Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Khurshid eyes minority pie in HRD and MEA

Khurshid eyes minority pie in HRD and MEA

Author: Urmi A Goswami New Delhi
Publication: Economic Times
Dated: June 15, 2009
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/PoliticsNation/Khurshid-eyes-minority-pie-in-HRD--MEA/articleshow/4656715.cms

It may not be an A R Antulay versus Arjun Singh redux, but a tug of war appears to be simmering within the government. The ministry of minority affairs would like to take over the Haj cell and minority education.

At present, the Haj cell is part of the ministry of external affairs, while madarsa modernisation falls under the ministry of human resource development. For the time being, minister of state for minority affairs Salman Khurshid appears to have calibrated his position, showing a willingness to let the status quo be preserved but perhaps with some modifications.

Mr Khurshid argues that this is not about turfs, but about ways that certain areas can be "better nurtured and serviced by placing them under minority affairs. It is all about the best solution. By way of illustration, the minister refers to the madarsa modernisation scheme, which he would rather view as madarsa "welfare".

At present the scheme is administered by the ministry of human resource development. Mr Khurshid said that his ministry deals much more with those who run madarsas. He makes the argument that his ministry might be in a better position to persuade madarsas to follow a modernisation programme.

However, when it comes to the larger canvas of minority education, Mr Khurshid said there is no unanimity in the view of whether minority education should be administered by the minority affairs ministry.

"There are broadly two views, the first being that minority education is best served by dealing with it with the rest of education and the second view being that the HRD ministry's policies would apply anywhere, so perhaps the specific interests of minority education would be better served by this ministry", Mr Khurshid said.

The minister, who on assuming charge of the ministry said that he would play the role of both advocate and diplomat, said he is willing to go with either view. Sources said that the ministry is making a pitch to the prime minister for the allocation of minority education. It's argument being as originally conceived the ministry was to handle minority education. The former HRD minister Arjun Singh was unwilling to let the portfolio slip out of his ministry.

However, Mr Khurshid ought to be prepared for stiff resistance from the the current HRD minister as well. Sources close to HRD minister Kapil Sibal indicated that there was no way that minority education would be removed from the ministry's work allocation.

Mr Sibal has already got his ministry working on rolling out and implementing the recommendations of the Sachar Committee report. Indeed Mr Sibal's first major meeting with his ministry's officials related to the Sachar Committee.

It is unlikely that Mr Khurshid will do an Antulay, and he may push for areas like madarsa modernisation to be reallocated to his ministry.

He makes a similar argument about the Haj cell. The minister would like to implement the Rehman Khan Committee recommendation of setting up a Haj Foundation on the lines of the one in Malaysia. Sources indicate that Haj management is not a central function of the MEA, and most of the people who avail of the facilities actually end up accessing the minority affairs ministry, so there is no reason why this reallocation should not be undertaken.

Sources indicated that the ministry would be keen to move to a self financing model, where the Haj pilgrimage will not be so dependent on the exchequer. The plans would have to wait, as Mr Khurshid said, "I can do nothing about it because the idea belongs to the ministry of external affairs."

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements