7 PM Editorial |Achieving Equality for Scheduled Castes|23rd July 2020

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Achieving Equality for Scheduled Castes

Introduction:

Indian constitution in its preamble has provided that India will uphold Justice, Equality and Fraternity. In pursuance of this, socio-economic empowerment of scheduled castes(dalits/SC) is promoted by various provisions. Reservations in education, public employment, legislatures (Articles 15,16, 330); National commission for Scheduled castes – NCSC(Article 338), Scheduled caste sub plans(SCP -15% of spending of ministries) in budget, are major ones. Discrimination against dalits is also punished through Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act or SC/ST act; Protection of civil rights act(PCRA). 1955.

To advance this vision of socio-economic empowerment and equality of dalits, new actions and ideas are needed. NCSC can be the catalyst for the same. It is one of the functions of NCSC to participate in socio-economic planning for SC welfare.

New actions to realize right to equality of dalits:
  • Strengthening legal and judicial protection of dalits:
    • Developing standard operating procedures(SOPs) for filing and investigation of cases under SC/ST act. These SOPs must be made available at all police stations in regional languages to improve information accessibility to victims.
    • Rewarding prosecutors who obtain conviction in cases. This will provide incentive to improve low prosecution rates in cases under SC/ST act.
    • Online reporting and tracking of crimes against dalits. This provides data on areas of high crime incidence which can be used for appropriate steps.
    • Sensitization, training and capacity building of lawyers, judges and police.
    • Internal committees within organizations to receive complaints of discrimination, to minimize criminal procedures. Internal complaints committee for sexual harassment can be a replicable blueprint.
    • Researching and implementing new types of punishment other than imprisonment to prevent future crimes.
  • Improving outcomes of existing government efforts:
    • Identification of 5 priorities(skill development, employment etc) across all schemes and using Scheduled Castes Sub plan(SCP) to improve these.
    • Promoting collaboration and convergence in achieving outcomes efficiently. Steps like an empowered group of joint secretaries, pooling of resources, must be taken under this. Such collaboration must extend to states.
    • Dashboard for tracking(monthly, quarterly etc) of outcomes of SCP. This can be used to reward departments which achieve best performance and rank states for their impact and efficiency.
    • Success stories in advancing Dalit empowerment should be taught in training of higher civil services(IAS, IPS etc)
  • Jan andolan for the cause: Social change must be catalyzed with participatory approach
    • Creating platform for engagement of civil society groups working on dalit issues.
    • Participation of dalit legislators, dalit youth, women must be promoted. This will provide voice to dalit issues and promote resolution of the same.
    • Targeted communication campaigns to reduce social practices which still segregate and discriminate against dalits. Students, teachers, companies, gram sabhas must be involved in this.
  • Promoting economic empowerment:
    • Strengthening reservations in public procurement. This will facilitate entrepreneurship of dalits. Departments in which such targets of reservation are met, must be rewarded.
    • Dalit alumni of IIT and IIM’s can be roped in to promote equality in their organizations to advance socio economic empowerment of dalits.
    • Skill training: Management training for SC entrepreneurs and skill training for service economy can be provided.
    • Mentoring for small business development. This is to enable dalit enterprises compete in markets. Considering lack of land ownership, this hand holding is needed for integration with markets.
  • Promoting cultural advancement:
    • Rewarding film and content makers(photographers, artists etc) for highlighting issues faced by dalits. Movies like ‘Article 15’ are examples.
    • I&B ministry to fund TV programs highlighting dalit issues.
    • Encouraging movies around different themes like the Mahar regiment of army.
  • Preparing for future challenges: Challenges due to climate change, gig economy and their impact on dalits must be studied. This will help in preparing for future challenges.
Conclusion:

Actions which promote equality of dalits will require sustained efforts.NCSC must innovate, collaborate and facilitate this socio economic advancement to achieve the vision of equality and fraternity.

Source: https:indianexpress.com

Mains question:
  1. What are the functions of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC)? How can NCSC facilitate socio-economic advancement of scheduled castes? [15 marks, 250 words]
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