GUWAHATI, Oct 5 - Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said that the government has broken all barriers of regional and social imbalance in terms of development and connected all the �ignored and neglected� backward areas of the country with the mainstream development process. He was addressing the Zonal Coordination Meeting of Ministers, Principal Secretaries, Secretaries incharge of Social Welfare, Minority Welfare of eleven States at Guwahati today.
Naqvi said that the government, conforming to its commitment of empowerment without appeasement and development without discrimination, has been able to benefit three crore students belonging to poor and weaker sections of minority communities with various scholarship programmes during the last four years. These beneficiaries comprises about 1.63 crore girls. He added that the �Pradhanmantri Jan Vikas Karykram� has proved to be a milestone in the direction of socio-economic-educational empowerment of minorities and other weaker sections of the society. He also informed the participants that for the first time after Independence, a campaign has been started on a war-footing to provide basic amenities to ensure educational empowerment of minorities, especially girls in 308 districts across the country.
While addressing a press meet after the conference, the minister, while acknowledging the low literacy rate among minorities especially Muslim girls, said that the Central government, keeping in mind the need for educational empowerment and employment oriented skill development, is providing school, college, polytechnic, girls� hostel, ITI and skill development centres under the �Pradhanmantri Jan Vikas karykram� in the backward and ignored areas.
Naqvi also informed the gathering that school dropout rate among minorities, especially Muslim girls, which was earlier more than 70 per cent, has now been reduced to about nearly 35 per cent due to awareness and educational empowerment programmes of the government.