Friday, July 11, 2014

Arun Jaitley's budget for 2014-15 'ignores' plight of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes: NCDHR

By Our Representative
The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) has said the Union budget for 2014-15 has brought “no significant policy for inclusive and equitable growth as promised by the Modi Government.” Saying that it has “belied the expectations of Dalits and Adivasis”, an NCDHR statement said, “The Union Budget 2014-15 should have allocated Plan funds under the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) in proportion to the population shares of SCs (16.8 percent) and STs (8.7 percent). However, the allocation is Rs 50,548.16 crore (8.79 percent) for SCs and Rs 32,386.84 crore (5. 63 percent) for STs.”
The statement stated, “The funds earmarked under SCSP and TSP should have projects and interventions meant exclusively for SCs and STs. However, this year the SCSP and TSP have to bear the burden of partly funding the the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), a wage-based programme, too. So, when we deduct the amount allocated to MNREGS from the SCSP then the total allocation decreases to Rs 43,208.08 crore, which is 7.51 percent; similarly, when we deduct the amount from the TSP, the amount reduces to Rs 26,714.96 crore, which is 4.64 percent.”
Giving more details, the statement said, “The budget has a shortfall of Rs 49,941 crore to the SCSP and Rs 20,435.04 crore to the TSP, while last year the shortfall stood at Rs 48,401 crore to the SCSP and Rs 20,938 crore to the TSP.” It added, “The budget is no different from earlier exercises so far as Dalits and Adivasis are concerned. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made an allocation of Rs 82,935crore for the ‘welfare’ of SCs and STs, who together constitute more than 25 per cent of India's population. The overall economic development of the Dalits and Adivasis is expected to be taken care of by this outlay, but it is not a fair share.”
Paul Divakar, general secretary, NCDHR, comments, “The common thread running through all the Budgets tabled since Independence is the exclusion of Dalits and Adivasis, and the Union Government failing to make population proportionate allocation for the SCs and STs. The budget has bypassed the development needs of the Dalits and Adivasis. It will have a damaging impact on Dalits and Adivasis as the underlying assumption is that it is ‘fair’ and reasonable to expect all Indians to share equally the burden of budget cuts and increased costs.”
The statement recalled, “The NDA manifesto promised concrete actions for SCs and STs by boosting education, housing, health, skill development, entrepreneurship, poverty eradication, efficient utilization of development funds with special focus on the girl child. However, the budget has ignored certain schemes meant for Dalit and Adivasi girls, especially in education. For instance, the National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education, schemes for construction and running of girls’ hostels, etc.”
“Conceptualized in the 1970s by the Planning Commission, the two plans, SCSP and TSP are aimed at channeling Plan funds for the development of SCs and STs, in accordance with the proportion of SCs and STs in the total population. But even after three decades since these strategies were introduced, a scrutiny of the budgetary resources earmarked for SCs and STs raises serious concerns”, the statement said, adding, "Besides diversion of funds, the other reasons for the SCSP/TSP failure are inadequate allocation of funds proportionate to the SC/ST population, poor identification of schemes and faulty service delivery system.”

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