Special Articles / Ashok Antony D'Souza / Social Development through Social Work
In this section we shall see different aspects of Social Development of the marginalized communities such as women, children, aged, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and minorities. We shall also try to understand how the government has strived for their development through the formulation of social policies and implementation of different social legislation.
Social Development of Women
The women’s movement in 1970s and United Nations Decade for Women (1976-85) in which concepts of feminism, women, and development got acknowledgment, led to the inclusion of women in the development programmes, to certain degrees. In the women and development policies, there has been a shift from welfare to issues like equity, anti-poverty, income generation, and empowerment. Each one of these frameworks looks at women’s role in development differently.
Women in Development (WID)
The notion of integrating women into development was closely linked to the modernization and human capital theories which were dominant in 1950s-70s. The International Women’s Year Conference in Mexico City in 1975 called for extending the existing development programmes to women with the slogan ‘Equality, Development and Peace’. This approach is known as “Women in Development” (WID).
The ‘Women In Development’ (WID) phrase was first put to use by the Women’s Committee of the Society for International Development in Washington D.C. Ester Boserup in her book Woman’s Role in Economic Development (1970) offered a theoretical base to this approach. Boserup was the first to show that modernization and technology have differential impacts on men and women. Using a gender perspective, she has shown how economic development alters women’s work, their fertility, and their roles in family and society (Ghosh, 2000).
The WID approach questioned the invisibility of gender issues from development at both theoretical and practical levels. The focus of WID is on equalizing the opportunities for women in education and employment. It believed that provisions of health and education would be available to women eventually and these need not be considered separately. This meant that women’s concerns were being added on in a welfare approach with focus on income generation, craft training, and child care. It was assumed that with income generation, women’s conditions would improve.
No thought was however given as to who was controlling that income. The productive role of women did matter much more than their reproductive role. ‘Production’ is about producing goods and services that carry economic value, while ‘reproduction’, besides producing children, encompasses daily chores of the household like cooking, cleaning, care of children and the elderly – activities which have no economic value when carried out within the family. The WID approach suggests that planners should acknowledge women’s work as food producers in rural households and for urban markets when male members shift to the agro-export or cash-crop production.
Women and Development (WAD)
Around the mid 1970’s, neo-Marxist feminists and dependency theorists shifted their attention from WID to reflect on the relationship between women and development. This gave rise to the Women And Development (WAD) framework, which paid attention to class dimension. According to this framework, women’s unequal status is related to existing global and class inequalities. It acknowledged women’s work in family and economy as adding value to society, but only paid work was considered. Like WID, WAD attended to productive sphere and left out the reproductive sphere, and with it women’s double work burden. It sought income generation and equity policies for women.
Development programmes were initiated to equip women with various skills and women’s work in the public domain was given recognition. Women’s work in the household, child care and that of elderly was disregarded in economic terms due to prevalence of western prejudice and inappropriate comprehension of it. Thus, a distinction was made between the public and private sphere. Use of class as a category puts oppressed women with oppressed men without any consideration of patriarchy and the way it operates (Ghosh, 2000).
Gender and Development (GAD)
The gender and development approach emerged in the 1980s as an alternative to the WID approach. It links the relations of production to the relations of reproduction considering all dimensions of women’s lives. It analyses the nature of women’s contribution within the household as well as outside including non-commodity production. In this manner, the GAD approach rejects the dichotomy between public and private spheres, ensuring that family maintenance and household work that women do would get adequate attention in development. Moreover, this approach emphasizes on the role of the state in advancing women’s emancipation.
The GAD approach sees women as agents of change rather than as passive beneficiaries of development. It lays importance on women organizing themselves in order to articulate their concerns. Although it recognizes that class solidarity and class distinctions are both significant, it focuses on the ideology of patriarchy which functions within and across classes for the subjugation of women. The GAD perspective, therefore, evaluates social structures and institutions (Rathgeber, 1989). The GAD approach addresses practical gender needs, such as those related to provisions of safe water, food, health facilities etc. and also strategic gender needs that women themselves recognize, for instance, changes in the gender division of labour, assertion of legal rights etc. These exist due to low status of women in society.
Women, Environment and Development (WED)
The shift from integration to transformation of the development model led to the Women, Environment and alternative Development (WED) framework which focused on alternatives more than remedies. In contrast to WID, this approach believed that economic development had been Eurocentric, hierarchical and patriarchal, besides being destructive to nature. The economic theories that guide development are founded on women’s exploitation and their social and economic marginalization. With regard to developmentalism, WED believes that the main concern is not simply to add women into the existing development programmes, but to evolve a new development paradigm (McMichael, 1996).
The western development paradigm based on rational economic theories assumes universal applicability. Its rationality disregards the specific histories and culture and removes practical knowledge from its purview. Colonialism and application of development projects in the third world countries have resulted in the indigenous traditions of European and non-European worlds getting diminished, giving way to the predominance of market rationality. For instance, crafts have become mechanized, indigenous multiple-cropping patterns have given way to specialized monoculture with use of chemical fertilizers, and traditional health practices have been taken over by western medical sciences. Also, this development pays little regard to the care of nature, and women’s role in nurturing and preserving it. Therefore, the WED approach calls for developing an alternative knowledge system based on practical knowledge and rooted in cultural traditions.
WED feminists emphasize that no universal development paradigm can be applied in all societies because development is a relative process and not a universal one. Moreover, women’s roles in sustaining cultural and ecological relations are complex and place specific and incapable of being reduced to universal formulas. If the concern is to emancipate women in the third world, then their specific conditions should be the basis of this approach.
Women Development in India
The Mahalanobis model adopted by India soon after its independence to fight poverty was gender-blind and biased. It included only those works by women which were paid for. Hard work that women did in rural areas adding to the resources of the household was not considered. Thus, development priorities were skewed. Gender bias in the household as well as in the social system constrained women’s right to own property, access credit/technology, education, and skill training. The inferior status of women ensured that advantages from development in the fields of education, health, income, and employment did not reach them like it did to men. Moreover, the sexual division of labour by which women took charge of family and child care did not let them participate in outside activities be it social, economic or political.
More importance was assigned to males and sons leading to discrimination against women and girl child in nutrition, health and education. The family planning programme treated women as reproductive beings and approached them to undertake contraception and birth control.
Development policies at times reinforce gender relations. It is assumed that market economy means the same for men and women. But, segments of women are being taken into workforce to such a limit that it causes feminization of labour. Export industries recruit women under various contract arrangements. Women are preferred since they are generally ‘quiet’, ‘meek’, ‘cheap’, and ‘vulnerable’ in a gender-segregated labour market. Meanwhile, when men from villages migrate to towns in search of work women are left to themselves managing everything. To illustrate, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has said that the majority of farmers in India are women. Women either work on family farm or in traditional cottage industries while men move away. But, women’s contribution in the subsistence economy is not recognized. Gender relations play a role in women’s involvement in the development process.
India adopted the New Economic Policy in 1991 with its essential tenets of liberalization, privatization and globalization. The World Bank Report on Gender and Poverty (1991) suggests some improvements to enhance women’s ability to access credit, skill, technology etc. in the context of liberalization. However, the report makes no mention of gender based division of labour or power relations in the market or household. It takes note of the fact that female agricultural employment has grown at a faster rate and suggests that women should enter the market economy. It says that the cause of slow induction of women into economy was due to prohibitory labour regulation policies that constrained enterprises in the organized sector. Disagreeing with this, Krishnaraj states that women are taken into the economy on discriminatory conditions. Market is gender-neutral only in theory while in practice, it exploits the minorities and women. Women enter labour market facing degradation, feminization, informalisation, and casualisation.
Markets are driven by profit- orientation causing commoditization of women and men. Under globalization, multinational corporations compete with each other, and encourage consumerism. Women are commoditized and commodities are sexualized. They show emancipated women in the market context as individualistic and successful, but with the right proportion of glamour.
Policies and Planning for Women in India
Our Constitution has eliminated gender discrimination by incorporating the right to equality. Various legislations and policies have been made for the empowerment of women.
The commitment to gender equality is well entrenched at the highest policy making level - the Constitution of India. A few important provisions for women are:
A few of the laws and legislation pertaining to economic life of women are as follows: Factories Act, 1948, Minimum Wages Act, 1948; Equal Remuneration Act, 1976, The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948; The Plantation Labour Act, 1951; and The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.
Some of the legislations concerning protection of women are: relevant provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973; Special provisions under IPC; the Legal Practitioners (Women) Act, 1923; the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994.
A few of the laws concerning social aspects of women’s empowerment are: Family Courts Act, 1984; the Indian Succession Act, 1925; the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971; the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929; the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 (& amended in 2005); and the Indian Divorce Act, 1969.
The following are the salient features of the main laws concerning women enacted after independence.
The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Special Marriage Act, 1954 were amended in 1976 to provide for the right of a girl to repudiate before attaining maturity, marrying as child whether the marriage has been consummated or not cruelty and desertion were added as grounds for divorce and mutual consent were recognized.
Hindu Succession Act, 1956 confers the right of absolute ownership over property and the women can make a will leaving her share of property to the heirs. Section 10 of the Act provides for the property of an Intestate being divided among the heirs in accordance with certain prescribed rules. “Intestate” means a person dying without leaving a will.
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956 shows man of sound mind can take a son or daughter in adoption provided that if he has a living wife, he gets the consent of his wife to do so, unless the wife has completely renounced the world, is of unsound mind and has ceased to be a Hindu.
A Hindu woman can take a child in adoption if she is unmarried or is a widow, her marriage has been dissolved, her husband has renounced the world, has changed his religion and he is declared to be of unsound mind.
Under Section 9, the consent of father and mother is necessary for giving the child in adoption unless (i) they or one of them is dead or (ii) the father or mother has completely and finally renounced the world or (iii) has ceased to be Hindu or (iv) has been declared by a court of competent jurisdiction to be of unsound mind.
The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1976 The Act raises the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18 years and boys 18 to 21 years. The offences under this Act have been made cognizable.
The Factories Act, 1948, Mines Act, 1952 and Plantation Labour Act, 1951 prohibit the employment of women between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. in factories, mines and plantations, regulate the working hours and contain provision for their safety and welfare. The Government is authorized to fix the maximum load that may be lifted by women, to open creches etc.
The Employee’s State Insurance Act, 1948 provides various benefits like sickness benefit, maternity benefit, disablement benefit, dependent benefit, medical and funeral benefit.
The Maternity Benefits Act, 1961 is applicable to every establishment, plantation, mine or factory and provides for payment of maternity benefit at the rate of average daily wage for the period of women’s actual absence. It has been amended in April, 1976 to cover women, who do not fall within the purview of the Employees State Insurance Act, 1948. A proposal to further amend the Act is under consideration of the Labour Ministry.
The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1976 provides for establishment of crkches where 30 women are employed (including casual labourers or contract labourers) as against one for every 50 hitherto.
The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 provides for (a) the payment of equal remuneration to men and women workers and (b) prevention of discrimination on the ground of sex against women in the matter of employment and for matters connected therewith or identical thereto. There is a proposal under consideration of Labour Ministry for amendment of the Act with a view to further liberalizing its provisions in favour of women.
The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1978 regulates the working conditions of contract labour (which includes women), payment of wages and privileges for welfare facilities and crèches for the children of working women engaged in construction work.
The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 legalises induced abortion by qualified doctors on humanitarian and medical grounds. This is primarily a welfare measure to protect the health of women though it has also a family planning aspect. Women can now have induced abortion through qualified people. The service is available free in public hospitals. All the documents are kept confidential. Before undergoing surgery, if the patient is a minor or of unsound mind, written consent of the guardian is necessary.
The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961was first legislated in 1961. The Act was amended in 1984 to make the offence cognizable, to enhance the penalty, both fine and imprisonment and to widen the scope of the Act to make it more effective. The Act was further amended in 1986 to make the penal provisions more effective and stringent. The minimum punishment for taking or abetting of dowry has been raised to 5 years and a fine of Rs. 15,000. The advertisements in newspapers, periodicals etc. offering a share of property as consideration for marriage is punishable. The amendment proposes appointment of Dowry Prohibition officers by the State Governments. Offences under the Act have been made non-bailable. A new offence of ‘Dowry Death’ has been included in the Indian Penal Code consequential to the amendment in the Act.
The Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 prohibits trafficking in women and girls for purposes of prostitution as an organized means of living. The Act which was amended in 1978 was further amended in September, 1986 with the objective of making the penal provisions in the Act more stringent and effective. The amended Act is retitled as “The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1986 and the salient features are widening the scope of the Act to cover all persons, whether male or female who are sexually exploited for commercial purposes; enhancement of the period of imprisonment where offences are committed against minors and children; appointment of Trafficking Police Officers, who will have the powers to investigate inter-State offences; prescribing punishments as laid down for rape under the Indian Penal Code or the seduction of victims of trafficking while in custody; interrogations of women and girls removed from the brothels to be held by women police officers or in their absence in the presence of women social workers and setting up of Special Courts for settling offences which have inter-State ramifications.
The Indian Evidence Act, the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code were amended in 1983 to make the offence of rape and such crimes against women much more stringent and effective and also to make a new provision to the Indian Penal Code to make cruelty against women by the husband and other relations punishable. The onus of proof of innocence would rest on the accused of such offences.
Family Courts: An Act was passed in 1984 for the setting up of Family Courts in the country with a view to promoting reconciliation in, and securing speedy settlement of disputes relating to marriage and family affairs and for matters connected therewith.
Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 was passed in Parliament in December 1986 with the objective of having separate legislation to effectively prohibit the indecent representation of women through advertisements, books, pamphlets etc. The indecent representation of women has been defined to mean the depiction of the figure of a woman in such a way as to have the effect of being indecent or of being derogatory to women or is likely to deprive, corrupt or injure the public morality; to prohibit all advertisements, publications etc. which contain indecent representation of women in any form; to prohibit selling, distribution, circulation of any books, pamphlets etc. containing indecent representation of women. Offences under this Act are made punishable with imprisonment of either description for a term extending to two years and fine extending to two thousand rupees on first conviction.
The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 was passed by the Parliament in December, 1987 to provide for more effective prevention of the commission of sati and its glorification and matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The Act defines sati comprehensively to include not only the burning or burial alive of a widow wife with a deceased husband but also of a widow or woman with the body of any other relative or any article associated with the husband or relative; anyone who abets the commitment of Sati by inducement, encouragement, participation in processions, preventing the widow from saving herself etc. would be punishable by the maximum penalty i.e. death or imprisonment for life; the abetment of an attempt to commit Sati would be punishable with imprisonment for life. In the case of persons prosecuted under these offences, the burden of proof that he or she had not committed the offence shall be on him when those convicted for such offences shall be disqualified from inheriting the property of the person committing Sati; persons convicted under such offences shall be disqualified under the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of five years after release; glorification of Sati has been defined in detail.
The Planning Commission’s ‘Plans and Prospects for Social Welfare in India 1951-1961’ states that social welfare services are to be extended to special requirements of persons and groups who because of some disability - social, economic, physical or mental – are deprived of facilities provided by the community. Women were believed to be disabled by social customs and social values. Thus, social services were meant to relocate them. The Commission listed three main areas through which women’s development could take place - (a) education, (b) social welfare, and (c) health (CSWI, 1974).
The aim of social policies for women empowerment has been to bring women into the mainstream of development of the society. Various schemes have been started for women to raise the employment status, education and health. A National Commission for Women (NCW) has been established in 1992. The National Perspective Plan for Women (1998 to 2000) indicates directions to protect the rights and interests of women.
A number of special schemes for education, vocational training, employment, reservations in elective offices in local self government have been started. Legislation exists to protect women, to eliminate discrimination and empower them politically. Specific statutes cover inheritance and rights to property, marriage, divorce and alimony, suppression of immoral trafficking in females, prohibition of dowry practice and provision of equal remuneration and misuse of prenatal diagnostic techniques for sex pre-selection and abortion of female fetuses.
For improving health status of women following schemes and activities have been started:
Scheme of profilaxys against nutritional anaemia: for pregnant and nursing mothers
Training of untrained birth attendants: to ensure safe delivery
Social Development of Children
It has been enjoined upon the state that it shall provide adequate services to children both before and after birth and through the period of growth, to ensure their full physical, mental and social development. The state shall progressively increase the scope of such services so that, within a reasonable time all children in the country enjoy optimum conditions for their balanced growth.
The measures adopted for achieving these objectives are as follows:
Care and Protection of Children
In order to provide care and protection to children who for various reasons require it, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 1986 (as amended in 2000) has come into force. The Act provides services for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of juveniles who have not completed eighteen year of age, by adopting a child - friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in their best interest and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under the Act.
It deals with two categories of children:
i) Children in need of care and protection – these children are without any home or settled place or abode and without any ostensible means of subsistence; mentally or physically challenged children or children suffering from terminal diseases or incurable diseases having no one to support or look after; children whose parents and guardians are unfit or incapacitated to exercise control; abandoned, missing, destitute and run away children; children who are being or are likely to be exploited for the purpose of sexual abuse or illegal acts and children who are found vulnerableor are likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking.
ii) Children (juveniles) in conflict with law – these children are those who are alleged to have committed an offence. The institutional measures for the above categories of children include observation homes, special homes, children homes and shelter homes.
Observation homes provide temporary reception of juveniles in conflict with law during the pendency of inquiry regarding them. Special homes provide for reception and rehabilitation of juveniles in conflict with law. Children homes provide residential care, treatment and rehabilitation services for children who are destitute, abandoned, abused and exploited. Shelter homes (run by voluntary organisations) function as drop-in-centres for the children in need of urgent support.
Under the Act, special adjudication machinery has been established such as Juvenile
Justice Board for juveniles in conflict with law and Child Welfare Committee for children in need of care and protection.
The process of rehabilitation and reintegration of children is carried out alternatively by (i) adoption, (ii) foster care, and (iii) sponsorship and sending the child to an aftercare organisation.
Integrated Programme for Street Children
The objective of this programme is to prevent destitution of children and facilitate their withdrawal from life on the street. The programme provides for shelter, nutrition, health care, education, recreation facilities to street children and seeks to protect them against abuse and exploitation. The target group of this programme is children without homes and family ties i.e. street children and children especially vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, such as children of sex workers and children of pavement dwellers. In addition to voluntary organisations, State Governments, UT administration, local bodies and educational institutions are also eligible for the financial assistance from the Government to run these programmes.
Inter-country Adoption of Children
Considering the fact that there are about 30 million orphans in the country, of which 12 million are destitute, and also keeping in view the malpractices indulged in by the voluntary organisations while offering Indian children in adoption to foreign parents, the Supreme Court of India in the year 1984 and also subsequently, delivered a series of judgements pertaining to child adoption. As per the directions of the Supreme Court regarding legal principles, norms and procedures to be followed in the inter-country adoptions, the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) was set up in 1990. As an agency registered under the Societies Registration Act, CARA functions as an autonomous body funded by the Social Defence Division of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. It facilitates the adoption of orphaned, homeless, abandoned, exploited, abused and institutionalized children.
Besides, the Ministry has also granted recognition to both Indian and foreign agencies which are engaged in sponsoring Indian children for adoption abroad. 77 agencies in the country have been given recognition for doing inter-country adoption. In addition, 293 foreign agencies have been enlisted in more than 25 countries to sponsor inter-country adoption of Indian children. The Ministry has also issued guidelines for ‘Foster Family Care’ as an alternative to institutional care of children awaiting adoption.
National Child Development Board
It was set up in December 1974 with the Prime Minister of India as its Chairman and the Minister of Human Resource Development as its Vice-Chairman. The main objectives of this board are:
Social Development of the Aged
India lacks a comprehensive population-wide old age income security system. The two important mandatory pension mechanisms are the civil servants’ defined benefit pension and the ‘organized sector’ system run by the Employees Provident Fund Organization (EPFO), an arm of the Ministry of Labor. The key weakness in India’s pension system is its very limited coverage which extends to just 11 percent of the labor force (which automatically diminishes the extent of risk pooling that takes place). The vast majority of the population lies in the ‘unorganized sector’ and is outside the formal pension system. For this group support from their children continues to be the principal means of old age insurance. In addition, many states have now introduced old age pension schemes, but the benefits under these are limited, typically about USD 5 per month.
The percentage of the aged in the population is rising and the ability of the family to support and take care of the aged is diminishing. Therefore, it has now become imperative for the society to accept greater responsibility to facilitate the social adjustment of the aged.
In the developed societies when the problem of the aged has become even more acute, there are well developed, support systems for the aged devised by the public institutions. There are institutional arrangements to look after the financial, residential and health-care needs of the aged, which greatly supplement and even replace the support of the family. The special needs of the aged are specifically recognized in every branch of social activity.
In the Indian society also, there is recognition of the responsibility of the larger society to look after the aged. Article 41 of the Indian Constitution enjoins the state to make effective provision of public assistance for the benefit of the disadvantaged and weaker sections including the aged. However, the policies and the programmes, which the government has undertaken so far, touch only the fringes of the problem of the aged.
A small percentage of the aged are the retired persons from the organized sector. They are provided social security by the employers in the form of pensions, provident fund, and gratuity etc. However, these sections may not get sufficient emotional support from their families. Their families may not meet their entertainment needs. Hence they have to be accommodated somewhere by the state. Again, a major group of the aged is of those who retire from unorganized sector without any social security benefit. They have also to be accommodated and given social security in case they have no family. In India, there are few state-run homes for aged. The State and the Central Governments provide financial assistance to the voluntary agencies to set up such homes and to take up innovative programmes for providing services to them. There are also schemes of pensions of old age in all states and union territories. Through the criterion of eligibility differs, generally destitute, poor and infirm aged of 60 and above, are provided pensions at rates ranging from Rs. 30 to Rs. 100 per months (India 2000).
There are three main steps the government has taken in connection with the problem of the aged. First, the government has enacted legislation to affirm the duty of every person having sufficient means to maintain and look after his aged or infirm parents who are not able to maintain himself or herself. This step of the government only boils down to overseeing the traditional role of the family of providing support for the aged. This legislation, however, is of no material use as no parent is willing to go to a court of law to extract support from an unwilling child.
The second step the government has taken, is to assume partial responsibility for supporting destitute aged who do not have earning children or children with sufficient income to support them. The government provides old age pensions to the destitute aged, as well as, gives grants- in-aid to institutions, which take care of such persons. The old age pensions, however, consist of meagre amounts barely adequate for subsistence.
The third step the government has taken in respect of the aged is to pass legislation to ensure retirement benefits, such as, gratuity, pension and provident fund, to be paid by the employers to the aged who are compulsorily retired.
Such legislation applies to the larger enterprises and, as such, these benefits are derived by only a small segment of the aged.
Besides the government, there are a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which offer various kinds of services to the aged. The services provided by the NGOs include:
Social Development of the Scheduled Castes
As seen in the earlier chapters, the Constitution of India provides certain special constitutional safeguards for the welfare of scheduled castes population so that they could take their rightful place in community. As citizens of republic of India, they are fully entitled to certain rights and privileges, which were denied to them in the part on the ground of caste system and the practice of untouchability. Keeping in view, the constitutional mandate the Government of Karnataka, through social welfare department formulated various schemes and programmes for the upliftment of scheduled castes (hereafter mentioned as SCs) especially for their socio-economic and educational advancement from the year 1956 onwards.
To implement various schemes and porogrammes, both central and state Government provided funds. Though some of the schemes are funded either wholly or partly by the Central Government through the special central assistance, centrally sponsored schemes under special component plan, Majority of the schemes are funded and implemented by State Government alone.
The schemes are implemented broadly at three different levels, one at State level (Social welfare Commissionerate), other at District level (Zilla Panchayat) and few at the Taluk Panchayat level. The schemes cover the main priority sectors, Education, Employment, Housing, Irrigation etc.
The various welfare schemes of the department include:
Educational schemes: Education takes the top priority in the developmental programmes of the Social welfare department the department is implementing several educational schemes, they are as follows:-
Scholarships: In addition to the educational schemes implemented for the welfare of SC students, award of scholarships constitutes an important aspect of Social welfare department. The scholarships include; incentive scholarships from 1st to 4th standard students, Pre-and post metric prize for rank holders, Financial aid to M.Phil. and Ph.D students, book bank schemes etc.,
Training: The unemployed SC youths are encouraged by the department to take up self employment through several training programmes like, driving, computer literacy, motor rewinding, technical trainings, nursing, air hostess training etc., and the law graduates are encouraged through law practice with a stipend of Rs. 1,000/- per month.
Special Schemes: Under the special schemes to improve the status of poor Sc people, the Social welfare department has implemented various economic development activities like agriculture, sericulture, forestry, animal husbandry, fisheries small scale industries, etc.
The aim of the reservation policy is to help Scheduled Castes to come up, within specified time, at par with others in the society. The reservation policy has three major components. These are:
In addition to these, the State Governments have also adopted other measures for school children of the Scheduled Castes. These are:
Special Component Plan
The Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes constitutes a distinct feature of the planning process in the country and is intended to comprehensively cover economic, educational and social development along with the fulfillment of minimum needs and human resources development. There are, in the main, two aspects in the flow of resources to the Special Component Plan, firstly the direct flow through family-oriented and individual-oriented programmes aimed at economic development and secondly, the flow to the programmes for scheduled castes through provision of social services, infrastructure and other facilities.
The Special Component Plan mechanism was evolved during the Sixth Plan to channelize the flow of benefits from the State Plan for the development of Scheduled Castes in physical and financial terms. These programmes have been designed to help poor Scheduled Caste families through composite income generating programmes and to cover all the major occupational groups among Scheduled Castes such as agricultural labourers, small and marginal farmers, sweepers and scavengers, unorganized labourers below poverty line etc. Further, the Special Component Plan seeks to improve the living conditions of Scheduled Castes through provision of drinking water supply, link roads, house-sites and housing, primary schools, health centres, veterinary centres, community halls, nutrition centres, extension of electricity etc., in the Scheduled Caste habitations.
Social Development of Scheduled Tribes
A universally acceptable or applicable definition of the term ‘tribe’ is lacking. However the word tribe is widely used. Purely for the sake of classification, the British Government used the word tribe, along with prefixes like jungle and hill, aboriginal, indigenous to describe, the people who seemed to have little contact with the main culture. The word tribe has been used by European historians to refer to distinct groups like the Gauls and Anglo-Saxons and autonomous political groups such as Lichchavi, Mulla, Khasa, etc. in ancient India. British social anthropologists like Radcliffe-Brown, Evans-Pritchard, Fortes and Nadel have used the word tribe to refer to autonomous political unit which lives in its own territory and possesses its own distinctive way of life.
Efforts have been made to look for some generalisation and common denominators if not a proper definition. In the Indian context the Commissioner for, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in his report for the year 1952 has listed some common features. These are that the tribes: (i) live away from the civilised world in the inaccessible parts lying in the forest hills, (ii) they belong to either one of the three stocks–Negrito, Australoid or Mongoloids, (iii) they speak the same tribal dialect, (iv) they profess ‘primitive’ religion known as ‘Animism’ in which the worship of ghosts and spirits is the most important element, (v) they follow ‘primitive’ occupations such as gleaning, hunting and gathering of forest products; and (vi) they are largely meat eaters. The list also includes their love for food and drink.
A.R. Desai commenting on the above features, says that of 25 million people described as tribal, at that time, only 5 millions possess these features. D.N. Majumdar states that, except for the tribes of Eastern India, everywhere else ethnic strains have crisscrossed in the sub-continent. Thus, it is very difficult to say with certainty what is tribal. Yet, in spite of the social and cultural differences that exist among the tribal people dispersed over India. In their social life kinship is the principal unit of organisation. They are often the units for land ownership, economic production and consumption. In spite of the differences some common features do exist.
In the subsistence economy very few tribal groups are still hunters and food gatherer but many of them practise shifting agriculture or cultivation. And still others are pastoral nomads. Tribes do not usually take to trading or financial transactions. Thus, the society is more or less homogeneous with little sense of hierarchy and subordination.
Politically, tribal societies are relatively simple and egalitarian. Lineage, clan and kinship tend to overlap with their political organisations. Tribal religion tends to be less systematised, less specialised and elaborated.
These characteristics are very general and preliminary and are often shared by non-tribals also. Keeping in mind the problem of definition, F.G. Bailey thus suggests that the definition of tribe should be seen in a continuum: the tribe at one end and caste.at the other end.
The Scheduled Tribes
For ages, the tribes had little more than a casual contact with so called civilised or advanced cultures and societies. When the British consolidated their position in India, their expansionist operations necessitated the opening up of the entire country through an effective communication system. The British consolidated the money economy, acquired lands and introduced cash-cropping, land tenure, a new legal system, administration etc. All these measures opened the tribal land to outside influences. Though all these changes brought relief to the tribes these systems gradually became exploitative. Along with these the Christian missionaries in India exposed these communities of people to much quicker tempo of modern life by providing them formal, education, making them conscious about health and so forth.
The social, cultural and economic exploitations, of the tribals prompted them to go on wars and agitations. With increasing feeling of deprivation their agitations, struggles and movements also increased. In the wake of tribal upheavals and for variety of other reasons, the British thought of protecting the tribes by having regulated areas for which normal rules were not applicable.
Along with the distinct and special arrangements made for areas populated by tribals, there also emerged the concept of tribe as a social category to differentiate them from the Hindus, Muslims and other distinct religious groups.
The Government of India Act 1933 incorporated some provisions and the policy of reservation for the tribes notified in the Schedule. The concept of Scheduled Tribe emerged henceforth and was included in the Constitution of independent India. A list of tribes was incorporated in the Eighth Schedule of the constitution. In 1971, the list contained names of 527 tribes. The reservation policy or the policy of protecting discrimination for the notified or Scheduled Tribes has been made a constitutional obligation.
Under Article 15(4) special provisions are made for educational advancement of the Scheduled Tribes. These provisions are like reservation of seats and relaxation in marks in admission to educational institutions, scholarships, etc.
Under Article 46 the State is enjoined upon to promote with special care to education and economic interests of SC and ST and protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
Articles 330 and 332 seats are reserved for SC and ST in Lok Sabha State Vidhan Sabhas.
Under Article 339(1) the President may at anytime appoint a Commission to report on the administration of the Scheduled Area and the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the State.
Approaches to Tribal Development
Under the British rule the policy of maintaining the status quo was followed. Hutton and others condemned too much of isolation as also of complete assimilation of tribals. V. Elwin wanted a revivalist policy to be adopted. His scheme of “National parks” pleaded for the complete non-interference of the British rule and its withdrawal from the tribal areas. In reaction to these conservative or revivalist views, G.S. Ghurye, a senior sociologist, made a case for the complete assimilation of tribals with the rest of the people in India. He said that it was misleading to call the tribes aborigines as they were actually only backward Hindus and the solution of all their problems cultural as well as economic and social, lay in their complete assimilation into the Hindu society. In fact, the tribal folks have distinct cultures and their complete assimilation with Hindus may not be possible without disruption to their culture, customs, traditions etc. Tribal culture has many happy and useful facets and the same must be preserved.
D.N. Majumdar opines that the best policy for tribes would be for their controlled (planned) and limited assimilation. By limited assimilation he implied; the need and desirability of preserving their useful institutions, customs, practices etc. though these are to be tribal in origin and character. The transcultural borrowing should be encouraged. For example, instead of forcing child marriage upon the tribal folk Hindus should adopt the tribal practice of marrying late. It would not only improve average health but also put a check on the alarming rise in India’s population.
A plan for tribal development must be holistic. It should tackle all cultural, social, economic and political, problems of the tribals. Priorities must be fixed in terms of quick results. At the outset, the tribal support for planning has to be enlisted by demonstrating to them that an attempt is being made-to change their life for the better and not at destroying whatever they have. The first focal point on which to concentrate is to their health and hygiene besides their economic life. No plans for change can succeed without their proper education. Instructions should be imparted in such knowledge as helps a person to be a better number of his / her own community much as possible the traditional system of imparting instruction should be retained. It is a human problem of immense magnitude for the solution of which administrators, social workers and social scientists must pool their resources together.
The informal approach towards development was laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India. Nehru issues of tribal development should be pursued within the broad framework of the following five fundamental principles:
The tribal society has largely been egalitarian and democratic. The triabal elite today have the only model of larger national life comprising socially and economically structured society where there are the poor and the rich. In the tribal areas we still have an opportunity of strengthening an egalitarian society.
Development in the tribal areas should be so guided that deprivation processes do not set in. B.D. Sharma, the former Commissioner for the SC/ST has observed that the entire question of tribal development boils down to two basic issues: i) whether the traditional command of the community over resources can be preserved, and ii) whether the egalitarian structure of the tribal communities can be retained and their social milieu can be taken advantage of to initiate a process so that their socio-economic transformation can be negotiated without deprivation. This process cannot be superimposed but has to be stimulated by the tribal community itself which has a tradition of self-governance.
Tribal Sub Plan
The Tribal Sub Plan was introduced to ensure that all general development sectors at the State level earmark funds in proportion to ST population so that adequate benefits from all the concerned sectors flow to the tribal groups.
Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) strategy, which came into being in the Fifth Five Year Plan with the twin objectives of area and sectoral approaches, envisages protection of the interests of the Scheduled Tribes through legal and administrative measures and developmental and welfare activities through plan efforts. Empowerment of these historically disadvantaged tribal people requires more provision of the basic capabilities for integrating them into growth process.
The Tribal Sub Plan has been under implementation since 1976-77 with the aim of i) helping the Scheduled Tribe families to cross the poverty line, and ii) to provide basic amenities and facilities in their areas. The size of the Tribal Sub Plan should be in proportion to Scheduled Tribe population to the State’s total population. The objective of the Tribal Sub Plan is to assist the Tribal families in improving their socio - economic and educational status. Economic Development Programmes in the fields of horticulture, animal husbandry, soil-conservation, minor irrigation, sericulture, small industries, bee-keeping etc. and area oriented development programmes like provision of drinking water, formation of roads, electrification, providing education and health facilities, improving forestry, communication, co-operation, social services etc. are taken up.
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