Assess, audit of all current schemes for Dalits to support access to social and economic rights

dalitxExcerpts from “Joint Stakeholder Report on Caste Based Discrimination in India” to the 27th Session of the Universal Periodic Review of the UN Human Rights Council – India (III UPR Cycle- May 2017), Submitted by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR):

The Indian Constitution prohibits discrimination in employment and commits to promoting the economic interests of SCs.  In particular, Article 16(2) allows for 15% reservation for SCs to enable their participation in government services, educational institutions and political bodies. From this mandate, derives India’s elaborate quota system for public jobs, places in publicly funded colleges and elected assemblies for communities marginalized on the basis of caste or tribal status.  In addition, section 3(1) (v) PoA Act punishes discrimination in access to employment on the basis of caste, such as wrongfully dispossessing an SC person from their land.

Section 4(I), (IV) and (viii) of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) or PCR Act prohibits interference with the right to access water and other public services on the basis of untouchability. India also has numerous state and national-level social welfare schemes in place, including programmes to provide financial assistance and access to housing, water and sanitation, livelihood development training, legal aid and scholarships. In addition the government has passed Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act 2013.

Status of implementation: Employment

India’s elaborate quota system has had some measurable impact upon employment of Dalit communities in civil servant positions. While in 1965, Dalits held just 1.6% of senior civil servant positions, this number rose to 11.5% since 2011—far closer to the 16% or so of India’s general population represented by Dalit communities. Despite the presence of social welfare schemes aimed at alleviating poverty and facilitating access to resources, however, due to low literacy levels and systematic caste-based discrimination, Dalits face difficulties in accessing these schemes.

For instance, a 2013 survey of 480 women from Dalit communities who practice manual scavenging  in the Indian states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh, undertaken by Jan Sahas Social Development Society, found: 75% of respondents did not have access to health services and only 4% of respondents were assisted to construct houses under the Indira Awaas Yojana Scheme.  Despite provisions protecting the right to education for all children in India, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, children of 62% of respondents, and in Madhya Pradesh children of 51% of respondents did not go to school.

Of the total rural SC workers, more than 60% are wage labourers and there is significant discrimination of SCs in hiring and wage payments.

There were 25,037 ‘backlog’ posts for SCs lying vacant in 73 government departments and bodies. These are positions reserved for SC members that have not been filled over the years and thus have accumulated. They include both direct recruitment and promotion-based positions. Out of these, 4,518 positions were vacant because no candidate was available for promotion

There is a lack of a comprehensive employment anti-discrimination framework that adequately addresses the myriad ways in which discrimination operates. The existing legal protections against such discrimination include constitutional provisions mandating equality and a handful of criminal statutes. There is no umbrella anti-discrimination employment statute to regulate the private sector in India


Manual Scavenging

Continuation of manual scavenging in India is violation of Constitutional rights and measures to address are piecemeal.

Child Labour

SC children face multiple forms of discrimination, violence and social exclusion. When it comes to employment of Child Labour, It is reported that out of the estimated 60 million-child labourers, 40 % come from Dalit families.

Disaster Risk Management

SCs and STs are vulnerable to the natural and human-made disasters because of their marginal social standing and discrimination and their habitation in marginal spaces segregated form mainstream .

Economic rights- Budget Allocation 

In order to bridge the gap between the Dalits/Adivasis and other castes, the government of India crafted a policy called the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and Tribal Sub Plan (TSP). This year, 2016-17, the allocations for SC under the Union Budget 2016 is only 7.6% when the due amount under SCSP budget should be 16.8% which should amount to Rs.91,301 and 8.6% under TSP which should amount to Rs.47,300 Crs. Thus denying a total of Rs 75,764 crore

Funds are often not allocated under the SCSP in proportion to the population of SCs in the state/country. Moreover, a large amount of funds under SCSP are being allocated for general programmes and schemes, which are not specifically designed for SCs with fixed, realistic targets .

The bulk of SCSP funds are more for social services (e.g. education, health) that are ‘survival in nature’. Large funds are not being allocated for economic sectors that are ‘developmental in nature’ (e.g. entrepreneurship, employment, land) and would ensure that Dalits obtain access to productive resources for their long-term development and empowerment

Right to Adequate Housing

53 % of all households nationally do not have a latrine within the premises, the figure rises to 66 and 77 % for SCs and STs, respectively, and within them, to 78 and 88 % for female-headed SC and ST households, respectively.


  • Conduct a complete assessment and audit of all current schemes relevant to supporting access to social and economic rights with attention to overcoming existing barriers to access for Dalit communities.
  • Ensure that all training programmes are gender sensitive and based upon up-to date market analysis so that training results in sustainable livelihoods, imparts marketable skills, and includes ongoing support to participants until they have secured jobs or established a functioning business.
  • Coordinate action to advance social and economic rights for Dalit communities between all concerned ministries and government stakeholders, including but not limited to the Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Rural Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Urban Development, Women and Child Development and Labor.
  • Serious human rights violations like manual scavenging bonded labour, child labour to be eliminated with time bound national action plan including stringent implementation of the existing legal mechanisms, relief & rehabilitation and development measures.
  • Ensure Central legislation on SCSP and TSP be brought in clearly spelling out the duties and responsibilities of the Union and State governments.
  • The existing affirmative policies related to employment shall be extended to private sector, with a special emphasis in those private spheres so far left out of the ambit of reservation policy.

Women’s Rights

The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act criminalizes two gender-specific caste-based atrocities: assault or use of force with intent to dishonour or outrage her modesty and sexual exploitation of SC women. The National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, 2001 recognizes that the underlying causes of gender inequality are related to social and economic structure and acknowledges that for vulnerable women, including SCs, access to education, health and productive resources remains inadequate. Despite these acknowledgements, however, the 2001 National policy only outlines s a targeted strategy for SC women with regard to equal access to education. Similarly, while the SC Sub Plan and Gender Budget have special budgeting provisions for SCs and women, planning for SC women is not mandatory.

Status of implementation

Facing intersecting discrimination on the basis of gender, caste and class, Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to human rights violations and social, economic and political exclusion. According to the 2005-2006 National Family Health Survey, 41.7% of scheduled caste women reported having faced physical violence since the age of 15 years from someone other than their current or last husband, as compared 26.8% of other women. Regarding sexual violence, 11.0% of scheduled caste women reported facing sexual violence as compared to 7.8% of other women.

In 2014, the NCRB reported 2233 registered rapes of SC women—an average of 6 rapes per day.  Moreover, the number of registered rapes of SC women has risen steadily over the years, from 1089 in 2003 to 2073 in 2013, marking a 47.5% increase over the past decade. For 2014, the conviction rate for rapes of SC women stood at 34.9%, though this has to be understood against the backdrop of the high pendency rate of 81.6% for rape cases .

SC women are also vulnerable to specific forms of violence. Studies revealed that over 90% of Devadasi/Jogini women forced into ritualized prostitution are scheduled caste women.  Official statistics also show that over 2,500 women have been killed of the suspicion of practicing witchcraft in the past 15 years. The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has noted that, “An estimated 90% of manual scavengers are Dalit women who face multiple vulnerabilities and discrimination based on their caste and gender, and who are often exposed to violence and exploitation.”

A study undertaken in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh revealed that around 77.2% of respondents had no information regarding the structure and functioning of the Village Health and Sanitation Committees (VHSCs). A majority (75%) of the Dalit respondents said that the VHSCs do not give any importance to Dalit issues. While 55% of men interviewed said that VHSC members did come and inquire about the health-related issues of Dalits, only 4.3% of women said that this was true. Moreover, 74.4% of respondents said that there was hardly any participation by the Dalit community in the VHSCs


  • Serious human rights violations like devdasi system, violence against Dalit women, bonded labour, to be eliminated through legal and development measures.
  • Facilitate engagement between the Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment and Women and Child Development, at both central and state levels, to promote policies and implementation practices that address the specific needs of Dalit women.
  • Take proactive measures to improve Dalit women’s legal literacy and ability to access justice, including through monitoring effective enforcement of the POA Act and providing quality free legal services to Dalit women.
  • Increase annual budgetary allocation for the protection of Dalit women and children from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence and in accessing various schemes. Undertake planning from a gender lens that includes the intersectional vulnerability faced by Dalit women.

Download full report HERE


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