Minorities need more access to education: Sonia

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New Delhi, May 10: UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi today emphasised the need for much greater access to modern education and technological skills for minorities in the country. Addressing the eighth convocation of Jamia Hamdard at Vigyan Bhavan here, she said the UPA government had expanded the area of scholarships for the benefit of minorities, SCs, STs and OBCs. Incidentally, Ms Gandhi shared the dais with Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh who is in the eye of a storm following his remarks on loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family.

In his book, 'Mohin Kahan Vishram (No Rest For Me),' edited by Kanhaiyalal Nandan, Mr Singh had also written that the decision-making process in the Congress had got ''disintegrated'' unlike in the past when there was more scope to be free and involved. The Congress President said the UPA government had recognised the need for improving the quality of education in all the minority institutions in the country.

''It is the fundamental responsibility of the government to provide education to all and improve the quality of education in the country.'' Citing the example of Jamia Hamdard as an excellent convergence of private initiative and government support, she called upon the private sector to play much more greater role in the education sector.

''No doubt, the government institutions are the lifeline, but the private sector has an important role to play in the field of education,'' Ms Gandhi added.

The Congress president said the UPA Government had initiated the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to expand the basic health infrastructure in poor and backward regions of the country. She said the Government had also set up a separate department for Ayurvedic science 'Ayush' in the Health Ministry. The government has attached high importance to Ayurvedic science Medicine) and enhanced the allocation from Rs 1000 crore in the tenth plan to Rs 4000 crore in the 11th plan, Ms Gandhi added.

She said the integration of unani system with modern medicine was an endeavour which needed to be fully supported.

The UPA Chairperson said the holistic medicine had gained worldwide acceptance and expressed the hope that Jamia Hamdard would emerge as a trailblazer in this regard.

Ms Gandhi said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had placed special emphasis on improving the health and education infrastructure across the country.

''In the 11th plan, the allocation for education has witnessed a significant increase from eight per cent to 20 per cent.'' She praised Jamia Hamdard for its endeavour to combine modernity with traditionality. ''Jamia Hamdard has shown a significant progress since its inauguration by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on August 1, 1989.'' The Congress president recalled her ''long and treasured'' association with Jamia Hamdard founder Hakeem Abdul Hameed.

She said the institute had emerged as a leader in disseminating education and upheld the finest secular traditions.

Ms Gandhi expressed the confidence that the proposed Medical College in Jamia Hamdard campus would emerge as a centre of excellence and assured full government support to the Hamdard University in this endeavour.

UNI

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