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Law on empowering minorities likely: Minister

Staff Reporter

Minister asks leaders to hold open discusssion

HYDERABAD: The Union Human Resources Development Minister, Arjun Singh, on Sunday said legislation to empower minorities as enunciated in Article 30 of the Constitution may be passed in the winter session of the Parliament.

Addressing a convention on `Education and welfare of minorities' organised by the Forum for Equity and Justice, on Sunday, he said the process of consulting the stakeholders on what needs to be done on a priority basis for framing the legislation was on. The chairman of the National Commission for Minorities Education was going round the country to elicit the information.

He suggested that leaders of minority communities invite the chairman for an open discussion on the problems facing them and the steps to be taken for solving them.

Strengthening of panel

He gave an assurance to the gathering that the Government was keen that the Commission should be strengthened, as promised by the UPA under the Common Minimum Programme.

Referring to the Technical Education Minister, N. Narasimha Reddy's observation regarding mushrooming of engineering colleges in the State, which resulted in 20,000 seats remaining vacant last year, Mr. Singh described it as unfortunate. "It has to be addressed. We will certainly help Andhra Pradesh."

Mr. Reddy urged the Union Minister to direct the All-India Council of Technical Education not to permit colleges in the State, particularly in rural areas where none — both students and faculty — was willing to go. Mohd. Fareeduddin, Minister for Minorities Welfare, outlined the steps being taken to empower minorities in education, like sanctioning more funds for scholarships.

Mr. Bashiruddin Babukhan, chairman of the forum who presided, urged the Government to set aside 20 per cent of education cess of Central taxes for education of Muslims. He pleaded for empowerment of women, equal opportunities for religious minorities, setting up of a commission for welfare of religious and linguistic minorities and constitutional status to the Minorities Commission.

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