Development of the Weaker and Deprived Sections

Development of the Weaker and Deprived Sections

When we talk of social economic development, it also means human development. All human beings are not equal in any country. So, it is the responsibility of the democratic country to take special care of the weaker sections. According to Prof. John Rowls’ Theory of Justice, if we give proportionately greater help to people who are backward then it will not be considered as injustice to others. In India, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, minority sections, children and disabled are included in this group. Here, we will discuss the development of scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, other backward communities and women.

The 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments and District Development Agencies

The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments were passed in 1992 during the period of Prime Minister Narsinmha Rao government and are significant.  The 73rd and 74th amendments provide constitutional status to Panchayatiraj, Nagarpalikas and Municipal corporations. In the constitution there are provisions for their structure, regular elections, financial provisions and functions. Through such provisioning, the function of district development becomes more extensive and effective. There are also provisions for reservation for scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and women representative for important decision-making position like Sarpanch, President and Mayor.  By providing such provisions, it is expected that the fruit of development will reach to all sections of the society due to which the participation of all groups will also increase.

From 1st January, 2015 the Planning Commission has been replaced by NITI Aayog. It has entrusted developmental work to states. As per recommendation of Finance Commission, states are alloted 42 % finance instead of 30 %. The method of planning through Five Years Plans will end in 2017, however, as per annual budget for up coming years the planning has to be done for developmental work as suggested through the NITI Ayog . At that time the role of district will be important as a unit state.

Scheduled Caste

The Constitution of India  has identified those who were untouchables in our caste system since centuries as Scheduled Caste. As per the cencus 2011, their population is 16.6 % of the total population. Religious and social reformers and freedom fighters tried for the upliftment of this caste. Provisions were also made in the Constitution and governments of independent India initiated social programmes for their upliftment.

Scheduled Tribes

Generally, those who have been traditionally living in distance forests, mountainous and interior areas since centuries are kown as Tribals. As per the cencus of 2011, their population is 8.6 % of the total population. From the view point of social and economical development they are very backward. As per our Constitution they have been recognized as Scheduled Tribes.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions

Special provisions have been made in the Constitution of India for the protection and development of the above two sections of society :

1. Article 17 of the Constitution abolished untouchability and its practices.
2. A law deeming the practices of untouchability a crime was passed in 1955. In 1976, the scope of  this law was expanded.  
3. In 1989, an Act to prevent atrocities against the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes was passed.
4. The Constitution ensured that the Fundamental Rights of equality was applicable to all the citizens.
5. The Directive Principles of State Policy direct the state to take steps for the protection and welfare of these groups.
6. Seats have been reserved in the Parliament and Legislative Assembly on the basis of the population of these two sections.
7. Reservation for these sections has also been provided in the government jobs and educational institutions.
8. After 65th constitutional amendment in 1990, a National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has been established. In 2003, through a Constitutional amendment, a separate National Commission has been established for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe. These two commissions provide suggestions to central and state government for protection and implementation of rights and development of these sections.  
9. The Dilip Singh Bhuria Commission appointed by Central Government has highlighted the rights of Scheduled Tribes on natural resources. The commission has also suggested thtat in areas where the population of Scheduled Tribes is more than 50 %, the position of sarpanch, president and deputy president should be reserved for them, and this suggestion has been implemented.

Development Programmes

Central and state government have formulated policies for social and economic development and to raise the capability of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes  implemented various programmes. Such as the population policy of central government, women empowerment policy, policies to give importance to the local language of the state, preference to the local people in government services, etc. Education, skill development, employment opportunities and development of the area where these sections are concentrated are looked into via these programmes. Training programmes are also arranged so that these sections are well trained and equipped as required. They are provided guidance for self-employment and also given loans at concessional rate. The benefits of Indira Aavash yojna and Jawahar RojgarYojna are given to these two groups on priority basis. Care has been taken to provide them basic facilities like drinking water, toilet and electricity.

Other Backward Classes

Apart from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, there are also some other weaker sections in the Indian societies which are socially, economically and educationally backward. They are known as Other Backward Classes. For development of such sections, the central and state government can appoint commissions. In the year 1953, the central government appointed a commission for the Other Backward Castes under the chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar. But his report was not accepted by government. In the year 1992, the central government appointed a commission under the chairmanship of Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal for other backward castes. The recommendation of the commission was accepted by V.P. Singh of the Janta Dal government. In the year 1992, the central government has set up the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation. This corporation provides scholarship to children of other backward castes, hostel facilities, coaching for public service examinations and help for volunteer agencies working in this area. In Gujarat, the government appointed Baxi Commission for other backward castes in the year 1973. The recommendations of this commission have been accepted and also implemented. In the year 2016, the government accepted to provide 10  % reservation to Economically Backward Class (EBC). However, recently it was rejected by the High Court of Gujarat.

Women Development

Women constitute almost the half of the total population. Similar to other parts of the world, in India also they have been in weaker position.  After independence, the Constitution has given equal fundamental rights to women. The Directive Principles of State Policy provide that women should not be discriminated, they should get equal wage for equal work, effort should be made to protect their health and to prevent exploitation of women and they should get benefits of maternity leave along with full salary and other allowances. In 1976, Fundamental Duties were included in the Constitution where it is stated that such behaviour is prohibited which harm the dignity and pride of women and they should not be harmed or insulted.

Women Welfare and Development Policy

Efforts for women’s welfare and development have been undertaken in two ways : promulgating and implementing laws, and designing and executing programmes for welfare of women.

(A) Promulgation and implementation of Laws
1. The Special Marriage Act -1954
2. Hindu Marriage Act-1955
3. Dowry Prohibition Act-1961
4. Maternity Benefit Act to working women with full salary-1961
5. Abortion Act-1971
6. Equal Remuneration Act-1976
7. Child Marriages Prohibition Act-1978
8. Amendment in the Dowry Prohibition Act-1984
9. Muslim Women’s Act-1986
10. Amendment in the Anti- Sati Act-1987
11. Act against Sexual Harassment-2002
12. Act against sex determination of the foetus test-1994
13. Amendment in the Hindu Succession Act for giving daughter’s equal right to the ancestral property.
14. Protection of women from Domestic Violence Act-2005
15. Protection of women against Sexual Harassment at work places-2013
16. Criminal Amendment Act-2013 (Protection of women and providing penalties for the protection of women against asid atteck taking photographs without their consent)

Besides, rape has been considered as a serious crime and stringent punishment are prescribed for it in the Indian Penal Code. Taking this into consideration, the age for a criminal to be deemed an adult for rape has been reduced from 18 years to 16 years. The Judiciary has also given judgements and served to protect the interests and rights of women. The Supreme Court has passed a judgement and instructed  to stop sexual harassment to women.

(B) Welfare Programmes

Various programmes for women and child development have been implemented in all the thirteen Five Years Plans. In the year 1953, the Government of India appointed a committee titled Central Social Welfare Committee to supervise such programmes. The Department of Women and Child Welfare has also been set up by the Central government in 1995. Under the National Education Policy drafted in 1986, special care has been taken to promote girls’ education and self-employment for women. The Indira MahilaYojna was implemented in 1995 with an objective to organize women at grassroots level and enable them to participate in the decision making process.  The Rural Women Development and Empowerment scheme came into force from 1998 with an objective to provide self-employment to women at the level of village itself.

At state level also, various programmes for women development and child welfare have been implemented. Presently in 2016, Gujarat State Women Industrial Training Centers , KrushiTalim Yojna and programmes like Sakhi Mandal Yojna, ChiranjiviYojna, Kunvarbainu Mameru Yojna, Saraswati Sadhna Yojna, Swayam Sidhi Yojna, Kishori Shakti Yojna, Beti Bachao, Matru Vandan Yojna, Shakti Mandal Yojna, Balika Samridhi Yojna, Mahila Old Age Homes and Nari Aadalat, etc. are working for the development and safety of women. In 2015, Abhayam 181 helpline was launched for the safety of women. Apart from that, the girls education is free from primary to postgraduate level. 33 % reservation has been made for women in the recruitment of Vidyasahayak in primary schools and in local self-government institutions in Gujarat. It is also planned to extend this benefit of 33 % reservation for women in government jobs.

Movement for Women Empowerment

As we have seen earlier, the constitutional provisions, Directive Principles of state Policy, laws passed by Parliament, Judicial judgements and government policies and development programmes have helped the women to come forward.  In spite of all these efforts, atrocities against women are committed even today. Not only this, they are also deprived of opportunities for development. This situation has given birth to a new thought and that is women empowerment. Women Empowerment seeks to make women aware of their rights and to help them understand that they are self-dependent for the protection of their rights and not dependent on anyone else. Women Empowerment is a process. For this process the efforts put in should be continuous so that women get power to fight for their problems and become strong enough to protect themselves against any type of injustice. Only then, they will be able to enjoy the rights given to them by the government for their development and security.  The 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments in 1992 have provided reservation of 33 % seats for women in the local self-government institutions as well as for reservation in the executive positions in the institutions. Thus, women have started participating actively in the politics. In Gujarat and some other states, reservation has been increased from 33% to 50% since 2015. The Indian government announced a national policy on women’s empowerment in 2001. The purpose of this policy is to prepare women for their multi-faced development. The government celebrated the year as the year of women’s empowerment. Women organizations have also supported this move of central government and state government toward women empowerment. As per the census of 2011, there are 919 women for 1000 men.  The rate of literacy for male is 82.14 % while for women it is 65.46 %. This shows that in spite of so many efforts in the direction of women development and welfare we have to go far in this direction. For this matter, we have to make the process of women
empowerment more comprehensive
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