KUALA LUMPUR: After four decades, a fresh federal initiative is set to be launched to champion the cause of the Indian community.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will chart the path ahead for the estimated 1.7 million Indians in the country with a national blueprint for them.
The last comprehensive economic masterplan for the community, prepared by the MIC in 1974, failed as it was considered to be “too vague”.
The new 10-year blueprint has specific targets and policies set in place to address the plight of Indians.
A special unit under the Prime Minister’s Department headed by a director-general will implement the action plan.
An estimated 695,030 Malaysian Indians are in the B40 category or bottom 40% of households with a monthly income of up to RM3,855.
Of these, 139,010 families live in 38 districts in nine states and earn less than RM2,537 a month.
According to an official, the action plan will span basic needs right up to the aspects of education, commerce, housing, employment and entrepreneurship, identity and inclusiveness of the community.
The development of Tamil schools and loans for small-scale businesses and budding entrepreneurs will also be spelt out.
“The real challenge will be in delivery and implementation, along with monitoring and impact assessment.
“These challenges will be addressed in the blueprint,” said Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, principal research fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies.
Monash University Malaysia vice-president (research and development) Prof Mahendhiran Sanggaran Nair, who provided input for the blueprint on the economic aspect, said the launching was timely.
“Until now, there has been no single plan integrating the socio-economic development of the Indian community.
“This blueprint will enable the Malaysian Indian community and businesses to raise their competitiveness and be an integral part of the Malaysian economy, which is increasingly becoming more globalised and knowledge intensive,” he said.
Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Tan Sri Kenneth Eswaran said the body had provided key input on the socio-economic part.
He said they had successfully organised an Indian Economic Roadmap programme with the aim of empowering the community.
“We had specific plans tailored for target segments. All the community stakeholders, including those from the Opposition, were involved,” he said.