Economic growth in our country has been very impressive in the past ten years from 2000. The GDP growth at 3.5% in the 9th Five Year Plan (1997-2002), grew to 7.8% in 10th plan (2002-07) and is expected to be 8.2% in the 11th plan that ended in 2012. Average per capita GDP growth is reported to have also grown by 35% over this period. This growth is evident in roads and buildings, fast moving cars, new private schools and colleges, new private hospitals, private TV channels and so on around us. It is a matter of concern that the large majority among Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) communities continue to suffer from severe poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, unemployment and their poverty is not reducing similarly and they do not be benefit from this impressive development in the country.
SCs and STs constituting a quarter of the population (16.2% SCs and 8.1% STs) have been named specifically in the Constitution of India, requiring special attention by the Government, given their historical and continuing social, economic and political exclusion and exploitation. Their poverty and backward situation was clearly traced to how larger society had kept them out of resources, education, skill development, better occupations even refusing to live, share or relate with them on the basis of the caste system and untouchability practices.
It has been 33 years that the special plans of SCP and TSP are instituted (1979-80), where the government promised that out of every 100 rupees spent by the government, Rs.16/- will be spent for Dalits and Rs.8/- spent for Adivasis every year; AND that the funds would be used for such schemes that will directly benefit SC/ST individuals/households or SC/ST bastis/tolas/localities. The government has instead, diverted a large share of this money for general schemes, hardly benefitting them.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh remarked that SCP and TSP should be non-divertible and non- lapsable, with the clear objective of bridging the gap in socio-economic development of the SCs and STs within a period of 10 years. 33 years have lapsed and the government has failed to keep its promise even once.
We therefore demand that:
I. A Central Legislation be designed for Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub Plan. This Central legislation should provide for:
a. Clearly setting apart a proportion of the total Plan outlays of Centre and States that is equivalent to the population proportion of SCs/STs at national and state levels for their development.
b. A well- designed, dedicated institutional set-up at the Central & State level, which shall allocate SCP/TSP funds to the Ministries/Departments, duly taking into consideration the developmental needs of SCs/STs. This will enable the Ministries/Departments to clearly show the schemes formulated for the development of SC/STs under a separate budget head.
c. Encouraging participation of community, CSOs and experts in planning as well as implementation and evaluations of schemes.
d. Publishing the performance/outcome budget every year, providing details about the beneficiaries which is made accessible to the public.
II. II. We demand, that the shortfall including the notional amounts of Rs. Cr. 33,756.74 of SCP and Rs. Cr. 13,275.95 of TSP in the current Union budget 2012-13, be returned and reallocated to schemes with a clear objective of bridging socio-economic gap between SCs/STs and Non-SCs/STs with particular focus on health, education, housing, assignment/acquisition of land, employment, income generation, entrepreneurship and access to basic amenities.
We would like to express thanks to the Working Group Dalit Issues - National Advisory Council for the ‘Draft Recommendations containing Essential Elements of the Implementation Framework of Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP)'. They detail the institutional arrangements for central and state governments, the required planning process, preparation of Annual Plans, appraisals by the ministries or Nodal departments, Non-divertability and Non-lapsability of SCSP funds and the Monitoring required. We welcome these recommendation.
However Dalit leaders, human rights activists and other civil society organisations are extremely disappointed that the NAC working Group Dalit Issues has ignored the earlier recommendation for a Central Legislation for the SCSP.
We would like to remind the Working Group on Dalit Issues of NAC that similar guidelines have already been issued by the Planning Commission (vide D.O. No. M-13011/3/2005-SP-Co, dated October 31, 2005) more than 6 years ago. Despite the Guidelines there was a colossal denial of allocations and diversions and notional allocations of funds to SCSP. In the XIth Plan period (2007-08 till 2011-12), in the Central Govt Budget there was a denial of allocation of funds to the tune of Rs. Cr.1,42,865.20 to the SCSP and TSP as there was no accountability of the concerned ministries nor of the Planning Commission.
This gross and willful negligence of State and its functionaries towards SCs and STs in matters of their economic development is clearly due to the lack of a legislation building entitlements in the SCSP.
We, representing several Dalit and Human Rights Organisations therefore, strongly urge the Working Group Dalit Issues of National Advisory Council to recommend for a Central Legislation as part of the Reforms for Scheduled Castes Sub Plan currently being drafted.
Thanking you and With Regards