Caste Related Issues, SECC Data, Untouchability in India

Caste based inequalities is a reality of Indian society. Agriculture dominant castes like Patels, Jats and now Marathas are demanding quota for themselves and reforms in reservation policy of India.

Issues with Reservation policy of India

  • Initiated as a temporary provision for SCs & STs, has expanded its coverage & became almost a permanent feature
  • Has failed to assimilate lowest castes/tribes within the mainstream economy and society
  • Political parties has utilized caste-based reservation as vote bank politics
  • Has failed to remove caste differences, further aggravated the caste divide & caste conflicts
  • Communities excluded from reservations harbor animosity & prejudice against the castes included in the reservation Category
  • Class within Castes: The creamy layer of reserved category has benefited most leaving actual beneficiaries devoid of any benefits and poor.
  • Poor among general categories are resentful, & tend to blame reservations for all their problems.

 

Despite all problems stated above, the reservation policy is needed for social empowerment of disadvantaged section of society and reducing discrimination by providing educational and employment opportunities.

However, certain reforms are required such as:

  • Better Identification not only on caste basis but also on social and economic criteria
  • Families of public officials of a certain rank (Group A services of center & states), present or former MLAs, MPs, other senior politicians, certain high income professionals like physicians, chartered accountants, managers above a certain rank, and businessmen and others above a certain income should be dis – reserved
  • The perception of a self-proclaimed socially backward class cannot be a constitutionally permissible yardstick for determination of backwardness
  • Apart from providing admission to colleges and jobs, capabilities of the deprived and excluded section should also be developed.
  • The benefits should flow to the vast majority of underprivileged children from deprived castes; not restricted to few elites

 


Socio Economic and Caste Census (2011) 

  • Ranks the households based on their socio-economic status
  • Can be utilized for identification of beneficiaries for various socio-economic welfare schemes
  • Was conducted both in urban and rural areas
  • Only rural SECC has been publicly released till now
  • 30% of rural HHs are landless & derive income from manual labour
  • 5% rural HHs having no literate adults above the age of 25. 

SECC Data

Sumit Bose Group Report for Better Usage of SECC Data to Target Beneficiaries – Recommendations 

  • Replace BPL by multidimensional SECC to identify actual poors
  • SECC data for all schemes of central & state governments to ensure targeting of right beneficiaries
  • MNREGA - focus should shift to the regions with a greater concentration of deprived & households and landless manual labourers
  • NRLM - Resource allocation to states under NRLM for female headed households with no adult member, SC/ST households with no literate adult, Landless households deriving major part of income from manual casual labour
  • Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) – Instead of 75% weight for resource allocation, make it 100 %

 

Significance of the Report 

  • Gives broad guidelines to implement SECC data
  • Improve the efficacy of programme & schemes
  • Will streamline programme administration
  • Expand coverage of the programmes and reduce duplication of benefit & frauds
  • Dynamic monitoring of the living standards of beneficiaries over time
  • Better targeting of vulnerable sections of the society
  • Better budgetary planning and allocation of resources for various programmes

 

Why SECC is better than Poverty line method? 

  • While poverty line method identifies number of poors, SECC identifies who they actually are, hence more targeted and precise
  • BPL approach was narrow as it focused on income and consumption expenditure on the other hand SECC gave a holistic and complete picture
  • Binary approach of BPL method either include the households in all schemes or exclude them from all however if SECC will be used each household will be mapped on different deprivation factors and if found deprived they will be eligible for that specific scheme. So SECC will help in eradicating not only poverty but also various deprivations.

 


Untouchability in India

Provisions against Untouchability in India

  • Article 17: Criminalises Untouchability
  • Untouchability Offences Act, 1955 revamped as Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1976
  • Section 8 in Representation of People’s Act, 1951 – people found guilty of committing offence under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, will be disqualified from contesting elections

 

Challenges 

  • lack of awareness among the people regarding their rights and equality
  • victimization of people who raised their voices against discrimination
  • Lack of financial resources to exercise their claims & get justice
  • People have accepted untouchability and caste discrimination as the part of their life

 

Untouchability is a social problem that needs to be tackled more socially than legally. Changes have been seen in terms of people’s attitude towards the issue. What the current situation needs is persistent efforts in the direction of betterment

Ashok Kumar Roopanwal Commission to look into the case of untouchability in educational institutions & suggest measures to prevent them

  • Counselling Centres with professionals should be set up
  • University should evolve an appellate mechanism for students to appeal of excesses in the university
  • Equal opportunity cell headed by Anti-discrimination Officer as per UGC Regulations should be made functional
  • Grievance Redressal Committee headed as per the UGC Regulations should be made effective
  • Remedial teaching for academically weak students
  • Strict compliance of Hostel Admission Rules in allotting hostel accommodation & supervision
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