By Abdul Bari Masoud
Waywardness is one word to describe the Union Ministry for Minority Affairs which, of late, has become a headless chicken – doing everything except working for the welfare of minorities, precisely the main objective for which it was created 15 years ago
New Delhi: Former Minister K Rahman Khan criticized the Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi for organizing cultural events, the poetic session in this case, saying holding such programmes are not in the domain of the ministry.
Khan, former minority affairs minister, was reacting on the expenditure incurred on the Mushaira (poetic session) held on Saturday in a central Delhi’s venue in the national capital where poets rendered their couplets on the “celebrations of 75 years of India’s Independence” while remembering the sacrifices made by the great freedom fighters.
Notably, the ministry has announced to organize 75 Mushairas’ titled as “Mera Watan, Mera Chaman” in the next two years which is billed as a part of “Amrit Mahotsav” of 75 years of India’s Independence. According to a Ministry’s press note, “The Union Minority Affairs Ministry is organizing “Mera Watan, Mera Chaman” “Mushairas” and “Kavi Sammelan” across the country till 2023, where renowned as well as emerging poets are giving effective messages full of glorious memories related to India’s Independence movement”.
Khan told Muslim Mirror that given the scarcity of funds, the ministry must focus on the socio-economic conditions of the minorities instead of recklessly spending money such events. In the last seven years the ministry’s budget was not adequately increased by this government while such spending on other activities would hurt the main welfare schemes of the ministry, the former minister added. He further said that the flagship schemes such as scholarships, Multi-sectoral Development program and protection and development of Waqfs are pushed to back-burner.
In the same breadth, Khan also referred to a pending case of corruption in the Karnataka High Court, pointing out increasing corruption in the implementation of minority welfare schemes.
According to a source, hefty honorarium was paid to each invited poet and poetess. “They were not only given huge amount for airfare and stay, they were also given a cheque of Rs 1 lakh each,” said the source.
It is said huge amount of money was spent on the publicity as billboards and hoardings were put all across the national capital, specially lanes leading to the venue in Lutyens Delhi. One of the poetry buffs, who attended the Mushaira, told Muslim Mirror that it seemed to be more a party event than a literary one as the hall was reverberating with the ruling party’s pet slogans time and again. Furthermore, little attention was paid towards maintaining the decorum of a Mushaira. However, similar scenes were witnessed during the Mushaira organized by the Delhi Urdu Academy at its head office on the same day. It too appeared to be a political event rather than a Mushaira as some AAP workers were showering praises every now and then on their leader and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Inaugurating the Mushaira on Saturday, Naqvi, however, said that such events are part of India’s glorious cultural legacy which help in strengthening the “Unity in Diversity” cause. “Mushaira spread the message of peace and social harmony,” he said and concluded that such events “revitalize nationalistic commitment to New and Self-reliant India”.
There is a sense among a section of Muslim community that the silence of Muslim leaders has given “a free hand” to the Ministry which has continue to overlook pressing issues of the community. For an example, no Muslim leader ever posed a question on the revocation of Haj subsidy much before the stipulated time. Further, the Supreme Court verdict clearly stipulated that the government would have to pay one time amount as compensation following suspension of the subsidy.
Instead of making policies for the improvement of as many as six notified minorities —Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Parsi and Jain — the Ministry has been reduced to perform like an “event management company”, organizing cultural events of all hues, observed a journalist-cum-poet on the condition of anonymity. The Ministry formed under the Congress-led UPA government on 29 January, 2006.