The Scheduled Castes (SCs) are one of the most vulnerable groups and are seen as low castes in the social strata, since the Hindu social order is a caste hierarchical order. Historically, the SCs have been denied access and right to productive resources like land, forests, capital and other community resources. Further, the prevalence of caste based discrimination and the practice of untouchability against the SCs hinder their access to basic minimum facilities like education, health care, drinking water etc, thus weakening their socio-economic prosperity over the period.
It was in 1979-80 that the Government of India for the first time made special provisions under the five year plan to make efforts for furthering the progress of SCs, who lived a in a state of neglect. The sixth five-year plan (1980-85) for the first time came up with the concept of special component plan (now SC Sub-Plan) to ensure that all-embracing justice is meted out to SCs. This became essential after the Government of India realized that the fruits of development were failing to reach the SCs during the five-year plans between 1951 and 1980, as also three annual plans.
The main objective underlying SCSP strategy was to channelize plan funds for the development of the SCs, in proportion to their shares in the total population. After almost three-decades since the introduction of SCSP, there remain serious gaps in the implementation of this strategy both at the level of the Union Government as well as at the level of different States. What were envisaged as key instruments for bringing about an improvement in the status of SCs has not been implemented properly in all these years. From being envisioned as ‘planning’ strategies aimed at addressing the key developmental deficits and disadvantages being faced by SCs, the approach has been restricted to being an ex-post accounting exercise, fraught with issues such as lack of requisite planning and policy formulation, inadequate allocations, poor utilization and diversion of allocated funds etc.
The Planning Commission of India has issued guidelines to the ministries of the Union government and all the state governments to ensure that a plan allocation for the development of SCs is proportional to their share in the total population of the state.
Status of SCSP implementation in various states and Union Territories 2012-13
As per the guidelines issued by the Planning Commission in 2005, concerned States/ Union Territories (UTs) are required to earmark funds under SCSP from the plan outlay at least in proportion to the percentage of SC population in the State/UT. As informed by the Planning Commission, 28 State/UTs are implementing SCSP strategy. The detail of funds allocated and utilized during 2012-13 was submitted in the Rajya Sabha by the minister of state, ministry of social justice and empowerment, on July 31, 2014.
The information was given under the title “Non-Implementation of Special Component Plan by all States”. The information submitted in Parliament pertains to states’ plan outlay, outlay made for SCSP and anticipated expenditure in year 2012-13. An attempt has been made to ascertain, whether each state has made plan outlay for implementation of SCSP as per the share of SC population in their respective state, b. whether states have utilized the plan outlay by the year end, c. what is the amount of denial of budget share for SCSP. The population of SCs as per census 2011 has been taken as verifying the percentage share of population in plan outlay for SCSP in each state in year 2012-13.
Out of 28 States and UTs, implementing SCSP, As per latest available data for the Plan outlay and anticipated expenditure (Utilization) in year 2012-13 under SCSP, Eight states and two UTs made more outlay than the proportionate population of Schedule castes in the respective states namely (Bihar (994.17 crore), Goa (14.1 crore), Jammu and Kashmir (191.94 crore), Kerala (99.47 crore), Odhisa (4.11 crore), Tamil Nandu (508.61 crore), UP(258.61 crore), Delhi(240.46 crore), Daman and Diu(3.17 crore) and Puducherry (22.68 crore).
Out of these 8 states and 2 UTs, only Kerala spent 100% plan out lay under SCSP and Daman and Diu among the UTs spent 100% of outlay, whereas Delhi came closer to cent percent by spending 98.88% of the plan outlay under SCSP.
As most the states have failed in spending the plan outlay for the development and welfare of the schedule castes people in their respective states only 4 states and 2 UTs could spend 100% plan outlay under the SCSP. The states, which spent 100% plan outlays, are Himachal Pradesh, Karanataka, Kerala and Tripura, and UTs are Chandigarh and Daman and Diu spent 100% plan outlay.
Four states spent/utilized between 90.1% and 99%, the states are Delhi (98.88%), Maharashtra (95.49%), Andhra Pradesh (91.11%), and Madhya Pradesh (90.55%).
Six states have reported utilization between 80.1 to 90%, these states are Rajasthan (88.79%), Tamil Nandu (88.48%), Gujarat (85.18%), Odhisha (85.06%), Bihar (81.29%) and Assam (80.12%).
The other set of six states have spent SCSP’s outlay between 70.1 to 80% these states are Jharkhand (80%), Sikkim (79.74%), Manipur (77.32%), Haryana (76.92%), West Bengal (74.20%), and Uttar Pradesh (70.71%).
The expenditure for Punjab and Chhattisgarh states’ is 67.48% and 66.38% respectively. The states likely to have less than 50% expenditure under SCSP are Goa (48.08%), Uttrakhand (33.86%) and Puducherry (24.62%). The utilization data of SCSP for Jammu & Kashmir State is not reported.
From the expenditure (utilization) of 2012-13 under SCSP in respective states and UTs, eight states and two UTs made more plan outlay than the proportionate population of Schedule castes in the respective states’ plan outlay, only Kerala, Daman and Diu spent 100% of plan outlay.
It is well established from the above analysis, that most of the states have not implemented the SCSP as strategy for the development and welfare in true spirit by making an outlay proportionate to the cchedule caste population of the state and do not spend fully whatever outlay has been earmarked under SCSP.
Denial of due share in plan outlay
As the SCSP is a plan strategy to channelize plan funds for the development of the SCs, in proportion to their shares in the total population and there is guideline for the same, therefore, every state must allocate plan outlay for implementation of SCSP as per the provision. States/UTs, not earmarking plan outlay as per provision, thereby, deny the Schedule Caste people their due share of finance for the development.
As the states on their own are not going to implement the SCSP in true letter and spirit, very few states have made allocation as per the population proportionate of schedule caste people the respective state. The plan outlays are not as per the population norms and whatever plan outlay is made, the entire amount is not fully utilized. The most of states incur higher percentage of expenditure of SCSP is of notional nature like construction of highway, allocation for major and medium irrigation, urban development and others, the notional expenditure facilitate the building of state’s infrastructure and provides the services and amenities to all. The notional type of expenditure should be done from the state’s general budget. The SCSP should be spared for welfare and development of schedule caste people and their habitations.
The critical need of the hour is to look at the situation of schedule caste communities and assess the urgent need for reforms to elevate them out of the poverty. When the SCSP was crafted, there was hope of bridging the gap that exists between SC communities, and other more advanced groups; however this remains only a hope even today. The implementation of this policy is poor and there have been gross diversions. The effective implementation of the bill would have a huge impact on communities; it will work like magic on ensuring economic stability and contribute to the growth of the nation. Of course legislation alone is not an end in itself but effective implementation is key to the overall development of the communities. It is to be noted that Andhra Pradesh has been the first state in India to pass legislation on Scheduled Caste Sub Plan and Tribal Sub Plan in January, 2012. Albeit with flaws and gaps in it, however their efforts ought to be applauded. Karnataka state has also passed similar legislation.
Therefore, it is very much need of hour to legislate the SCSP for planning, allocation and implementation for the development and welfare of SC at the Union and state level for ensuring proper financial resources for the socio-economic development of SCs and removing the huge gap between the SCs and socially advances castes. Similarly, there is urgent need of TSP legislation to ensure socio-economic development of adivasis by properly planning, allocating and implementing sub plan for them.