DSMM Submits Memorandum on the Special Sitting of Parliament
The following is the memorandum sent to Venkaiah Naidu, minister for parliamentary affairs and Rajnath Singh, minister for home, Government of India on November 24, 2015 by the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch regarding the issues to be raised in the special sitting of parliament held on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar.
THE proposed beginning of the winter session of parliament with a special sitting on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar is a welcome step by the government.
According to the media reports, the first two days have been allotted for a special sitting to discuss on Ambedkar and Constitution. We hope this decision will be implemented in the true spirit as espoused by Dr Ambedkar. We urge upon the government to extend the special sitting to five days instead of two days so that justice is done to the important agendas.
DSMM feels that it is not enough to confine to just holding a discussion. This special sitting should take steps for the betterment of the position of dalits in our country. Therefore, we appeal the Government of India to seriously look into the issues concerning dalits and make the needed laws in advancing social justice as was dreamt by Dr Ambedkar. For that, we are suggesting the following points to be considered for agenda for this special sitting of parliament.
RESERVATIONS FOR DALITS
IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR
When we look at the number of SCs and STs in private sector jobs, it is very low. The CII Survey of the Private Sector’s Manpower (2011) has revealed that the proportion of SC and ST employees in the private sector in some of the most industrialised states hardly reflects their population strength in those states. For example, SCs and STs make up 19.1 percent of Maharashtra’s population, but their share in private sector employment is only 5 percent. In Gujarat and Karnataka, SCs and STs are around 9 percent of the total private sector staff strength, but together account for 22 percent and 23 percent respectively of the populations of these two states. This number is even less in sectors like IT.
Almost all the private sector firms depend on the government for providing them with subsidised land, power and other incentives, but refuse to implement any welfare measures for the people. The government should enact a legislation mandating the provision of reservations for SC/STs in the private sector. It should also extend reservations to all the Scheduled Caste people irrespective of their religion.
PROVIDE STATUTORY STATUS
TO THE SC/ST SUB-PLAN
The Scheduled Castes Special Component Plan which is now called Sub-Plan (SCSP) is a crucial initiative in closing the development gap between the Scheduled Castes and the others. It is an important budgetary provision for dalits. The mandated allocations in proportion to their population ratio have never been made by the government. Experience shows that even the meagre allocations for the welfare of the dalits are also not spent fully. There also have been several glaring cases of diversion of SCSP funds for entirely different uses like construction of flyovers, Commonwealth Games etc. It is clear that the SCSP has been widely violated in actual practice, which the government itself had admitted in the 12th Plan document. In order to ensure an effective implementation of the SCSP, there is an urgent need to enact a national level legislation to provide statutory backing to the provisions of the SCSP. The government should enact a legislation providing statutory backing to the SCSP.
PASS THE SC/ST
POA BILL 2015
The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Bill 2015 which is pending in the Rajya Sabha should be passed in this session. Attacks on dalits continue to rise all over the country. The growing consciousness among dalits is sought to be met with brutal oppression and atrocities. Tardy investigation, huge pendency of cases and low conviction rate, negative and reluctant attitude of investigating officers, political interference in the cases registered under the Act are the major bottlenecks in curbing the crime on dalits.
There is a need for legislation for reservation for SCs, STs and BCs in professional, technical and other higher education institutions in the private sector. The 93rd Amendment inserting new Clause (5) in Article 15 was enacted in 2005 for this very purpose. The implementation of that Constitutional amendment has been evaded in the last 10 years causing great loss to the SCs, STs and also BCs and undue and excessive profits to the owners of private colleges and private universities.
FILL UP ALL
All the backlogs in reserved seats and posts and in promotions for SCs, STs and OBCs must be filled forthwith with special recruitment drives within a specified time frame.
NATIONAL MISSION FOR
ERADICATION OF UNTOUCHABILITY
Formulate a special mission to eradicate untouchability as there is a need to take up a nationwide special propaganda campaign against social discrimination and untouchability. In the mid-day meal scheme either the cook or the server should be an SC woman. Resistance from any quarters should be firmly repelled.
The following legislations also need to be moved in the parliament and be passed:
PROTECTION OF LANDS
ASSIGNED TO SC/STS
Alienation of lands belonging to Scheduled Castes should not be allowed in any Act or form. Legislation for prohibiting purchase or occupation in any form of SC lands by non-SCs should be made. Scheduled Tribes Land Transfer Regulations (STLTRs)/legislations should be made in states where such regulations/legislations do not exist and strengthening of existing STLTRs/legislations and/or National Legislation prohibiting purchase or occupation of ST lands by non-STs should be made.
In 2004, the president of India made a solemn commitment to provide land to all rural SC families in his address to the joint session of the parliament. But even the solemn presidential commitment has been ignored.
A governors’ committee under the chairmanship of Dr PC Alexander has found that there is adequate land, including land to be reclaimed, with the government to provide a viable extent of land for every SC family. Along with this, landless ST families also should be provided lands. This is an old national commitment which has not been fulfilled.
NATIONAL PROGRAMME OF MINOR IRRIGATION
FOR ALL LANDS OF SCS AND STS
This is another national commitment of 2004 which has not been fulfilled. In this regard also, the solemn commitment of the president made in his address to the joint session of parliament in 2004 has been ignored.
Provision of viable assets for SCs in urban areas most of whom are casual labourers and in the unorganised sector, example: ownership of rickshaws/cycle-rickshaws/ auto-rickshaws for those plying/driving them on hire basis should be made.
Massive skill development programme specifically covering SCs and STs, along with all necessary resource-related, finance-related, management-related and market-related linkages should be formulated.
ENSURE HOUSING FOR ALL SC FAMILIES
IN BOTH URBAN & RURAL AREAS
A massive programme of housing for all SC families and provision of all essential facilities for all SC localities/habitations, rural as well as urban, like safe drinking water supply, electricity, sanitary toilets which do not require to be serviced by manual scavengers, drains, sanitation, all-weather internal roads, and all-weather link roads to all places they have to go to, including schools, market places, funeral places (in many villages they do not even have funeral ground where they can bury/cremate their dead in peace), etc should be undertaken and completed.
ELECTRICITY TO ALL
To ensure that the SC and ST bastis in all urban and rural dalit habitations are to be electrified within two years. This is necessary because it is not uncommon for a village to be electrified and the Dalit basti and Adivasi basti to be in darkness. This is one dimension of “Untouchability” and discrimination.
ENSURE AVAILABILITY OF CREDIT FROM
BANKS TO UNEMPLOYED SC/ST YOUTH
Union Budget allocated Rs 200 crores for credit enhancement facility for young start-up entrepreneurs from SCs to be operationalised through Industrial Finance Corporation of India Ltd (IFCI). The scheme will have to provide not only credit, but there will have to be a system of guidance, training and initial hand-holding until sustainable take-off. The IFCI should tie up with banks so that the start-up capital credit will be supported by a system for the smooth, timely and adequate flow of working capital through a tripartite agreement. Further, this should be tied with the 4% reservation provided for SC and ST entrepreneurs in Central Government purchases under Ministry of Micro, Medium and Small Industries.
No fees of any type should be charged from SC and ST students, irrespective of family income, from primary to post graduate level, by any government and aided schools, unaided private schools, and government aided and private colleges / universities / other institutions of higher and professional education.
Increased outlay for SC and ST hostels to create a net-work of hostels with wide coverage, along with provision of 1 percent of the total central grants for SC and ST hostels to meet the cost for post-construction maintenance, security and administrative support for the hostels, and Non-Plan budget share to meet the essential needs of SC and ST hostels including their upgradation to satisfactory standards and regular maintenance and upkeep should be made.
Provision of quality coaching for SC and ST students in good professional coaching centres (where such coaching centres are not available, they should be set up with remuneration for teachers equal to those of good professional coaching centres), without any unrealistic family income-ceiling should be made.
IMPROVING HEALTH STATUS
OF SCs AND STs
Health and medical personnel and mobile units should cover all SC and ST habitations (and isolated BC habitations) in situ first before moving to the rest of the village and similarly slums and other habitations of SC and STs.
Mandatorily provide safe drinking water source within the SC and ST habitations/localities. Wherever health centres or units are established locally, they should be located in or adjacent to SC bastis, ST hamlets and isolated BC habitations. In view of higher infant mortality (IMR) and under-5 mortality rate (U5MR), severe malnutrition, and greater vulnerability of SC and ST children in all parameters, and reality of their being left out on account of persistent attitudes based on “untouchability” on the part of a number of health-providers, priority should be given to SC and ST children in schemes for children, particularly girl children.
We urge the government to take steps to make this sitting fruitful in terms of improving the status of the dalits and enact legislations as have been demanded in this winter session of parliament itself.