December 06, 2015

SC,STs Lag Behind in all Parameters of Development

Below we reproduce the excerpts from the speech made by Jitendra Chaudhury, Lok Sabha MP from Tripura on November 27 who spoke on discussion on commitment to India’s constitution as part of 125th birth anniversary celebration of Dr BR Ambedkar.

TODAY we are celebrating the 125th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar. He was one of the pillars of the makers of our Constitution.  We are discussing as to how we are implementing the Constitution, which we officially accepted on January 26, 1950, in today’s circumstances and how the people of our country are enjoying the fruits of this Constitution.

The two pillars or the great strength of our Constitution are the fundamental rights and the directive principles.  The fundamental rights talk about providing equality of status, enough opportunity, abolition of untouchability, freedom and remedies for the enforcement of the rights.  The directive principles talk about envisaging a broad guiding framework for fair distribution of wealth and better living conditions.

In this perspective, we should see how far these two strengths of the very Constitution have been implemented in our country.  Since this morning, a number of speakers have lauded the Constitution makers for having given us this Constitution.  We should not forget that the spirit of the Constitution is not only the brain or the contribution of these few people but it also has the legacy of the freedom struggle.   Actually, the desires of scores of people who laid down their lives, who struggled for the independence, have been reflected in the spirit of the Constitution.  

I would like to take some advantage of the presence of the head of the government and say that we have to really see how the very principle of the Constitution is being implemented.

If we see, our Constitution has provided some nomenclatures to certain sections of people like the most backward, SC/ST, minorities, etc.  These constitute 85 percent of the population and others are 15 percent only.  But in all respects like government offices, politics, ruling classes, share of wealth, etc, everywhere this composition is not matching.  It is just the reverse.  Why is it so? It is because we failed to implement properly the mandate of the Constitution.  We have failed to create that kind of atmosphere so that the downtrodden people could enjoy the fruits of the Constitution.  

In the Constitution, the fundamental rights talk about keeping the goal of social equality in all parameters.  Those parameters are economic, education, occupation, housing, health, nutrition, etc, for those sections of people who are living in rural areas and urban areas. We have to see whether these parameters are being fulfilled.  Our prime minister was in Kerala on February 9, 2014 for the centenary celebrations of the historic ‘Kayal Samaram’ struggle for dalits, at Kochi.  At that time, he said that dalits, adivasis and backward classes have not got their due in the last 60 years and that he will take it upon himself to fulfil this promise.  No time should be lost in taking specific steps to implement that.  If this is the desire of the government, definitely we should review it.  

Still atrocities are happening on the SCs, STs and other backward classes.  To prevent that kind of atrocities, a Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on August 4, 2015.  This is the only specific legislation which has been taken up by this government for SCs and STs in the last one and a half years.  But this process has not yet been completed as it has not been moved in the Rajya Sabha.  So today while we are discussing it, this aspect should also be discussed.  

Then, there is the question of development.  There was some mechanism when the Planning Commission used to exist.  At that time, there was a provision for SC Component Plan and Tribal Sub-Plan.  But if we see the last two budgets of this government, we would find that it has been grossly violated and that spirit has not been maintained there.  If we see the budget figures of this financial year, under Tribal Sub-Plan, the figure was supposed to be Rs 50,000 crore; it has been reduced to Rs 19,980 crore which is less by more than 50 percent.  Then how could the anger expressed by the prime minister be contained?  So, it has to be reviewed.  

Similarly, a number of speakers spoke about education.  The underprivileged people have to be provided the facilities for good education, good schools, etc.  Then the post-matric scholarship is there.   Here also, in 2015-16, it has been reduced to Rs 720 crore only whereas in 2011-12 – four years ago – it was Rs 865 crore.  

How come then there is a cut in the promotional schemes meant for  the education of the under-privileged dalits, adivasis? This matter should be discussed today. 

There is another issue. Owing to privatisation and because of a lot of amendments, there has been a serious encroachment on the rights of education, particularly in higher education. It is going to be commercialised. The scope of education for the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs and also of the other poorer sections, not just people in the reserved category, is getting minimised. So, what will happen to the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the OBCs? A new clause 5 in Article 15 was inserted in the 93rd Amendment in 2005 for the purpose of providing reservation in higher educational institutions and even in the private sector. I do not blame the present government for this but the previous government was also responsible for that. Since today we are discussing these issues on the occasion of the 125th birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, some assurance should come from the government.  

Following the court judgement of 2012 regarding reservation in promotion during the UPA government, there has been a lot of embargo. Many state governments are not providing reservation to people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The courts have their own say. The Constitution should come up with a clear verdict about how the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes can get the benefit in promotion and get a clear road for their elevation. Unless this happens, the topic on which we are discussing today about the upliftment of people and improvement of social quality and giving social justice will have no meaning. 

One of my friends from the TDP mentioned that nowadays because of the policies of the government everything is going to be privatised. The shares of the profit making PSUs are being sold to the private companies. So, there is no scope in the public sector for expanding the job opportunities. If government’s objective is only to improve the economy and generate employment in the private sector, then government should come up with a policy and make provisions whereby the people belonging to the backward sections of society would get job opportunities even in the private sector. This would be the right occasion to announce there would be reservation in the services for the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in private sector. Unless that is done the people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will never have an opportunity to get a job in our country. 

Since I am from the north east and you would know that the north eastern states, there are many issues which has not been resolved till today since the early 50s and 60s. The state of Manipur is burning. Other north eastern states also are facing problems. Though in our state we have been able to bring back normalcy, yet to remove the pains of the very downtrodden people of our society we need to do something. During the 60s, by the 6th Amendment there has been provision made in the Constitution to enable the governance of certain areas by people who are dominantly living there, where they have the majority and lands are occupied by them. But owing to present economic and other things, slowly the pressure on the land has been enormous. 

The provisions made under the Sixth Schedule are not sufficient or suffice to maintain matters regarding land.  That is why, it becomes difficult for the Autonomous Council to control the land under them and to safeguard after their language, culture and economy, etc.  So, the Sixth Schedule should also be amended suitably so that this particular section of people will enjoy the fruits of independence and our Constitution.  

While the home minister was delivering his speech, he talked about women empowerment. A number of women members from this side and that side also are present here. The words, empowerment of women, have been chanted here.  Everybody was eager to hear whether home minister will declare that, during this session or during the period of NDA-II government, the pending Women  Reservation Bill will be passed or not. I think at the end of the discussion, definitely, the prime minister will definitely speak.  Unless these very important issues are not addressed even after 68 years  of independence and 65 years of our acceptance of our Constitution, our country will still be lagging behind and struggling with disparities. Why should there be such a situation?  It is because certain sections of our population including women, SCs and STs, etc, are not guided and governed according to the provisions of the Constitution, the desire of our freedom fighters and outstanding leaders who framed this Constitution for our country. 

So, on behalf of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), I request this house and the government in particular that these crucial and important aspects should be taken into consideration.   Only in this way, we will pay our regards and respect to the great Dr BR Ambedkar and others who were behind the framing of our Constitution.