AAM AADMI SUFFERS IN ‘HIGH GROWTH’ INDIA:
Folders on (1) Dalits & Tribals, (2) Women (3) Differently Abled
A. Dalits and Tribals
1.Dalits and Adivasis together constitute 25% of the population. Yet governments headed by the BJP and the Congress have pursued neo-liberal policies that intensified their problems.
2.In its CMP, the Congress-led Government promised time-bound filling up of all reservation quotas, through a new Reservation Act and reservation in the private sector. Instead, of the 1,70,000 posts lying vacant in the Railways alone, 32,600 SCs and STs posts are not yet filled up. Over 13,000 vacancies in the promotional quota were denied on grounds of ‘merit’ and thousands of jobs denied in direct recruitment.
3.They buckled under corporate pressure and did not take forward the assurance for reservations in the private sector.
4.The Government brought a Bill to to dereserve jobs in higher educational institutions, and exempt 47 institutions from providing reservation in scientific and technical posts. This was stalled by the Left and other secular parties.
5.Despite the CMP promise no initiative was taken for land redistribution, and Congress state governments raised land ceilings to benefit private business and encouraged take over of land in Vth Schedule areas by corporates.
6.Despite a clear policy mandate, 16% of the expenditures was not allocated for SCs, restricted to less than half of this in the Sub Plan. In the Tribal Sub Plan, the policy level of 6% was not allocated, remaining at just about 4% of the total plan allocation.
7.The Congress-led Government initially tabled a highly diluted Bill to guarantee the forest rights. The CPI(M) played a central role in strengthening and enacting the Schedule Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2007. These include the inclusion of non-tribal traditional forest dwellers; change in cut off year from 1980 to 2005; increase in ceiling on individual land rights from 2.5 ha to 4 ha; no relocation without recognition of rights in protected areas; ensuring rights over to MFP and women’s rights.
8.Even though the Act has been passed the Environment Ministry in the Congress-led government continues to hand over forest land to corporates for mining and other projects without consulting tribals. In just five years 5.73 lakh hectares of such land was diverted.
9.Atrocities against adivasis and dalits went unchecked by the government. It was during the tenure of the UPA that the worst atrocities were committed against Dalits, like that of Khairlanji when a dalit woman and her three children were brutally killed.
B. Women: Litany of Broken Promises
1.The Common Minimum Programme of the Congress led UPA Government proclaimed “to fully empower women politically, educationally, economically and legally”
2.Shamefully, the Women’s Reservation Bill, pending for 12 years, introduced after four years in the Rajya Sabha, has not been passed.
3.The government refused to enact comprehensive legislation on sexual assault covering minors as well in spite of the recommendations of the Law Commission and the National Commission of Women. Despite a 12-year old Supreme Court order, the Government did not enact a comprehensive Act to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace. Another long-pending legislation that was not enacted covers trafficking in women and minors.
4.Neo-liberal policies have hit women hard. The impact of the current global crisis will make thousands of women jobless. Already in some export-oriented industries like garments, thousands of women have been retrenched. However, the current stimulus and bailout packages completely by pass women workers.
5.Despite more than 3 crore Self Help Groups in the country, the government refused to treat the credit needs of the SHGs as a priority sector and did not even lower interest rates to 4%.
C. Differently Abled: Right to Live with Dignity
1.The Congress-led government’s slogan of “inclusive growth” rings hollow when seen in relation to the rights, needs and requirements of the disabled or differently abled population in India, even though constitute at least 6% of the population.
2.The PWD Act provisions 3% reservation in jobs in all government and public sector units for the disabled. The share of the disabled against the total strength in actual terms is barely 0.44% as against their estimated population of 5-6%.
3.With much fanfare, the Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, announced a scheme of providing one lakh jobs per annum to persons with disabilities, with a proposed outlay of Rs. 1800 crore, during the Eleventh Plan, in the Union Budget 2006-07. However, Chidambaram himself admitted some time later that “not a single recruitment has been made six months after the Scheme was announced”.