Programmes/Schemes for Certain Sections of Society
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is committed towards the educational, economic, social development of the weaker sections of society as also of minorities, the old-aged, children and the disabled.
There is a National Commission for the Scheduled Castes (reconstituted in 2007) which monitors and safeguards the interests of people belonging to the Scheduled Castes. The Protection of Civil Right, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989 guard their interests while the Parliamentary Committee keeps reviewing their welfare from time to time. The Scheduled Castes people are provided with all educational facilities (Pre and Postmatric scholarships with monthly and annual grants, fellowships schemes, and free coaching, hostel facilities).
Their economic development include the Special Central Assistance Sub Plan (SCSP) with the National Scheduled Caste Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) providing financial assistance on concessional loans (upto 31.03.2012, disbursed ` 2302.11 crore to over 7.50 lakh beneficiaries); the Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers.
All these are in addition to the Constitutional and legal safeguards prescribed by the government.
There are classes notified as socially and educationally backward classes by the State Governments or those that may be notified as such by the Central Government from time to time. The ministry is mandated to look after the welfare of backward classes, by implementing schemes for Backward Classes. The Ministry also deals with the National Backward Classes Commission (NCBC) which was set up in 1993. The Commission tenders advice to the Ministry in respect of castes, sub-castes, synonyms and communities for inclusion in/from the central list of Other Backward Classes.
The National Commission for Economically Backward Classes has been reconstituted with a mandate to submit its report within six months from the date of appointment of its chairperson with specific terms of reference. The OBCs are also given pre and post-matric scholarships, educational loans, hostels for OBCs boys and girls and other fellowships. their economic development facilities include reservation in service’25.
Person with Disabilities
The National Policy for Persons with Disabilities (2005) focuses on the prevention of disabilities, the physical and economic and educational rehabilitation. The Act of 1995 deals with the protection and promotion of their interests. The chief commissioner is a statutory functionary who coordinates all activities relating to such people. The reservation is provided to such people in all the services. The National Handicapped Finance and Development Corporation provides these people with loan on concessional rates; they are given financial assistance for their appliances.
The Social Defence Bureau caters to the needs of :
- Neglected and marginalized people.
- Abandoned destitute.
- Neglected and delinquent juveniles who need care and protection for want of support or are in conflict with the society or the law.
- Drug addicts and offenders.
- The aged and a host of the others who need special care, protection and support.
- The programmes and the policies of the Bureau aim at equipping this group to sustain a life of respect and honour and become useful citizens.
The National Policy for older persons (NPOP) was announced in January 1999, with the primary objective to encourage individuals to make provision for their own as well as their spouse’s old age; to encourage families to take care of their older family members;
- to enable and support voluntary and non-governmental organizations to supplement the care provided by the family;
- to provide care and protection to the vulnerable elderly people; to provide health care facility to the elderly;
- to promote research and training facilities to train geriatric care givers and organisers of services for the elderly;
- and to create awareness regarding elderly persons to develop them into fully independent citizens.
The Scheduled Tribes belonging to the schedule areas and tribal areas receive full attention from all the governmental agencies. The fifth schedule identifies the areas and the tribes in order to grant them all types of facilities. The tribal plans are formulated and implemented by the States of northeast India. Educational and economic facilities are given to STs.
The Minorities are to obtain all help from the government. The Prime Minister’s New 15 Point programme (2006) extends all types of assistance to the minorities especially in the field of education, employment and protection/promotion of their culture. The government is alive to the recommendations of the Sachhar Committee.
The Prime Minister’s 15 Point Programme has certain objectives which include
(a) Enhancing opportunities for education,
(b) Ensuring Indian Polity and Governance’145 an equitable share for minorities in economic activities and employment, through existing and new schemes, enhanced credit support for self-employment and recruitment to State and Central Government jobs,
(c) Improving their conditions of living by ensuring an appropriate share for them in infrastructure development schemes,
(d) Prevention and control of communal disharmony and violence. An important aim of the new programme with regard to the minorities is to ensure that the benefits of various government schemes for the underprivileged reach them. In order to ensure that the benefits of these schemes flow equitably to the minorities, the new programme envisages location of certain proportion of development projects in minority concentration areas. It also provides that, wherever possible, 15 per cent of targets and financial outlays under various schemes should be earmarked for minorities.
Women and Children
The development of women and children is of paramount importance which, in fact, sets the pace for overall development. A separate ministry of Women and Child Development came into existence in January 2006 with the prime intention of addressing gaps in state action for women and children and for promoting inter-ministerial and inter-sectoral convergence to create gender equitable and child centred legislation, policies and programmes. The Ministry has the responsibility to advance the rights and concerns of women and children and to promote their survival, protection, development and participation in a holistic manner.
Various schemes for women have been launched. Notable among them are Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (MCS), ‘Priyadarshini’, ‘Swadhar’. The SABLA is a new Centrally sponsored scheme for the adolescent girls for the age group of 11 to 18. Stree Shakti Purasakar is given in the name of brave Indian women. For the welfare of the children, numerous schemes have been launched. Till 2005, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) had covered only 50ft of the inhabitants in India. The ICDS Scheme has been expanded in three phases in the years 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2008-09 to cover all habitations reaching upto 14 lakh AWWs (Anganwadi Welfare Women) in 7076 approved projects. Of these, 7076 projects, 13.70 lakh AWWs have been sanctioned. As on 31.4.2012, 6908 projects and 13.11 lakh AWWs are operational. The BJP led NDA government (2014) is committed to zero-tolerance policy on violence against women, reservation of seats for women in the legislature, and ‘beti bachao, beti-padhao’ schemes.
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