Reduction in scholarship allocation for Dalit students a major concern, shows that Dalits, Adivasis continue to be ignored: NCDHR

Published on: February 2, 2018
The Union Budget presented today by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley received sharp criticism from the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) which pointed out that once again, the Budget had failed to live up to the expectations of the marginalised communities of India.

Dalits
Image Courtesy: Indian Express

In the Union Budget 2017-18, there was a fundamental shift made towards a ‘welfare model of SC/ST’, revamping Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan to Scheduled Caste Component and Scheduled Tribe Component (henceforth, SCC-STC). This was an unwarranted retrogressive move as it made SCs and STs mere beneficiaries of welfare programmes. In the light of the new developments, the quantum of allocation towards, SCC-STC is from the entire Budget as opposed to 30% of the total Union Budget. However, despite a shift in the approach no steps have been taken in the year to introduce any guidelines by the government making it difficult to hold the government accountable.
 
What is even worse, as NCDHR pointed out, the allocation for Post Matric Scholarship for Dalits have also fallen over Rs 300 crore. In the last Budget, an amount of Rs 3,334 crore was allocated for students from the Dalit community but this year the amount has fallen to Rs 3,000 crore.
“Our analysis of Union Budget 2017-18 reveals the continuation of old patterns. Finance Minister presented Expenditure Budget of Rs.24,42,213.3 crore. The allocations under SCC-STC continue to be much below the mandated amount. In the Current year only Rs 56, 619Cr i.e. 6.55% of the total Budget Expenditure is allocated for the SCs and Rs. 39, 135Cr i.e. 4.53 % of the Budget expenditure for the STs. The allocations under both SCC and STC continued to severely fall short of the mandated amount by 10.5% and 4.07% for SC and ST respectively,” said a press release issued by the organisation.

N Paul Divakar, General Secretary of the NCDHR, while commenting on the Union Budget 2018-19 said, “while we welcome the move for the allocation towards scholarships for students with disabilities of Rs 12.56 crore, the denial of allocations towards other higher education schemes like Post-Matric Scholarship is determinantal. The more worrying trend is the lack of guidelines for designing SCC and STC by NITI Ayog and the concerned ministries has downgraded special component plan which is meant to bridge the gap.”

Listing five demands, NCDHR asked the government to legislate Scheduled Caste Component and Scheduled Tribe Component with clear guidelines and necessary mechanisms for effective implementation. It also pointed out that the newly-developed MIS systems for SCC and STC shows that there is a huge unspent balances of Rs 20478.62 Cr under SCC and Rs 7131.28Cr under STC. Therefore it asks for a centralised non-lapsable pool of SCC & STC funds to be created. This unspent money must be deposited and a plan must be designed to implement new schemes, which will be directly beneficial for SC & ST population. NCDHR also asked the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which are the nodal Ministries for implementation of SCC & STC respectively, to ensure that all the required Ministries, allocate and implement stipulated percentage of funds in the component schemes. Strict measures must be taken against the defaulting Ministries and Departments. It must be pointed out that in 2017-18, there was a shortfall of Rs. 104490.45 crore under SCC and Rs 49357.49 crore under STC, which was denied for the SC & ST communities as per the guidelines. “It is recommended that the nodal Ministries must take all necessary steps to ensure that Budget allocations are made as per the population percentage,” the statement added.

Courtesy: Two Circles