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Buddha showers sops on minorities

Buddha showers sops on minorities

Author: TNN
Publication: The Times of India
Date: September 14, 2007
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2367107.cms

The race for brownie points in a likely contest for votes is gaining momentum with the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government announcing sops for minorities and the downtrodden, days after the Congress-led Centre unveiled similar offers.

With the likelihood of a snap poll looming large - given the Congress-Left standoff over the India-US nuclear deal - the Left Front government in West Bengal on Thursday decided to sponsor minority students pursuing courses in IIMs/IITs and even NIIT. Local students in out-of-town branches of these institutions can also avail of the benefit.

The state has also decided on general welfare measures for slum dwellers and aged farmers - the classes the Left swear by - apparently to fend off likely Opposition charges of appeasing minorities.

Earlier, the Manmohan Singh government had announced sops for minorities based on Sachar panel's recommendations. "We have decided to implement two schemes for minority students - a merit-cum-means scholarship and free coaching and allied schemes - to help them gain technical and vocational education, and quality training for private and government sectors," said Abdus Sattar, minister of state for minorities' development and welfare.

The government, he said, would foot the bill of the institutions. "We have decided to disburse an additional Rs 1 crore for the scheme. Students with an annual family income of not more than Rs 2.5 lakh can apply," Sattar said.

This is not all. Commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen has asked all 126 municipalities to spend a quarter of their budgetary allocations exclusively for slum dwellers.

Municipal affairs secretary P K Pradhan said, "We shall issue a circular next week for compulsory spending of 25% of the total funds for development related to the urban poor." The money, Pradhan said, could be spent on any scheme related to their welfare.

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