Dalits, Adivasis off the Radar: NDA II Budget

A total of Rs 75,764 crore has been denied to Dalits and Adivasis in the second full-fledged NDA II budget

The Union Budget for 2016-2017 has drastically reduced the budgetary allocation for Scheduled castes to only 7.6 per cent when the due allocated amount should be 16.8 per cent of the total.While the allocation of Rs. 500 crores under the stand-up India scheme for SC/ST entrepreneurs is a part of the budget, it is the overall allocations under SCSP (Schedule Caste Sub-Plan) TSP (Scheduled Trives Sub Plan) that are extremely poor.
In  a prompt analysis of the second complete budget of the BJP-led NDA II government, the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) has said that, at the promised 16.8 per cent of the total the allocated amount to the SCSP should have amounted to Rs.91,301 and at 8.6% under the TSP, the amount that should have been allocated should amount to Rs.47,300 Crs. Thus a total of Rs 75,764 crore has been denied to Dalits and Adivasis in the second full-fledged NDA II budget.The NCDHR has strongly condemned this denial in allocation.

The budget also comes at a crucial point with the University Grants Commission (UGC) has withdrawn the non-NET fellowships (that affect students from social and economically backward sections, especially Dalits, Adivasi and OBC children) and around which students across the country have been agitating : #Occupy UGC Campaign.

The budgetary blow also comes at a time when the death of Rohith Vemula a PhD student at Hyderabad University has not only led to demands for a Rohith Law but sharply focussed on institutional discrimination within institutes of higher learning in India . The underlying issue of both these instances has been the denial of mandatory funds to research scholars. In this analysis of the budget, Paul Divakar, General Secretary, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, holds the finance minister accountable when and questions, “Where is the missing Rs. 75,773 Crs? Yet another massive denial & disinterest to bridge the growing development gap.”

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar reasoned that higher education was an important instrument, to seek power and dignity for all. Hence he advocated for public education being critical for the empowerment of Dalits and the backward classes. Access to and the opening up of educational institutions for the historically excluded groups has caused a moment of rupture in history and met with a violent backlash from the dominant and entrenched communities.

The events of the previous months— cutting of non-NET fellowships, denial of fellowship money to PhD students in Hyderabad and other universities— point towards this violent backlash from the dominant community.

The Union Budget 2016-17 is another example of this violent backlash. The denial in money allocated for the purpose of higher education to be accessed by the Dalits and Adivais makes their struggle for equality an even tougher one. Additionally, it acts as violation of constitutionally mandated rights of the SC/ST community.
Of the total of Rs 897 crore allocated under UGC. 60% goes towards capital assets and another 30% towards grants-in-aid and only 8% of the funds allocated directly benefit students from the Scs and STs.

Sector Wise Analysis
If we analyse the allocation of the union budget sector wise, over 86% of the Dalit budget is spent on the Social Service, Welfare and Housing Sectors. They do not form the triggers for development except for Higher education. Without greater allocations for Agriculture and allied, rural development Schemes, Energy, Industry and Mineral, Science and Technology and communication, the overall growth of the Dalits (SCs) and Adivasis (ST) will be lopsided. Innovation is needed to design schemes for the Dalit and Adivasi, both men and women within these sectors.

Dalit Adivasi women continue to be at the margins
The budget continues to marginalise Dalit-Adivasi women by allocating a paltry 1% to Dalit women and 2% to Adivasi women without taking into account the needs, and voices of women. The schemes lack an understanding of their lived reality and is blind to the concerns of the Dalit and Adivasi women. 



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