'More minorities in Paramilitary forces'

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New Delhi, Feb 29: Unveiling a highly populist budget, Finance Minister P Chidambaram today announced further push to a number of schemes with focus on minorities, mainly those recommended by the Sachar Committee.

The allocation to the Minority Affairs Ministry has been doubled-- from Rs 500 crore to Rs 1000 Crore in 2007-09. The Minister said more candidates belonging to the minority communitis would be recruited to the Central Para Military Forces. The exercise had been started this year and would continue into the next financial year, he said. The demand for giving sufficient representation to the minoritis in such forces has been made by various rights groups and also by the high-power Sachar Committee appointed by the Prime Minister on the social, economic and educational backwardness of Muslims.

''The Government has taken up the report of the Justice Sachar Committee for speedy implementation,'' Mr Chidambaram said.

As a follow up to the Sachar Committee recommendations, 90 minority-concentraton distrcist had been identified, and it had been decided to develop a multi-sectoral development plan for each of districts at a cost Rs 3,780 crore. The budget allocates Rs 540 crore for 2008-09 for the purpose.

Moreover, 288 branches of public sector banks will be opened in such districts by March 2008 and many more in the current financial year. Already 256 branches of public sector have been opened this year in the minority-concentration districts.

Moreover, the Government would inroduce a pre-matric scholarship for minorities with an allocation of Rs 80 crore next year.

A scheme for modernising Madrasa education would be introduced with an allocation of Rs 45.45 crore in the current financial year.

The budget provides for raising the equity of the various development and finance corporations set up for the disadvantaged groups. The National Minorities Development Finanace Corporation would have an enhanced equity of Rs 75 crore and the corpus fund of the Maulana Azad Educational Foundation would be raised to Rs 60 crore.


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