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Scheduled castes of Independent India

1.0 Scheduled Castes.

 

The Scheduled Castes are historically disadvantaged people of India.  They had no right to property, worship, education etc. They were poor, exploited, discriminated, and led sub human life. They were considered untouchables and lived in segregated areas. This exploitative and discriminatory treatment of large population had religious sanction and was widely practiced by Hindu society.

These communities were loosely referred to as Depressed Classes by British rulers.  British authorities while assessing the feasibility of self-rule for Indians took notice of pathetic condition of these communities and recommended several initiatives to improve their lot. A highly contested issue in the proposed reforms was the reservation of seats for representation of the Depressed Classes in provincial and central legislatures.

In 1935, British Parliament passed the Government of India Act 1935, designed to give Indian provinces greater self-rule and set up a national federal structure. The reservation of seats for the Depressed Classes was incorporated into the act, which came into force in 1937. The Act introduced the term "Scheduled Castes", defining the group as "such castes, races or tribes or parts of groups within castes, races or tribes, which appear to His Majesty in Council to correspond to the classes of persons formerly known as the ‘Depressed Classes. After independence the Constituent Assembly continued the prevailing definition of Scheduled castes.

2.0 Constitutional safeguards provided to uplift scheduled castes.

2.1 constitution   of independent India also provided for reservations in parliament, legislatures, and other elected bodies. Following affirmative provisions have been made in the constitution for upliftment of untouchables

i. Protective arrangement: These measures are to enforce equality and to provide punitive measures for transgressors. To eliminate established practices that perpetuates inequalities.

ii. Positive actions: provide positive treatment in providing jobs and access to higher education as a means to accelerate the integration of scheduled castes with main stream of society. Affirmative action is popularly known as reservations.

iii. Development: Provide resources and benefits to bridge the socio-economic gap between scheduled castes and other communities.

 

2.2  National commission for scheduled castes.

To effectively implement the various safeguards built in the constitution under article 338 and 338A, constitution provides for setting up of national commission. The functions of national commission are as under:

a. To investigate and to monitor all matters relating to safeguards provided for scheduled castes under the constitution or under any order of the government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.

b. To enquire into specific complaint with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the scheduled castes.

c. To participate and advise the planning process of Socio economic development of scheduled castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the union and any state.

d. To present to President annually and at such other times as the commission may deem fit, report on the working of the safeguards.

e. To make such recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the union or any state for the effective implementation of the safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the scheduled castes.

f. To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare, development and advancement of scheduled castes as the president may, subject to the provision of any law made by the parliament.

 

2.3 scheduled castes sub- plan.

The scheduled castes sub plan(SCSP) of 1977 mandated a planning process for social, economic and educational development of scheduled castes and Improvement in their working and living conditions. This was to ensure the flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from the general sector of development to the scheduled castes. It entailed a targeted flow of funds and associated benefits from the annual plan of states and Union territories.

3.0 Implementation of  constitutional safeguards

3.1 National commission for scheduled caste is constitutional authority to monitor and ensure that safe guards enshrined in the constitution are implemented in letter and spirit. The commission submits its annual report to parliament for discussion and acceptance

 Reports are on the website of ncsc. following are the link for annual reports:

Annual report for the year 2015-16.

http://www.ncsc.nic.in/files/Combine_1.pdf 

Annual report for the year 2014-15. http://www.ncsc.nic.in/files/Combine.pdf

Annual report of the commission for the year 2013-14.  http://www.ncsc.nic.in/files/Combine.pdf

 

3.2 Annual reports of ministry of social justice.

Ministry of social justice and empowerment is ministry responsible for implementation of welfare policies for scheduled castes. It publishes annual report in which the ministry documents various welfare schemes and administrative actions to   uplift scheduled castes to fulfill promises made in the constitution. Following are the links for these reports.

Annual report for the year 2017-18 http://www.socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/SJAR_2017_2018_ENG.pdf

Annual report for the year 2016-17

http://www.socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/SJ_English_AR_16-17_Final636257833904136297.pdf

 Annual report for the year 2015-16

http://www.socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/SOCIAL%20JUSTICE%20ENGLISH%2015_16.pdf.

 

3.3 Hand book of social welfare statistics,

 

published by ministry of social justice gives the information about welfare schemes, implementation and statistics for all deprived sections of society. For complete report visit the following link.: http://www.socialjustice.nic.in/writereaddata/UploadFile/HANDBOOK%20Social%20Welfare%20Statistice%202016.pdf

The hand book contains statistic, and information about welfare measures, economic, and, education status of scheduled castes and others. Rates of pre-matric scholarship and post matric scholarships are reproduced below because it is felt the rates are ridiculously low. There appears to be lack of compassion and need to be taken up with the ministry.

I Pre - matric scholarships

To be eligible for Pre-matric scholarship for students studying in class ix and x, Parental annual income ceiling is Rs 2.00 lakh. Rate of scholarship per month is as under:

 

Day scholar

Hostler

  1.       Scholarship Rs per month for 10 months

Rs 150

 Rs350

  1.       Books & adhoc grants once in a year

 Rs 750

 Rs 1000

 

ii.Post- matric scholarships

To be eligible for post matric scholarship annual income parents should not exceed Rs 2.50 lakhs Rates of scholarships are as under:

Group of education

Day scholar.

Scholarship in Rs per month

Hostler.

Scholarship in Rs per month

Group1

Degree, and post-graduation in Engineering, medicine etc.

Rs 1200 per month

Rs 550 per month

Group II

Diploma in engineering, medicine management etc.

Rs 820 per month

Rs530 per month

Group iii

All graduate level courses not covered in group I

Rs 570

300

Group iv

Post matric non-degree courses

380

230

 

Other allowances.:

I. Study tour (one time) up to Rs 1600.

diathesis, typing, printing. Upto Rs 1600

iii. Book grant for correspondence course Rs 1200.

Iv Book allowance

courses

Sharing criteria one set for 2 students

Ceiling per set or actual cost whichever is less

Degree, medical/engineering

do

Rs 7500

Degree in vet

do

Rs 5000

Degree in agricultural

do

Rs 4500

polytechnic

do

Rs5000

Post graduate in medical engineering, MBA etc.

One set per student

 Rs 5000

 

 3.4 Socio economic caste census 2011.

a. The government approved the Socio Economic and Caste Census 2011. it was conducted in all states and union territories of India. It also counted other aspects like Manual scavenging and Transgender count in India. Economic and Caste Census 2011 was the fourth exercise conducted by Government of India to identify households living below the poverty line (BPL) in India that would get various entitlements, after three censuses in 1992, 1997 and 2002.The last BPL census was conducted in India in 2002 and the procedure adopted was to collect information on 13 indicators for every rural household and assign a mark for each of these. The census report was revealed in parliament on-3rd July 2015 by finance minister in parliament.

b.The report has three census components which were conducted by three separate authorities but under the overall coordination of Department of Rural Development in the Government of India:

  1.             Census in Rural Area has been conducted by the Department of Rural Development.
  2.             Census in Urban areas is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.

        iii.     Caste Census is under the administrative control of Ministry of Home Affairs: Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.

c. In January 2017, Central Government accepted the recommendations to use Socio-Economic Caste Census, instead of poverty line, as the main instrument for identification of beneficiaries and transferring of funds for social schemes in rural areas.

For complete report, see link:    http://secc.gov.in/welcome.  

 

d. Some salient features pertaining to scheduled castes are summarized below:

 

I Total Scheduled castes (Rural) households:  33164085

 

ii Monthly income of the highest earning house hold member.

  1.       less than Rs 5000/ month: 27709894 (83.55%)
  2.       No of house hold with income more than Rs 5000/month but less than Rs 10,000/month:3892780 (11.74%).
  3.        More than Rs 10,000/month:  1548994 (4.70%)

iii  Income source of SC households.

No of households with income source from:

       a  Cultivation:      6089826 (18.36%)

      b. Manual (casual labor):  22308739 (67.27%)

      c.  salaried jobs.:

      I.  with govt, 1310256 (3.95%)

      Ii.  with public sector :308619 (0.93%)

        Iii.  with private sector: 801780 (2.41%)

d.      Part time or full time domestic service:  725073 (2.18%)

e      Non-agricultural own account enterprise: 349432 (1.05%)

f.        Rag picking, begging, charity, foraging, others: 569838 (1.71%)

 

Iv   House types of scheduled castes households.

 

  1.       Households having kuccha houses.:11249190(33.90%)
  2.       Households having semi kuccha house (kuccha walls pucca roof).:  4486293(13.52%)
  3.        Households having semi puce house (puca walls &kucha roof) 2353108 (7.09%)
  4.          Households having puca house.14671147(44.23%)

                I   One room / less than one --4756380 (32.41%)

                 ii two room-- 6180328 (42.12%)                                                    

                iii. three room-- 215453 (14.68%)

                more than three rooms --1580986 (10.77%).

 

    e.  Above  figures shows that 83.55% of Dalit households earn less than Rs 5000/-per month.67.27% households earn their livelihood by manual labour.47.42% households do not have proper shelter.

        

3.5. Reports of various non govt organizations and NGOs:

I. Report by human rights watch, for the united nations world conference against racism, racial discrimination (published in sept 2001).

Link: http://www.oas.org/dil/afrodescendants_durban_declaration.pdf

ii. Case discrimination against Dalits by human rights watch organization presented at seventh session of the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination Feb 2007.

 

Link:  https://www.hrw.org/report/2007/02/12/hidden-apartheid/caste-discrimination-against-indias-untouchables.

 

iii.caste related violence in India.

 

link Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste-related_violence_in_India

 

iv. caste violence in contemporary India by Dr Giuseppe Seuto.:

LINK:   http://www.indianet.nl/pdf/CasteViolenceInContemporaryIndia.pdf

 

4.0  Present status of scheduledcastes

Above  indicates that condition of scheduled castes has not improved to the desired extent. untouchability is still widely practiced.   Practice of manual scavenging is  yet to be eradicated fully.  Caste prejudice and discrimination on caste basis is rampant. Economic disparities are galore. Exploitation   and atrocities on scheduled castes are going unabated. Justice is slow and out of reach. Govt schools which were main source for poor to educate and change his future are almost defunct.  education is not only costly and out of reach of poor but also do not equip the young to earn their livelihood and face challenges of life. govt assistance for education is paltry. Benefits as enshrined in the constitution have remained limited to few. Commitment of Political class to uplift these communities is low. Even after 70 years of independence we are no where near to building, society envisaged by the framers of the constitution.

 

5.  Carrying forward legacy of Dr Ambedkar.

 

Dr Ambedkar was successful in securing political representation and constitutional safeguards for social and economic uplift of Dalits. If the constitutional provisions have not produced the desired result, community leaders, representatives and educated elite of Dalits have to introspect and take corrective steps.To blame govts and political parties will not help. In democracies votes and winning elections will always remain top priority of political parties; because  this is the only way to come to power and implement their party ideology. Therefore, vote politics is integral part of democracy.

       It is the responsibility of community leaders and representatives to  aggressively participate in formulation of policies, raise the community issues in appropriate forums, debate and convince others to their point of view. Spread awareness among  masses, about their rights,  welfare policies and protect innocent community members from harassment and exploitation. Question the law makers and administration wherever things drift. Educated and elite  have a responsibility to carry forward the legacy of Dr Ambedkar and work to achieve political and economic freedom for Dalits and fulfill his dream of establishing society based on equality and justice.

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