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Urban Development

Empowerment of the Socially Disadvantaged Groups

The Socially Disadvantaged Groups include – the Scheduled Castes (SCs), the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and the Minorities. The Ninth Five Year Plan is committed to empower these Groups, as the agents of socio-economic change and development through a three pronged strategy of - i) Social Empowerment; ii) Economic Empowerment; and iii) Social Justice.

Social Empowerment

Education being the most effective instrument for empowering these Groups, high priority continues to be accorded to improve the educational status of SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities, especially that of the women and the girl child. Although, there has been an increase in the literacy rates amongst the SCs and STs, yet they continue to lag behind the general population.

To Supplement the efforts of the Department of Education, the two nodal Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment and Tribal Affairs have been implementing a few exclusive educational programmes viz., Post-Matric Scholarships to SCs and STs benefitting 56.26 lakh students; Pre-Matric Scholarships for the children of those engaged in unclean occupation benefitting about 10.18 lakh students; construction of Hostels for SC/ST/OBC Boys and Girls; and Ashram Schools for STs.

Further, towards ensuring educational development amongst the SCs/STs, the programmes such as Coaching and Allied Scheme; Book-banks; Upgradation of merit of SC/ST students; Special Educational Development Programmes for the SC/ST Girls belonging to Low Literacy Areas are also being implemented.

There is an urgent need to assess the impact of these schemes, especially that of the Post-Matric Scholarships, Pre-Matric Scholarships and that of the Hostels.

Economic Empowerment

The 6 apex Corporations set up to improve the economic lot of the Disadvantaged Groups work as catalytic agents besides extending both 'forward’ and 'backward’ linkages of credit and marketing facilities to the micro level agencies towards improving the economic lot of these Groups.

While, these Corporations were expected to become self-reliant over a period of 2-3 years of their establishment, they are becoming more and more dependent upon the Government support. This calls for an urgent study of the working of all these Corporations with a major objective of bringing forth necessary reforms to make them as effective financial instruments in empowering the disadvantaged.

Efforts are being made to merge all the existing Corporations under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment into a single Corporation to reduce administrative cost and ensure its effective functioning. While an exclusive Corporation being set up for the benefit of STs.

The incidence of poverty amongst SCs and STs still continues to be very high as almost half of their population live below poverty line, though it started declining from 57.60 in 1983-84 to 48.37 in 1993-94 in respect of SCs and from 63.14 to 51.14 in respect of STs.

Social Justice

As a first step in the process of instituting Social Justice, two exclusive Ministries viz., the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for SCs, OBCs and Minorities in 1998 and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for STs in 1999 have been set up to extend a focused attention to these individual groups.

To ensure effective enforcement of the Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, a definite plan of action ensuring preventive, investigative and rehabilitative measures are being strengthened in those areas/districts where the incidence of crimes/atrocities/violence is high against the weaker sections.

Another measure to ensure social justice was the commitment on the part of the Government for complete removal of the inhuman practice of manual scavenging by the Year 2002 through a nation-wide Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of Scavengers and their dependents. As the progress of this scheme is very tardy, steps are being taken to activate the States / UTs to accomplish the commitment.

Implementation of Special Mechanisms

To review/monitor the other-wise routinised implementation of the 3 special mechanisms viz., Special Component Plan (SCP), Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) and Special Central Assistance (SCA) to SCP and TSP, a Central Standing Tripartite Committee consisting of the representatives of the Planning Commission, National Commission for SCs and STs, the two nodal Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the concerned Ministry/Department, was set up in May 1999. So far, 16 Central Ministries/ Departments have been reviewed. Similar Tripartite Committees in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab and Gujarat have also been set up.

The erstwhile practice of including SCA to TSP as part of the State Plan allocations has now been ceased with. In its place, SCA to TSP is now being released as a Special Central Assistance to supplement the efforts of the States for the economic development of the STs.

Development of 75 Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs)in the country, is yet another important area, which is receiving attention of the Government through preparatory activities towards formulation of a National Plan of Action for survival, protection and development of the PTGs..

According to the National Commission for SCs and STs, untouchability is still practiced in many forms through out the country. Also, the crimes against these vulnerable groups of SCs and STs is on an increase. As per the National Crimes Record Bureau, New Delhi, murder, rape and hurt are the three major crimes recorded against these groups. Effective enforcement of PCR Act, 1955 and SC and ST (POA) Act, 1989 by all the States / UTs is the need of the Day, besides activating the 4 National Commissions set up to safeguard the rights and interests of SCs, STs, OBCs, Minorities and Safai Karamcharis to play an effective role.

The Mid-Term Appraisal recognizes the unresolved issues / concerns viz., illiteracy, ignorance, poverty; social disability and increasing atrocities/ violence against the socially disadvantaged groups, in general, and some problems specific to STs viz., land alienation; involuntary displacement; indebtedness and bonded labour; lack of basic minimum services in the forest villages and the tribals living therein; shifting cultivation, ineffective implementation of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996; social unrest etc. Special efforts are, therefore, being made to address these persisting problems.

State Sector

The prevailing backwardness amongst the tribals and the tribal areas has been paving the way for internal disturbances in certain States as reflected in the tribal unrest and extremist movements Therefore, special efforts to safeguard the interests of these disadvantaged Groups need to be taken up in the affected areas on priority basis by the concerned State Governments

Voluntary/NGO Sector

Although, Voluntary organizations / non-governmental organizations have been playing a vital role of bearing the responsibility of the Government in `Reaching the Services to the Un-Reached’ in the backward rural and far-flung tribal areas, they are uneven in their distribution and are urban oriented. Therefore, all the grant-in aid schemes for NGOs have been recently reviewed and was suggested to enlarge the scope and coverage.

Resource Position

The pace of progress of expenditure in the Backward Classes Welfare Sector appears to be satisfactory as the likely expenditure during the first 3 years (1997-2000) at the Central level stood at Rs. 8998.90 crore (59.6%) against the ideal level of 60% However, a qualitative assessment of the progress needs to be made in terms of improving the status of these socially disadvantaged groups.


Social Welfare

Social Welfare sector is responsible for the welfare, rehabilitation and development of the Persons with Disabilities, the Social Deviants and the other Disadvantaged who require special attention of the State. The Ninth Plan is distinct from the earlier plans as it advocates a 3-Fold Strategy, specific to each individual Target Group viz.., i) Empowering the Disabled; ii) Reforming the Social Deviants; and iii) Caring the Other Disadvantaged.

Empowering the Disabled

Implementation of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, which aims to empower the persons suffering with disabilities with a right to demand for an enabling environment wherein they can enjoy protection of rights, equal opportunities and full participation in various development activities of the country has made good progress both at Central and State levels .

The activities of the 6 National Institutes in the areas of research , training,, rehabilitation and developing suitable Aids and Appliances etc., are being expanded to meet the increasing needs and demands of the disabled.

As part of the new initiatives under the implementation of PD Act, 1995, the following new schemes have been initiated:

  1. National Programme for Rehabilitation of the Persons with Disabilities (NPRPD), a State Sector Scheme;
  2. 6 Regional Composite Resource Centres as Central Sector Scheme in the States of Assam, Bihar, HP, J and K, MP and UP;
  3. 4 Regional Rehabilitation Centres for Spinal Injured and other orthopaedically Disabled as Centrally Sponsored Scheme (90:10 ratio of funding by GOI and the concerned State Government) in the States of Orissa, Punjab, MP and UP; and
  4. 4 Auxiliary Production Centres of Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation (ALIMCO) .

The scope of the Scheme to promote Voluntary Action for Persons with Disability has been enlarged to cover new areas viz.- legal aid and legal counseling ; support facilities for sports, recreation, excursions, creative and performing arts, etc.

To ensure filling up of 3 per cent reservation of posts for the disabled in the Government as well as Public Sector Undertakings, action has already been taken to transfer the Special Employment Exchanges for Disabled to the Ministry of Labour which is the nodal Ministry for placement / employment in the country.

Application of S and T made significant contributions to help overcome the limitations imposed by the disability and improve the personal capacities of the disabled persons in the country, yet new emerging areas like bio-engineering electronics need to be explored for development of aids and appliances.

Reforming the Social Deviants

To bring about qualitative improvement in the standard of the mandatory Institutions set up under Juvenile Justice Act (JJ Act), the scheme has been revised and renamed as `An Integrated Programme for Juvenile Justice' in 1998 besides setting up of Juvenile Justice Fund to bring about qualitative improvement in the infrastructure established under JJ Act.

The centralized implementation of the Scheme of Prohibition and Prevention of Drug Abuse has not developed ownership of this programme and is not able to reach effectively the needy groups and the needy areas, as per the demand.

Caring for the Other Disadvantaged

Keeping in view the National Policy for Older Persons, 1999 services of supportive nature need to be developed at the local level. To this effect, NGOs and local bodies both in urban and rural area, should be strengthened and accepted as instruments for the delivery of services.

Towards the well-being of the Street Children, one of the important initiatives taken during 1998-99 is the introduction of Child Line Services by dialing ‘1098’. This service is a 24 hour free phone service to all, in the major cities of the country. To address the various needs and problems of street children, apart from the NGOs, efforts are being made to involve Corporate Sector.

State Sector

In the State Sector, a wide range of social welfare programmes are being implemented to address to the prevailing magnitude and nature of the problems, without any perspective. Thus, there is an urgent need to review these programmes keeping in view the emerging social problems and changing socio-cultural milieu of the region.

Role of NGOs

Keeping in view the nature and magnitude of the problems in the Social Welfare Sector, NGOs have been involved in the implementation of various Programmes. Their role as motivators / facilitators which enables the community to chalk out an effective strategy for tackling social problems need to be further strengthened.

Resource Position

The pace of progress during the first three years of the Ninth Plan could not reach the expected level mainly due to the delays in launching new starts. The new programmes now coming into action during the year 1999-2000 are expected to improve the position with regard to utilization of plan allocations in the Sector.