IDMI scheme for minorities, whither the public good
The Congress led UPA government’s flagship inclusive platform is called the “Prime Ministers 15 point Minority Program”. This program provides for a specific (15%) set-asides of all schemes and exclusive benefits. Here is the official release from Press Information Bureau
The new programme envisages location of a certain proportion of development projects in minority concentration areas. It also provides that, wherever possible, 15% of targets and outlays under various schemes should be earmarked for the minorities. The schemes of Ministry of Minority Affairs covered under this Programme are meant exclusively for minorities.
Source : pib.nic.in (emphasis mine)
Now there are several programs in the 15 point agenda that are of interest only to minorities. They include advances to Wakf management, improvement of Urdu teaching, Madrassa modernization and so forth. One could make a case for investment into these goods. They might serve a national interest such as streamlining administration or pulling back radicalization of Madrassas by injecting a public component into their revenue sources. Non minorities have no interest in these goods.
What should stun everyone is that 12 of the 15 schemes are simply public goods that every citizen of India is interested in. Schools, roads, houses, scholarships, and employment loans. It is a fundamental departure from any concept of a modern state to alienate such goods on the basis of religion. The state cannot create such goods and not make it available to everyone.
Modi is the only Indian leader to stand up to it
One of the many schemes under the banner of the PMs 15-Point Minority Program is a pre-matric and post-matric scholarship program. This is a vast program benefiting 50 Lakh minorities at a cost of Rs 650 Cr per year. All states have implemented this scholarship that excludes the majority community without a whimper. All except one. Modi’s government has refused to implement this even if that meant giving up the crores of money from the centre. This is the bone of contention in a case currently under consideration in the Gujarat High Court. Kartikeya Tanna has an excellent analysis of the case on Firstpost. The conditions for availing of these scholarships, which we should not forget are created out of general tax payer money, was that the child had to belong to Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, or Parsi. The Gujarat HC struck down the 15-point scholarship program on the ground that other things being equal a Hindu student cannot access this good. The case is now in front of a 5 judge bench of the Gujarat High Court pending a ruling.
A common technical defence is that after an allocation has been made to a certain ministry it should be allowed to spend for welfare of whomsoever it chooses fit. If you alienate a public good, irrespective of the mechanism you used, such as slotting it under a Minority Affairs Ministry head, that should not be allowed. You only have to walk a few steps ahead. Assume that this ministry decides that the best way is aid their community members is to refund their income tax. This would result in a differential tax rate for different religions. That would instantly be recognizable as an undesirable thing. Yet these religious appropriations have those properties. Another example is the creation of Tipu Sultan Minority University and three others. Rahman Khan who runs minority schools and is also the Minority Affairs Minister arrogantly claims “..no point in opposing the move“.
In the rest of this post, we will throw some light on one of these schemes called IDMI.
IDMI – Infrastructure Development for Minority Institutions
IDMI is a scheme under the Human Resources Development created with 125 Crores in the 11th 5 year plan and poised to increase further in the 12th 5 year plan. Here is that this scheme does :
The scheme will fund infrastructure development of private aided or unaided minority institutions to the extent of 75% and subject to a maximum of Rs. 50 lakhs per institution for strengthening of educational infrastructure and physical facilities in the existing school including (i) additional classrooms, (ii) science / computer lab rooms, (iii) library rooms, (iv) toilets, (v) drinking water facilities and (vi) hostel buildings.. etc
Source : India.gov.in
In short, minority schools even unaided can apply for upto Rs 50Lakhs from the central government. These applications will be scrutinized and approved by a body called GAIC to which the HRD will appoint two members belonging to the minority community.
Last week, the Times of India carried this report about how this scheme works on the ground in Kerala.
Though the scheme will fund infrastructure development of private-aided or unaided minority institutions to the extent of 75% and subject to a maximum of Rs 50 lakh per institution, the state has even recommended for funds even thrice the maximum limit prescribed under the scheme.
While the state received Rs 5.59 crore in the first year under the scheme, the amount has increased to Rs 25.9 crore last year, which, according to the figures with the ministry of human resource development, is the highest amount disbursed under the scheme for any state under the scheme.
In 2011-12, 154 minority schools in Kerala both aided and unaided received Rs 54.18 Crores to fund improvements. The data including the names of schools and amounts is available online on the HRD website.
Burdens and benefits
As a believer in secular liberal democracy, these adhoc waivers and tilts in the distribution of burdens shocks me. A Hindu run school right across the street is not only burdened with the vague and draconian Right to Education Act but is also deprived of even participating in these liberal grants created with public money. Ask any school principal how difficult is it to raise even 5 Lakhs,say for 10 new computers. It is hard. The flood of minority school applicants from Kerala for these grants attests to this fact. Remember that under RTE, non minority schools are not even allowed to charge a development fee in order to execute these works. Recently DPS Pune was fined an astronomical Rs 22 Crore.
If this is your secularism, I want none of it.
Neither should you, as the gains from such partitioning will be short lived.
Q: Why did not hear about this scheme ? Not from the media, not from think tanks, not from intellectuals who live and breathe distributive justice.