Living Conditions of Minorities in WB “Extremely Inadequate”: Jaitley


New Delhi: Raising questions over the plight of minorities in poll-bound West Bengal despite political stability, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said recently released data indicated that their living conditions were “extremely inadequate”.

Jaitley said the model followed by the state where growth levels were not fast enough to raise standards of all sections could be a factor for the condition of the minorities.

The Finance Minister, who was delivering a lecture organised by National Commission of Minorities(NCM) on ‘Economic Empowerment of Minorities’, said that post 1991, India witnessed a faster growth which also led to substantial reduction in poverty.

As he spoke about the role of economic growth in empowerment, the Finance Minister referred to a report ‘Living realities of Muslims in West Bengal’ released recently in Kolkata by Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.

Referring to the data related to the minority community in West Bengal, Jaitley said that it indicated “living conditions which are extremely inadequate.”

“Why is it that in a state like West Bengal, which has otherwise seen political stability since independence and has a sizeable minority population have data which indicates living conditions which are far less than adequate?,” he asked.

“One of the reasons that struck my mind is that is it in terms of growth of economy, the state followed a model, where growth levels were not fast enough and I think it is a question which should be discussed,” Jaitley said.

He said that post 1991, when in most parts, economic conditions improved, but a report on West Bengal comes with such findings. When there is high growth, Jaitley said all sections benefit, though some more than others and government can provide “targetted assistance” to all those left out.

The report released by Sen suggested that “Muslims in West Bengal are economically more deprived than others”.

Jaitley also said the country experiences “policy diversions” from time to time, but maturity would be to ignore them and move towards growth in a “harmonious” way.