Dissecting the allocation for schemes for SC/ST community, NDHCR stated that the proportion of targeted schemes is 37.79% for SC and 43.8% for ST in Budget 2022-23. The rest of the allocation is for de-facto general schemes and doesn’t offer much to the SC/ST community, say Dalit rights activists.
The NCDHR analysis, released on February 2, noted that for the financial year 2022-23, the allocation for the scheduled castes (SC) stands at Rs 1,42,342.36 crore whereas for the scheduled tribes (ST), it is Rs 89,265.12 crore. Photo by: Abhishek Verma
Noting that the allocation for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe communities in the Union Budget 2022-23 “seems quite large”, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights – Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andaloan (NCDHR-DAAA), in its detailed analysis of the budget, has pointed out that these allocations do not address the development gap between the marginalised and discriminated communities and the rest of the population of the country.
The NCDHR analysis, released on February 2, noted that for the financial year 2022-23, the allocation for the scheduled castes (SC) stands at Rs 1,42,342.36 crore whereas for the scheduled tribes (ST), it is Rs 89,265.12 crore.
However, out of the total budgetary allocation, only 37.79 per cent i.e. Rs 53,794.9 crore was for target schemes under the SC budget, whereas 43.8 per cent with Rs 39,113 crore allocated towards the target scheme for STs. Target schemes are those schemes that directly benefit the SC/ST community and are exclusively for them.
“As per the guidelines by the NITI Aayog on the AWSC [allocation for welfare of scheduled caste] and AWST [allocation for welfare of scheduled tribe], it is mandatory to allocate proportionate to the population, however this year too the allocation has not been made proportionate and there exists a gap of Rs 40,634 crore and Rs 9,399 crore for SC and ST Budget,” reads the NCDHR analysis report.
“The government has cut the budget in areas where we wouldn’t expect to cut because we consider that the government is serious about the elimination of women engaged in manual scavenging and men who are engaged in this. But it doesn’t look like that seeing what the budget is actually telling us,” said Beena Pallical, the general secretary at DAAA, while explaining the numbers behind the budget allocation.
“There is no plan in each scheme for implementation, they don’t have a monitoring mechanism for it. It is in some sense another economic atrocity that’s being done to dalit and adivasis,” said Paul Divakar, general secretary at NCDHR, while addressing the media on February 2.
The NCDHR analysis highlighted that the government’s commitment to allocate Rs 7,000 crores for Post-Matric scholarship has not been fulfilled this year. Instead, only Rs 5,660 crore has been allocated for SCs and Rs 3,416 crore has been allocated to STs.
Emphasising on the fact that the total number of atrocities on Dalit woman is very high with close to 10 dalit women being raped on a daily average basis, the budget allocated for effective implementation of The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is Rs 600 crore. Out of this Rs 600 crore, Rs 180 crore is to address violence and crimes against Dalit women, whereas trans dalit community does not find any mention in the budget.
There’s also an additional allocation of about Rs 20,472 crore towards the agriculture department for SCs and Rs 10,606 crore for STs, the report highlighted. Calling it a high allocation, the NCDHR analysis pointed out that a lot of dalits and adivasis are landless farmers so it is yet to be seen how this is to be implemented.
According to the NCDHR, some very critical schemes have been starved of necessary funds for SC and ST development. Schemes such as rehabilitation of bonded labour, pre-matric scholarship are some of the direct benefitting schemes with very less allocation.
As per the NCDHR report, the allocation for employment generation for SCs in the Union Budget 2022-23 has drastically reduced to Rs 22.97 crore from Rs 170.96 crore in the previous year. Similarly, for ST there’s a drop to Rs 11.3 crore this year, from the 89.5 crore last year.
The employment generation schemes being referred to above include National Career services, Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojna, Coaching and Guidance for SC/ST and other backward classes.
Similarly, labour welfare scheme for the SCs registered a drop to Rs 19.88 crore under allocation for welfare of SC from Rs 24.9 crore in the previous year and for STs, it has been dropped to Rs 10.66 crore in the current year from Rs 12.9 crore in the previous year.
“It is a matter of concern that despite the migrant crisis in 2020 that also spilled onto 2021, the Union Budget does not allocate funds for the migrants from the SC-ST community,” the report said.
Alluding to the eShram portal that was introduced in the 2021-22 budget to ensure registration of informal labour, including migrant labour, the NCDHR report observed that eShram portal has only been able to register 24 per cent of such workers in three months due to barriers of Aadhaar and low awareness of benefits.
As per the eShram portal, till now 248,503,393 registrations have been completed with Uttar Pradesh having recorded the highest registrations of 82 million, followed by Bihar with 27 million and West Bengal with 25 million.
“Expectations versus realities are a totally different ball game altogether. We expected much more money to be given directly to the people but that’s not happening,” Ballical said.
Adding that the Indian economy can be strengthened when people have money in their hands, she said, “We are demanding that more money is given to people on the ground instead of direct transfers… to build people’s capacity, give them credit. We are hoping that for the next budget there is much more consultation so that many community members can take part in this,” Pallical said.
Focusing on the budget allocation for SC/ST children, the report outlined that targeted schemes like National Means Cum Merit Scholarship Scheme saw allocation of Rs 66 crore for SC and Rs 36 crore for ST, mid-day meal scheme for SC stood at Rs 20.60 crore and no allocation was provided for ST children.
For the National Child Labour Project including grants aid to voluntary agencies and reimbursement of assistance to bonded labour for SC was merely Rs 4.98 crore and for ST was Rs 2.58 crore.
The post matric scholarships for SCs was Rs 2,716.80 crore and Rs 844.95 crore for ST, pre-matric scholarship for SCs and others was Rs 500 crore and no allocation was made to ST students.
On the other hand, pre-matric scholarship was Rs 419 crore for ST and no allocation has been made for SC. Critical schemes like Boys and Girls Hostel, National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao had no allocation under AWSC (allocation for welfare of scheduled caste) and AWST (allocation for welfare of scheduled tribe).
Schemes like Samagra Shiksha witnessed major allocation of Rs 7,534.96 crore under AWSC and Rs 4130.55 crore under AWST. The report also noted that the central government had merged the general schemes like anganwadi services with Poshan Abhiyan- National Nutrition Mission which is now called as ‘Saksham Aganwadi and Poshan 2.0’ (includes Umbrella ICDS like Anganwadi services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls) allocation for which has been made for SC Rs 4,988 crore under AWSC, and for ST Rs 1988.52 crore under AWST.
“These schemes are general in nature and are not exclusively for SC and ST. The union government spending on the child budget is grossly inadequate, it is important to protect and increase the expenditure to promote child rights,” the report said.