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NGO posts 1 lakh postcards to Gujarat CM, submits plea to 33 district collectors to set up state minorities dept

A minority ghetto in Ahmedabad
By Our Representative
A minority rights civil society organization has asked the Gujarat government to set up an independent minorities’ welfare department. Currently, all minority-related activities fall under the social justice and empowerment department of the state government, one reason why, the NGO, Minority Coordination Committee (MCC), feels there is no focused approach to ameliorate their plight.
In a memorandum addressed to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, submitted to 33 district collectors, MCC has also demanded setting up a state minorities’ commission and providing it with a constitutional set up by passing a law in the state assembly. Currently, all major states, except for Gujarat, Odisha and Jammu & Kashmir, have minorities commission.
In a list of eight of eight demands, the MCC also asked the state government to set up higher secondary schools up to standard 12 in minority-dominated areas, providing madarsa schools certificate the status of Gujarat state board certificate, setting aside a special economic package for the minorities, and implementation of the 15-point prwogramme for minority welfare, begun by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The memorandum has been submitted to each of the district collector’s office of Gujarat following the NGO’s month-long campaign, which included public meetings, seminars and signature campaigns. About one lakh post cards were sent to the Gujarat chief minster listing the eight demands. However, Gujarat officials have so far not responded to any of these campaigns.
MCC convener Mujahid Nafees, who lives in Juhapura, said to India’s largest Muslim ghetto, told Counterview, “There is a sinister move of the Gujarat government to identify minorities only with Muslims. We take a larger view by including in in the definition not just religious minorities, but also Dalits and other social groups which face social exclusion.”
In that sense, he suggests, MCC follows the well-known Minority Rights Group International (MRGI), one of those objectives has been to work for “the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.” Especially focusing on “religious and ethnic persecution, forced migration, persistent inequality and environmental degradation” in India one of the MRGI’s interests includes focus on Dalit rights.
Formed on December 18, 2016, MCC believes, minorities in Gujarat are “more vulnerable than other states”, and examines, as part of its advocacy thrust, how the state government has been treating minorities in Gujarat.
One of its recent analyses, based on official data, says, though a big proportion of minorities live in urban areas, there has not been any effort to “flow” funds to help the poorer sections living in cities/towns which have “a substantial minority population”.
To substantiate, it says, despite an allocation of a whopping Rs 2,033.08 crore in 2014-15 in the state budget for the poor urban minorities, the Gujarat government did not spend the money for their welfare.
Pointing out that there are eight minority concentrated blocks Kutch, Rajkot district and Bharuch districts of Gujarat, and 10 minority-concentrated towns are in Kutch, Junagadh, Panchmahals, Bharuch, Sabarkantha, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Junagardh, Anand in Borsad districts, the analysis says, though the Government of India has set the target of providing assistance to 670 minority beneficiaries for setting up of individual and group micro-enterprises in 2014-15, the state government did nothing in that direction.
According to the analysis, 4,424 minority beneficiaries in self-help groups were to be helped, but not one beneficiary benefited. Also, stat government did not extend any special help to upgrade the skill of minority beneficiaries, though the target was to training 5,535 persons.
The analysis further reveals that the Gujarat government did not construct any primary or upper schools in 2006-07 under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in districts with substantial minority population under the Prime Minister’s 15 point programme to alleviate the plight of the minorities; nothing was done to implement the National Rural Drinking Water Programme in minority areas; and so on.

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