The Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED) was launched by the Union Social Justice Minister Virendra Kumar in February 2021. The main aim of the scheme is to provide free competitive exam coaching, health insurance, housing assistance, and livelihood initiatives to the De-notified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic (DNT) communities in India. An amount of INR 200 crore (approx. $27 million) has been allocated for the scheme, to be spent over five years from FY 2021-22 to FY 2025-26.
The DNT communities in India have a history of being one of the most deprived and economically weaker communities in the country. This can be traced back to the enactment of the Criminal Tribes Act in 1871 during British rule, which led to the persecution and neglect of these communities. As a result, they were forced to abandon their traditional occupations and were left without state support. Despite efforts to bring these communities into the mainstream, they have not benefited much from the planned development of India over the past seven decades.
Purpose of the SEED Scheme:
The SEED scheme has been formulated with four components to support the livelihoods of the DNT communities. These include:
- Educational empowerment: This component aims to provide free coaching to students from these communities for civil services exams, as well as entry to professional courses such as medicine, engineering, and MBA.
- Health insurance: The SEED scheme aims to provide health insurance to DNT communities through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) of the National Health Authority.
- Livelihoods: This component of the SEED scheme aims to support income generation for DNT communities.
- Housing: The SEED scheme aims to provide housing assistance to DNT communities through the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and Indira Awas Yojana (IAY).
Implementation of the SEED Scheme:
The Development and Welfare Board for DNTs, SNTs &NTs (DWBDNCs) has been tasked with the implementation of the SEED scheme. To facilitate the registration process, the Department has developed an online portal that serves as a repository of data on these communities and provides real-time status updates to applicants. Payment to beneficiaries will be made directly into their accounts.
Status of the SEED Scheme:
As of December 26, 2021, a total of over 5,400 applications had been received under the SEED scheme. However, none of these applications have been approved and no amount has been sanctioned. It is not clear why the scheme has not yet been implemented, but it is likely that the delay is due to administrative issues.
The SEED scheme is a welcome initiative aimed at providing support to the DNT communities in India, who have historically been marginalized and neglected. However, it is disappointing to see that the scheme has not yet been implemented, despite being launched several months ago. It is important for the government to expedite the process and ensure that the benefits of the scheme reach the intended beneficiaries as soon as possible.
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