SOCIAL EMPOWERMENT

 SOCIAL EMPOWERMENT

 

Empowerment is a set of measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way.

 

What is Social Empowerment?

  • Social empowermentmeans all sections of the society having equal control over their lives and the opportunity to take important decisions. A nation can never have a good growth trajectory without empowering all sections of society equally.
  • It is understood as the process of developing a sense of autonomy and self-confidence, and acting individually and collectively to change social relationships and the institutions and discourses that exclude poor people and keep them in poverty.
  • Perceptions of being empowered vary across time, culture, and domains of a person’s life:
    • A low-caste person feels empowered when he/she is given a fair hearing in a public meeting, which is comprised of men and women from different social and economic group.
    • A woman from a conservative household feels empowered if she’s allowed to go out alone without being escorted by a male from her house.
    • A transgender feels empowered when she’s given employment.

The need for Social Empowerment

  • Social empowerment leads one to take the right job and hence reduce the incidence of unemployment and under-employment.
  • Social empowerment leads to a decrease in social violence engineered against the deprived section of the society. If one is empowered socially, they know the rights they enjoy and the duties they serve.
  • Social empowerment is also advantageous in case of corruption as people tend to understand the exploitive class and restrain from giving any bribe which ultimately reduces corruption.
  • Social empowerment is one approach to reduce poverty. When people are empowered, they tend to use the knowledge in the right direction and somehow reduce their poverty which is so important for national growth also.
  • The main advantage of empowerment is that their will be an overall and inclusive development of the society. The money that people earn does not only help them and or their family, but it also helps develop the society.

 

SOCIALLY DISADVANTAGED GROUPS

  • Scheduled Tribes
  • WOMENS
  • Scheduled Castes
  • Minorities
  • Rural Population
  • Senior Citizens
  • Persons with Disabilities
SCHEDULED TRIBES
  • The Scheduled Tribes are notified in 30 States/UTs and the number of individual ethnic groups etc. notified as Scheduled Tribes is about 705.
  • The tribal population of the country, as per the 2011 census is constituting 8.6% of the total population (43 crore). However, 89.97% of them live in rural areas and 10.03% in urban areas. Of these, 1.57 percent (about 1.32 million) belong to Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs).
  • The Scheduled Tribe (ST) population represents a heterogeneous group scattered in different regions of India. The differences are noticed in language, cultural practices, socio-economic status, and pattern of livelihood.
  • More than two-thirds of the ST population is concentrated only in the seven states of the country, viz. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh. There is no ST population in 3 States (Delhi NCR, Punjab and Haryana) and 2 UTs (Puducherry and Chandigarh), as no Scheduled Tribe is notified.
  • Lack of basic amenities- The 2011 census data shows that access to tap water, sanitation facilities, drainage facilities, and the clean cooking fuel is much lower among the tribal population.

 

The essential characteristics of Tribal communities are:

  • Primitive Traits
  • Geographical isolation
  • Distinct culture
  • Socio-Economically backward
  • Shy of contact with the community at large

 

  • The practice of endogamy happens within the tribe and can serve as a form of Self-segregation, and the community uses it to resist integrating and completely merging with surrounding populations.
  • Tribal communities live in various ecological and geo-climatic conditions ranging from plains and forests to hills and inaccessible areas.
  • Tribal groups are at different stages of social, economic, and educational development. While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.
  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups. In 2006, the Government renamed the PTGs as PVTGs.
  • Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha.
  • PVTG is not a Constitutional category, nor are these constitutionally recognized
  • The Saharia people of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the largest among the PVTGs with the population more than 4 lakhs.

 

PVTGs are characterized by:

  • Pre-agriculture level of technology
  • Mostly homogenous
  • Stagnant or declining population
  • relatively physically isolated
  • Extremely low literacy
  • Slower rate of change
  • Subsistence level of economy

 

Notable PVTGs in India –

  • Kerala à Cholanaikayan (a section of Kattunaickans), Kadar, Kattunayakan, Kurumbas, Koraga, Irulas
  • Bihar and Jharkhand à Asurs, Birhor, Birjia, Hill Kharia, Konvas, Mal Paharia, Parhaiyas, Sauda Paharia, Savar.
  • Andhra Pradesh and Telangana à Bodo Gadaba, Bondo Poroja, Chenchu, Dongria Khond, Gutob Gadaba, Khond Poroja, Kolam, Kondareddis, Konda Savaras, Kutia Khond, Parengi Poroja, Thoti.
  • Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh à Abujh Macias, Baigas, Bharias, Hill Korbas, Kamars Saharias, Birhor.
  • Maharashtra à Katkaria (Kathodia), Kolam, Maria Gond.
  • Rajasthan à
  • Tamil Nadu à Kattu Nayakans, Kotas, Kurumbas, Irulas, Paniyans Todas.
  • Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand à Buxas, Rajis.
  • Andaman & Nicobar Islands à Great Andamanes, Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese, Shorn Pens.

 

Status of Tribal Education in India:

  • According to the census, 2011 literacy rate for STs is 59% compared to the national average of 73%.
  • Literacy level among ST men is at 68.5% but for women, it is still below 50%

 

Constitutional provisions for Tribals:
Article 29Protects the interests of the minorities by making a provision that any citizen/section of citizens having a distinct language, script, for culture have the right to conserve the same.
Article 46Under the DPSP provides that, the state shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes.
Article 275 (1)Provides Grants in-Aids to states (having scheduled tribes) covered under the fifth and six schedules of the constitution.
Article 350AStates that the state shall provide adequate facilities for instruction in mother-tongue at the primary stage of education.
Fifth Schedule Art. 244(1)Article 244 (1) of the Indian Constitution defines Scheduled Areas as the areas defined so by the President of India and are mentioned in the fifth schedule of the Constitution. In India, there are 10 states having scheduled areas.
Sixth Schedule Art. 244The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration of the tribal areas in the four north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram as per Article 244.

 

Legislative provisions for Tribals
1.The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) has a special section regarding the 75 PVGTs and the Act recognises forest and habitat rights of PVTGs.
2The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA): It extends Scheduled Areas of India under the purview of the national framework of Panchayat. However, this act is not applicable to Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Mizoram and certain other areas including scheduled and tribal areas.
3The Andaman and Nicobar (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 – The Sentinelese and other aboriginal tribes of the Andaman& Nicobar Islands are protected under this act.
4Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963 – the Andaman & Nicobar Islands are a “Restricted Area” in which foreigners with a restricted area permit (RAP) can stay.
5Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956 – The habitats of the PVTGs of Andaman and Nicobar Island has protected Tribal Reserve.
6In August 2018, in a bid to promote tourism and encourage investment, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) decided to exclude 30 islands from Andaman and Nicobar from the RAP or Restricted Area Permit regime notified under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963. North Sentinelese island was among the 30 islands

 

The Prime Minister’s Office constituted a High-Level Committee (HLC) in 2013, under chairmanship of Prof. Virginius Xaxa. The Committee was mandated to examine the socio-economic, educational and health status of tribal communities and recommend appropriate interventional measures to improve the same. It submitted report in May, 2014. Key recommendations of committee were:

  • Increase and strengthened the powers of Gram Sabha for land acquisition.
  • Mining rights to cooperatives
  • Acquired but unused land could be used for tribal rehabilitation.
  • “No” to large dam
  • Judicial commission on Naxal offences

 

Problem Faced by Tribes

  • Problems related to the forest à The livelihood of the tribal community is based on forest. They enjoyed their traditional rights of hunting, gathering, shifting cultivation but the advent of modern government, in the name of forest protection stopped the movement of STs which brought the question of existence. Further, their lands are taken by various government agencies and the private sector for minuscule compensation.
  • Poverty and exploitation à The tribal population are been exploited because of their innocence and they are pushed to a spiral of poverty. They have been living in forests from time immemorial, but after the government’s restriction, many became bonded laborers and getting exploited. In India, 52 percent of the STs belong to the category of Below Poverty Line (BPL) and 54 percent of them have no access to economic assets such as communication and transport (World Bank, 2011).
  • Literacy rate à Literacy among the tribes of the north-eastern and island regions is relatively higher but despite that high dropout rate and the infant mortality rate is also a problem in the north-eastern region.
  • Health Issues à PVTGs suffer from many health problems like anaemia, malaria; gastro-intestinal disorders; micronutrient deficiency and skin diseases due to poverty, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitation, lack of health services, superstition and deforestation.
  • Agriculture àThe contributing factor such as dependency on agriculture, natural calamity, crop-failure, reduced access to land, and lack of employment, etc are the reason for poverty in the states like MP and Chhattisgarh.
  • Unemployment à The rates of unemployment are high in the tribals of the island region. STs are confronted with problems like forced migration, exploitation, displacement due to industrialization led to losing command over the natural resources, and are unable to cope with the new pattern of work and resources for living.
  • Lack of baseline surveys àThe Anthropological Survey of India observed 75 PVTGs, baseline surveys exists for about 40 groups, even after declaring them as PVTGs. Lack of baseline surveys hinder effective implementation of welfare schemes.
  • Outdated List àThe Anthropological Survey of India observes that the list of PVTG is overlapping and repetitive. For example, the list contains synonyms of the same group such as the Mankidia and the Birhor in Odisha, both of which refer to the same group.
  • More Dependency on MFP à Minor Forest Produce (MFP) is a major source of livelihood for tribals living in forest areas. Most of the trade-related to the MFPs remained unorganized in nature, which has led to low returns to the gatherers and high wastages due to limited value addition.
  • Low level of technology à The tribes have a low level of technology which is not suitable for modern-day. For example, they are still practicing shifting cultivation which is problematic for the environment.
  • Losing their identity à Nowadays, the tribes are coming out of their tribal fold and are increasingly getting assimilated into the non-tribal population by which they are losing their tribal culture, social institution, language, etc.
Minor Forest Produce (MFP):

·       The government had earlier launched a scheme named “Minimum Support Price (MSP)” for the MFP scheme for safeguarding the remuneration of tribal population.

·       The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, defines a Minor Forest Produce (MFP) as all non-timber forest produce of plant origin and includes bamboo, brushwood, stumps, canes, Tusser, cocoon, honey, waxes, Lac, tendu/kendu leaves, medicinal plants and herbs, roots, tuber and the like.

 

  • Vulnerabilities of tribes in Andaman and Nicobar à The fragile tribal communities have been facing expropriation of their ecosystem by outsiders. The outside influences are impacting their land-use patterns, use of the sea, overall
  • biodiversity leading to material and non-material changes.

 

 

Steps Taken by Government

Van Dhan Scheme:

·       Under the scheme, 10 Self Help Groups of 30 Tribal gatherers (Van Dhan Vikas Samuh) will be constituted. Tribal peoples will be given with working capital to add value to the products collected from the jungle.

·       Van Dhan Vikas Kendra is multi-purpose establishments for providing skill upgradation, capacity building training, and setting up of primary processing and value addition facilities.

  • They are provided with concessions for their representation in services. Those are, age limit exemption, reduction in standards of suitability, and inclusion at least in the lower category for purpose of promotion is otherwise than through qualifying examinations
  • The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution provides for the setting Up a Tribal Advisory Council in each of the States having scheduled areas. The duty of these Councils is to advise the Government on such matters concerning the welfare of scheduled tribes and the development of scheduled areas.
  • Tribal and Harijan Research Institutes were set up in MP, Odisha, Bihar, West Bengal, and Rajasthan. They study the tribal lifestyle, art, and customs for that protection and documentation.
  • The Stand Up India scheme – aims at providing people belonging to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe or women of the country a loan between Rs.10 lakhs to Rs.1 crore, based on their requirement. The aim is to promote entrepreneurship among them. T
  • Commissioner for the Scheduled Castes and Tribe: The main duty of the Commissioner is –
    • to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution and
    • to report the President on working of these safeguards.

 

Recommendations:

  • A region-specific approach is required to bring positive change among the tribes. For example, the unemployment problems of the island region can be resolved by developing fisheries and tourism industry at large scale.
  • There is a need for awareness generation is required for tribal communities to avail of the existing schemes and programs targeted.
  • More access to the forest products among the forest dwellers should be facilitated in a positive direction.
  • Promote sustainable economic activities – Development of cottage industries, plantations crops (e.g. coconut), fishing, animal husbandry etc. are some viable economic options given the fact that there is not much scope for agriculture.
  • Protect Cultural Heritage – The ANTRI (Andaman and Nicobar Tribal Research and Training Institute) has been set up with an objective of formulation of policies for tribal integration and protection of PVTGs.

 

WOMENS
  • Women empowerment became a subject matter all around the world in the past few decades. Many international organizations and agencies including the United Nations emphasized gender equality as an important issue.
  • It is held that women cannot wait for any further to claim their equality in social, economic, and political space. The essence of equality has very wide benefits that the whole nation can enjoy.
  • It is said that “empowering women is not alone morally essential, but also economically important for the country”.
  • Out of the total population in India, women contribute 48.37% (According to the 2011 Census).

 

Problem Faced by Women

  • Domestic Violence And Dowry Deaths à Dowry deaths are deaths of married women who are murderedor driven to suicide by continuous harassment and torture by their husbands and in-laws over a dispute about their dowry, making the women’s homes the most dangerous place for them to be. Women continue to face the most risks from their families. Among all registered cases of serious crimes against women, the largest share 36% of all cases were under “cruelty by husband and relatives”.
  • Pink colorization of jobs à The women are mostly deemed fit for “pink-collar jobs” only, such as teachers, nurses, receptionists, babysitter, lecturer, etc. which have been stereotyped for women. This denies them opportunities in other fields.
  • Early marriage à especially of girl children, reduces their opportunities, denying them the chance to get empowered.
  • Girl child denied timely interventions à in nutrition and healthcare, especially in rural areas. Hence malnutrition and anaemia among Indian girls is one of the highest in the world.
  • Educationà it is denied, and even if allowed in some cases, the girl couldn’t attend classes due to time constraints as a result of household work.
  • Glass ceilings à Women in India face artificial barriers like stereotypes, media-related issues, informal boundaries, which prevent them from advancing upward in their organization into management-level positions.
  • Lack of political participation of women à The Indian Parliament currently has 11.8% women representation, and state assemblies have only 9%. Even though the 73rd constitutional amendment act mandates 33% of panchayat seats to be reserved for women. Prevalence of “Sarpanch Pati”.
  • Patriarchal society and gender discrimination à A patriarchal society means a male-dominated society, and gender discrimination is when one Sex is given preferential concern over the others. The discrimination is also seen in education as male children get good school, whereas girl children do not get the same privilege.
  • Unemployment à The unequal treatment of women has been a characteristic of provision for unemployment throughout its existence. Even though women are generally paid less, they are not preferred in many industries.
  • A gap in digital literacy à Digital gender gap in India is huge, as less than a third of India’s total interest users are female i.e. 29 %.
  • Globally in developing countries, the number of women using the internet is 12% less than men.

 

Recent Changes in Domestic Violence (DV) Act:

·       The Supreme Court has struck down the words “adult male” from the pertinent provision in the DV Act to lay down that a woman can also file a complaint against another woman, accusing her of domestic violence.

·       The reason given behind the change by the Supreme Court that the perpetrators and abettors of domestic violence can also be women, insulating them would frustrate the objectives of the Act. Under this immunity females and minors can continue to commit domestic violence.

·       Because the change amended by the court makes DV gender neutral which according to some experts (including the bench) would help in serving the purpose of the law in a better way.

·       The definition of Domestic Violence has been modified – it includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse that is physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and economic and further harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the woman or her relatives.

·       The Domestic Violence Act now covers “live-in partners”, wives, sisters, widows, mothers, single women, divorced women who are entitled to get legal protection under this Act.

·       The act provides for the appointment of protection officers and NGOs to provide assistance to the woman for me.

 

Government Initiatives To Tackle With Gender Related Issues:

  • Suvidha à Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers has launched a 100% Oxo- Biodegradable sanitary napkin, under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana. It is an important step in ensuring health security for the section of Indian women who still use unhygienic aids during menstrual periods due to the non-affordability of sanitary pads.
  • Project Stree Swabhiman à Ministry of Electronics and Information technology (MeITY) announced a project which aims to create a sustainable model for providing adolescent girls and women access to affordable sanitary products in rural areas.
  • Nari Portal à It is a Mission Mode Project under the National E-Governance Plan (It is designed and developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology).
  • e-samvaad Portal à It is an initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development to provide a platform for NGOs and civil society to interact with the Ministry on relevant subjects. Through the E-Samvad portal, NGOs and civil society can provide their feedback, suggestions, put up grievances, share best practices, etc.

 

Cybercrimes Which Specially Target Women:

 

Harassment via E-MailsIt is a very common type of harassment through sending letters, attachments of files & folders i.e. via e-mails; most common now in the form of using social sites i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Cyber-StalkingIt means expressed or implied physical threat that creates fear through the use of computer technology such as the internet, e-mail, phones, text messages, webcam, websites, or videos.
Dissemination of Obscene MaterialIt includes Indecent exposure/ Pornography (basically child pornography), hosting of the web site containing these prohibited materials
E-Mail SpoofingA spoofed email may be said to be one, which misrepresents its origin. It shows its origin to be different from which actually it originates- This method is often used by cybercriminals to extract personal information and private images from unsuspecting women, these images, etc. are then used to blackmail those women.

 

Women Safety in India:

  • Women’s safety involves various dimensions such as Sexual harassment at the workplace, rape, marital rape, dowry, acid attack, etc.
  • Sexual Harassment acts as a deterrent to women’s freedom and perpetuates the notion that women are the weaker sex. The NCRB data highlights that sexual harassment is a risk in all facets of life: in shelter homes, in the workplace, in the home, on public transport.
  • Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013:
    • It widens the definition of ‘aggrieved woman’ to include all women, irrespective of age and employment status, and it covers clients, customers, and domestic workers.
    • It expands ‘workplace’ beyond traditional offices to include all kinds of organizations across sectors, even non-traditional workplaces (for example those that involve telecommuting) and places visited by employees for work.
    • The most important feature of the Act is the establishment of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) in establishments with 10 or more employees by an order given in writing by the employer.
    • A Local Complaints Committee (LCC) is a committee to receive complaints of sexual harassment at the workplace from establishments that do not have an ICC because they have less than 10 workers, or when the complaint is against the employer himself.
  • Issues in implementation of the Sexual Harassment Act:
    • As 70% of the women do not report sexual harassment by superiors due to the fear of repercussions.
    • According to a 2015 research study, 36% of Indian companies and 25% of multinational companies had not yet constituted their Internal Complaints Committee (ICCs) which is mandatory under the Act.
    • The Cases remain pending in court for a long time enhancing the suffering of victims.
  • Suggestions for better implementation:
    • Ministry of WCD launched an online complaint management system titled Sexual Harassment electronic–Box (SHe-Box) for the effective implementation of the SH Act, 2013 which will enable a monitorable and transparent system of grievance redressal under the Act.
    • The Ministry of WCD will set up an inter-ministerial committee headed by a senior official of the WCD Ministry.

Steps Taken by Government of India:

  • The National Commission of Women (NCW) was started in 1992 to review the constitutional and legal safeguard of women, recommend remedial measures, facilitate grievance redressal, and advise the government on policy matters.
  • Programs on Cyber Crime investigation – Various Law schools are engaged in conducting several awareness and training programs on Cyber Laws and Cyber Crimes for judicial officers.
  • Training is imparted to Police Officers and Judicial officers in the Training Labs established by the Government.
  • The Scheme for Universalisation of Women Helpline has been approved to provide 24-hour emergency and non-emergency response to all women affected by violence
  • Ministry of Women and child development’s National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) aims to achieve holistic empowerment of women through the convergence of schemes programs of different Ministries Departments of Government of India (GOI) as well as State Governments. Under the scheme women helpline, a one-stop center was introduced.
  • National health programs such as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the Family Welfare Programme have been created to address the maternal health care needs of women across India.
  • Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojna is a maternity Benefit Programme being implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
  • Weekly Iron and Folic Acid Supplementation Programme to meet the challenge of high prevalence and incidence of anaemia amongst adolescent girls and boys.

 

SCHEDULED CASTE
  • Scheduled castes are those castes/races in the country that suffer from extreme social, educational, and economic backwardness arising out of the age-old practice of untouchability and certain others on account of lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation, and who need special consideration for safeguarding their interests and for their accelerated socio-economic development.
  • These communities were notified as Scheduled Castes as per provisions contained in Clause 1 of Article 341 of the Constitution.

 

Article 341(1) – the President of India, after consultation with the Governor, may specify, “the castes, races, tribes or parts of groups within castes or races, which shall be deemed to be Scheduled Castes”.

 

Problem Faced By Scheduled Caste

  • The SCs were denied many basic amenities, such as drinking water, entering the temple, public transport, cemetery, etc. Many changes have been brought in, but it’s a hard reality that social disabilities still prevails.
  • The schedule caste’s human rights are violated now and then by majority and other sections of the society. They were forced to do manual scavenging, working as bonded laborers, etc., which violated their basic human rights.
  • Traditionally, Hindus disallow education for scheduled caste which still persists. They have been treated discriminately in the educational institution
  • Many a time, scheduled castes are denied into the temple as they are still considered as untouchables (Gandhi ji termed them as “Harijan”). These disabilities are generally seen in rural areas and mostly not seen in urban areas.

 

Initiatives taken for SC development

  • Educational Empowerment:
    • Various scholarships provided at both pre-matric and post-matric levels to the students belonging to the SCs to ensure that education is not denied due to the poor financial condition of their families.

 

  • Economic Empowerment:
    • National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC): Set up to finance income-generating activities of Scheduled Caste beneficiaries living below double the poverty line limits
    • National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation (NSKFDC):It is another corporation which provides credit facilities to beneficiaries amongst Safai Karamcharis, manual scavengers, and their dependents for income-generating activities for socio-economic development through State Channelizing Agencies
    • Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes:The objective of the fund is to promote entrepreneurship amongst the Scheduled Castes who are oriented towards innovation and growth technologies and to provide concessional finance to the scheduled caste entrepreneurs.
    • The Stand Up India scheme – aims at providing people belonging to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe or women of the country a loan between Rs.10 lakhs to Rs.1 crore, based on their requirement. The aim is to promote entrepreneurship among them. T

 

  • Social Empowerment
    • The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955:In pursuance of Article 17 of the Constitution of India, the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955 was enacted. The Act extends to the whole of India and provides punishment for the practice of untouchability. It is implemented by the respective State Governments and Union Territory Administrations.
    • Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989: Assistance is provided to States/ UTs for implementation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Financial assistance is provided to the States/ UTs for implementation of these Acts, by way of relief to atrocity victims, an incentive for inter-caste marriages, awareness generation, setting up of exclusive Special courts, etc.

 

MINORITIES
  • The term “Minority” has not been properly defined anywhere in the Indian Constitution. But minority status has been conferred on many groups.

 

Article 29According to Article 29 of the Constitution, any group living within the jurisdiction of India is entitled to preserve and promote its own language, script or literature, and culture.
Article 36Article 36 states that a minority group whether based on religion or language shall have the right to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice.

 

Minorities in India:

·       The word ‘minority’ mentioned in the Constitution of India used in various articles viz. Article 29, 30, 350 A, and 350 B. 

·       The constitution recognizes minorities based on religion and language, but it neither defines the term ‘minority’.

·       As per sec 2(c) of the National Commission for Minorities Act 1992, ‘minority’ means a community notified as such by the Central govt. The Union Government notified Six religious’ communities, viz; Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Zoroastrians (Parsis), and Jains as minority communities which constitute about 19% population of the country.

·       States governments are also empowered to designate state minorities and set up State Minority Commissions. For e.g. Jains were designated as a minority by 11 states before the Jains were nationally recognized in 2014.

 

Supreme court judgments regarding for definition of minorities:
Kerala Education Bill case 1958It said a minority should be a group of people who are numerically a minority in a ‘State as a whole’ as distinguished from any particular area or region’.
Bal Patil & others v UOI, 1999, and TMA Pai Foundation v State of Karnataka 2002It held that with regard to state law, the unit to determine a religious or linguistic minority should be the state.

 

 

Problems faced by minorities in India

  • The problem of communal tensions and riots:
    • The minority interest is at stake whenever a communal riot and tension occurs. The number of social unrest also started to increase post 1960s.
    • Hence, combined with the magnitude and frequency of communal riots, the minority is losing confidence over the system and it is highly tough for the government to restore the confidence in them.
  • The problem of Identity:
    • Because of the differences in socio-cultural practices, history, and backgrounds, minorities have to grapple with the issue of identity
    • This gives rise to the problem of adjustment with the majority community.
  • The problem of Security:
    • Different identities and their small numbers relative to the rest of society develop feelings of insecurity about their life, assets, and well-being.
    • This sense of insecurity may get accentuated at times when relations between the majority and the minority communities in society are strained or not much cordial.
  • The problem of lack of representation in civil service and politics:
    • The equality and equal opportunities to all its citizens including the religious minorities are given in Indian Constitution, the biggest minority community, that is, Muslims, have not availed themselves of these facilities of basic human cause. There is a feeling among them that they are neglected.
  • The problem of separatism:
    • Some of the demands put forward by some religious communities in some areas are not acceptable to others. This has widened the gap between them and others (e.g., the separatist tendency present among some Muslim extremists in Kashmir and their demand for the establishment of Independent Kashmir is not acceptable to others)
  • Education and Employment among Muslims in India:
    • The participation of Muslims is relatively low in the education space but has improved in recent years.
    • The participation of Muslims in higher education is particularly poor Household endowments along with location play a critical role in determining the participation of Muslims in education.
    • Muslims are predominantly engaged in self-employment and their participation as regular worker especially in the tertiary sector in urban areas is low as compared to other socio-religious communities

 

Steps Taken by Government of India:

  • Prime Minister’s new 15-point program: Prime Ministers new 15 point program for the welfare of minorities, which is an overarching program covering various initiatives of different ministries.
  • USTAAD: The scheme aims at upgrading skills and training in the preservation of traditional ancestral arts crafts of minorities.
  • Hamari Darohar: To preserve the rich and diverse heritage of minority communities in India.
  • Strengthening of State Wakf Boards: It is to provide support for training and administrative cost of State Wakf Boards, strengthen the state Wakf boards, etc.
  • Nai Roshni: The scheme is envisaged to reach out to women through non-governmental organizations who will be provided with financial support for conducting leadership development training so that women are empowered and emboldened to move out of the confines of home and community and assume leadership roles and assert their rights collectively or individually.

 

RURAL POPULATION
  • The majority of the population in India still lives in rural areas and it is the best example of “India lives in a village” lines by Gandhi ji.
  • Even though migration has happened for a lot of years, still almost 65% of the population lives in the village. Nearly 70% of the country’s population lives in rural areas where, for the first time since independence, the overall growth rate of the population has sharply declined, according to the latest census.

 

Problem Faced By Rural Population

 

Economic FactorsSocial FactorsHealth Factors
●      Natural catastrophes like drought, flood, etc. a Pest attacks.

●      Soil degradation 9 Small and fragmented land-holdings

●      Lack of mechanization

●      Monsoon failure an Unscientific use of fertilizers leading to infertile soil

●      Inadequate storage facilities

●      High illiteracy rate

●      Inadequate infrastructure facilities

●      Unskilled laborers

●      Gender gap

●      The taboo on women education

●      Prevalence of child marriage

●      Female foeticide

●      High unemployment

●      Malnutrition a High MMR and IMR

●      Poor health awareness Poor sanitation

●      Negligible investments in health facilities

 

Step Taken By Government

  • Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana (JGSY): Jawahar Gram Samridhi Yojana OGSY) is the restructured, streamlined, and comprehensive version of the erstwhile Jawahar Rozgar Yojana ORY). It was started on 1 April 1999. The aim of this program was the development of rural areas Infrastructure like roads to connect the village to different areas, which made the village more accessible and also other social, educational (schools) and infrastructure like hospitals.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY): It was launched by the Govt. of India to provide connectivity to unconnected Habitations as part of a poverty reduction strategy. Govt. of India is endeavoring to set high and uniform technical and management standards and facilitating policy development and planning at the State level in order to ensure sustainable management of the rural roads network.
  • Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP): By providing income-generated assets to the poor in rural India, IRDP is ambitious in alleviating rural poverty. The main objective of IRDP is to raise families of the identified target groups below the poverty line by the creation of sustainable opportunities for self-employment in the rural sector. Assistance is given in the form of subsidy by the government and term credit advanced by financial institutions (commercial banks, cooperatives, and regional rural bank.
  • National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA): The NREGA bill notified in 2005 and came into force in 2006 and further modified it as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on Oct 2, 2009. This scheme guarantees 150 days of paid work to people in rural areas. The scheme has proved to be a major boost in the Indian rural population’s income. The Ministry of Rural Development (MRD) is the nodal Ministry for the implementation of NREGA. It is responsible for ensuring timely and adequate resource support to the States and to the Central Council.

 

SENIOR CITIZENS:
  • According to the Census 2011, India has 8 million senior citizens (above 60 years of age). This number is expected to increase significantly in the upcoming years with a rise in the life expectancy to 65 years from 42 years in 1960.
  • It is predicted that between the years 2000 and 2050, the population of India will grow by 55%.
  • However, the population above 60 years and 80 years will grow by 326% and 700% respectively. The percentage of senior citizens, classified as those above 60 years of age, is expected to go up in India from 8% in 2015 to 19 % in 2050.
  • With an increase in populations rapidly, governments are often unprepared to mitigate the consequences, this has implications for the socio-economic and health status of the senior citizens.

                               

Challenges faced by senior citizens in India:

  • Digital illiteracy: The inability of older family members to understand the modern digital language of communication, there is lack of communication between elderly and younger members. They also feel difficulty in getting benefits of digital schemes.
  • Ruralisation of the Elderly: According to the 2011 Census, 71 percent of the elderly live in rural India. There are more problems such as Income insecurity, lack of adequate access to quality health care and isolation in rural elderly than the urban elderly.
  • Migration and its Impact: Due to the migration of the younger people, the elderly are left living alone or only with their spouse and they face social isolation, poverty, and distress.

 

Implementation of existing policies:

  • 12th plan include: (a) a scheme for awareness generation for the Maintenance of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, (b) setting up a helpline for senior citizens, (c) establishing a National Commission for Senior Citizens, and (d) establishing a National Trust for the Aged.
  • Social Pensions: The National Social Assistance Programme was launched to provide social assistance to the poor and the destitute.
  • National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP), 1999: It envisages State support to ensure financial and food security, health care, shelter and other needs of older persons, protection against abuse and exploitation, and availability of services to improve the quality of their lives.
  • Several schemes launched within it are Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Health Insurance for Senior Citizens, Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana 2017, Scheme for providing Aids and Assisted Living Devices to Senior Citizens below Poverty Line, Senior Citizens Welfare Fund, etc.

 

Way Ahead:

  • A comprehensive law for the social security of senior citizens must be enacted.
  • An integrated action plan must be evolved, involving various stakeholders and departments of the government.
  • Expansion of old age homes and geriatric healthcare: There should be more old age homes constructed, to ensure an old age home in every district.
  • Norms and guidelines for old age homes: Standardised norms and guidelines must be formulated for old age homes, especially related to the design of buildings and expertise required to manage these homes.

 

PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES:
  • Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) experience stigma and compromised dignity in their daily life. As per Census, 2011, there are 68 crore persons with disabilities and they constitute 2.21 percent of the total population of the country, but according to the World Health Organisation, 15% of the world’s population faces some form of disability.
  • Men with disabilities constitute 56%, and women with disabilities make up the rest 44%. These include persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotors, and mental disabilities.
  • The Constitution of India ensures equality, freedom, justice, and dignity of all individuals, and implicitly mandates an inclusive society for all including persons with disabilities. Therefore, the primary responsibility to empower persons with disabilities rests with the State Governments also.
  • India is a signatory to the Declaration on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asia Pacific.

 

Article 41 of the Indian Constitution mandates the state to make effective provisions for securing the right to education, work, and public assistance for people affected by disability within the constraints of its economic capacity and level of development. The Constitution in the schedule of subjects lays direct responsibility for the empowerment of persons with disabilities on the State Governments.

 

Problem Faced by Disabled Section

  • Isolation:
    • The greatest challenge that disabled people have had to face has been society’s misperception that they are not normal. Historically they have been pitied, ignored, vilified, even hidden away in institutions.
  • Discrimination:
    • Disabled people have some abilities, needs, and interests as the rest of the population. Nevertheless, discrimination continued to exist in certain important areas. Some employers were reluctant to take on or promote disables people; some landlords refused to give the land on rent to them; and courts sometimes deprived them of basic rights, including custody of their children. In recent decades, this situation has undergone some positive changes through adjustments in legislation and public attitudes
  • Infrastructure:
    • The problems related to the design of the vehicles (high and incompatible steps of vehicles from the platform level especially in public transports), public and private buildings being built without proper provisions of being disabled-friendly. The absence of disabled-friendly toilets, stairs, and other basic infrastructure in public buildings is still a major problem in India.
  • Limited monitoring capacity:
    • The Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) is the nodal department for issues concerning PwDs at the national level has several schemes. However, many of these schemes have a very small allocation, and the resources that are allocated do not get fully utilized. The monitoring capacity within the department is also limited which is a major challenge because a number of schemes are implemented through NGOs.

 

Step Taken by Government

  • Right of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 – Provisions of the Act:
    • This act defines disability based on an evolving and dynamic concept.
    • Under the act, the types of disabilities have been increased from 7 to 21. In addition, the Government has been authorized to notify any other category of specified disability.
    • Persons with “benchmark disabilities” are defined as those certified to have at least 40 percent of the disabilities mentioned in the Act.
    • Every child with benchmark disability between the age group of 6 and 18 years shall have the right to free education.
    • Reservation in vacancies in government establishments has been increased from 3% to 4% for certain persons or class of persons with benchmark disability.
    • Special Courts will be designated in each district to handle cases concerning violation of rights of PwDs.
    • The act is implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
    • For strengthening the Prime Minister’s Accessible India Campaign, stress has been given to ensure accessibility in public buildings (both Government and private) in a prescribed time-frame.
  • Recently, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued National Disaster Management Guidelines on Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction (DiDRR). DiDRR strives to reduce the impact of disasters on affected communities by mitigating and reducing risks.
  • Recently, the Rights of Persons with Disability Rules, 2017 (Rules) were notified to supplement the provisions of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016. The Act is in line with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS)
  • Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for purchase/fitting of Aids/appliances (ADIP Scheme)
  • Scheme for Implementation of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 (SIPDA)
  • District Disability Rehabilitation Centres (DDRC)

 

 

Accessible India Campaign:

  • It is the nationwide flagship campaign of the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD).
  • Aim of the Campaign: to make a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country.
  • It is based on the principles of the Social Model of Disability, that disability is caused by the way society is organized, and not the person’s limitations and impairments.
  • It has been divided into three verticals: Built Environment; Transport and Information & Communication Technology (ICT) ecosystem

 

Way Ahead:

  • Institutional reforms:
    • It is important to strengthen the institutional framework at all levels to have a stronger and more direct role for PwDs.The number of schemes administered by the DEPwD should be rationalized.
    • It would be judicious to have a limited number of schemes with an adequate budgetary allocation that is implemented and monitored well.
    • There is a need to strengthen the financial and human resource capacity of the Central and State Commissioners’ offices so that they are able to perform their functions more effectively.
  • Improving Access to Aids/Assistive technologies for PwDs:
    • Distribution of aids to senior citizens who live below the poverty line should be prioritized as a sizeable percentage suffers from age-related disabilities.
  • Strengthening Education:
    • While the Right to Education Act promised a special focus on admission and retention of children with disabilities, the situation has not seen a major improvement.
    • An NCERT study found that disabled children in schools across states still face serious infrastructure and pedagogy handicaps. Therefore, the government has to ensure that schools should have at least one section of each class accessible under the Universal Design Guidelines.

 

Recent News:

●      International Day of Persons with Disabilities was celebrated worldwide on 3rd December 2019.

●      It aims to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society and development and to increase awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

●      This year it focuses on the empowerment of persons with disabilities for inclusive, equitable, and sustainable development as anticipated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pledges to ‘leave no one behind’ and recognizes disability as a cross-cutting issue, to be considered in the implementation of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Way Forward

  • Education: Education is one such powerful tool to break all odds faced by socially vulnerable people, and it is the best available tool to empower them. Needed measures must be taken to eliminate discrimination based on any factor, through the universalization of education. It is important to include sex education, a secular curriculum, and the art of intolerance through schools and university syllabus which not only bring awareness but also help to mobilize a large section of people to voice for the vulnerable section of the society
  • Economic opportunities: GOI should provide livelihood opportunities for those people identified as vulnerable. Because the present society demands people to be economically empowered to be socially empowered. Providing MGNREGS, various social security schemes, Universal Basic Income, National urban livelihood mission are such interventionist strategies.
  • Increase social security scheme: It is indeed important for GOI to provide for social security such as pension schemes, insurance schemes, etc., in order to protect them from any adverse situation. The pension should be concentrated not only on organized sector employment but also to the unorganized sector.

 

Previous Year Questions:

 

CSM2016Why are the tribals in India referred to as ‘the Scheduled Tribes’? Indicate the major provisions in the Constitution of India for their upliftment. (10 marks).
CSM2017What are the two major legal initiatives taken by the state since Independence addressing discrimination against Scheduled Tribes? (10 marks).

 

Practice Questions:

 

1.“Without women’s empowerment and gender equality, societies will not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and their full development potential”. With reference to the above statement, elucidate the necessity of women empowerment in Indian Society.
2.Discuss various challenges faced by minorities in Indian society. Do you think social empowerment is the one-stop solution to the rising problems faced by the minority section?
3.Critically examine various Initiatives taken for Scheduled caste development by the Government of India.
4.Discuss the need for social empowerment for the welfare and development of different sections of society.