|9th Five Year Plan (Vol-2)||<< Back to Index
and Social Development
Sectoral Overview || Basic Minimum Services || Education || Health || Family Welfare || Indian System of Medicine and Homoepathy || Housing, Urban Development, Water Supply and Civic Amenities || Empowerment of Women and Development of Children || Empowerment of the Socially Disadvantaged Groups || Social Welfare || Labour and Labour Welfare || Art and Culture || Youth Affairs and Sports
3.9 EMPOWERMENT OF THE SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED GROUPS
I. Social Empowerment
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
3.9.38 The National Agenda of Governance clearly spells out the commitment of the Government to safeguard adequately the interests of SCs, STs and OBCs through appropriate legal, executive and societal efforts and by large scale education and empowerment.
3.9.39 Education, being the most effective instrument for socio-economic empowerment, high priority will be accorded to improving the educational status of SCs and STs, particularly that of the women and the girl children. In fact, the educational backwardness, prevalent amongst these Groups, necessitates an added thrust on their education, training and skill upgradation as it will bring forth not only social empowerment but also economic empowerment. Therefore, the endeavour in the Ninth Plan will be to provide suitable education keeping in view, their cultural milieu, their genius and their special needs.
The need for a time-bound programme to improve the educational status of the Socially Disadvantaged Groups has been identified as one of the immediate tasks to be fulfilled during the Ninth Plan as part of the total commitment of making the country fully literate by the year 2005 A.D. Efforts will, therefore, be made to fulfil this commitment through universalisation of primary education with a special focus on low literacy pockets and on the SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities whose literacy rates are very low compared to the rest of the population.
3.9.40 In view of the low enrolment/retention rates and high drop-out rates amongst these groups, special measures will be taken not only to strengthen the ongoing programmes but also to launch new initiatives for ensuring easy access through residential schools; minimum standards with trained teachers, preferably local women; appropriate and adequate support services like hostels and creches; other infra-structural facilities and special incentives to poor students and their families through scholarships/financial assistance, free books, free uniforms etc. In this context, the earlier initiative of the Government to start creche facilities within the school campus or nearer to the school will be revived/intensified to ensure that the girl children are not deprived of education as they have to play the role of a mother-substitute in many respects, when the mothers go out for work to supplement the family income. Also, the much-needed nutritional support through the national feeding programme of Mid-Day Meals (MDM) will be expanded/universalised to reach the most interior and inaccessible rural, tribal and hill areas.
3.9.41 The spread of literacy through the efforts of the National Literacy Mission will be ensured so as to reach the backward rural, tribal and urban slums where the incidence of illiteracy especially amongst women and girl children belonging to these weaker sections is very high. Residential schools and schools with attached hostel facilities right upto the block-level will be encouraged in the Ninth Plan to solve the present problem of inaccessibility of schools being faced by the girls in the backward rural and tribal areas. The recent launching of Kasturba Gandhi Swatantrata Vidyalayas in 1997 is one of such initiatives exclusively meant for the educational improvement of girl children belonging to SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities.
3.9.42 Employment-oriented education and diversified vocational training, which has been recognised as the need of the day, will be given top priority. Special efforts will be made to vocationalise education both at the middle/high school levels, depending upon the need and demand. Also, job-oriented condensed courses will be accorded priority in the Ninth Plan to extend functionally viable and productive education to these Groups, especially in tribal areas. Monitoring of the working of these institutions will be taken up through PRIs to ensure un-interrupted and smooth imparting of education to the target population, especially those living below the poverty line.
3.9.43 To ensure educational development amongst the SCs and the STs, the vital ongoing programme of Post-Matric Scholarships, which was modified in 1995-96 by lifting all the restrictive clauses during the Eighth Plan, will be implemented with added thrust and wider coverage to encourage these groups to enter into higher/technical streams of education. To promote school education amongst children whose parents are engaged in unclean occupations and to divert the future generations away from the practice of scavenging, the recently revised scheme of Pre-Matric Scholarships will be expanded to reach these facilities to all those who are in need. The scheme of Pre-examination Coaching Centres will be further expanded to benefit the rural candidates also. Intensified efforts will be made through effective expansion of Education Complexes in low literacy pockets for development of SC and ST women and girls as they lag much behind their counterparts. Hostels for SC and ST Girls and Boys will also be strengthened/expanded to ensure that the demand for those hostels is completely met as the hostels solve the problem of inaccessibility. Also, other programmes like Book Banks, Merit Scholarships and Fellowships for studies abroad, will be put into action effectively to act as special incentives.
3.9.44 Elimination of the most inhuman practice of manual carrying of night-soil is yet to be accomplished. During the Ninth Plan, complete eradication of this practice of manual scavenging will be achieved as a time-bound commitment by ensuring occupational mobility and breaking the nexus between the traditional occupations and social and economic disabilities. Total liberation and full rehabilitation of the scavengers, especially focussing on the women and girl children, will be taken up intensively in the Ninth Plan after accomplishing the total identification of the scavengers.
3.9.45 Rehabilitation programmes with vocational training for alternative jobs with sustainable income will be taken up. Loans and other financial and technical assistance will be extended to the scavengers to start self-employment with income generating activities to keep themselves gainfully engaged. Simultaneous efforts, in close collaboration with the agencies of Local Self Governments, will be put into action to ensure that all the dry latrines are changed into wet latrines so as to wipe off this inhuman practice completely from the present day list of professions. With a view to freeing the future generations from the traditional occupation of scavenging, all encouragement for promotion of education by providing hostel facilities, scholarships, mid-day meals, free books and uniforms etc. will be given, on priority basis, to the children belonging to these communities. To keep a close vigil on the progress of this programme with national commitment, the term of the National Safai Karamchari Commission has also been extended till the end of the Ninth Plan period. The National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation will be strengthened/activated to act as a catalytic agent in rehabilitating the scavengers on a time-bound basis through extending alternative jobs/ employment for those who want to start self-employment-cum-entrepreneurial ventures.
3.9.46 A large number of families belonging to the Socially Disadvantaged Groups live below the poverty line and dwell in the most backward and inaccessible areas that are devoid of even basic minimum services. Therefore, they have been always subjected to several deficiencies, diseases and disabilities due to malnutrition/under-nutrition, compounded with inaccessibility /non-availability of primary health care and drinking water etc. While food security in the tribal areas will be ensured through the expansion of the Revamped Public Distribution System (RPDS) simultaneous efforts will also be made for raising the purchasing power of the tribals through employment and income generation activities, especially under the Poverty Alleviation programmes. Efforts will be made to expand the scheme of `Village Gramin Banks' to make sure that adequate food is available in the remote tribal villages which remain cut-off from the mainland during the major part of the year.
3.9.47 While the all-round development of STs in general will be addressed through the continuing programmes but with added thrust and support, the Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs), who are leading an extremely precarious life and some of whom are on the verge of extinction due to hunger, starvation and diseases, will be attended to, on a priority basis, in the Ninth Plan. As the ongoing programmes have not been able to alleviate the conditions of the PTGs, direct programmes for the welfare and development of PTGs will be launched in the Ninth Plan through an integrated action plan incorporating supply of safe drinking water, food and nutrition security, health coverage, educational facilities etc. The proposed Action Plan for PTGs will have an in-built flexibility to cater to the specific needs of each tribe and its environment.
3.9.48 To attend to the varied and specific health problems of the tribal communities in different States/UTs, efforts will be made to develop appropriate health infrastructure with much needed inputs so as to enable these Groups to have easy access and availability of services within their reach. Also, special health packages will be developed to combat diseases that are endemic in nature and affecting the lives of the tribal population. In these efforts, priority will be given to the Primitive Tribal Groups as some of them are getting extinct due to endemic diseases. Indigenous systems of medicine will also be promoted with all the necessary support to cater to the needs of the tribal population as the ingredients of this system of medicine are easily available at a much lower cost within the tribal areas. The tribal women and girl children, being the deprived lot and the worst affected, will receive special attention in meeting their health and nutritional needs. The concept of `Mini-Anganwadis' with relaxed norms to bring all the remote and the neglected pockets of the country under the Universalisation of ICDS, will be the main strategy to ensure that the children below 6 years and the expectant and nursing mothers, belonging to these communities, will receive supplementary nutrition, immunization, health-check-up etc. The provision of safe drinking water will be given top priority in the Ninth Plan as part of BMS.
3.9.49 The Ninth Plan acknowledges the need for a National Tribal Policy. Accordingly, efforts will be made to formulate a comprehensive Tribal Policy during the Ninth Plan with a special focus on the primitive tribes and displaced tribals and their rehabilitation.
Other Backward Classes (OBCs)
3.9.50 Empowerment of the OBCs during the Ninth Plan has been visualised as an effective instrument to ensure social justice in the country. To make this more realistic, efforts will be made to get enumeration of the OBC population done by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner in the forthcoming Population Census of 2001. In the meantime, efforts will also be made to ensure that the National and the State Commissions, in pursuance of the directives of the Supreme Court, will bring out their final Lists of OBCs.
3.9.51 Development of the OBCs, which made a beginning in the Eighth Plan, will continue to receive more attention during the Ninth Plan with many new initiatives in the field of education and economic development. The success stories related to the development of the SCs have prompted the Government to adopt a similar approach towards the development of OBCs, as the needs and problems of OBCs are more or less similar to those of SCs. Thus, for ensuring educational development amongst OBCs, schemes for providing scholarships for pursuing pre-matric, post-matric, and other higher education, supported with hostel facilities, will be introduced. Alternatively, children belonging to the OBCs will also be given opportunities to enjoy the existing hostel facilities meant for SC and ST boys and girls.
3.9.52 For OBC students to participate effectively in the competitive examinations, Pre-Examination Coaching Centres will also be set up in the Ninth Plan. In order to provide housing and other settlement facilities to the assetless migratory communities amongst the OBCs, a new scheme of Shelter for Nomadic Groups amongst the Backward Classes, will be introduced in the Ninth Plan.
3.9.53 The emphasis during the Ninth Plan will be on the overall socio-economic development of Minorities with special focus on their education. The existing scheme of Maulana Azad Education Foundation, New Delhi will be further strengthened and supported to enable the expansion of its activities and promotion of education amongst women by providing additional facilities of schools, colleges and hostels, offering remedial coaching, upgrading the existing institutions and networking with vocational and technical education. In order to promote higher and technical education amongst the Minorities, support will be extended to provide scholarships/ fellowships.
3.9.54 Educational backwardness, especially amongst the Muslim women and girl children will be addressed on a priority basis in the Ninth Plan. To this effect, efforts will be made to provide educational facilities with appropriate infrastructural support in those areas/habitations where their population is concentrated, facilitating easy access to educational institutions/facilities for the Muslim women and the Muslim girl children. Steps will also be taken to motivate and involve parents and community/religious leaders to play a catalytic role in promoting education amongst Muslim women and girl children. To tackle the educational backwardness, modernisation of the existing traditional institutions like Madarsas, will be accorded a high priority in the Ninth Plan as these have been instrumental in arresting drop-outs and inculcating discipline amongst their students. The modernisation of Madarsas will be effected through amendments to their traditional syllabi and introduction of subjects like Mathematics, Sciences, General Studies, English etc. to mainstream them.
3.9.55 The other crucial areas, which will be paid special attention for empowerment of the Minorities in the Ninth Plan include special attention to the health, nutrition and education problems of girls and women; expansion of Multi Sectoral Developmental Plans and Pre-examination Coaching Centres in the Minority concentrated Districts to extend the much-needed support to the students studying in the secondary and post-matric classes; and conservation and promotion of the languages and culture of the Minorities etc. with effective involvement of the NGOs.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
3.9.56 As there exists a sizeable population belonging to the Socially Disadvantaged Groups of SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities living under extreme conditions of poverty, mobilisation of adequate financial and social support to free them from the clutches of poverty, will be taken up on a priority basis. To this effect, economic empowerment through employment and income generation programmes will be given special emphasis in the Ninth Plan to ensure that at least their basic needs are met.
3.9.57 In this direction, all the national and State level Apex bodies viz., the National SC and the ST Finance Develop-ment Corporations (NSFDC), National Minorities Finance and Development Corporation (NMFDC) and National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCDC) and the State Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs) will be strengthened to play a leading and a catalytic role in promoting employment-cum-income generation opportunities. As most of the SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities living in rural areas, continue to depend upon the low-income and less-productive informal/unorganised sectors of agriculture, dairying, animal husbandry, fisheries, handlooms, handicrafts including other craftsmanship/artisanship, special efforts will be made through various training programmes to upgrade their traditional skills, equip them with modern technology and extend both `backward' and `forward' linkages of credit and marketing facilities with the ultimate objective of making them economically independent and self-reliant. Special legislative measures will also be taken to ensure payment of minimum wages and equal wages, with no gender discrimination in the informal/unorganised sector.
3.9.58 The adoption and implementation of the New Economic Policies warrant watchful and protective attention towards the weaker sections so that the commitment to bring about comprehensive improvement in their living conditions does not get diluted and more importantly they are neither displaced nor marginalised. Therefore, the efforts in the Ninth Plan will be to synchronise empowerment of these weaker sections with the national developmental policies and programmes. The private and the corporate sectors will be motivated to invest on the welfare and development of the weaker sections as they form a potential force in the country's human resources.
3.9.59 Prominent amongst the various Action Points to be taken up in the Ninth Plan are endowing every landless SC and ST family with a minimum piece of land, restoration and preservation of land ownership and effective implementation of the protective legislation. As most of the SC and ST families depend upon the cultivation of small land holdings, steps will be taken to ensure revision of irrigation facilities. Involvement of NGOs in the promotion of small and lift irrigation projects especially in the drought prone, dry and hilly areas will go a long way in ensuring food security at the village level.
3.9.60 Special measures will also be taken to sensitise and motivate the financial institutions to pay special attention to these priority groups and extend loans to them on differential rates of interest. Sensitisation programmes to inculcate a positive attitude towards these disadvantaged and neglected sections will also form part of the economic development package. The youth and women amongst these Groups will be given special attention as they are the most important potential and productive `human resource', by setting up small scale and cottage industries, village crafts, weaving and other occupations/enterprises with effective market linkages. Exploitation of vulnerable groups, especially the tribals, will be prevented with stringent measures.
3.9.61 Efforts will also be made to simplify the lending and other procedures of banks and other financial institutions as the procedures followed by them appear to be too complicated for the poor illiterate, ignorant and desperate weaker sections to avail of the loan. Since the majority of the population belonging to these Groups depend upon agriculture and allied activities for their livelihood, steps will be taken to ensure that loans are given on a priority basis to these Groups for agricultural purposes viz., purchase of seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and training in farming and application of advance technology.
3.9.62 With the shrinking of the forest land, privatisation of common property resources and the down-trend in the forest-based subsistence economy, the tribals are facing hardships leading to displacement and vulnerability to exploitation by external forces/agencies. These problems of the tribals are further compounded by land alienation and deprivation of rights on minor forest produce, leading to tribal unrest due to feeling of insecurity. Therefore, effective steps will be taken to thwart the recently emerging phase of industrialisation and commercialisation of the tribal economy. The common approach to ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce (MFP) to persons who work in the forests, will be realised in the Ninth Plan.
3.9.63 In order to provide the much needed boost to the tribal economy, the existing supporting mechanisms of TRIFED and its related agencies will be merged and upgraded into an Apex Body at the national level during the Ninth Plan. The existing State level Tribal Development Corporations (TDCs) will act as support structures to the Apex body at the State level and are expected to involve themselves effectively in the marketing of MFP and surplus agricultural items, both inside and outside the country. The States with sizeable tribal population but without TDCs, will be encouraged to set up such exclusive Corporations.
3.9.64 Measures will be initiated to ensure effective implementation including earmarking and utilisation of funds under the special strategies of Special Component Plan (SCP), the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) both at the Central and State levels, and the Special Central Assistance (SCA) to SCP and TSP to States/UTs. Special efforts will be made to impress upon those Ministries/ Departments, who are not earmarking funds, so far, under SCP and TSP in the name of non-divisibility of the programmes of their Ministries/Departments. The Centre will also pursue with the State Governments for developing effective mechanisms on the lines of the Maharashtra Model to pool the funds of SCP/TSP from all the concerned Ministries/Departments and authorise the State nodal Departments in charge of the welfare of SCs and STs to take the responsibility in allocating the funds as per the local needs of both the target areas and the target population. This system is expected to prevent/control diversion of SCP, TSP and SCA funds and ensure effective utilisation of the same for the purpose they are meant for. While a close vigil, in close collaboration with all the concerned, will be kept at various levels for effective monitoring of the utilisation of these special funds, the ongoing regular reviews at the Central level will continue to assess as to how effective are these instruments in supplementing/ complementing the efforts of the nodal Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in empowering these Socially Disadvantaged Groups. To this effect, efforts will be made to install an effective monitoring mechanism with adequate manpower at various levels starting from the Centre to the Block levels.
Other Backward Classes
3.9.65 To ensure that the OBCs are able to achieve economic development and self-reliance through promoting entrepreneurship amongst themselves in diverse fields, steps will be taken to support self-employment and income generating ventures, especially for nomadic and semi-nomadic communities with a view to settling them permanently at one place. To attend to this special task, not only the existing National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) will be strengthened but a new scheme of Grant-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations will also be launched to encourage the voluntary effort in the social and economic upliftment of OBCs. The functioning of the existing NBCFDC will be further activated to extend necessary support for financially viable schemes/projects and to upgrade the technical and entrepreneurial skills of individuals and groups belonging to OBCs to enable them initiate self-employment/entrepreneurial ventures.
3.9.66 As majority of OBCs has been traditionally engaged in the occupations like handloom weaving, pottery, metal work, artisanship, fishing, stone-cutting etc., a special thrust will be laid on upgrading their traditional skills especially those of women and to provide financial support and marketing facilities in developing entreprenuership, either in groups or as individuals. Efforts will also be made to encourage occupational mobility for those OBCs, especially the youth, who intend to discontinue their traditional industries, by providing facilities for appropriate educational and vocational training in modern and upcoming technologies, supplemented with financial and other assistance to enable them to enter successfully into new ventures.
3.9.67 Priority will be given to economic development amongst the Minorities through strengthening the institutional set-up at various levels to support self-employment and income generation activities, especially amongst women and occupational groups by supporting micro and small-scale enterprises. The National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation will be encouraged to promote self-employment activities among the minorities and to provide upgraded entrepreneurial and technical skills, specially focussing on the development of the backward sections viz., women, traditional artisans and occupational groups.
3.9.68 While planning for the economic betterment of the Minorities, the Ninth Plan accords special recognition to the traditional craftsmen and artisans' skills vested in them for generations. A large number of families belonging to the Minorities especially women still continue to be dependent upon he household/traditional industry of handicrafts such as embroidery like chikan-kaari, Zari work, lace-making and tailoring, dyeing etc. In order to promote the handicraft sector as a viable and sustainable self-employment and income generation source for these families, efforts will be made to provide apprenticeship training, revive the dying arts and crafts, extend modern technological support, upgrade the skills to meet the changing fashions and the marketing demands both within and outside the country. In fact, special efforts will be made to encourage export-oriented handicrafts in view of the increasing demand outside the country. The Minority Finance Development Corporations both at the Central and the State levels will be encouraged to extend financial and other technical support like provision of machinery, expertise, training, market linkages etc.
3.9.69 Handloom is another sector which has been an important traditional occupation for a large segment of the Minorities. Those traditional weavers, who are going through hardship at present, will be supported with necessary financial and material support to revive the languishing industry as a sustainable venture. To this effect, the much-needed modernisation of handloom operations through appropriate apprenticeship and training, will be attended to in the Ninth Plan. Flow of credit and raw materials to this sector will also be ensured. To preserve their rare traditional skills, they will be encouraged to form into self-help groups/co-operatives for which financial assistance will be extended along with managerial and marketing services.
III. Social Justice
3.9.70 Affirmative action and legislative measures being the most powerful instruments to ensure social justice to the Socially Disadvantaged Groups, the Government commits to bring forth into action a `National Charter for Social Justice' based on the principle of social harmony, besides extending legal protection to existing percentages of reservation in educational institutions at the State level. To this effect, implementation of the reservation policy in both educational institutions and services for SCs and STs and for OBCs in the Services will be strictly adhered to by filling up all the reserved posts promptly, arrangement will also be made simultaneously for quick judicial adjudication of complaints and grievances in the matters related thereto.
3.9.71 To prevent/curb the persistent problems of social discrimination, prevalence of social evils like untouchability, and the increasing exploitation and atrocities against these disadvantaged groups, collaborative efforts by all concerned will be made towards effective imple-mentation of the Indian Penal Code and the other two special legislations viz., The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. To remove the last vestiges of untouchability, special efforts with commitment will be put into action to change the mind-set of the people through societal re-orientation. In this context, immediate measures will be undertaken to ensure that adequate number of Special/Mobile Courts are set up with adequate staff in each district to provide both speedy and on-the-spot settlement/redressal of grievances. As an important measure of social justice, special efforts will be made to extend timely and adequate financial support, as per the provisions, to compensate/rehabilitate the SC/ST victims and make them self-reliant. In this direction, efforts will also be made to enhance the compensation through necessary amendments in the Act. Simultaneously, efforts will be made to develop a community-based defence mechanism by empowering the institutions of local governance and NGOs. As part of these measures, a few selected local NGOs will be identified to act as authorised informants to the enforcement authorities or file papers on behalf of the victims or assist them in the legal proceedings.
3.9.72 Awareness generation, conscientization and sensitization programmes are yet other means to work towards social justice. Special efforts will be made to put this three-pronged approach into action simultaneously for holistic effect. The first being awareness generation, efforts will be made to change the mindset and the attitudes of the people towards these Groups as the same is very crucial in creating an enabling environment for empowering these Groups. To this effect, awareness generation programmes/special campaigns will be taken up on a continuing basis all over the country especially in rural areas involving effectively both the governmental and the non-governmental organisations and the media towards erasing the long-standing social biases/stigmas like untouchability and thus create the feeling of all being equal. The second being, conscientization of the target groups, simultaneous efforts will be made to make the target groups conscious of their own rights, privileges and the governmental support available for them besides making them realise their own potentials to be self-confident and self-reliant. The third being, sensitizing both officials and non-officials, special training programmes, both pre-service and in-service, will be undertaken from time to time to sensitize all those working for these Groups so that they can work with right perspectives in meeting/handling the special needs and problems of these marginalised groups and thus ensure social justice. To encourage/reward those officials and non-officials, who are working for the good of these deprived lot by living in the most backward and difficult tribal areas, efforts will be made to impress upon the State Governments to revive the earlier practice of extending incentives, both in kind and cash.
POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES : A REVIEW
3.9.73 The major objective of the Eighth Plan was to intensify the efforts to bridge the gap between the levels of development of SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities and the rest of the population so that by the turn of the century, they are brought on par with the rest of the society. The elimination of exploitation of SCs and STs and the removal of all forms of oppression of SCs and STs were identified as the areas of priority. Besides, action was taken for the complete removal of untouchability, suppression of rights, usurious money lending, land alienation, non-payment of minimum wages and restrictions on the right to collect minor forest produce etc.
3.9.74 Education for the SCs and STs, especially women and girl children belonging to these communities, received a special thrust during the Eighth Plan in accordance with the National Policy on Education of 1992 (revised). The scheme of Post-Matric Scholarships (PMS) for SC/ST students continued to be the torch-bearer of various governmental efforts in the field of education. To ensure better coverage, this scheme was modified in October, 1995 by incorporating provisions for i) complete relaxation of the restrictive clause in the number of scholarships for girls and upto two males in a family; ii) increase in the rate of scholarships from the existing range of Rs.65/125 to Rs.90/190 per month for the day scholars and from Rs.115/280 to Rs.150/425 in respect of hostlers; iii) increase in the upper income ceiling of parents from Rs.18,000 to Rs.33,400 per annum for full maintenance allowance and fees and from Rs.24,000 to Rs.44,500 with full/half maintenance allowances and full fees; iv) increase in the study tour allowances from Rs.100 to Rs.500 per annum; and v) provision of Rs.500 per annum as allowance for books in the correspondence courses including distance and continuing education. Consequently, as many as 17.12 lakh SC/ST students (provisional) received the benefit of PMS by the end of the Eighth Plan (1996-97), as compared to the record achievement of 15 lakh scholarships by 1991-92 and 9.75 lakh scholarships by 1985-86. By the end of 1997-98, as many as 20.88 lakh beneficiaries were provided with PMSs. Guidelines for streamlining the sanction and disbursement procedures under the Scheme were also issued to all States/UTs in April, 1995.
3.9.75 In view of the ever increasing demand and the importance of the scheme, the financial allocations for PMS were increased from Rs.54.05 crore in the Seventh Plan (1985-90) to Rs.300.00 crore during the Eighth Plan. In fact, the cumulative level of expenditure at the end of the Eighth Plan (1992-97) was as high as Rs.508.75 crore and during 1996-97 itself it was Rs.179.93 crore. The scheme, which made a modest beginning with the award of 114 scholarships in 1944, reached the level of 21.48 lakh students by the end of 1996-97. During 1997-98, as many as 21.77 lakh SC/ST students were awarded with PMS. The scheme of Pre-Matric Scholarships for the Children of those who engaged in Unclean Occupations was also revised in February, 1994 to bring about the removal of the restrictive clause of one child per family upto Class VIII, subject to the condition that if a third child is born after 1.4.93, a total of only two children in the family would be eligible for these scholarships, extension of the benefits to day-scholars studying in Class III to X, removal of the income ceiling of Rs.1500/- per month of parents/guardians; and relaxation of the restrictive clause on two children in Class IX and X. These positive amendments gave a boost to the overage, leading to the award of 3.26 lakh (provisional) Pre-Matric Scholarships in 1996-97, the end of the Eighth Plan and the Central assistance released also increased from Rs.6.39 crore in 1992-95 to Rs.14.04 crore in 1996-97. In 1997-98, about 3.80 lakh students whose parents were engaged in unclean occupation were provided with Pre-Matric Scholarships.
3.9.76 As a support service to reduce the high drop-out rates and increase the retention rates at the middle/higher level education amongst SCs and STs, around 1503 hostels were built to benefit 1.22 lakh SC boys and girls and 553 hostels to benefit 22,120 ST boys and girls by the end of the Eighth Plan. During 1997-98, 143 SC/ST Girls and 86 SC/ST Boys Hostels were sanctioned. To promote education amongst STs with focussed attention, educational facilities like Ashram Schools (residential schools) for ST students had been set up in the tribal areas in an environment conducive to their learning. As many as 353 Ashram Schools in TSP Areas were envisaged by the end of Eighth Plan (1996-97). During 1997-98, construction of 101 Ashram Schools were taken up to accommodate 1270 ST inmates/students. The Scheme of `Book Banks for SC/ST Students', envisage easy/ready availability of text books to SC/ST students pursuing medicine, engineering, veterinary and agricultural and polytechnic courses and around 1,27,073 SC/ST students were benefited under this scheme during the Eighth Plan. A total of 16,482 SC/ST students were benefited through the scheme of Book Banks, during 1997-98.
3.9.77 Further, special coaching facilities for the SC and ST candidates were extended through Pre-Examination Coaching Centres to enable them compete in the Civil Services Examinations of A and B Group of posts of State/Central Governments and Public Sector Undertakings. The coaching and training to SC/ST candidates were provided through the Central assistance to 10 States viz., Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab and Delhi. Ten universities and 4 private institutions were supported during 1995-96. Nearly 30,000 SC/ST students received coaching under the scheme during the Eighth Plan. A scheme of `Upgradation of Merit Scholarships', which provides remedial coaching in English, Mathematics and Science subjects to help SC/ST students appear in medical and engineering examinations, is also being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, since its transfer in 1993 from the Department of Education to the Ministry of Welfare (now Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment).
3.9.78 In addition to the major programmes discussed above, there are some more educational programmes which are under implementation to provide the necessary inputs to help SC and ST students excel in the field of education. These include : Special Education Development Programmes to SC/ST Girls belonging to Low Literacy Areas; Programmes to extend financial assistance to NGOs for setting educational complexes to promote education among SC/ST and most primitive tribal girls; National scholarships to meritorious SC/ST students to pursue higher studies abroad etc. All these schemes, as stated earlier, supplement the major efforts that are being implemented to improve exclusively the educational status of SC and ST population.
3.9.79 The National Health Policy (1993) while recognising the heterogeneous tribal population and their varied health problems, accorded a high priority for extending the health services to those residing in the backward rural areas, with a concentration of SCs and to those hilly and remote tribal areas with tribal population. It laid special attention on the endemic diseases like Malaria, Tuberculosis, Yaws etc. The strategy adopted for meeting the health care needs during the Eighth Plan period include provision of preventive, as well as curative services through the primary health care institutions and at the village level through Health Guides and Trained Dais.
3.9.80 As the tribal population concentrations and habitations are located in difficult and isolated hill/forest areas and terrains, the Government has adopted relaxed norms for PHCs viz., one PHC for every 20,000 population and one Sub-Centre for every 3,000 population. In order to give focussed attention to the SCs, the State Governments were advised to set up at least 15 per cent of the sub-centres in villages and habitations having 20 per cent or more of SC population and to direct 7.5 per cent of their annual targets to tribal areas. To the same effect, Mobile Dispensaries and Medical Camps were organised to provide health facilities in States and UTs.
3.9.81 In the sphere of economic development, various employment-cum-income generation programmes have been under implementation through both governmental and non-governmental organisations with the ultimate objective of lifting the weaker sections from the `Below Poverty Line'. To network/coordinate various economic activities spread all over the country, apex organisations viz. National SC/ST Finance and Develop-ment Corporation (NSFDC), Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) and State Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs) have been functioning as catalytic agents, both at the national and the State levels. The NSFDC financed 997 self-employment projects, which were expected to benefit 95,494 SC/ST beneficiaries during the five year period from 1992 to 1997. The TRIFED continues to offer remunerative prices for the minor forest produce and surplus agricultural items produced and collected by the tribals, besides protecting them from exploitation by middlemen. Similarly, the SCDCs were engaged in identifying eligible families and extending financial and other assistance to them to undertake income-generation projects through credit support. During the Eighth Plan, 24.42 lakh SCs were benefited with the support and assistance received from the 23 SCDCs. During 1997-98, a total of 4.62 lakh SCs were benefited through 21 SCDCs.
3.9.82 Amongst the various poverty alleviation programmes, the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP) received special emphasis during the Eighth Plan period for extending the employment-cum-income generating activities. By the end of the Eighth Plan (1996-97), about 36 lakh SC and ST families, representing 98 per cent of the target, were covered under Rural Poverty Alleviation and Employment Programme. In the year 1997-98, about 7.86 lakh SC/ST families were covered under IRDP. The Training of Rural Youth for Self-Employment (TRYSEM), which is a support component of IRDP, has so far provided training to 7.20 lakh SCs and STs (46.6% of the beneficiaries) during the Eighth Plan. Under Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (JRY), which provides employment opportunities to the rural poor, about 1.00 lakh man-days of employment were generated for SCs and STs accounting for nearly 66 per cent of the total achievement. Similarly, under the Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) in 1778 blocks in 261 districts (in 1992), about 2940 lakh man-days of employment were generated for SCs and STs. Thus, by the end of the Eighth Plan, a total of 24.82 lakh (96.9%) SC families, against the target of 25.62 lakh, and 11.07 lakh (101.0%) ST families against the target of 10.96 lakh, were assisted under various poverty alleviation programmes.
3.9.83 Besides the above, there are other schemes under the nodal Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment which contribute to the economic development of SCs/STs. These include : Vocational Training in the Tribal Areas under which financial assistance is extended for setting up of Vocational Training Centres in Tribal Areas and Grant-in-aid to State Tribal Development Cooperatives/Corporations for Minor Forest Produces (MFP) to ensure remunerative prices to the tribals for MFP.
3.9.84 The issue regarding the eradication of the most obnoxious and inhuman practice of carrying night-soil manually received high priority in the Eighth Plan. The National Scheme of `Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their Dependents' was launched in 1992 with the ultimate objective of eliminating scavenging by the end of the Eighth Plan (1992-97) on a time-bound programme. So far, 8.25 lakh scavengers were identified, of whom 1.22 lakh were targeted for rehabilitation during 1995-96 and of these, 44,000 were trained to take up alternative employment. During 1997-98, about 77,000 scavengers were targeted for rehabilitation and 43,000 were expected to be trained. In order to accelerate and intensify the efforts, the scheme was modified in April, 1996 to provide for adopting the TRYSEM norm for training, releasing Central Assistance direct to SCDCs and introducing cluster approach for training and rehabilitation. To play the role of a watch-dog in the elimination/rehabilitation of scavengers, a National Commission for Safai Karamcharis was set up in pursuance of the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis Act, 1993. The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis continued to evaluate the schemes for the welfare and development of the scavengers and recommend specific measures for eliminating inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, besides investigating specific grievances of Safai Karamcharis and providing necessary guidelines for mitigating their hardships. On the economic front, an apex agency called National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC) was set up in 1997 to promote self-employment and income generating ventures by the liberated Safai Karamcharis. In all these efforts, women scavengers, being in majority, received special focus and attention.
3.9.85 The welfare and development of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) started receiving special attention during the Eighth Plan with a definite percentage of reservation in the Government employment, besides a definite share in the assistance for both educational and economic development programmes. The setting up of the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC) in 1992 was a major achievement towards the development of OBCs. The Corporation, with a share capital of Rs.200 crore seeks to promote self-employment activities among socially and educationally backward classes. The NBCFDC continued to promote economic development of the OBCs by generating/extending financial assistance for viable self-employment ventures and simultaneously upgrading their technical and entrepreneurial skills. The Corporation has sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs.415.30 crore during the Eighth Plan, benefiting a total of 2,29,341 persons belonging to OBCs. Of these, about 1.46 lakh persons received wage employment through various economic development projects under agriculture, artisans and traditional occupations, small-scale and tiny industries, small business, transport services etc. In the year 1997-98, through NBCFDC, a total of 47,932 OBCs were benefited and 17,000 were extended with wage-employment.
3.9.86 During 1993, a National Commission for OBCs (NCBC), which is a permanent body at the Centre to look into the complaints and requests, besides recommending inclusion of certain communities in the lists of OBCs, was set up. So far, on the basis of this Commission's recommendation, the Central list of OBCs in respect of 21 States and 4 UTs have been notified by the Central Government. The Government has also extended to the OBC candidates the benefit of the relaxed standards in respect of written examinations and interviews, with effect from October, 1994. Under the scheme of Pre-Examination Coaching Centres for weaker sections, candidates belonging to the OBCs receive coaching to compete with other general candidates in various competitive examinations.
3.9.87 The Minorities constitute yet another target group, which has come up with various developmental demands during the Eighth Plan. Responding to the initial demands, some developmental measures were put into operation, not only to bring about socio-economic development amongst them but also to integrate them in the mainstream through a 15-Point Programme. This programme advocates protection of life and property, adequate representation in jobs under both Central and State Governments and programmes of educational development. The Department of Education has introduced a scheme to extend financial assistance for modernisation of Madarsa education and for teaching of Science, Mathematics, Social Studies and languages at traditional educational institutions viz., Madarsas and Maktabs, on a voluntary basis.
3.9.88 Recognising the fact that the minority communities, especially the Muslims remained educationally backward, the Maulana Azad Education Foundation was set up in 1989 with a Corpus of Rs.30.01 crore to promote education amongst the educationally backward minorities. To enable the Minorities to take part in the competitive examinations, Pre-Examination Coaching Centres were set up in 21 Universities and 32 Colleges. In order to give a focussed attention, 41 Minority Concentration Districts have been identified by the Department of Education to extend support under the Multi-sectoral plans. An Area-intensive scheme is being implemented at the block level in all the 41 districts to provide basic education and related infrastructural facilities. For this, 100 per cent assistance is given by the Central Government.
3.9.89 The scheme of Pre-Examination Coaching, launched in 1992-93, has covered 188 institutions where 9480 candidates have received coaching for various competitive examinations. The Department of Personnel made it mandatory for all the recruiting authorities of Central Government and PSUs to have atleast one member belonging to the Minority Communities in the Selection Boards/Committees constituted for the recruitment of Group C and D posts/services.
3.9.90 The 41 Minority concentrated districts have also been brought under the scheme of Community Polytechnics to impart technical skills to eligible persons belonging to the minority communities. The Ministry of Labour has set up Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in 19 out of the 41 districts and introduced trades relevant for the minority artisans and workers. Instructions were also issued to States/UTs to sponsor candidates belonging to the minority communities for vocational training courses.
3.9.91 To ensure socio-economic development amongst the Minorities, a National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation (NMDFC) was set up in 1994. The activities of NMDFC was directed towards assisting self-employment ventures by the Minorities and help them through upgradation of entreprenuerial skills. In all its ventures, the most backward people among minorities living below the poverty line or below double the poverty line received priority. To promote various economic activities that benefit the Minorities, efforts were being made to extend credit at concessional rates of interest, technological support, market linkages etc. Preference was also given to women's occupational groups and self-employment units. Further, to safeguard the secular interests and promote communal harmony, the erstwhile Minority Commission, set up in 1978, was given a statutory status through the enactment of the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992 and was reconstituted in 1996.
3.9.92 Towards empowering the Socially Disadvantaged Groups, the State Governments have also been sharing the responsibility with the Centre by contributing their due share in terms of both financial and human resources in line with the guiding principles of `Co-operative Federalism'. In the area of educational development, the State Governments have been implementing schemes to extend scholarships/merit-scholarships, stipends, supply uniforms and provide hostels, residential schools, coaching centres, mid-day-meals etc. Towards their economic development, special interventions, like formation of cooperatives, cottage and small scale industries, land distribution, minor irrigation, wage/self-employment etc., have been under implementation in the State sector, ensuring that no one among these Groups is deprived of the benefits. The State Governments, like the Centre, have also been implementing the special strategies of Special Component Plan (SCP) and Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) through earmarking of funds by various Line-Ministries / Departments concerned with the welfare and development of SCs and STs. The Special Central Assistance (SCA), provided to States/UTs as an additive to support the family-based income generation programmes, is being utilised by the State Governments in realising the economic upliftment of SCs and STs, especially those who are living below the poverty-line. In addition to this, the State Governments have been shouldering the most important responsibility of implementing the two legislations, viz., the PCR Act, 1955 and the POA Act, 1989, to protect these vulnerable Groups from the exploitation as well as from atrocities committed against them and thus ensure social justice.
RESEARCH, EVALUATION AND MONITORING
3.9.93 The ongoing efforts in the sphere of research and evaluation under the scheme of Grants-in-aid for Research and Publications at the Central level will be re-oriented towards diagnostic and evaluative studies so as to identify the problems both existing and emerging, the problem areas, the problem groups, the gaps etc. Increased financial support will be extended to conduct research studies on : crucial and emerging problems related to these Disadvantaged Groups, particularly the most vulnerable viz., the Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs), indigenous medicines, special problems related to frontiers/forest dwelling tribals; malnutrition and alchoholism amongst SCs and STs; the emerging problems like the drug abuse/drug addiction; and other issues related to administrative machinery, people's participation in the process of planning and development etc. Evaluation studies will also be given adequate weightage as their findings will be of immense value for mid-term corrections. In these activities, all the 14 existing Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) will be fully involved.
3.9.94 So far as monitoring is concerned, action will be initiated to streamline the existing monitoring mechanisms and strengthen them wherever necessary so as to develop effective monitoring and information systems both at the Centre and State levels with adequate manpower. Efforts will also be made to link up the Central and the State information systems through the existing NICNET and DISNIC systems of NIC, facilitating smooth flow of information for effective monitoring. The system thus developed is expected to take care of the much-needed monitoring of earmarking/utilisation of funds under SCP, TSP and SCA for SCP and TSP, besides monitoring of other important programmes.
3.9.95 The exclusive Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (the then Ministry of Welfare set up in 1985), at the Centre, continues to look after the interests of the Socially Disadvantaged Groups. In executing this special task, the Ministry is assisted by various support structures viz., the National Commission for SCs and STs, the National Commission for BCs and the National Commission for Minorities. These Commissions will be further empowered/ encouraged to act as watch-dogs and keep a close vigil on the protection of the rights and interests of these disadvantaged groups besides investigating into individual complaints. Similarly, the National level Financial and Development Corporations along with the State level SCDCs and the Tribal Development Corporations will continue to assist the Ministry with a special thrust on implementing various programmes for economic betterment of these Groups besides providing them better opportunities to contribute to the national economy.
3.9.96 At the State level, while 18 States and one UT have separate Departments / Directorates for Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Backward Classes, the rest have Social Welfare Directorates to take care of these Socially Disadvantaged Groups along with the other Social Welfare groups. As a result of this administrative segregation, the focus on the development of these target groups has been getting lost. Further, most of the State Directorates are not equipped with professional competence to ensure effective implementation of various policies and programmes. Therefore, the Welfare Administration needs to be reoriented in the Ninth Plan, either through inducting professionally trained persons or by extending in-service training/professional orientation and sensitisation towards the upliftment of these Groups. Also, the capacity building of the welfare personnel in specific areas of planning, project formulation and monitoring will be strengthened. Structural re-organisation of the existing exclusive State level Departments/Directorates will be attempted so as to ensure effective implementation, co-ordination and supervision of all the activities. At present, the weakest link in the entire process happens to be supervision. To overcome this, the responsibility of supervision and monitoring will be entrusted to the grass-root level democratic institutions viz., Panchayati Raj Institutions and Local Bodies. The setting up of exclusive Departments and Directorates for Backward Classes in all the States will be contemplated in the Ninth Plan as the same will further strengthen the administrative machinery to work effectively for the empowerment of these Groups.
3.9.97 Services and the contribution of the voluntary sector for the welfare and development of the Socially Disadvantaged Groups have been known even before Independence. They have established their credentials as effective agents of social change and development by virtue of their direct contacts/ linkages with the target groups in the implementation of various developmental programmes in the most difficult areas occupied by these Groups. In order to accomplish the Ninth Plan objective of empowering these Disadvantaged Groups, the voluntary organisations will be playing a key role in promoting people's initiative and participation in the process of empowering of these Groups. Another area where they can play a significant role is to act as authorised agents to assist both the Government and the target Groups to fight against the social evils like untouchability, crimes/atrocities against SCs/STs, and economic and social exploitation and thus help ensure social justice to these Groups.
3.9.98 Further, the voluntary organisations will be encouraged to play the crucial role as motivators, in bringing the people and the administration to effective closeness ensuring optimum results. Thus, the NGOs working in the grass-root level will further intensify their activities related to conscientisation and awareness generation towards health, education, nutrition, legal literacy etc. As the NGOs are instrumental in motivating the tribals to participate in the implementation of various developmental programmes, they will be encouraged not only to mobilize individual tribal leaders but also the local institutions and organisations towards effective synchronisation of the cultural milieu and the modern developmental process. Special thrust will be given to promote voluntary action in the low profile areas of the country where the voluntary sector is yet to make their effective presence.
3.9.99 Constant and continuous interaction between the governmental and non-governmental agencies for implementing the developmental programmes and the tribals will be intensified amicably in order to minimise the feeling of distance and alienation amongst these disadvantaged groups through effective coordination and confidence building measures.
3.9.100 While a total outlay of Rs.5399.50 crore has been earmarked for both Central and Centrally Sponsored Schemes including Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Special Component Plan (SCP) for SCs, an amount of Rs. 9568.68 crore (Provisional) has been allocated for State Sector Schemes for empowering the Socially Disadvantaged Groups viz, SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities in the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997-2002). In addition to these, Plan allocations are also earmarked through Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) and under Article 275 (1) for the development of the Schedule Tribes and Schedule Areas.
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