Raw deal for SCs, STs in Union Budget 2018
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley claimed enhanced allocations for the welfare of marginalised and venerable sections of population in his Union Budget 2018 proposals.
However, the allocations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) seems to be meager. Though the allocations are slightly higher compared to the previous budget, he failed to provide allocations as per norms. He has followed the old pattern of poor and notional allocations.
It may be recalled that the government fails to spend even the allocated funds under large number of heads. This is the second budget after merger of Plan and Non-Plan and declaring allocation as welfare schemes is making SCs and STs, mere beneficiaries of Scheduled Caste Component (SCC) and Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) instead of Development model.
As per census 2011, SC (16.6 per cent) and ST (8.6 per cent) constitute more than 25 per cent of the country’s population. Former finance Secretary Ratan P Watal, who was appointed as the Principle Adviser for social sector in NITI Aayog, has recommended the government that, of the Centre’s scheme funds, SC/ST well-being be allocated not less than what corresponds to their numerical strength to the country’s total population. If the new formula is applied, an eighth of the total funds under central-sector and centrally sponsored schemes must be used for the welfare of SC/ST communities, which comes to Rs 3,05,277 crore, which should have been allocated for SCC and STC out of total budget expenditure of Rs. 24, 42,213.30.
However, Finance Minister allocated only Rs 95,754 crore for welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and denied Rs 2,09,523 crore of Dalits and adivasis. NITI was established to transform India, but the recommendation of NITI is not being followed by Modi government, which shows that there is no place for Dalits and adivasis in the development model of ‘New India’. Leave Dalits and adivasis behind is the mantra of Modi’s new India.
Earlier the Planning Commission had said that the programs initiated to bridge the gap between SCs, STs and others, recommended to allocate funds in proportion to their population in Budget plan. However, in the last 5 budgets of Narendra Modi government there is denial of Rs 3,32,397 crore. In Budget 2018-19 only Rs 56, 619 crore ie 2.32 per cent of the total Budget expenditure is allocated for the SCs and Rs 39,135 crore ie 1.60 per cent of the budget expenditure for the STs. Rs 75,689 crore short of the mandated amount, so whose development Prime Minister is talking about, its mere slogan ‘Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas’.
The Post Matric Scholarship has been cut down by Rs 348 crore for SCs. Instead of employment there is much hype and talk about entrepreneurship but only Rs 13.26 crore has been allocated for the development of entrepreneurship of SCs.
Once in a calendar year, PM Modi pops up #SwachBharat, but no concrete efforts are being made to eradicate manual scavenging. Therefore, Dalit Bahujana Students Union (DBSU), AP state general secretary P Chitti Babu demanded for a legislation for Scheduled Caste Component and Scheduled Tribe Component, with clear guidelines and necessary mechanisms for effective implementation.