The Jain community was accorded minority status by the central government on Monday, which will enable them to avail of benefits in government schemes and programmes.
The decision to grant minority status to the community of about 50 lakh was taken at a meeting of Union Cabinet in New Delhi on Monday, a day after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi took up this issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
A group of Jains had met Rahul on Sunday to press for their long-standing demand for minority status and Rahul then spoke to Singh in their support.
The Jains became the sixth community to have minority status after Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis.
Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan said his ministry would soon issue a notification on the issue. Once recognised as a minority, Jains would get a share in central funds earmarked for welfare programmes and scholarships for the minorities. They can also manage and administer their own educational institutions. The community is already enjoying minority status in some states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan but the new decision extends that status across the country. Numerically, the Jain community is small, with a population of about 50 lakh but they are prosperous, mostly engaged in business.
Khan said there had been a lot of representations from the community that they be treated as a minority. The ministry moved a cabinet note to this effect after Attorney General G E Vahanvati gave his go-ahead to their inclusion among notified minorities. The Cabinet approved the inclusion of Jains in the list of notified minority communities under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 pending the outcome of court cases in addition to the five communities already notified as minorities under Section 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, an official statement said in New Delhi on Monday. Under Section 2 (c) of National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Act, 1992, five religious communities -- Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis are declared as minority communities through a government notification issued in October 1993. Thereafter, the Ministry of Minority Affairs has been receiving regular representations and RTI applications for inclusion of Jains as a minority community under this Section, the statement said.