Pursuing unabashedly and openly a pro-rich policy, the Narendra Modi Budget outlines a corporate vision of India that unashamedly eats into the budgetary allocations meant for the millions of its poorest and neediest citizens, the Dalits and Adivasis, said the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) - Dalit Arthik Adhikar Andolan (DAAA), which works towards the elimination of caste-based discrimination.
The Budget has severely fallen short on its fiscal promises and takes away 57% per cent of state money meant for welfare schemes for Dalits and Adivasis. "Where are the 'achhe din,' asks an agitated aam aurat.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to whip the budget into shape and make the economy fairer for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections, unfortunately, his words have not translated into action," says NCDHR General Secretary Paul Divakar. The Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP), the most important budgetary components for Dalits and Tribals initiated in 1979, became necessary as Dalits and Tribals were continuously denied their adequate share of government funds essentially required for their development.
This year, Dalits have been allocated only Rs 30,850 crore, while the allocation is only Rs 19,980 crore for Adivasis. However, as per the SCSP/TSP Guidelines, the SCs should be allocated 16.6% of the Plan Outlay, which amounts to Rs 77,236 crore towards SCSP and the STs should be allocated 8.6% of the Plan Outlay, which amounts to Rs 40,014 crore towards TSP. Dalits, therefore, have been denied a total of 61% of the due amount under the SCSP, and 53% has been denied to Adivasis under TSP.
When compared to 2014-15 allocations , SCSP allocation was Rs 43,208 crore and TSP allocation was Rs 26,714 crore, this year's allocation has declined and is anti-SC and anti-ST. None can deny the truth that Dalits and Adivasis have been the backbone of economic growth through their sheer contribution to agriculture and infrastructure development in this country. However, it is for all to see that they are paid far below the minimum wage; their health indicators such as infant and maternal mortality rates and the rate of anaemia is very high when compared to the non-SC/ST population.
It is not only ironic but a cruel stroke that the Government instead of protecting them and promoting their development has grossly reduced spending on their welfare. Where is the money going? The answer is not far to seek it is going to the corporates with a reduction in corporate tax from 30% to 25%.
From the gender perspective, the Budget spells doom for SC/ST women, as it earmarks practically nothing for them. Out of the total allocation of Rs 30850 crore under the SCSP, the allocation for women specific schemes is a meager sum of Rs 73.70 crore which amounts to 0.23% only! Are Dalit and Adivasi women not in the gamut of 'SabkaVikas'?
The scenario is much the same when one looks at the Budget allocation under TSP -- a paltry sum of Rs 40 crore ie 0.20% only! The only small streak of hope is the allocation of Rs 50 crore for SC Girls' Hostel! It is also very shocking to note that despite a wave of atrocities against Dalit and Adivasi women, the government turns a blind eye by not earmarking any allocation to Dalit and Adivasi women in the Nirbhaya fund which has an additional fund of Rs 1,000 crore.
This year the allocations have also declined in the education sector (Ministry of Human Resource Development) to Rs 10194.7 crore under the SCSP and Rs 5486.44 crore under TSP. Allocation in the critical Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for SC/STs has been reduced from Rs 1904.78 crore to Rs 1599 crore. Retrogressive allocations are also seen in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Mid Day Meal Scheme and in Higher education for SCs and STs.
The Modi Govt. has really missed the boat to reach out to the Dalits and Adivasis! Though this Budget could have been used to give real relief to struggling families facing assaults, atrocities, discrimination, poor health, lack of education and unemployment, no concrete measure has been taken to improve their condition.