Mrs. Fauzia Khan - Minister of
State for Minority Development and a host of other portfolios
making a point while speaking with ummid.com
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Mrs. Fauzia Khan is the first Muslim lady who took the oath as a
minister in Maharashtra Government. The portfolios she has been
assigned include Minority Development, Primary & School Education,
Labour, Right to Information combined with few other important
portfolios. Before taking charge as a minister, she as an MLC and
head of Federation of Minority Educational Organisation
struggled for long to get a hearing from the power corridors about
the issues pertaining to the minorities, especially poor
infrastructure and lack of quality education in their institutions.
In the driving seat and in a position to take decisions, Mrs.
Fauzia Khan exclusively spoke to
ummid.com at her Mantralaya office about the challenges
she is facing in her new job, the priorities in her mind, and the
plans and schemes on card for the development of people and
minorities in Maharashtra. ummid.com
is first to take the interview of this visionary lady after she
became a minister.
Normally in India, our ministers seldom know the basic problems they
are expected to look into. The best thing with Mrs. Fauzia Khan
however is she seems to be well aware of the issues facing the state
in general and the minorities in particular. At the same time she
also has a vision and out of box thinking to address them. This is
why after talking to her one gets a feeling that with Mrs. Fauzia
Khan in the chair people in the state especially the minorities can
surely expect something really good for them in coming days.
For years, you have worked for development of the minorities in
Maharashtra especially to improve their education quality and
to address other issues. Do you think people should expect few
immediate decisions as you are in a driving seat now?
Capacity to hold office and being in a decision making position is
of course important. But in a democratic government everything has to be done
in the framework of rules and in phased manner. There indeed are issues needed to be addressed urgently. However people should not
expect any hasty decision that can be counter productive in longer
Along with other portfolios you also have Ministry of Minority
Development under you. What are your priorities for development
of the minorities?
Maharashtra is the only state in the country that has such a
ministry. Though the government took a very important step when in
February 2008 it established this ministry, it is still a baby and
has its own problems. It needs time to tackle them and grow to be
fully functional. But, as I just said, I am not for any hasty decision
making. Moreover, I believe in quality and quantity to be looked
into simultaneously. For, development is a simultaneous and
continuous process and I would be comfortable if I address issues
Mrs. Fauzia Khan says...
"Our whole teaching methodology and syllabus need a thorough
makeover. People from financially weaker families just canít
afford if their children study for 16 to 18 long years to be
able to earn their livelihood."
Even then there are issues needed to be addressed on priority basis.
As a Minister holding important portfolios what are the things you
would address first?
The quality of education and basic infrastructure in government
schools are truly worrisome. The approach and teaching methodology
have lost the needed focus. Moreover, school administration and
teachers do not seem to be left with any sort of accountability to
deliver. Top in my priority list besides improving the basic
infrastructure is to bring teaching in these
institutions child-focused and to make school administration and
On one hand the Government wants others to deliver while on the
other it has absolutely no plan to address the issues haunting them
since years. Is there anything different that you have in your mind?
No doubt there are barriers and limitations. Also, insufficient
number of schools in the state has resulted in practically
inappropriate teacher, student ratio. These are the things unless
tackled urgently can multiply the existing problems. But then there
are budgetary constraints that refrain us doing too much in this
How can one expect results when the government passes resolutions
like Right to Education but not willing to
give permissions to new schools and colleges even on non-grant
It is true that we donít have enough number of schools and colleges.
The fact is that we should have more funds for education. Right now
we are spending just 6% of our budget for education. However to get
the desired results we need far more than this.
The Government has spent millions of rupees as part of its Serva
Shiksha Abhyan (SSA) campaign. Do you think utilizing such a
huge amount without any proper monitoring has yielded in desired
Irregularities in utilizing funds and corruption have become a curse
of our system. Government is doing many things to control the
situation. But this is not enough. Opposition to such evils should
come from within the society. As a civil society what we need is to
support the government in its drive against corruption.
It means budgetary constraint is not the only problem that we are
there are many other hurdles besides this. Like, people demand
for new schools and colleges. But, where are the iron-hands to
control them? Where are the committed people who could honestly work
to produce the desired results?
Mrs. Fauzia Khan says...
to corruptions and irregularities while utilizing government
funds should come from within the society. As a civil
society what we need is to support the government in its drive
Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is willing to establish its
off-campus regional centre in Maharashtra provided the state
government gives land. Why the government is not showing
any interest in this regard even though it is lacking in quality and
numbers when it comes to schools and colleges?
It is not that the government does not have interest in the AMUís
proposal. The AMU centre in Maharashtra is in my mind and I am
consulting with the top government leaderships and
officials to push the proposal. The problem is that AMU has selected Pune
as the venue to establish its off-campus centre and getting land
there is very difficult. Yet we are working on various options like
providing the required land at some other place to make the AMU
off-campus in Maharashtra a reality.
Besides Minority Development, you also hold primary education and
labour. How can we talk of minority welfare, education to all and
eliminating child labour if we take such a long time for deciding on
an important project?
Insufficient number of schools is not the only problem when it comes
to eliminating the child labour. As a matter of fact, our whole
teaching methodology and syllabus need a thorough makeover. People
from financially weaker families just canít afford if their children
study for 16 to 18 long years to be able to earn their livelihood.
Hence, when they get a job opportunity at an early age they leave
their education incomplete. But, since they are not qualified enough
they are vulnerable to exploitation. If we design a syllabus that
can offer them acquire certified skills at a suitable age, getting
education would become affordable for everyone and child-labour or
labour exploitation would be controlled automatically.
AMU off-campus center in Maharashtra and minority welfare, I have
just taken the charge as a minister. Give me some time. I assure
you, people in the state would surely witness the difference in
three to four months.