Budget: After UP debacle – No mood to woo Muslims *500 persons trained to work in overcrowded prisons

Pranab MukherjeeNew Delhi, March 16, 2012: After the recent debacle in the UP elections, mainly because Muslim community, which constitute almost 18% of the state, didn’t vote for the Congress party which was almost maddeningly wooing the minority community before the elections, the Rahul Gandhi’s party didn’t appear in the mood to woo minorities (read Muslims) any longer, especially when it comes to taking concrete policy decisions for minorities in the Union Budget.

So the Ministry of Minority Affairs (MMA) had to be satisfied with just two new token schemes with meager allocation and a slight increase of 14% in the total budget of the ministry.

The MMA got Rs. 3,135 crore as its share in the Union General Budget 2012-13 presented by the union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee today. This is an increase of Rs. 385 crore over the budget for 2011-12, which stands at Rs. 2,750 crore.

Pranab Mukherjee allocated just Rs. 4.50 crore for a new scheme to provide free cycles to girl students of class IX with the objective of retention of minority girl students from class IX onwards.

Another new scheme: Skill Development Initiatives has been provided meager Rs. 18 crore in the Budget to allow urban and rural livelihoods to improve for inclusive growth by providing skill to the Minority communities who do not posses any, to allow them to gain employment.

It’s important to note here that a vast number of communities belonging to minorities specially Muslims are engaged in occupations embroidery, tailor, zari work, bangle, leather work, which come under the category of skill development programmes, for which only 18 crore has been allocated.

The Budget 2012-13 increases significantly the outlay for educational scholarship schemes being implemented by the Ministry for the students belonging to minorities.

The money for Pre-Matric Scholarship has been increased from Rs. 540 crore to Rs. 810 crore; Post-Matric scholarship gets Rs. 450 crore – up from Rs. 405 crore; Merit-cum-means scholarship scheme gets Rs. 198 crore – as against Rs. 126 crore during 2011-12.

Provision for Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minority students has been enhanced from Rs. 47 crore to Rs. 63 crore.

Rs. 45 crore each have been provided for i) Scheme for promotion of education in 100 Minority Concentration towns/cities; and ii) Village Development Programme for 1,000 villages not covered under Minority Concentration Blocks/ Minority Concentration Districts.

– tcn

500 trained to work in India’s overcrowded prisons


Prison MinistryKarnataka, March 16, 2012: Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organisation for priests, nuns and lay people, is behind the initiative. Recognised by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the ministry works to rehabilitate inmates and ex-convicts. India’s 1,393 prisons are overcrowded with an occupancy rate of 115.1 per cent. More than half of all inmates are awaiting trial.

Prison Ministry India, a national voluntary organisation recognised by the National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), is training 500 priests, nuns and lay people to be fulltime volunteers in the country’s prisons. Training will begin in May in Bangalore, Karnataka.

Set up in 1986 by a group of students for the purpose of helping inmates on their way to rehabilitation, the Prison Ministry now has 850 branches and 30 rehabilitation centres around the country for ex-convicts and children at risk. More than 6,000 volunteers work with 370,000 prisoners.

In 2011, it conducted 197 awareness programmes in parishes, colleges, schools and other institutions. “We have invited priests, nuns, brothers and lay people who can devote themselves fulltime to the prison ministry,” PMI national coordinator Fr Sebastian Vakumpadan told AsiaNews. “We give them a month-long intensive training in Bangalore and Kerala. Then we send them two at a time to the various states of India according to their language and choice,” where “they will be guided by a PMI coordinator for the following year.”

“There is a lot to do,” Fr Sebastian explained. “We must change the atmosphere in prisons and turn them into reformative structures to change people’s attitude and improve the reintegration of ex-inmates in society.” India had 1,393 prison facilities according to the 2010 report by the National Crime Record Bureau of India. Overcrowding is a major problem.

Existing prisons can hold up to 320,450 but they currently house 368,998 (115.1 per cent occupancy rate), with 240,098 (65.1 per cent) awaiting trial and 125,789 (34.1 per cent) already convicted. Men represent 95.9 per cent of the inmate population; women, 4.1 per cent.

The state of Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of prisoners (82,673), followed by Madhya Pradesh (31,318) and Bihar (29,700). Prisons in Chhattisgarh are the most overcrowded (237 per cent), followed by the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (227.7 per cent).

– asianews

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