2 years of Modi govt: My goal is to bring most backward people on path of development, says Heptulla

As the Narendra Modi government completes two years of rule at the Centre, Minister of Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla on Thursday said her goal is to bring the most backward people of the country on the path of development, only then the Prime Minister’s ‘Sabka Saath, SabkaVikas’ dream will be realised

“Every ministry has a goal, and my goal is to bring the most backward people on the path of development, only then Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Sabka Saath, SabkaVikas’ dream will be realized,” she told ANI.
“We have to change the condition of minorities better than what it was when we took over, which is also evident from the Sachar Committee report. We have to do something that has not happened till today so that they could live a successful life,” she added.

Listing measures taken by her ministry in the past two years to enhance the lifestyle of people belonging to minority communities, Heptulla said there are six minorities in her ministry – including Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi and Jain, who have their own strengths and problems, which are different from each other.
She, however, noted that in our country, different minorities have their own contributions-their way of living, dressing and food habits, which they have also to promote.

Taking about the minuscule minority, Parsis, she said they are having difficulty with their depleting population. “We have a ‘Jiyo Parsi’ programme. Recently, we had organised a ‘Hamari Dharohar’ programme, which is based on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto,” she said, while talking about a remedial measure taken by her ministry.

“Parsis are minuscule in number, just 69,000, but their contribution is big in every field such as education, health, civil aviation, engineering, agriculture, medicine, atomic energy, mining industry. Wherever you see, you will find contributions made by Parsis,” she said.

“We have organised an exhibition in Delhi ‘The Everlasting Flame’, which was announced by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the budget, and have brought over 300 artefacts from London, which had never been brought earlier. In this programme, we highlighted the big contributions made by a miniscule minority,” she said, while taking about the government’s effort in promoting the Parsi community.

Saying the BJP’s manifesto lays stress on education and her ministry grants scholarships too, Heptulla said, “The allocations that our ministry receives, a big chunk of that is being spent on pre matric, post matric scholarships and coaching education, especially for girls.”

“We have discovered at least five candidates, who have competed Civil Services Examination, and whom we had provided scholarship. Among five, one is from Mumbai, whose father is an auto-rickshaw driver. So, we are working on the ground level,” she said, while taking about contributions made by her ministry.

“A Sikh and a Buddhist are also there. We have been able to fulfil one of the missions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi “Sabka Saath, SabkaVikas”,” she added.

Highlighting the advantage of the Direct Benefit Transfer introduced by her ministry for transferring scholarship amount directly to recipients, the minister said, “We have brought about certain changes in the existing scholarship schemes by introducing direct benefit transfer so that people get money directly and linked it to Aadhar to check

duplication. Our focus is also on transparency and efficiency, of which the Prime Minister talks of.”
Our focus is also on skill development, she said, because if we teach children skills, along with their formal education, they will be able to get a sustainable job to live their life.

Talking about ‘Seekho aur Kamao’ programme, she said, “We also brought about some changes in ‘Seekho aur Kamao’ and gave it a vehicle of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS), in which we introduced two programmes- MANAS and ‘Nai Manzil’.”

“There are many children, who are dropped out, because their parents don’t have resources. We spoke to Jamia and Aligarh universities to admit them for a bridge course, and also introduced them to skill development programmes,” she added.

Accusing the Congress-led UPA government of leaving out children studying in madarsas, Heptulla said, “If you modernise the madarsa education what would you do besides introducing computers, maths or science to them. But, we have skilled them, they could live their live successfully.”

“We have stated a pilot project in our programme ‘Nai Manzil’ for madarsas, and we are happy that today more than 35,000 children taking training under that programme. The trainers promise to provide jobs to more than 70 percent children or we will facilitate cheaper loans to them from NMDFC to start their own occupation,” she added.
Appreciating the ‘Nai Manzil’ module, she said, “The World Bank liked the ‘Nai Manzil’ module and provided us 15 million dollars loan and recommending the module in madarsas of Africa and South-East Asia so that they can also introduce skill development in their madarsas.”

Pointing out her government’s focus on girls, Heptulla said, “We are more focused on girls, we provide scholarships to 46 percent instead of 33 percent girls. Besides, we provide them special fellowship in Classes 11 and 12 to raise their standard and they could move ahead.”

Apart from that, with an aim to enhance traditional skills of weavers, carpenters, and other art and craft workers, the government has stated a USTAAD (Upgrading the Skills and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development) Scheme, she said.

“Under USTAD, we have launched a website and have collaborated with ShopClues to sell their products. We are also standardising products, because the goods which are sold on internet should have certain standard. We want to produce standard goods so that people could understand Indian art and craft, for which we have three knowledge partners – National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIIFT), National Institute of Design (NID) and Indian Institute of Packaging (IIP) – because the goods we sell abroad, their packaging should be good,” she added.

These are some of the programmes for self-reliance, she said, besides the government has initiated a digitisation programme for waqf properties. “Though most of the waqf properties are under various state governments, we are motivating them for digitisation of those properties. We have also provided money to waqf boards for digitisation, modernisation and legal aid so that they can get their properties released from illegal occupation,” she added.
When asked there was not a single signature programme from her ministry that bore the Modi government’s stamp, she said, “My ministry and ministries of social empowerment or tribal affairs are not industrial ministries. My ministry is concerned with human development. Our job is to enhance the image of the government. Even Gandhiji had said internationally, the success of a democracy can be gauged by the condition of minorities living there.”

Published on The Financial Express