Skip to main content

Social injustice? Govt of India's poor funds allocation for 'alleviating' OBCs, minorities

By Bharat Dogra* 

Two important Union Ministries have shown extraordinary reluctance to spend their allotted funds this year. What makes the situation more distressing is that both of these ministries have responsibility for important schemes which are important for more vulnerable and poorer sections.
One such ministry is the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, or more specifically the Department of Social Justice and Environment (DSJE). This is the department which deals with very important issues regarding welfare of scheduled castes, extremely backward classes, other backward classes, nomadic, semi-nomadic communities and denotified tribes. The original budget allocation during 2022-23 for DSJE amounted to Rs 11922 crore ( one crore=10 million) which was later revised downwards to Rs 10709 crore. 
However what is most surprising and shocking is that the actual spending up to February 15, 2023 ( i.e. for ten and a half months out of the 12 months of the financial year 2022-23) amounted to just Rs 3488 crore, or just 29% of the original allocation. It is seldom that till such a late date of the financial year such a low spending takes place, that too in a ministry where the spending directly concerns the needs of some of the poorest persons in the country. 
The fact that the Revised Estimate had been brought down allocation only modestly in relative terms would indicate that till rather late in the financial year the need for sticking to the original allocation was felt and funds were available too, so why actual expenditure has been so inadequate is difficult to understand, considering also that those affected are really needy sections.
To give one example of various programs for the poor which were very adversely affected, the allocation of Rs 70 crore for the self-employment program of those engaged earlier in manual scavenging (for which the revised estimate was maintained at the same level) was reduced to actual spending of only Rs 5 crore. The allocation of Rs 15 crore for rehabilitation of beggars was reduced to 0.2 crore. 
The allocation for the strengthening of arrangements for protecting civil rights and preventing atrocities was Rs 600 crore but spending was reduced to Rs 75 crore. The program of economic empowerment of nomadic and denotified tribes was allotted Rs 28 crore but spending was only Rs 2 crore. ( All spending figures are up to February 15 2022).
The second ministry in this context is the Ministry of Minority Affairs where the spending was an even lower percentage of the allocation. In this context the original budget allocation for the Ministry was Rs 5020 crore while the spending up to February 13 was just Rs 668 crore, or just 13% of the original budget. It is seldom seen that in the 10 and a half months out of 12 months only 13% of the funds are spent. 
There is no credible explanation for this -- as far as procedural issues and regulations are concerned, these have been created by the government and have to be corrected by the government.
Clearly these serious lapses should be made up as early as possible by stepping up important welfare-oriented programs in the new financial year.

Backward Class schemes: only 6% of allocated funds spent

Backward classes are supposed to be increasingly a politically influential segment of Indian society. So it should come as a surprise that only 6% of allocated funds for all backward class schemes in the financial year 2022-23 were actually spent in the first nine months of this financial year i.e. up to 31 December 2022 by the Department for Social Justice and Empowerment (DJSE). Rs 1803 crore were allocated and Rs 113 crore were spent up to 31 December.
This is all the more distressing as Extremely Backward Classes, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities as well as denotified tribes are also affected by the extremely low spending in in some of the schemes.
In the case of the backward class component of PM Dakshta scheme (an important scheme in the context of protecting /promoting skills and livelihoods), Rs 44 crore was allocated but amount spent was zero. In the case of backward class component of VISWAS scheme meant for economic help of deprived groups,  Rs 30 crore was allocated but nothing was spent. In the PM Yasasvi meant for various scholarships to students in this category INR 1581 crore was allocated but only INR 42 crore was spent.
Clearly such low spending can increase the distress of many poor households for whose benefits these schemes are supposed to function.
To complete the story, moreover, it needs to be mentioned that the overall allocation has also deceased. As against the allocation of Rs 2015 crore in 2020-21 for various backward class schemes being implemented by the DJSE, the allocation in 2022-23 was 1803 crore in 2022-23 and has deceased further to Rs 1785 crore in the allocations made for the year 2023-34.
Further if we look at the non-scheme expenditure, the allocation for the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) has also been declining. In 2020-21 this was Rs 200 crore, next year this came down to Rs 100 crore, in 2022-23 this was further reduced to Rs 50 crore while in 2023-24 this has been drastically reduced to Rs 15 crore.
What is more, as far as the actual spending is concerned, it is really surprising that against the allocation of Rs 50 crore in 2022-23 for NBCFDC , the actual spending in the first nine months up to 31 December, 2022 was zero.
Clearly these allocations on several important aspects of development relating to Other Backward Classes should increase in the near future to make up for past lapses.
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food’, ‘When the Two Streams Met’ and ‘Man over Machine -- A Path to Peace’. Data source: Report of the Demand on Grants for 2023-24 of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for Social Justice and Empowerment (2022-23), 17th Lok Sabha, 46th Report



Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Delhi HC rules in favour of retired Air Force officer 'overcharged' for Covid treatment

By Rosamma Thomas*  In a decision of May 22, 2023, the Delhi High Court ruled in favour of petitioner Group Captain Suresh Khanna who was under treatment at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, between April 28 and May 5, 2021, for a period of eight days, for Covid-19 pneumonia. The petitioner had to pay Rs 3,55,286 as treatment costs, but the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) only reimbursed him for Rs 1,83,748, on the basis of government-approved rates. 

'Enough evidence' in Indian tradition to support legal basis for same-sex marriage

By Iyce Malhotra, Joseph Mathai, Sandeep Chachra*  The ongoing hearing in the Supreme Court on same-sex marriage provides space for much-needed conversations on issues that have hitherto remained “invisible” or engaged with patriarchal locker room humour. We must recognize that people with diverse sexualities and complex gender identities have faced discrimination, stigma and decades of oppression. Their issues have mainly remained buried in dominant social discourse, and many view them with deep insecurities.

Religious divide 'kept alive' with low intensity communalism in Gujarat's cultural capital

By Rajiv Shah  A fact-finding report, prepared by the Mumbai-based non-profit, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism (CSSS), has cited the Vadodara Ram Navami violence of March 30 as yet another example of how, after the BJP consolidating its hold on political power in Gujarat post-2002 riots and at the Centre in 2014, the nature of communal riots has changed, underlining, as opposed to high-intensity violence earlier, now riots have become “more sub-radar and at a smaller scale, more localized”.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Urgency for next pandemic? But Mr Health Secretary, you're barking up wrong tree

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  The Union Health Secretary, Mr Rajesh Bhushan addressing the Health Working Group of G20 India, at Hyderabad on 05 June 2023, cautioned that the next pandemic would not wait for us to make global treaties and called on countries to work together.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

76% Odisha govt school infrastructure in dilapidated state, 'undermine' RTE norms

By Our Representative  As many as 75.86% (5,421) elementary schools in Odisha do not possess a playground, depriving students of physical activity opportunities. Also, 75.68% (5,408) of schools require minor or major repairing, undermining the norms and standards stipulated in the Right to Education (RTE) Act.

Why continued obsession with adding more 'water guzzling' coal, nuclear power plants?

By Shankar Sharma*  The true concerns over water inefficiency in coal power plants have been known and have been highlighted many times in the past. A highly relevant study report by Prayas Energy Group had highlighted this fast looming threat to our society many years ago. But our authorities have been acting as though there can be no issue with water supply, and that additional coal power plants can be added indefinitely; even without any true relevance to climate change.

Caste, impact on Ayodhya area 'halting' BJP rulers to act against Brij Bhushan Singh

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Finally, the #WrestlersProtest has got international attention. The United World Wrestling (UWW),  condemning the treatment and detention of wrestlers and expressing its disappointment over the lack of results of the investigations against Brij Bhushan Singh, accused of sexually harassing women wrestlers, has urged the "relevant authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation."