Union Budget: Fund for Madrasa modernisation programme must be used prudently

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Madrasa students
Moving one step further on ‘sabka saath sabka vikas', Modi government in its maiden budget allocated Rs 100 crore for modernisation of Madrassas. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also announced some other programmes with the aim to upgrade skills of minorities in the traditional art and crafts. The budget allocated Rs 3,734.01 crore for the Ministry of Minority Affairs.
UPA in the interim Budget (2014-15) had allocated Rs 3,711 crore to the Ministry of Minority Affairs. Similarly the figure was Rs 3,111 crore in the fiscal year 2013-14.

Sachar committee had said community was lagging behind in modern education

Earlier, highlighting Government agenda President Pranab Mukherjee had said, "It is unfortunate that even after several decades of independence, sections of minority communities continue to suffer from poverty, as benefits of government schemes do not reach them."
"My government is committed to making all minorities' equal partners in India's progress. The government will especially strengthen measures to spread modern and technical education among minority communities and a National Madrassa Modernization Programme will be initiated," he said while addressing joint Session of Parliament in June 2014. BJP in its manifesto had also said, "The party is committed to ensure that all the communities are equal partners in India's progress."

Historical aspect
NDA Government (1999-2004) had started similar programme named Area Intensive Madrassa Modernisation Programmme (AIMMP) to make community better in terms of education but over the years things changed a little. Similarly UPA-1 and UPA-2 also tried to push the programme but failed due to stiff resistance from various Muslim leaders and clerics. Even our first Minister for Education of Independent India, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad had tried his best in this direction but he was out rightly opposed by orthodox Muslim leaders. He had planned to establish an all India madrasa board which could have stabilised the religious education with a proper scale for teachers and a proper examination for students but that couldn't be materialised because some of the leaders like Mufti Atiq-ur-Rehman Usmani, Maulana Shibli Nomani and Maulana Hifz-ur-Rehman were dead against it.

Muslims dismal record on educational front
Education Reforms for this community are imminent because they are not at par with others in terms of literacy and their socio-economic position. Even Sachar committee had underscored this point in its 2006 recommendations. The committee had said the community was lagging behind in modern education and hence deprived of Government jobs.

According to a recent report, Literacy rates among this community are 41.27 per cent against the national rate of 63.07 per cent. Even worse is, women of this community have just 21.66 per cent literacy rate as against the 40.54 per cent amongst the non-Muslim women. Moreover, their (Muslim) contribution in Government jobs is only two per cent. Similar is their position in various IAS and IPS services.

UPA's pathetic record
Although UPA claims that they cared the most for this community but recent reports have exposed them completely. According to a Times of India report, Muslims' representation in police forces during 10-years of UPA dwindled down. In 2013, it touched a new low of 6.2%. The figure was 6.5 %( 2012), 6.52 %( 2011) and 6.9% (2010) during UPA rule and the record was better in 2001(8.3%) during NDA rule.
Recently, Leading Islamic seminary Darul Uloom Deoband had vociferously opposed this move of Modi government giving the reason that they must have clear cut plan on this.

"It is not clear what the government wants to do... It should come out with detailed policy and tell which madrassas will be brought under its ambit," said Mufti Abdul Qasim Noamani, Darul Uloom Deoband rector. Government should make the roadmap clear on this front. They should inform how the fund will be spent and what will be done under the modernization programme. However, experts have slammed this move of clerics. 

"These politico-religious organisations are dangerous not only for the community but also the nation. Instead of encouraging youth to become progressive, they are pushing the community into darkness. These groups are failing to understand the urgency of moving with time. Organisations like Deoband or any other school of religious thought has to learn to keep pace with time and welcome changes. Unfortunately, they see the community as their vote-bank", Qamar Agha, an expert on Islamic studies and West Asian issues said.
Time has come Muslims should welcome this reformatory education system. Keeping narrow mindset aside they should work towards the betterment of the community.

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