Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan(DAAA)
Dalits are among the socially, economically and educationally most deprived sections in India. The caste system which deprived economic and education rights for long rendered the vulnerable .For a majority of them agriculture and casual labour is the primary occupation.
Special Component Plan(SCP) for the development of SC s is implemented from the 6th five year plan(1980-85).All the general planning in the country tended to exclude and marginalize Dalits. So “SCP is a policy instrument designed to ensure the fulfillment of constitutional guarantees and entitlements enjoined for the SC communities”(Planning Commission ,Govt of India).
It is imperative for all the state govts and all their departments as well as the central govt to allocate plan funds in proportion to the SC population. And the Planning department is entrusted to ensure before the finalization of the budget proposals that all the departments concerned earmark the specific fund.
Lack of political will, castiesm , bureaucratic indifference or resistance led to the half hearted implementation of SCP. “It is disheartening to note that out of the total 62 Union ministries/ departments only 11 had formulated SCP so far”(The Ministry of Welfare of SC&STs speaking in the context of 9th five year plan.)
The usual practice is the heavy unspent funds are diverted to other purposes, leaving the earmarked /intended purposes unattended. Except for Ministry of social Justice and Empowerment , the proportion of plan allocation for SCs is less than 16%.And some of the ministries are only allocating notional amounts.
In 2006-07, Rs. 20,289,25 Crores (over 507 billion U.S. dollars) which by law should have been directed specifically towards the development of the Dalit community have instead been allocated for other purposes. To address this problem, researchers, Human Rights defenders, and Dalit activists from ten states assembled in New Delhi for a symposium on “Reclaiming the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan.” The Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) came into force in 1980 and made it mandatory for the Central Government and all State Governments to direct a targeted flow of their overall funds for the development of the Scheduled Castes (SC). According to the plan, the amount allocated must minimally be in proportion to the SC population in the country and in each of the individual states. State-level research indicates that from its inception there has been failure to implement this plan and a widespread tendency to divert funds which should have been allocated for SCs. While Dalits make up at least 16% of the population in India, in 2007-08 the SCs were earmarked for only 6.1% of total allocations!
VII. DISCRIMINATION AND EXPLOITATIVE FORMS OF LABOR
Allocation of labor on the basis of caste is one of the fundamental tenets of the caste system. Within the caste system, Dalits have been assigned tasks and occupations that are deemed ritually polluting for other caste communities. Throughout this report, Human Rights Watch has documented the exploitation of agricultural laborers who work for a few kilograms of rice or Rs. 15 to Rs. 35 (US$0.38 to $0.88) a day. A sub-group of Dalits is condemned to labor even more exploitative. An estimated forty million people in India, among them fifteen million children, are bonded laborers. A majority of them are Dalits. According to government statistics, an estimated one million Dalits are manual scavengers who clean public latrines and dispose of dead animals; unofficial estimates are much higher. In India’s southern states, thousands of Dalit girls are forced into prostitution before reaching the age of puberty.
Bondage is passed on from one generation to another. Scavenging and prostitution are hereditary occupations of “untouchable” castes. Dalits face discrimination when seeking other forms of employment and are largely unable to escape their designated occupation even when the practice itself has been abolished by law. In violation of their basic human rights, they are physically abused and threatened with economic and social ostracism from the community for refusing to carry out various caste-based tasks.
“Bonded labor” refers to work in slave-like conditions in order to pay off a debt. Due to the high interest rates charged and the abysmally low wages paid, the debts are seldom settled. Bonded laborers are frequently low-caste, illiterate, and extremely poor, while the creditors/employers are usually higher-caste, literate, comparatively wealthy, and relatively more powerful members of the community.177 The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 abolishes all agreements and obligations arising out of the bonded labor system. It aims to release all laborers from bondage, cancel any outstanding debt, prohibit the creation of new bondage agreements, and order the economic rehabilitation offreed bonded laborers by the state.178 It also punishes attempts to compel persons into bondage with a maximum of three years in prison and a Rs. 2,000 (US$50) fine.179 However, the extent to which bonded laborers have been identified, released, and rehabilitated in the country is negligible.
Most agricultural laborers interviewed for this report were paid between Rs. 15 and Rs. 25 (US$0.38 to $0.63), or two to three kilograms of rice, per day, well below the minimum wage prescribed in their state.180 Women were consistently paid less than men. Many laborers owed debts to their employers or other moneylenders. Under the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976, payment of less than minimum wage for the purposes of working off a debt amounts to bondage. The act’s definition of the “bonded labour system” includes “any system of forced, or partly forced labour under which a debtor enters, or has, or is presumed to have, entered, into an agreement with the creditor to the effect that
(v) by reason of his birth in any particular caste or community, he would
(1) render, by himself or through any member of his family, or any person dependent on him, labour or service to the creditor, or for the benefit of the creditor, for a specified period or for an unspecified period, either without wages or for nominal wages....181
Nominal wages are defined as wages which are less than
(a) the minimum wages fixed by the Government, in relation to the same or similar labour, under any law for the time being in force; and
(b) where no such minimum wage has been fixed in relation to any form of labour, the wages that are normally paid, for the same or similar labour to the labourers working in the same locality.182
Stop Stealing Dalits’ Share in Union & State Budgets
The Strategy of Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes (SCs), now being renamed as Schedule Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) was evolved by the planning commission in 1979. It was introduced by the central government during the 6th plan and it was made mandatory for all State governments’ departments as well as Central Government Ministries/ Departments. This Strategy entails targeted flow of funds and associated benefits from the annual plan of States/ Union Territories (UTs) at least in proportion to the SC population i.e. 16 % in total population of the State/ UTs and Central Government. The central objective of SCP is the economic development of SCs, it also intends to promote their educational and social development along with the fulfillment of their minimum needs and human resources development.
Evidences from the States such as Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan & Tamil Nadu where civil society groups have been tracking the implementation of SCP in the State budgets, presents a very disturbing picture. Also the extent to which SCP has been implemented by the Central Government ministries/ departments, as measured in terms of the proportion of allocations earmarked for SCs in total plan allocations of the respective ministries/departments in union budget 2006-07 has been very low. Only Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Human Resource Development and Department of Science and Technology have shown plan allocation clearly earmarked for SCs.
However, except for Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, the proportion of Plan allocation for SCs is less than 16 %. Moreover, in case of some of these ministries the allocations were only notional allocations. Also we find that almost all the schemes, under which there are clearly earmarked allocations for SCs, follow a conventional approach of placation instead of actual empowerment of SCs. One of the main arguments put forward in this respect is that their schemes are indivisible. Therefore it is not feasible for such mainstream ministries to implement SCP for SCs.
Data of implementation of SCP for SC by Central Government in 2006-07
Total plan allocations by all departments/ ministries of the Centre Government
Rs. 1,65,499 Crore
Plan allocations earmarked for SCs by all departments/ ministries
Rs. 7,015 Crore
Proportion of total plan allocation of Center Budget Estimated for SC
We must recognize that empowerment of SCs require that they get their due share in economic growth. The approach towards development of SCs needs to be entitlement based/ right based approach rather than that of charity / placation.
Our Demands for Union & States Budget 2007- 08:
1. Stop Stealing Dalits’ Share in Union & State Budgets
2. From 1980 (6th Five Year Plan) when Special Component Plan came into force, only less than 5% of the budget provision has been allocated for Special Component Plan and Tribal Pan and the rest of the money, funds has been diverted.
3. Out of plan outlay of Rs. 2, 00,000 Crore estimated, that is being prepared for union budget 2007-08 as per the established guidelines Rs. 32,000 Crore to be allocated for schedule caste sub- plan.
Within this we demand allocations be made in the following manner
1. Land development & Administration- 25% of the land and asset generation component shall get Rs. 10, 000/-Crores. A multiprolonged approach will be made to give ownership to SCs.
2. HRD School Education- 10% of school education component shall get Rs. 3200 Crores. 10% of this allocation i.e., 320 Crores shell be set apart as grant cum loans for the establishment of Higher Secondary Schools under SC ownership and management.
3. HRD Higher Education- 15% of Higher Education Component shall get Rs. 4800 Crores. 10% of this allocation i.e., 2400 /- Crores shall be set apart for the Higher Institutional owner ship of SCs.
4. Other Sectors driving the economy like – IT, Communications, transport, industry etc- 14000/- crores to be allocated for the IT Sector, Communication, and Small Scale Industries, Minerals, Civil Aviation and all others.
5. Further allocations be made in proportion to the population at the district level.
4. A Separate Ministry for development of SCs- ‘Ministry of Progression of Scheduled Caste’ be formed at the Centre as well as in the States/ UTs for the welfare & development of SCs. In the Planning Commission also, a separate Deputy Chairperson be created, who will be dedicated to bridge the gap between the SCs and rest of the populations within the next 10 years
5. The unspent provisions, if any, in any sector will automatically be credited to a Revolving Fund. This gross diversion of funds, on an average Rs. 15,000 Crore annually for the last 25 years (Rs. 375,000 crore), is nothing but an extension of ‘untouchability’ and ‘exclusion’ of SCs from the resources which rightfully belongs to them.
6. There are clear and categorical data that out of 75 Departments /Ministries 22 Departments/Ministries have unilaterally decided that their schemes are indivisible, i.e., there will not be any special Component for the weaker sections especially for the SCs/STs. This goes against the Constitutional Provisions for SCs/STs. Hence; we demand that the Departments/ Ministries also be directed to allocate the funds for the special provision for the SCs/STs.
7. In the economy sphere women are also contributing equally, we demand in all areas in proportion to the populations of women, budgetary allocations be made in a special way. Special focus to be made for Entrepreneurship, Health, Education, Skill Development, Land and Resource management and Social Security of women.