In a unique initiative modelled after a Haj fund in Malaysia, the Ministry of Minority Affairs is looking at a Provident Fund-like corpus raised through contributions from the community, for investing in higher education infrastructure for Muslims. It has asked SBI Capital Markets — an investment bank and the project advisor — to conduct a feasibility study and submit a report.
Minister for Minority Affairs K Rahman Khan said they hope to raise Rs 10,000-15,000 crore from this effort. It is modelled after the Tabung Haji of Malaysia, that facilitates savings for Haj pilgrims through investment in Shariah-compliant vehicles.
This education fund would be over and above the money that is planned to be raised by redevelopment of Wakf properties across the country, through which the government hopes to raise Rs 50,000-Rs 60,000 crore, that too to be used for the welfare of Muslims.
“This is a fund which will come entirely from the community. The government’s role will be limited to creating an institutional mechanism, appointment of fund managers etc, like is done in case of PF. The community will invest for creation of higher education infrastructure and also get returns on that money. SBI Capital Markets will probably give the feasibility report in the next one week,” Khan told The Indian Express.
The lack of higher education opportunities for Muslims has been a recurrent feature of all reports on the condition of Indian Muslims, including the Sachar Committee report, which noted that only 4 per cent of Muslims aged 20 years or more are graduates, compared to the 7 per cent figure for the general population.
In case of provident fund, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation acts as a facilitator for PF money compulsorily contributed by those in service. It also appoints a host of fund managers for investing that money in safe instruments and, based on the income from those investments, announces an annual rate of interest on PF money, that changes every year.
This is how the proposed fund will work, say Minority Ministry officials, the only difference with PF being that there is no financial contribution expected from the government