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Budget 2016: Schedule Castes, tribes protest after Jaitley offers a penny, snatches a dollar

by sapna last modified 2016-03-09 10:35

Delhi: In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley was at his eloquent best while allocating Rs 500 crore for scheduled caste, scheduled tribes and women entrepreneurs under the ‘Stand up India’ scheme.

“We are celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Shri B Ambedkar. 

This must become the year of the economic empowerment for SC/ST entrepreneurs… It is proposed to constitute a national SC/ST hub in the MSME Ministry in partnership with industry associations,” he said.

On the face of it, this sounds like a great and laudable step.

But while this was one scheme, if we look at the budgetary allocation to Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Caste and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) for Scheduled Tribes, it is pretty clear that the NDA government has, once again, fooled the marginalised communities. As per the Supreme Court guidelines, budgetary allocation should be proportionate to the SC and ST population. 

According to the guidelines for budgetary allocations, 16.6% for SCP and 8.6%for TSP from the plan outlay should have been made available for these schemes. However, just like the previous year’s budget, this year’s budget also falls short of meeting those requirements. This year, the total plan outlay was Rs 5.5 lakh crore, of which Rs 38,833 crore have been allocated to SCP (7.6%) while Rs 24,005 crore was allocated to TSP (4.36). As per the guidelines, the numbers should have been Rs 91,301 crore for SCP and Rs 47,300 crore for TSP. Thus, it is clear that the two sections have been denied a total of Rs 75,764 crore. Now, a scheme of Rs 500 crore doesn’t seem much, does it?

This was the reason why a number of people joined hands at Jantar Mantar to protest against the apathy of the government. CPM leader Brinda Karat, who addressed the protesters, said her party would ensure that the issue is raised in Parliament. "The government must be held responsible for its anti-Dalit, anti-Tribal stance," said Karat.

Further, activists of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) say that the funds rarely reach the targeted population and are used to provide benefits to everyone, and also questioned the previous Budget’s allocations to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

In 2011/12, after the Jadhav Committee recommendations, government directed 26 Ministries/Departments regarding SCP and TSP to strictly allocate towards development of these communities, in proportion to their numbers in the population, both in physical and financial terms.

“Data analysis of Budget numbers from the last five years show that fund allocation to these sub-plans were on an average 50% less than what is due,” said Paul Divakar of NCDHR.

 He pointed out that during the last budget (2015-16), Rs 77,236 crore was allocated to Scheduled Castes and Rs 40,014 crore to Tribals. However, a pre-budget memorandum submitted to the Finance Ministry this year by 'National Coalition on SCP and TSP Legislation', a Delhi-based rights groups that tracks budgetary provision for backward classes, showed that only Rs 30,851 crore was allocated to SCP and Rs 20,000 crore to TSP as per revised estimates. Even out of this, only Rs 8,793 crore was directed specifically towards the development of SCP, as per the guidelines of the Planning Commission, while Rs 7,399 crores was directed to TSP. Moreover, 60% of the funds for TSP were under ‘general allocation’ while in the case of SCP, it was 65% for the fiscal year of 2015-16. General allocation is meant for the entire country and not just for SC/ST population. The report found that 28% of SCP and 37% of TSP allocation are targeted allocation, which benefits SC/ST directly.

NCDHR also pointed out that while the ministries are supposed to allocate funds for TSP and SCP, only a handful do. As expected, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs allocated 100% fund to Scheduled Tribes under TSP and 12 departments/ministries allocated 6-11% funds in 2015-16. But other important ministries/departments, such as the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Ministry of Power, Department of Telecom, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and Ministry of Mines made no allocations under TSP.

 It is a similar story with the SCP. Out of the 108 ministries and departments, only 23 made allocations to SC under SCP. Again, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment allocated the highest (79%) while the lowest allocation was from the Department of Electronics & Information Technology (2%). The Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation, Ministry of Panchayati Raj, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, and Department of AIDS Control had no allocations under SCP in 2015-16.

 

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