Feb 06, The Budget 2019 has grossly neglected Dalit and Adivasi population.The projections of a historical increase in allocations for SC’s at 35.6% and 28% for ST’s this year hides several harsh realities which communities have to deal with in this election year.
The allocations for Scheduled Caste stands at Rs. 76,801 Crores and Rs. 50,086 Crores for the Scheduled Tribes, which by all measure is the highest benchmark till now for any kind of budgets, be it general or interim. For the first time, an unbelievable 315 schemes for SC and 324 schemes for ST will be benefitting with earmarking from Allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Caste (AWSC) & Allocation for of Scheduled Tribes (AWST).
There are now 9 new ministries/departments for SCs and 3 for STs which are set to implement new programmes. If it was not for a budget preceding general election, NCDHR has labelled this as an ‘aggressive development strategy’. These revelations were unprecedented with SC & ST budgets this year.
The Gender Responsive Budgeting revealed that wide gaps exist between the government’s goals and the ground realities that Dalit and Adivasi women face. Allocations under specific schemes for SC/ST children are also minimal.
Although there is an increase in the allocation, there are several key schemes where the allocation has been reduced, like the post-matric scholarship where it has been reduced to Rs.2926 crore starving the one scheme which will directly benefit the youth of the community.
Dozens of critical schemes were being systemically undermined by starving them of necessary funds. For example, schemes like post-matric scholarship, University Grants Commission, rehabilitation of bonded labour, self-employment of safai karamcharis, national fellowship for SC, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti, IGNOU Open University, grants to voluntary organisations, land records modernization etc which are few of the direct benefitting schemes are denied necessary funds for SC & ST development. There is a definite political shift if we analyse the fine print of downward or stagnant budget numbers accompanying the above-mentioned schemes. It is also evident that now schemes are becoming more cash-transfer oriented and less focus is put on creating durable assets and sustainable livelihoods.
Allocations for nodal ministries i.e. Ministry of Social justice and empowerment were significantly reduced compared to last year. Apart from this, the other critical Ministries with a downward trend of allocations in SC development are Rural development, Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and Drinking water & sanitation.
Similarly, from the Scheduled Tribe perspective, the critical ministries of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises and Drinking water & Sanitation are the biggest losers in this budget, whereas there is only a marginal increase in allocations or the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. In a scenario where the overall increase in allocations are as high as 36 % and 28% for SC & ST respectively, the nodal ministries of MSJE & MoTA are subjected to major budget cuts despite the existing NITI Aayog guidelines.
The NCDHR analysis of last five-years trend of the Scheduled Caste Component plan shows that out of total allocation of Rs. 5,05,015 crore which is the mandate as per guidelines, only Rs. 2,29,243 crore has been allocated. And only Rs. 81,155 crore is a direct allocation, meaning directly benefiting the Dalits. A huge amount of Rs. 1, 48,088 crores has been allocated for non-targeted schemes which can hardly be of any direct benefit to the community.
The trend of non-targeted allocations both in statement 10A and 10B continues unabatedly. Good schemes are getting starved and allocations for irrelevant schemes keep increasing. This year, out of 315 schemes for SC, 226 schemes are non-targeted and without any strategy to give benefits to the community. Similarly, only 21 out of 324 schemes for scheduled tribes have potential to give direct benefits, while rest of them is general in nature. Moreover, their outcomes do not spell any kind of clear roadmap for sustainable development of SC & ST communities.
Rs. 2,200 crore has been allocated towards Swacch Bharat Abhiyan from SCC and Rs. 1,000 crore from STC but less than proportionate allocation has been allocated towards ensuring alternative employment opportunity to the community engaged in manual scavenging. Similarly, an allocation of Rs. 30 crore has been done under the Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers and allocation of Rs. 35 crore has been done for the National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation.
With the clear evidences proving the delay in delivering justice and increase in cases of crimes against the SC & ST, with low conviction rate, high pendency rate, limited number of Special Courts & Public Prosecutors it is essential for the state to allocate more funds for strengthening & ensuring better implementation of PCR and PoA Act which act as a watershed for the Dalit Adivasi community.
- Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Finance along with NITI Ayog, post-merger of plan and non-plan have not been followed resulting in denial of not only a large proportion of funds but quality planning has not been followed.
- The due allocation for Scheduled caste is Rs. Cr. 139,660 and for Scheduled Tribes it Rs. Cr. 75,987. But the total allocated towards SC Schemes is Rs.Cr. 76, 801 for SCs and Rs. Cr. 50,086.
- Out of the total allocation Rs.Cr. 35,409 for SCs and Rs.Cr. 29,919 are Non-Targeted schemes which have no direct benefit.
- About Rs. 750 crore has been allocated for Cow Protection and a mere Rs. 147 crore allocated for the protection of Dalit women through the implementation of PoA Act.
- Allocation for PMS was reduced from Rs. 6000 crore in RE 2018-19 to Rs. 2926 crore in FY 2019-20.
- Department of Higher Education allocates Rs. 3,166 crore for SCs through 72 schemes. Out of these only 7 schemes with Rs. 106.88 crore directly benefit SCs and the rest go towards grants-in-aid and infrastructure. The funds of UGC have decreased to 23.51% and the funds for IGNOU decreased by 50.35%.
- Welcome move to form a committee to look into DNT tribes but no allocation to go with it gives an impression that this is only tokenistic.
- A large proportion of the Economic Sector schemes have no relevance to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. For example, the total allocation under the Department of Telecommunication for both SC and ST is a total of Rs.Cr. 2623.89 which is allocated for schemes like ‘optical fibre cable-based network for Defence Services’, ‘Compensation to Service Providers’ which has no direct benefit to SCs or STs but only a general scheme.
- National Legislation: The policy of allocation of funds is hanging loose post-merger of Plan-Non Plan scenario. This must be legislated and machinery established not only to bridge the gap but for ensuring financial inclusion.
- Manual Scavenging: Increase allocation for manual scavenging to ensure that this practice is totally eliminated and adequate mechanisms should be in place to monitor and track the effective use of the funds.
- Gender Justice: A special component for the Dalit women should be allocated within the scheduled caste component and Scheduled Tribe Component. Innovative schemes like the Nirbhaya Fund for the survivors of sexual assault, schemes for the socio-economic rehabilitation of the survivor of atrocities and their families should be ensured, by providing housing, livelihood support, education facilities and safety including free legal aid to survivors of atrocities.
- Planning with Community: For the new ministries which will now earmark allocations under the sub-plans, there need to be new schemes planned and designed for providing direct benefits for the SC & ST communities.
- Access to Justice: Adequate budgetary allocations to ensure that both punitive and pecuniary measures are in place to prevent the high incidences of violence and atrocities that are taking place on Dalits and Adivasis. Special Courts for speedy trial of cases related to Dalit & Adivasi community. Increased compensation amount to be given to victims of caste and ethnicity-based atrocities. Schemes for the socio-economic rehabilitation of the survivor of atrocities and their families should be ensured, by providing housing, livelihood support, education facilities and safety including free legal aid to survivors of atrocities.
- Appoint teachers in the government schools, specific /special schools for ST and SC such as the Eklavya Model Schools, Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalaya.
- Legislate and Implement the Bill – Prevention of All Forms of Discrimination and Violence against Children in Educational Institutions.
- Ensure prevention of all forms of discrimination and violence in the primary, secondary, senior secondary schools, anganwadis and hostels
- Empowered Nodal Ministries: Though Nodal Ministries for SC funds – MSJE (Ministry for Social Justice Empowerment) and for ST funds (Ministry of Tribal Affairs) are appointed, there need to be sufficient resources allocated for efficient machinery capable of implementing the plans for SC ST welfare and development. Nodal ministries should be empowered to take strict penal measures against the defaulting Ministries and Departments.