In what can be termed as an unabashed use of public exchequer for minority appeasement, the Telangana government in the state has so far spent a whopping Rs 5,639.44 crore in the last 6 years towards minorities-centric benefits in the state.
Whether it is education or scholarships, financial assistance for marriage or development of religious places, employment or subsidies, the K Chandrashekhar Rao government in Telangana has been too generous to dole out a panoply of benefits for the state minorities, a report published in the Telangana Today said.
The Telangana government had gone out of the way to dispense benefits based on one’s religious identity. Residents belonging to minority communities such as Muslims, Sikhs, Christians have been at the receiving end of the state’s largesse. Whereas Hindus, the majority in the state, have been deemed ineligible on account of their faith to qualify for these welfare benefits.
The schemes launched by the Telangana state government aimed to court the minorities include Shaadi Mubarak, Minorities Residential Schools and Junior Colleges, scholarships on par with SC/ST communities, overseas scholarships for minorities, coaching for UPSC examinations, allowance for Imams and Muezzins, financial assistance schemes through the Telangana State Minorities Finance Corporation (TSMFC).
Besides, the state government also splurges on gift packages distributed to the minorities on their religious festivals. Special funds are earmarked for the development of places of religious significance for the minorities. In addition to this, the Telangana State Minority Study Circle was set up to assist students from minority communities to prepare for competitive examinations.
The state government has been too magnanimous towards its Muslim minority, declaring Urdu as the second official language on the grounds that 12.69 per cent of the state population was Urdu speaking. The government also appointed 66 Urdu translators designated as Urdu officers in several departments to help in translation works. In 2017, the KCR government increased quotas for Muslims from 4 per cent to 12 per cent in government jobs.
Since 2014 when it was first launched, the Telangana government has provided financial assistance of Rs 1,241.47 crore to nearly 1.7 lakh minority families. Through this scheme, every family is provided with a monetary aid of Rs 1,00,116. When launched, the initial aid was pegged at Rs 51,000 but six years down the line, the sum has nearly doubled.
In the last six years, a total of 8,17,242 students from minority communities have availed the benefits extended by the Telangana government. About Rs 1241.47 crore has been spent on scholarship for students doing schooling and higher education.
In a similar scheme aimed at minority students, tuition fee of around 6,55,218 students was reimbursed. The reimbursement were given to students who were pursuing professional and post graduation courses in the state.
The KCR government has also assisted the minority students who choose to pursue their higher studies outside India. Every student intending to pursue higher education in a foreign university is accorded Rs 20 lakhs from the state exchequer. The government has so far spent Rs 260.98 crore and 1,937 students have benefited so far.
Development of religious places
KCR-led TRS government has been unapologetic in pandering to the minorities of the state. If Shaadi Mubarak and assistance in Education was not discriminating enough against the majority community in the state, the Telangana government has also showed an eager alacrity in dispensing funds for the development of religious places belonging to the minority government.
About Rs 8.48 crore was authorised for the gentrification of the Mecca Masjid, an auditorium at the century-old Islamic University, the Jamia Nizamia, which was constructed at a cost of Rs 14.65 crore by the Telangana State Wakf Board and the State Minority Welfare Department.
Rs 50 crore were sanctioned by the state government towards the developmental work at Dargah Jahangeer Peer. Likewise, Rs 9.60 crore were spent at Dargah Hazrath Baba Sharfuddin at Pahadishareef for building a concrete cement ramp. The government has allocated Rs 20 crore the Dargah Hazrath Syed Khaja Hasan Barhana Shah Sahed at Edi Bazaar.
According to Telangana Wakf board chairman, Mohd Saleem, a multi-storied building is under construction up at the Nampally Aneesul Ghurba orphanage at a cost of Rs 20 crore. An Islamic and Cultural Convention Centre is also being constructed in Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 40 crore while Rs five crore was authorised for the construction of Rubaat at Dargah of Mohiuddin Chisti at Ajmer.
Economic Assistance scheme
The Telangana government has also doled out economic assistance to ‘uplift’ the minorities in the state. The state has distributed 542 Maruti Swift Dzire cars at a cost of Rs 24.04 crore under the Driver Empowerment Programme, the Telangana State Minorities Finance Corporation (TSMFC).
1,744 auto-rickshaws were distributed to the minority beneficiaries at a cost of Rs 12.76 crores through the ‘Own Your Autorickshaw scheme’. The State Minorities Finance Corporation has also distributed 10,072 sewing machines at the cost of Rs 8.03 crores. As many as 20,176 persons were granted loans by the corporation and an amount of Rs 172.77 crore was transferred to the beneficiaries.
Telangana’s Hindu majority left out from the welfare benefits extended to minorities
It is pertinent to note that the majority in Telangana, Hindus, are not extended the same benefits which are given to the minorities because of their faith. From economic assistance to scholarships to minority students, minorities benefit from the state government’s generosity but their Hindu counterparts are not provided with the same benefits. Though the Constitution of India forbids extension of benefits on the basis of one’s religion, several state governments, including Telangana, have continued implementing welfare schemes that discriminate on the grounds of one’s faith.
It is also worth noting that only Hindu temples and institutes are under the control of the state government. The State has no control over the minority institutes and religious places. The funds sourced from Hindu religious places are often used by the state governments to fulfil its pet schemes and projects aimed at appeasing minorities but Hindus, being in majority, are deprived of state-sponsored welfare schemes.