusing on development of 90 minority concentration districts in the country.

Compulsory Registration of Marriages
Kerala Govt. to recognize Mahallus certificates

The Kerala government has decided to implement the Supreme court order, making registration of marriages at local bodies compulsory. The Government reached a consensus on the contentious issue with the Muslim community at a meeting of various Muslim organization convened by Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan here around second week of January. As per the agreement the marriages will be registered at the local body only after it is registered at Mahallus, local level religious committees. The local bodies (e.g. Panchayats, Municipalities and Municipal Corporations) would recognize the certificates issued by the Mahallus. The Chief Minister said the Government of Kerala would frame a law in this regard within three months.

The marriage certificates being issued by the Mahallus are now being used for several purposes such as issue of passports and other legal needs.

The consensus was reached in the third meeting with the community representatives held in January, earlier two having yielded an impasse.

Another Promise for Minority Upliftment
By A Staff Writer
New Delhi

Minorities, particularly Muslims across the country could soon get better access to education, health, industrial training and employment opportunities, if central government approves Planning Commission’s Rs 2,750-crore scheme for the minorities.

According to sources, the commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia had already cleared the scheme, that would be funded completely by the Centre, and it was waiting for the go-ahead from individual ministries involved.

Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had asked each ministry to give priority to the minority concentrated 90 districts,  while making allocations. Each ministry reserved 15 per cent of its funds for minority benefit.

The prime minister’s initiative comes after the findings of the Sachar Committee, which revealed minorities, particularly Muslims were far behind other communities on key social indices.

Sources said Singh reviewed the government’s performance on minority schemes over the past month and is learnt to have pressed for their time-bound implementation.

The government has now decided that it needs a single comprehensive scheme across key social sectors, in addition to the Prime Minister’s earlier order, the sources said. “This project is significant because other ministry-driven schemes were not created with the aim of uplifting these districts,” an official said.

The government is also contemplating to double the outlay for the Plan, schemes of the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs in the forthcoming Budget. From the Rs. 500 crores set aside for the schemes in 2007-08, the outlay is slated to increase to Rs. 1,000 crores in the Budget 2008-09 .

The increase in outlay is not unexpected given the push the present government has been trying to give to programmes meant for the welfare of minorities in order to promote “inclusive growth”. Serving as a roadmap for the government’s efforts is the Prime Minister’s new 15-point programme for the welfare of minorities as also the Sachar report which had delved into the socio-economic and educational condition of the Muslim community.

UKT Scholarships to 42 Students
New Delhi

Universal Knowledge Trust (UKT), a Delhi based NGO, organized Scholarship Award Ceremony here on January 20 at Nehru House Conference Room, Jamia Millia Islamia.  

Introducing Universal Knowledge Trust, Mohammad Mumshad, General Secretary, informed that the UKT was established more than a year ago to bring about intellectual development and promotion of knowledge among backward sections of society.  

Abdul Rashid Agwan, Director of the Trust, congratulated the selected candidates and said the budget for scholarship was enhanced from Rs. 2.25 lakhs to 2.5 lakhs this year.

The Chief Guest, Khwaja M. Shahid, Joint Secretary, Union Public Service Commission and Chairman, Sir Syed Foundation, viewed that the coming era will be of the Information Technology (IT).  It will penetrate into all fields.  Various Indian and multi-national companies are waiting to welcome more and more technocrats on the basis of their talent and knowledge.  Only persons equipped with knowledge, skill, talent and degree, will succeed in the job market.

(Report from : M Naushad Ansari)

Conference on Open University and Distance Learning

The Maulana Azad National Urdu University would hold a national conference on the theme of “Access and Equity through Open and Distance Learning in High Education : Role of Indian Language Universities”, from March 15 to 17. Several experts will present papers on the open university and distance learning. Dr. K. R. Iqbal Ahmed is the organising secretary for the conference. Those who wish to participate could download the forms from university website or send email to General participants will be required to pay a fee of Rs. 1000 while the research scholars will pay Rs. 750.