Allocations for SCs/STs fall short again
The total planned budget for the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) for the year 2012-13 has once again failed to meet its target. For the Special Component Plan (SCP), the allocation has been Rs. 37,113.03 crore, which is 9.3 per cent as against the government’s own target of 16.2 per cent.
For the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP), the allocation is Rs. 21,710.11 crore, which is 5.4 per cent of the total budget amount as against the official target of 8.2 per cent. In the last five-year Plan, the allocation was around 8 per cent for SCP, according to Paul Divakar, general secretary of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights.
This year, while there has been an increase in allocation for the pre-matric scholarship scheme for SCs from Rs. 200 crore to Rs. 824 crore, there is a marked decrease in the post-matric scholarship scheme. From last year’s allocation of Rs. 2441.7 crore, the allocation to post-matric has been brought down to Rs. 1,500 crore.
“This is not a proactive measure for equality. A quantum of money is being spent on the social sector which is not a bad thing, but it looks at only aspects of survival and menial labour-related jobs for Dalits,” said Mr. Divakar. The social sector allocations go for primary school education, mid-day meals, MGNREGS among others but the Dalits are being kept out of the larger economic growth due to reduced allocations in post-matric educational schemes, he added.
There is a decrease in other schemes as well. In the scheme of pre-matric scholarships for children engaged in unclean occupation, it has come down from Rs.70 crore to Rs. 10 crore. In the ‘Book Bank’ and ‘Upgradation of Merit of ST students’ schemes the allocation has decreased from Rs. 823.78 crore to Rs. 750 crore.
There has also been a decrease in the Indian Leather Development Programme from Rs. 30 crore to Rs. 12 crore. However, there is an increase in Infrastructure Maintenance (Department of Health & Family) from Rs. 701.75 crore to Rs. 978.11 crore. But infrastructure development should not be counted as SCP, pointed out Mr. Divakar.
Meanwhile, there has been an increase in some other schemes such as Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, Construction and Running of Hostels for SC girls in secondary and higher secondary schools, Indira Awas Yojana, Integrated Watershed Management Programme and National Rural Drinking Water Programme. One of the significant increases is in UGC allocation, which has gone up to Rs. 1042.4 crore from Rs. 799.6 crore.
Under TSP, the allocation for reducing child labour has been halved to Rs. 15 crore and for the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme it has decreased to Rs. 107 crore from Rs. 131.56 crore. As per the Economic Survey, the expenditure on welfare of the SCs/STs and the OBCs has reduced from 0.67 per cent to 0.57 per cent.
Making a case for thoughtful and targeted allocations, Mr. Divakar said that as the growth rate slid from 8.4 per cent to 6.9 per cent — the lowest in seven years — the Human Development Index has worsened, down from 119 in 2010 to 134 in 2011.
“What happened to the claim that this growth will lift up the overall condition of the citizen or is this an inclusive growth?” he asked.