In a direct commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s propaganda “sabka saath, sabka vikas” (cooperation of all, development of all), a recent analysis by an Ahmedabad-based advocacy group, Rehnuma, which claims to work on exclusion and discrimination issues of religious minorities, has found that “model” Gujarat has seen the lowest budgetary allocation for the minorities among the seven states it examines.
Categorizing Gujarat as a “low budget allocation (LBA) state”, the analysis, which forms part of a Rehnuma report, “Minority Appeasement: Myth or Reality? A Ground Report on Minority Welfare in 7 States”, says, while the allocation for Gujarat was a mere Rs 51.44 crore in 2017-18, the highest allocation was found to have been made in West Bengal, Rs 3,470.78 crore.
Pointing out that all of the LBA states, with the sole exception of Jharkhand “showed a downward trend in annual allocation for the three years it analyses, 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-17, and it was the “sharpest for Gujarat”, the report underlines, the high budget (HBA) states, on the other hand, showed “a steady improvement.”
Among HBA states, “Karnataka’s budget shows the sharpest rise from Rs. 845.02 crore to Rs. 2199.94 crore” between 2015-16 and 2017-18, the report says.
Pointing out that none of the seven states it has analyzed have seen a change in government in these last three years, the report notes, for the year 2017-18, the percentage share of allocation for minorities in the total state budget “is also the lowest for Gujarat (0.029%) and highest for West Bengal (1.9%)”.
The report says, “Of the LBA states, Gujarat is most focused on scholarships and education-related schemes (69.4%) and little on anything else”, and “19.4% of the estimated expenditure is for infrastructure development under the Multi Sectoral Development Programme for Minorities (MSDP).”
Jharkhand, on the other hand, has a much higher allocation under MsDP (39.2%), a Centrally-funded scheme, and much lower for scholarships (1.7%), the report notes, adding, Jharkhand spent 25.5% of the MsDP allocation for building boundary walls for graveyards and 17% for distribution of bicycles.
Madhya Pradesh, the report says, spent 54.2% on the Scheme for Providing Quality Education in Madrasas (SPQEM), also a Central scheme, spending another 8.1% is spent on grants related to madrasa and schooling education for minority children.
As for Odisha, the report says, its “allocation pattern is closer to Jharkhand with MsDP allocation forming the biggest chunk”, adding, “These funds are also used for building hostels and this spending represents 21% of the overall minority welfare allocation.”
Coming to the HBA states, the report says, “Karnataka has allocations the most number of heads”, adding, “Under the State’s flagship Chief Minister’s Minority Development Programme leads to a large expenditure of Rs 500 crore (22%).”
Underlining that “this in itself is around ten-fold of Gujarat’s allocation for minority welfare”, the report says, Rs 316 crore or 14.4% is allocated for scholarships in Karnataka while another flagship scheme called ‘Bidaai’, meant to support marriages of poor/divorced and widowed minority women.”
“Similar priorities can be found in the Telangana budget”, the report says, adding, “The infrastructure development is specifically concentrated around education (34% just on residential schools and hostels).”
Pointing towards “financially supporting the marriage of minority girls called ‘Shaadi Mubarak’(12%), the report states, “Of all the seven state budgets including the LBA states, Telangana reports the lowest allocation under MsDP, Rs 30 lakh, which is nominal.”
Coming to West Bengal, the report says, it has “the highest allocation under MsDP (Rs 1,004.5 crore or 28.9%)”, adding, “West Bengal is the only state to give its own large assistance to government and non-government schools and colleges that are presumably either minority education institutions or cater to minority students. This comes to about 18.1% of the West Bengal’s minority budget.”