How poverty is disproportionately experienced in scale, intensity by socially excluded communities

11656_403By Edwin Daneil, Hannah Johns and Deepak Nikarthil*

Despite substantial progress made in poverty reduction, India remains home to the largest number of poor in the world. However, this poverty disproportionately affects the Dalits and the Adivasis as is evident from data of successive Census of India, the House listing data, National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), National Family Health Surveys (NFHS), and the Multi-dimensional poverty index (MPI).

Poverty is disproportionately experienced in scale and intensity by specific socially excluded communities such as Dalits (Scheduled Castes, SC, and others discriminated based on caste) and Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes, ST, and indigenous and tribal peoples), who lag behind other communities in varying degrees in various human development indicators (SCs -6% to -48% variation from national mean and STs -2% to 125% from the national mean, NFHS-3). This demonstrates that poverty in India is not just economic but closely intertwined with social and non-economic factors. Not only are these sections shut out from the benefits of national progress and economic growth, they have to bear its costs and consequences. A vast majority of poverty in India can thus be identified as social exclusion induced poverty.

This result of social exclusion is collaborated by the Multidimensional Poverty Index which reveals that poverty is not uniform but has a strong correlation to discrimination and impacts socially excluded sections disproportionately. Multidimensional poverty is highest (81.4%) among Scheduled Tribes, followed by Scheduled Castes (65.8%), Other Backward Classes (58.3%) and others (33.3%).

The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) reveals that poverty is not uniform but has a strong correlation to discrimination and impacts socially excluded sections disproportionately. According to the multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), 645 million people in India, about 55% of the population, are poor. But among Dalits it is 65.8%and among the Adivasi it is 81.4%.The general poverty level is 33.3%.

The overall incidence of poverty is 22% (rural). But disaggregated data shows variance for STs (33%), SCs (30%), Muslims (20%), Hindus (23%) and other religious minorities (11%). The farm and non-farm wage labour from the SC (45%) and ST (36%) were most poor (head count ratio), as compared with the national average of 35% of farm wage labour households and 26% of nonfarm labour households.

The total schemes for Scheduled Castes has been reduced from 294 to 256 only and the total schemes for Scheduled Tribes has been brought down from 307 schemes to only 261 in 2016-17. Only 11 new schemes for SCs and 8 new schemes for STs has been introduced in 2017-18.

The post-matric scholarships for religious minorities have increased significantly over the years from 2008-09 to 2012-13 but the fund utilisation under the schemes have been inadequate. The Pre-Matric Scholarship could utilise only 94.81% of the total allocation of Rs.14 billion in the Eleventh Five Year Plan, Post-Matric Scholarship 71.38% of the Rs.11.5 billion allocation, Merit-cum-Means Scholarship 71.23% of the allocation of Rs.6 billion. Only the Free Coaching Scheme could utilise more than what was allocated in the plan: utilisation (121.36%. The total allocation was Rs.450 million while utilisation was Rs.546 million). The mismatch between physical and financial achievements may be due to scholarships getting concentrated within courses (non-vocational, day scholars), or income groups that require lower fees.

mpi1Budget 2017-18 allocated Rs 523.93 billion for SCs and 319.2 billion for STs. This amount is 2.50% of the total Budget estimate. The due amount as per Jadhav guidelines is 4.25% if total Budget. Thus a total of Rs 442.46 billion for SCs and Rs 180.73 billion for STs has been denied by the central government.

1.19% of the total allocation for SC and STs has been allocated for SC women and 1.68% for ST women. Overall allocation for gender budget is only 0.99%.

In malnutrition the SC and ST bear poverty most intensely. Total malnutrition is higher among women from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes than for women in the OBC group and women from other castes.

According to the Nutrition Report (2009) of the National Family and Health Survey 3 with respect to social groups SCs and STs have a high percentage of women with BMI less than 18.5 is acute among SC’s with 41% and 47% among STs. STs and SCs are diverging from the national average in terms of female malnutrition. These groups are often discriminated against while accessing publicly provided entitlements such as subsidised food grain through the public distribution system (PDS), meal for children at schools (midday meal programme) and nutritional supplements at mother and child care centres.

SC children being malnourished is 1.4 times that of children belonging to other social groups even after controlling for education and health SC and ST children showing underweight prevalence that is about 14 and 20% higher than other children. Child mortality rates are over 15% higher for Dalit and Adivasi children than for other ‘general category’ children.

The estimated number of children not fully covered by Vitamin A supplementation (VAS) programme decreased 39% among children from Dalit and Adivasi households where as whereas it reduced 51.7% among children from non-Dalit and non-Adivasi households. The annual number of Dalits and Adivasis not covered under VAS will come to between 1.1 and 1.3 million, and they are potentially among the most vulnerable to vitamin deficiency and its consequences.

The share of formal sources in the total debt of Dalit households was only 44.8%, much lower than the corresponding share (59%) for non-Dalit households. Among formal sources, the largest share of debt of Dalit households was owed to commercial banks, followed by cooperatives. Among informal sources, professional moneylenders were the single most important source of debt for these households.

Caste differences are aggravated by gender differences. In 2008, Dalit women, on an average, received only about Rs. 4 of bank credit per a small borrowal account (SBA, an account having a credit limit of up to Rs.2,00,000) for every Rs. 100 received by non-Dalit and non-Adivasi women (In 2008, Dalit women obtained less than one rupee of credit per SBA for every Rs. 100 received by non-Dalit and non-Adivasi men. Further, the average amount of credit per account going to Dalit women vis-à-vis women and men from non-Dalit/Adivasi categories was on a rapid decline between 1997 and 2008.

As a five state average, 17% of villages have PDS shops in Dalit colonies, while 70% (more than four times the former) have PDS shops located in dominant caste localities, and 13% of villages have PDS shops located elsewhere. Considering states individually, Andhra Pradesh has the highest percentage of respondent villages with PDS shops in Dalit colonies at 30%, followed by Bihar with 24%, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh both with 16%, and then Rajasthan, in which not a single respondent village has a PDS shop located in a Dalit locality. In turn, Rajasthan has the highest proportion of PDS shops held in dominant caste localities at 91%, followed by Uttar Pradesh at 82%, Bihar at 76%, Tamil Nadu at 53%, and Andhra Pradesh with 30%.

*This is an excerpts from “Progress towards Inclusive Sustainable Development in India: A Study of Dalits and Adivasis in 2030 Agenda (2017)”, Asia Dalit Rights Forum/Swadhikar. Download the report HERE

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