People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 51

December 18, 2011

CPI(M) Organises All India Workshop

On SC, ST Sub Plan


G Mamatha


IT is not just human beings who are affected by the chaturvarna system of the Indian society; even animals are not out of its stranglehold. In southern Tamilnadu, a male dog from the dalit bastis is not allowed to enter the colonies of the caste Hindus, lest it may pollute the rest of the breed. Recently in Morena, a dog was declared untouchable after a dalit family fed the dog and the family was fined Rs 15,000 for the ‘offence’. Caste discrimination is an evil that is all-pervasive and all-inclusive in our country, it does not leave anything untouched – animals, plants or things!


As a part of its fight against the caste discrimination and to educate the cadre on the rights of the dalits, the CPI(M) has organised an all India workshop on the implementation of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Sub-Plan in New Delhi on December 12.  One hundred and one members from 16 states - West Bengal, Kerala, Tripura, Andhra Pradesh, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, Punjab, Odisha, Haryana and Delhi attended the workshop. Representatives from four mass organisations also attended the meeting. CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Polit Bureau member K Varadarajan, Central Secretariat member V Srinivas Rao were present in the meeting that was chaired by Anil Sarkar from Tripura. P S Krishnan, former secretary to the government of India and one of the architects of the Special Component Plan for the SCs, delivered the inaugural address. The other speakers were Dr Praveen Jha from the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Mallepally Laxmaiah, director of the Dalit Studies Centre, Hyderabad.


Inaugurating the meeting, P S Krishnan congratulated the CPI(M) for organising such an important meeting on the Scheduled Castes Special Component Plan, a term he feels is apt and says the new name -  Scheduled Castes Sub Plan is derogatory and therefore must be replaced with the original name. At the outset, he emphasised that the starting point of the SCP should be to set apart for the SCs, the population-equivalent share of the funds of the total Five-Year and Annual Plan outlay of the centre and each state, before the Plan outlay is distributed among sectors, ministries, departments etc; i.e. at the Gangotri (the origin) and not in the Sangham, (at the point of distribution) as it were. And using this SCP corpus, programmes and schemes for SCs should be formulated based solely on their needs and priorities in order to achieve the desired goals of the SCP, which mainly comprise economic empowerment, educational parity from elementary education to the level of higher education, security and social dignity. He said, Rs Two lakh crores (one lakh from the centre and one lakh from the states) that would be roughly accrued to the SCP if the allocations are made according to the Plan, is a huge amount of money and if it is spent in the desired manner, it will effect a huge change in the lives of the dalits.  He said land is a crucial element in the development of the dalits. A large majority of the SCs are landless agricultural labourers. Every SC family should be given land and be provided minor irrigation facilities. A number of government appointed committees have said that there is enough land with the government that can be distributed among the SCs. Therefore, there is no dearth of resources and if the government has the will, it can improve the conditions of the dalits. He said every parameter of development should be measured in terms of how effective they are in narrowing the gap between the SC, ST, BCs and the socially advanced castes. Talking about the living condition of the dalits, P S Krishnan said the SC bastis are a ‘Hell on Earth,’ with no electricity, sanitation, drinking water, connectivity roads and such other minimum basic facilities. In terms of health and education too, dalits are at the bottom most rung. Mortality, of all types, is highest among the dalits. In education too, if we consider the example of metropolitan city of Delhi alone, the latest NSSO data shows that at the level of graduation and above, SCs constitute just 1.3 per cent, while it is 26.2 per cent for the others. P S Krishnan demanded that a network of high quality residential schools must be established through out the country for the SC children. He commended the efforts of the CPI(M) that took up the direct fight for social justice in Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu and concluded by saying that it should do so all over the country and strengthen the fight for the implementation of the constitutional and moral rights of the dalits.


After the inaugural address, K Varadarajan introduced the draft resolution on the implementation of the SCSP and underlined the future course of action, the full text of which is reproduced separately in this issue. He said the purpose of this workshop was to create awareness on the Sub-Plan and enable the launching of the fight in the streets on the demands formulated. He said the all India demands have to be linked up with the local issues of the dalits and a campaign has to be organised at the state level. After the conventions and mobilisations at the state level, an all India rally could be held in New Delhi in the middle of the coming year.


Dr Praveen Jha, speaking next, felt that the SCP and TSP are potential instruments for effecting a positive change in the lives of the dalits and tribals. He said an independent authority with necessary administrative, executive and accountability mechanisms to monitor SCP and TSP upto the district level must be set up. He reiterated the demand of the workshop for a white paper on the implementation of the SCP, TSP in the last thirty years.


Mallepally Laxmaiah spoke on the experiences of the implementation of the SCP in Andhra Pradesh. He said the allocations for the SCP in the state crossed 14 per cent from the year 2007-08, which was much below earlier. This was possible because of the initiative taken by the CPI(M) in bringing up this issue to the forefront.  CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and state secretary  B V Raghavulu who is also the KVPS vice president,  sat on an indefinite hunger strike in  February 2007 demanding  allotment of funds for Sub-Plans in proportion to their population and creation of a nodal agency to oversee proper implementation of Sub-Plans. Every other political party had to follow and talk about the SCP, TSP and other dalit problems as a result of the CPI(M) initiative. Laxmaiah expressed hope that such initiatives will be made in all the states and at the national level.


Sixteen members participated in the discussions and enriched the draft resolution with their experiences. The members said that the struggle for social justice must be galvanised and strengthened all over the country. For this, conscious efforts have to be made and whatever hesitation is there in taking up the dalit issues, it should be given away. After the reply by K Varadarajan, the draft resolution was adopted unanimously.


Delivering the concluding address, Prakash Karat said the workshop was organised to exchange experiences and focus the demand for the proper implementation of the Sub-Plan. He said in 2006, the Party had organised an all India convention on the rights of the dalits and a charter of demands was formulated on dalit issues. This workshop has a single point focus on the SCP, on suggesting the steps to be taken for its proper implementation and how it can be made an instrument for social equality and justice, how the rightful share of dalits in budget can be used for their emancipation.


He said the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the governments have caused a squeeze on the public funds and expenditure, including in the social sector. As a result, the SCP has also suffered a cut. The most effected and the worst sufferers of the neo-liberal policies are the deprived sections of the society.


Detailing the experiences of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu in the fight against caste discrimination, Prakash Karat said that a wide section of forces must be involved and broadest possible unity must be forged in the fight for social justice. He exhorted the members to undertake a concrete study of the specific issues and go beyond the general slogans. He concluded by saying that the fight against caste discrimination is a responsibility of the democratic movement as a whole and in the coming days this fight should be strengthened all over the country.


The workshop ended with a vote of thanks by V Srinivas Rao.