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Note on the impact of Recommendations of “Task Force to Review Guidelines on Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan & Tribal Sub-Plan” Government of India, Planning Commission

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Note on the impact of Recommendations of

“Task Force to Review Guidelines on

Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan & Tribal Sub-Plan”

Government of India, Planning Commission

I. Background

Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan are being implemented for the last three decades.   Even though the basic principle is budget allocation of budgets based on the SCs and STs population by ministries/departments of union and state governments, it was never implemented  for various reasons.   It is estimated that more than Rs. 4.00 lakh crores are denied to  SCs and STs only in allocation by the union government during the last three decades.   Diversions and non-utilisation issues are not studied sufficiently to estimate the denial of share in the budget for SCs and STs.   Dalits  and Adivasis have been demanding for proper implementation of  SCSP and TSP for the last one decade.

In this context, the Planning Commission of India has appointed a Task Force to study the implementation of SCSP and TSP and give recommendations.    Subsequently, the Task Force submitted its recommendations on 25th November 2010.    The Task Force’s recommendations in general will legitimise the actions of  ministries/departments.   In this context National Dalit Forum is presenting this draft note on how the Task Force Recommendations will impact the development of Dalits and Adivasis,

II. Recommendations and Impact

1. 68 Ministries/Departments can be grouped into four categories

  1. No Obligation;
  2. Earmarking less than 15% for SCs and 7.5% for STs;
  3. Earmarking outlays between 15% – 16.2% for SCs and 7.5% – 8.2% for STs;
  4. Earmarking more than 16.2% for SCs and 8.2% for STs.

Expected Results

  • As per this recommendation, 40 ministries/departments  in the case of SCs and 43 in the case of  STs will be exempted from making any efforts for the development of SC and TSs.
  • Responsibilities of 10 ministries/departments will be lessened.
  • Only 9 ministries/departments will continue the status co.
  • Only  responsibilities of 6 ministries/departments will  be enhanced

Impact on Dalits and Adivasis

There is no logic or criterion for recommending this reorganisation/ readjustment of responsibilities of ministries towards the development of Dalits.   This is legitimising the excuses which are being given so far.

This recommendation ultimately  legitimises the excuses of 58.9 % of Central Government machinery from fulfilling their responsibilities from  development Dalits and Adivasis who constitute  24.4% of  population in the country. This is totally un-constitutional and un-democratic.

When these 24.4 % of population has been  contributing their share to  government’s  income and when all the ministries are beneficiaries of this income, excepting these ministries/departments is nothing less than ‘robbing the poor and feed the rich’

Need for SCSP and TSP implementation by all departments: If we consider the income of  government from direct and indirect taxes, the proportionate contribution of poor (especially the people in  unorganised sector and BPL)  is maximum when compared to the contributions of people from all other walks of life. With the introduction of TDS (Tax deduction at source) all salaried persons both in the government and private sector have got  tax exemptions, but persons  under the BPL get no tax benefit what so ever. The proportion of tax contribution of persons under the BPL is many times more than their income.  Even if a SHG access a loan at the lowest level has to pay interest of 25paise. This means there is no interest exemption for them. However on the other hand a multinational corporation gets several exemptions in investments, starting from providing land at govt. prices to interest free loans for certain period.

In such tax policy of rising income by government,   every poor person in the country has a right to demand his or her share in the budgetary allocations of the govt. It is the obligation of every part of  government to meet his or her needs first rather than exempting 58.8% % ministries/department from their responsibilities.

Restricting the Development: Historically, caste Hindu society has forced  SCs and STs into menial works. In the same lines, the task force report on SCSP and TSP will limit scope of development of these communities by exempting ministries/departments for their obligations.   Only Department of Drinking Water Supply, Dept.  of School Education and Literacy, Dept of Rural Development, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and Ministry of Women and Child Development  are held responsible for the development of SCs and STs.

Limiting diversity in Development: Above recommendation also limits the diversity of development of SC and ST Communities. As per this recommendation persons belongs to SCs and STs have to find their own ways or compete with general population if they want to enter into or find development opportunities in the sectors that are exempted from their obligation.

Till now we have an opportunity to demand efforts from all the departments / ministries to strive for the development of SCs and STs and there is scope for interested / committed (to Dalits) Burocrates and Ministers to make interventions for the benefit of the Dalits, however this recommendation snatches away this opportunity for Dalits and the Scope for the departments / ministries.

The proposed formula to workout 16.2% of SCSP and 8.2 % of TSP can’t be applied universally. Neither the number of ministries / departments nor the funds made available to them are constant. All constituents / components of the proposed formula are subjected to change as they are dependent on the availability of funds, abilities of the Prime Minister and focus of the ruling government.

Since SCs and STs are also citizens of the country it is their rightful demand to access and diversify in to every sector where there is scope for development. Also, it is government’s responsibility to ensure the same by making special efforts; however this particular recommendation is contrary to the constitutional obligations of Directive Principles of State Policy.

2. Proposed Criteria for categorizing Plan Expenditure under SCSP & TSP

1. Expenditure on Poverty Alleviation and individual beneficiary oriented schemes, e.g. MNREGA, IAY, NRLM, SGSRY, PMEGP etc., and

This recommendation eats on the SCSP and TSP for general developmental Schemes. The spirit of SCSP and TSP is to provide more and additional funds for the direct development of SCs and STs. Contrary to enhancing of availability of funds for SCs and STs is subsidises the general schemes with SCSP and TSP.

2. Expenditure on other schemes which is incurred in:

  • SC and ST concentration areas respectively, i.e. in the villages, blocks and districts having more than 40% SC/ST population respectively, and largely benefiting such villages, blocks and districts, and
  • in other areas, but which demonstrably benefits SCs/STs respectively

Impact on Dalits and Adivasis

It was observed during the 4th Five-Yar plan period itself that the area approach model has not yielded the desired results especially in the case of SCs. And was also found that wherever the Dalits are less in number the experience of discrimination was more. Hence,  SCP was introduced in 1979, the present recommendation instead of providing an alternate is taking back to square one by suggesting to focus on Dalit concentrated area and leaving the Dalit minority areas to suffer.

3. New/modified schemes which may be considered for being so taken up include:

  1.  A new scheme of giving assistance to States for purchasing private land for allotment to landless SCs.
  2. Greater targeting of SCs under a) Vocational Training and Skill Development Scheme of the Ministry of Labor and Employment, b) Integrated Handloom Development Scheme of Ministry of Textiles,
  3. Increase in the subsidy under SCA to SCSP Scheme of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and
  4. Enhanced equity support to National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC),

Impact on SCs and STs

Proposals under this recommendation are already existing under various sate schemes   which need fine-tuning. The land purchase scheme instead of providing land to landless Dalits has contributed to the inflation of  land enormously thereby forcing the  beneficiary to contribute more than the government contribution.

Instead of purchasing  land,  it would be  better to implement the recommendations of the high level Committee of Governors constituted by the then President of India Shri K.R. Narayanan headed by the then Maharastra Governor Shri. P.C. Alaxender in 2000. Where it was pointed out the practicality of  5 acres of allotment to landless families  without  disturbing the existing land holdings.

4. Placing Earmarked Funds for SCSP under the Separate Budget Head ‘789’ and for TSP under ‘796’

MoU signed between the Planning Commission and the concerned Ministry/Department.

Impact

This is only a procedure and would bind the ministries/departments in terms of accountability.

5. Strengthening of Administrative Arrangements for Planning and Implementation of SCSP/TSP

  1. Nodal Units, to be headed by a Joint Secretary (Planning) or Economic Adviser should be set up in all Ministries/Departments, which have obligations to earmark under SCSP and TSP, with requisite full time supporting staff.
  2. Ministries/Departments having obligation of earmarking more than 16.2% under SCSP and/or more than 8.2% under TSP may have a full time Joint Secretary level officer to head the SCSP/TSP Unit.
  3. In the Planning Commission, the Social Justice Division may be headed by a Principal Adviser, with two Advisers to assist him – one each for SCSP and TSP.
  4. The Central Tripartite Committee (CTC) must be fully activated, and it must regularly review implementation of SCSP/TSP, as also promptly resolve inter-ministerial issues, if any.

Impact

Recommendations are only implementation measures for the accounting purpose and have nothing to do with the development of SCs and STs.

6. Next Steps for Implementation of the Recommendations

  1. Commission may urgently issue a supplementary circular, incorporating suitable Instructions, based on this Task Force’s recommendations outlined in para 5.1 to 5.7 above, to Central Ministries/Departments for preparing their Plan proposals under SCSP and TSP, accordingly.
  2. Final plan outlays for 2011-12 to Central Ministries/Departments, it should separately convey the figure to be earmarked under SCSP/TSP (as is already being done for the NER).
  3.  To add requisite columns in the format for Statement of Budget Estimates (SBEs) to show scheme-wise outlays under SCSP/TSP, which must add up to the level communicated as per (ii) above.

Impact

Recommendations are only implementation measures for the accounting purpose and have nothing to do with the development of SCs and STs.

7. Implementation of Non-lapsability feature

  1. unutilized at the end of a financial year may be transferred, on the lines of the Non-lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR)
  2. to two Pools to be named as “Non-lapsable Central Pool of SCSP Funds (NLCPSF)” and “Non-lapsable Central Pool of TSP Funds (NLCPTF)”
  3.  May be allocated to the Ministry of SJ&E and Ministry of Tribal Affairs respectively for implementing schemes for SCs and STs Development as well as for providing incentives to State Governments for effective implementation of SCSP and TSP, which may form a part of Central Assistance for State Plans.

Impact

Recommendation 7 is extension of the provision which is only for north eastern states.

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