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- The state government of Delhi has suggested that the Union Government can grant "migrated minority" status to Hindus who have moved to Delhi from the region where they are a religious minority.
- The suggestion of the Delhi government is part of a compilation of views from 24 States on whether religious and linguistic minority communities should be identified and notified by the Union or the respective States.
- Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Assam are clear that the identification and notification of religious and linguistic minorities should be made at the State level.
- The State Government of Punjab has reasoned that the State are in a better position to value the "interests, well-being and problems" of different communities residing in it and should be allowed to notify its minorities.
- Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have left it to the Union Government to notify minority communities.
- Maharashtra suggested that "in the interest of uniformity, the Centre can notify minority communities".
- The National Commission for Minorities Educational Institutions Act, 2004, and the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, empowered the Union government to notify a minority community.
- Recently, the Supreme court of India stated that the ‘religious and linguistic communities' minority status is “State-dependent”.
- The court indicated that a religious or linguistic community which is a minority in a particular State can claim Rights and protection under Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution.
- The Union Government has earlier stated in the Supreme Court that the “States can also declare a religious or linguistic community as a minority community within the State,”
- Latter the Union Government changed its stand in the Supreme Court and said that only the centre has the power to notify minority communities.
- Now, the Union government collected the view from 24 States on whether religious and linguistic minority communities should be identified and notified by the Union or the respective States.
- It is part of an affidavit submitted by the Union government in the Supreme Court.
Minority Communities in India
- The Constitution of India does not define the term minority.
- The distinctiveness of a numerically inferior group is certainly recognized as a legal criterion to determine the minority status of any community.
- As per the Census 2011, the percentage of minorities in the country is about 19.3% of the total population of the country.
- The populations of Muslims are 14.2%; Christians 2.3%; Sikhs 1.7%, Buddhists 0.7%, Jain 0.4% and Parsis 0.006%.
- The Union Government notified minority communities at the national level in consultation with various stakeholders under Section 2 (c) of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Act, 1992.
- The 6 communities notified as minority communities under Section 2(c) of the NCM Act, 1992 are Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, Parsis and Jains.
- Notification of any community specific to a State as a minority community within a State comes under the purview of the State concerned.
- Articles 29 and 30 of the Indian Constitution provide for the protection of the interests of minorities which includes linguistic minorities also.
- The working definition followed by the Commissioner for linguistic minorities is as follows:-
- Linguistic Minorities are groups or collectivise of individuals residing in the territory of India or any part and having a distinct language or script of their own.
- The language of the minority group need not be one of the twenty-two languages mentioned in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
- In other words, linguistic minorities at the State level mean any group or groups of people whose mother tongues are different from the principal language of the State, and at the district and taluka/tehsil levels, different from the principal language of the district or taluka/tehsil concerned.
- The interests of linguistic minorities are accorded due consideration and the office of the Commissioner of Linguistic Minorities has been mandated to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for linguistic minorities in the country.
- The Government has Constituted National Commission for Minorities under the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992.
- The NCM receives petitions/grievances from the aggrieved persons and the said petitions/grievances being received by Commission are dealt with by calling for reports from the concerned authorities under the Union and State Governments.
- Upon receipt of the reports, the Commission makes appropriate recommendations to the respective authorities for the Redressal of the grievances.
National Commission for Minorities:
- Under the National Commission for Minorities Act of 1992, the Union Government established the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) to protect and promote the welfare of the 6 religious minorities’ communities.
- Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis) and Jains have been notified as minority communities by the Union Government at the national level.
- The original notification of 1993 was for 5 religious communities; Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Muslims.
- In 2014, the Jain community was also added.
- As per Census 2001, these six communities consist of 18.8% of the country's population.
- The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) is in line with the United Nations Declaration of 1992 which states that "States shall protect the existence of the National or Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.”
- A Chairperson
- Five members are to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of eminence, ability and integrity. ;
- All the members shall be from minority communities.
- Functions and Power of the Commission
- To evaluate the progress of the development of Minorities under the Union and States.
- To monitor the working of the safeguards provided in the Constitution and laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures.
- To make recommendations for the effective implementation of safeguards for the protection of the interests of Minorities by the Central Government or the State Governments.
- To look into specific complaints regarding deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Minorities and take up such matters with the appropriate authorities.
- To conduct studies, research and analysis on the issues relating to the socio-economic and educational development of Minorities.
- Make periodical or special reports to the Central Government on any matter relating to Minorities and in particular the difficulties confronted by them.
- Any other matter which may be referred to by the Central Government.
Major Steps were taken by the Government for the welfare of Minorities:
- Scholarship Schemes - Pre-Matric Scholarship, Post-Matric Scholarship and Merit-cum-Means based Scholarship.
- Maulana Azad National Fellowship Scheme provides financial assistance to students from notified minority communities, to pursue higher education such as M.Phil and PhD.
- Begum Hazrat Mahal National Scholarship for meritorious girls belonging to minorities studying in Classes IX to XII.
- Naya Savera – Free Coaching and Allied Scheme which aims to enhance the skills and knowledge of students and candidates from minority communities where the total annual family income is less than Rs. 6 lacks.
- Seekho Aur Kamao (Learn & Earn): It is a skill development initiative for minorities and aims to upgrade the skills of minority youth in various modern/traditional skills.
- Upgrading the Skill and Training in Traditional Arts/Crafts for Development (USTTAD) scheme to give an effective platform to minority artisans and culinary experts from across the country to showcase and market their finest handicrafts and exquisitely crafted products through “Hunar Haats” organised by the Ministry.
- Nai Manzil - A scheme to provide education and skill training to the youth from minority communities.
- Gharib Nawaz Employment Training Programme for providing short-term job-oriented skill development courses to youths belonging to minority communities.
- Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): Under the Skill India Mission, the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship is implementing a flagship scheme known as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) 2016-20 to provide skilling to one crore people including persons from minority community under Short Term Training (STT) and Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) across the country.
- Prime Minister’s New 15-point Programme for minorities is a programme launched by the Indian government for the welfare of religious minorities. The programme advocated allocating 15% of plan outlays of welfare schemes identified under the 15-point programme.
- National Minorities Development Finance Corporation (NMDFC) Loan Schemes provide concessional loans for self-employment and income-generating activities for the socio-economic development of the ‘backward sections’ amongst the notified minorities.
- Pradhan Mantri Jan Vikas Karyakram (PMJVK) is implemented by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, which aims to improve the socio-economic conditions and basic amenities of minorities to improve their quality of life and reduce imbalances in the identified Minority Concentration Areas.
- The major projects approved under PMJVK are in sectors of education, health and skill, and include Residential Schools, School buildings, Hostels, Degree Colleges, ITIs, Polytechnics, Health Centres, Skill Centres, Sports facilities, Drinking Water facilities, sanitation facilities etc.