Need new steps to reach benefits of schemes to Muslims: Plan

New Delhi: Concerned over the perception of discrimination and alienation among the Muslim community, the 12th Five Year Plan document has pitched for innovative steps to reach the benefits of government schemes to needy persons of the minority community.

"Innovative steps are needed such as expanding facilitators in Muslim concentrated villages and towns to act as interface between the community and the state institutions," said the draft Plan document which will be placed before the National Development Council (NDC) for approval.

Noting that only a few members of the Muslim community benefit from the various development schemes of the government, the document said, "an important concern vis-a-vis the Muslim community is the perception of discrimination and alienation. This needs to be appropriately addressed in the 12th Plan".

It said that Muslims, who constitute the largest religious minority comprising about 13.4 per cent of the total population, lag behind others in terms of economic, health and education indices.

As per the recent estimates, the document said the poverty ratio for Muslims was 33.9 per cent in urban areas, especially on account of states such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar and West Bengal.

In case of rural areas, it said, poverty ratio for Muslims was very high in states such as Assam, Uttar, West Bengal and Gujarat.

According to the document, "The literacy and work participation amongst the Muslims is low as compared to other minority communities. The majority of them are engaged in traditional and low paying professions, or are mostly small and marginal farmers, landless agricultural labourers, small traders, craftsmen and so on."