Raja Sekhar Vundru

Raja Sekhar Vundru's Writings

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Location: New Delhi, India

Ph.D on Dr.Ambedkar's Electoral System from the National Law School, Bangalore (NLSUI) Currently working as Deputy Director General, UIDAI, Government of India , New Delhi +911123752322 (office)

Monday, July 13, 2009

ARTICLES BY OTHERS : Show me the money


D. Raja

Published in the Indian Express, New Delhi, July 09, 2009 Op-ed


In the run-up to Budget 2009, there was a demand to increase the allocation of funds for Dalits in the country under the Special Component Plan. Whether these demands have reached him or not, the Finance Minister promptly submitted a budget which reduced the SCP allocation for Dalits by 18 per cent.

Special Central Assistance to the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan is the single most important scheme for the Dalits, and the lion’s share of the budget of the Ministry for Social Justice is generally set aside and it is used exclusively for the economic upliftment of Dalits. What is inexplicable is that the SCA budget fell from Rs 577.71 crores in 2008-09 to Rs 469 crores in the 2009-10 budget.

Ironically, few weeks before the budget exercise, the Congress party, in its new found love for Dalits, visited and dined with Dalits in their basties in Uttar Pradesh. Probably in return, the budget launched a new scheme called Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) with a gap funding of just ten lakh rupees per village for a thousand villages. This budget is pittance to what Uttar Pradesh spends under Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojana started in 1991 with more than ten thousand villages, from which the PMAGY is inspired. The budget set aside this year is a mere Rs 100 crores for PMAGY. While this scheme claims that there are 44,000 villages with more than 50 percent SC population in India, the 2001 census shows only 28,672.

The love for Dalits of the Congress party is not evident from the allocations in the 2009 budget. The Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship supports Dalits who pursue M.Phil and Ph.D degrees. The fellowship allocation fell by 10 per cent — contrary to the increased demand for the scheme; the same scholarship increased by Rs 13 crores with regard to tribals.

Self-employment schemes for the liberation and rehabilitation of scavengers fell by 3 per cent and a trifle Rs 4 crores was increased for post-matric scholarships for Dalits from the 2008-09 budget. The enthusiasm shown in promises to eradicate all slums in the next three years is completely absent in liberating the hapless lakhs of scavengers who even today carry night soil in various towns in the country. The allocations to SC boys and girls hostels were given a token one crore increase, and non government organisations got a mere 40 lakhs increase.

Interestingly while the allocation for the Ministry of Minority Affairs increased by Rs 1076 crores and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs by Rs1235 crores, the allocation for Dalits increased only by a mere 77 crores. Further, the total allocation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) fell from Rs 195.53 to 192.47 crores. This seems to be a new way to get back at OBCs too. What is perplexing is there seems to be no relation between population percentages of the disadvantaged sections of the society and their allocations. Scheduled Castes, who compromise 16.2 per cent of the population, get only Rs. 1767 crores, even though a majority of them live below the poverty line.

Skill development of the weaker sections was shown as a priority by the government only to sideline the issue in the budget. The entire action under the so-called National Skill Development Mission is restricted to upgrading existing polytechnics leaving millions of unskilled unemployed youth high and dry in their pursuit to acquire skills. The full interest subsidy scheme on education loans does not even mention the allocation for SC, ST, minorities and the disabled. It does not consider the loans obtained by parents for sending their children abroad.

Lastly, the veiled threat to the public sector undertakings (PSUs) which are the employment providers to millions of Dalits, tribals and minorities has finally come out. The sweet talk of “people’s participation” in disinvestment of PSUs is nothing but a farce and a scam in the making. Who these “people” are, is any body’s guess. They will be the corporate sector in disguise who will “disinvest” the PSUs to the detriment of the profit-making units. The budget mentions no safeguards. The government should actually sell off the stakes to “people” among SCs, STs, and minorities and empower them economically. This will be the true meaning of disinvestment for the “people.”

The Congress party has never stopped throwing crumbs at the weaker sections just to make them believe in their programmes. The budget in this second phase of the UPA is an eye opener, more so on the Dalit front. The shared sweets and food at the Dalit basties in Uttar Pradesh on June 19, 2009 has already turned stale. By the next year there will be no Dalits to offer lunch after the farce the budget has pulled off on these gullible poor people. To quote Indira Gandhi, “ You can’t shake hands with a clenched fist.” Better learn.

The writer is National Secretary, CPI and a Rajya Sabha MP


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