|
Support Us
Suggestions for the socio-economic advancement and Identification of Socially, Educationally, and Economically Backward Classes

Chief Characteristics of People Who are Poor

  • Poor people have meagre asset base. Poor people generally either do not possess homes or if they do possess, the same are likely to be small and in congested localities not providing a congenial atmosphere for intellectual and personal growth. Poor people also do not own automobile vehicles and other desirable amenities of life.
  • Parents/heads of poor families are most likely to be lowly educated resulting in their inability to provide adequate guidance to their children in matters of education, study skills, public conduct, etc;
  • Parents/heads of poor families generally either are engaged in lowly jobs or in manual low income yielding work/occupations. Very often children in such families stop pursuing education to assist their parents in supplementing family income by engaging in similar kind of activity as their parents;
  • Low/meagre income of parents owing to low level of education and low job status;
  • Members of poor families are susceptible to illnesses due to involvement in unclean/ manual/ hazardous work, dwelling in unhygienic environment, lack of knowledge of hygiene and absence of access to medical facilities;
  • Members of poor families (particularly the male members) often get involved in social vices - such as liquor/drug addiction, early marriage of children, physical abuses on spouse/children, belief in superstition, societal violence, encounters with the law etc;
  • Lack of access to cheap contraception results in poor families having large families resulting in continuance of the vicious cycle of poverty;
  • Lack of access to legal help in case of wilful/accidental involvement in law-breaking or in case societal exploitation;
  • Owing to a combination of low educational, job and income status of the parents, and rest of the above conditions, the inability of their children to obtain quality school/higher education and attendant problems thereof, similar to those of their parents; and
  • The children of poor families suffer from low self-esteem, are not able to appreciate the importance of acquiring higher education, are not ambitious and faced with the low prospects of personal improvement, may descend into depression and participate in unsocial/anti-social activities.

Poverty 24% or 77%? : More realistic assessment of Poverty is required

Recent report from Planning Commission estimates poverty ratio in the country to be 24%. However, let's have a look at the state of Indian people:

  • 80% of India does not have access to public health facilities. (Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss, Minister for Health and Family Welfare)
  • 47% of Indian children under the age of 5 years are undernourished. (Human Development Report 2005, UNDP)
    Infant Mortality Rate in India is Higher that that in Bangladesh (Human Development Report 2007, UNDP)
  • 71% of the children in 15-19 age group have not completed a secondary education, their fundamental right. (National Sample Survey on Education, 1999-00, NSSO)
  • 57% of India does not have access to electricity.
    (World Development Indicators 2005, World Bank)
  • 70% of India does not have access to a suitable toilet. (National Sample Survey on Housing, 2004, NSSO)
  • 49% of India does not have proper shelter.
    (National Sample Survey on Housing, 2004, NSSO)
  • 38% of India does not have access to a nearby water source. (National Family Health Survey, 1998-99, IIPS)
  • India is ranked at the 128th place (out of 175 countries) in Human Development Index (Human Development Report, 2007-08).

Despite such abysmal figures on India's development, how can the government claim that only 24% of India is poor?

Clearly something is amiss…

  • In 1999-2000, the poverty line defined by the Government of India was Rs. 327 and Rs. 454 per month per capita in rural and urban India respectively.
  • Adjusting for inflation, this now comes to Rs. 368 and Rs. 559. ( In 2004-2005)
  • Thus ONLY those who live below Rs. 559 a month in our cities (or Rs. 368 in our villages) were considered to be poor by the Indian Government

It is necessary to understand the methodology to define Poverty Line. The official estimates of the poverty line are based on an assumption that for survival, a person requires food worth 2400 calories per day for rural areas and 2100 per day for urban areas. If a person can earn the amount of money required to buy food equivalent to this nutritional level, he or she is above poverty line. To sum up, this is minimum income to give food security.

In the '70s, when our governments first began using this definition, the monthly cost of the "basket of food" required to supply these nutritional levels was calculated to be Rs 62 in rural areas, and Rs 71 in urban areas. With inflation, those numbers rose to Rs 368 and Rs 559, respectively, by the year 2004-2005. If we take average number of members in a family to be five in rural area, and four in urban area, the annual cut off will be around Rs 22000 (= 368X5X12) in rural areas and around Rs 27000 (= 569X4X12) in urban area for a family to be declared Below Poverty Line (BPL). In terms of per capita expenditure per day (pcpd), a person with pcpd less than 12 (in rural area) or less than 18(in urban areas) is considered poor.

The Problems with present definition

The present definition only considers in terms of caloric intake. No weightage has been give for expenditure on health, clothing, education, shelter, fuel, transportation etc. Besides these, no provision has been made for festivals, birth, death, and marriage in the family.

Secondly, the poverty has been measured in absolute terms and no consideration has been give for its relative and time dependent nature. In 1973-74, the rural poverty-line was a little below 62 per cent of the per capita income and urban poverty-line was about 71 per cent of the national per capita income. The revised poverty line (fixed in absolute terms) for 2005-6 has declined to 17 per cent of the national average income for rural areas and about 25 per cent for urban areas. Thus, to define poverty line, the general development and progress made by the society has been ignored.

Thirdly, the present poverty line only considers monetary aspect. Monetary achievement, in isolation, fails to reflect true human development. The UNDP has used Human Development Index (HDI) as a composite index that measures the average achievements in a country in three basic dimensions of human development: a long and healthy life; access to knowledge; and a decent standard of living. These basic dimensions are measured by life expectancy at birth, adult literacy and combined gross enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary level education, and per capita gross domestic product (GDP).

More realistic poverty line:

Recently, Guruswamy and Abraham have defined poverty in a more humane way. The modified poverty line includes the cost of a nutritious diet, healthcare, clothing, shelter, fuel, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenditure in day to day life. Summing up minimum costs for nutrition (Rs. 573), health (Rs. 30), clothing (Rs. 17), energy consumption (Rs. 55) and miscellaneous expenditure (Rs. 164); the poverty line in India should be about Rs. 840 per capita per month. Besides this, one should also consider those items that cannot be described monetarily - such as access to water, sanitation, housing, education, and public transport.

Thus, person is poor in India if he or she has a monthly per capita expenditure lesser than Rs. 840 OR does not have access to either drinking water; proper shelter; sanitation; quality secondary education; or an all-weather road with public transport.
With this definition 68.8% of Indians are below poverty line.

The Report on Condition of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganized Sector (2007) has come out with a grim finding that 77 per cent of Indians have to subsist on a daily income of less than Rs 20. NSSO 61st round provides the percentage share of population and the average consumer expenditure (per capita per day in Rs) of Indian population. The figure are as follows (figure in parentheses is mean expenditure pcpd): 6.4% (9), 15.4% (12), 19.0% (15), and 36.0% (20). The Report has categorised these 77%, total 836 million people, with an income roughly below US $ 2 in Purchasing Power Parity terms, as poor and vulnerable. The United Nations' Human Development Report 2007-08 has also reported that 80.3% of Indian population is below poverty line using the same yard stick.

In conclusion, the poverty estimates by the Government fail to reflect the true picture of poverty in the country. The present inadequate definition of poverty has ensured that all policies aimed at alleviating poverty aim much too low. They focus just on the elimination of hunger rather than on eliminating poverty as a whole.

Poverty among General / Non-reserve Category ( NRC)

Contrary to general belief, poverty is rampant among General /Non-Reserve category. Figures from recent NSS round are eye opener. More than 55% of NRCs survive on a paltry income of less than Rs 20 per day. Additional 35% members survive on an income less than Rs 40 per day.

Expenditure Class
Definition
Percentage share
Average consumer  expenditure per capita per day (pcpd)
Extremely Poor Up to 0.75 PL 2.1 9
Poor 0.75 PL to PL 6.4 12
Marginally Poor PL to 1.25 PL 11.1 15
Vulnerable 1.25 PL to 2 PL 35.2 20
Middle Income 2 PL to 4 PL 34.2 37
High Income > 4 PL 11 93
       
Extremely Poor and Poor   8.5 11
Marginally Poor and Vulnerable   46.3 18
Poor and Vulnerable   54.8 16
Poor + Vulnerable+ Middle Income   89.0  

PL refers to Poverty Line

Source: NSS 61st Round 2004 - 2005, Employment-Unemployment Survey as quoted in
Report on Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in the Unorganized Sector, National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (Arjun Sengupta Committee Report)

Assess deprivation, not income

We would like to stress on two key factors:

  1. While deciding the target unit for protective discrimination, it should be an individual rather than a group, caste, or class. No social group / caste / class is homogenous and there is wide disparity in status of different members.
  2. Economic backwardness should be logically defined. Income as the sole criterion to define economic backwardness can be misleading and it should be avoided. The Commission should take into consideration, all the factors which act as impediment to success in one's life.

We have developed a 100 point composite Deprivation Index based on various criteria. Each criterion has been graded with a point scoring system attached.

SN

CRITERIA

Grading

Points

1.

District where the candidate completed major part of secondary education (Class VI-XII) 

Poorly developed

5

 

 

Moderately developed

2

 

 

Well developed

0

2

Place of birth

Home

10

 

 

Government Hospital in Rural Area

8

 

 

Government Hospital in Urban  Area

5

 

 

Private Hospital

0

3

Mother’s Education

Uneducated

10

 

 

Primary

8

 

 

Middle

6

 

 

Up to 10

4

 

 

Up to 12

2

 

 

Graduate/Post graduate

0

4

Father’s Education

Below high school

5

 

 

Up to graduation

3

 

 

 Above Graduation

0

5

Family Income

BPL

10

 

 

Below Double PL

8

 

 

Double PL-IT Limit

5

 

 

Above IT Limit- Below Creamy layer

2

 

 

Above Creamy layer

0

6

Place of residence

Rural areas and urban slums

5

 

 

Urban areas, Towns

3

 

 

Metropolitans, State Capitals, and District Head quarters

0

7

Sex

Female

10

 

 

Male

0

8

Primary Education

Government  School in rural areas

10

 

 

Government  School in Urban area

5

 

 

Private School

0

9.

Secondary Education

Government  School in rural areas

5

 

 

Government  School in Urban area

3

 

 

Private School

0

10.

Profession of Father / guardian

Land-less, unskilled labourer

10

 

 

Landed self cultivating peasantry, Skilled labourer and craftsmen, Class III-IV  employee or similar employee in private sector, Small self-employed vendors

5

 

 

White collar jobs of higher grades, businessmen, big farmers.

0

11.

Type of House

None or Kuccha

10

 

 

Rented in Urban area  < 1200 square feet, Semi pucca or Pucca in Rural area

5

 

 

Pucca in urban area , Rented in Urban Area > 1200 square feet.

0

12

Material wealth

Car, truck, tractor, Tube well

0

 

 

Two wheeler, Colour TV, Freezer, More than two cows/buffaloes

2

 

 

None of the above

5

13

Land Holding/Property

<10% of Ceiling Limit

5

 

 

10-30%of Ceiling limit or a shop up to 200 square feet in rural area

3

 

 

30-50% of Ceiling limit or a shop up to 200 square feet in urban  area

2

 

 

>50% of Ceiling limit or a shop more 200 square feet in urban  area

0

A person can obtain zero to 100 points. Depending upon the points obtained, these persons can be grouped into three broad categories:

CATEGORY

Points

I ( ANTYODAYA EBC)

61-100

II ( NON-ANTYODAYA EBC )

31-60

III

0-30

These three categories should receive differential treatment:

  • Category I ( ANTYODAYA EBC) should be treated at par with Socially and Educationally Backward Classes.
  • Category II ( NON-ANTYODAYA EBC) should receive financial assistance and other relaxations.
  • Category III should receive general welfare measures.

For implementation : The certificate should be issued on the recommendation of Sarpanch/councillor/ School headmaster along with two witnesses who should be held responsible if the information is proved false. At the same time information submitted by these individuals should be available on internet for easy scrutiny.

Suggestions, for consideration of the Commission

The characteristics of the Poor and their problems has already been explained in the foregoing sections. The measures to be taken to enable and empower the General Category Poor would be essentially of three kinds:

  1. Non-economic measures* - such as concession in age limit, more number of chances at public exams etc.
  2. Economic measures* - such as scholarships, concession in fees etc, and
  3. Constitutional Provision so that benefits of protective discrimination can be extended to the EBC (i.e. the poor among the unreserved sections).

SUGGESTIONS

NON-ECONOMIC BENEFITS

1. Creation of a separate Ministry for dealing with the issues relating to Economically Backward Classes not covered by any scheme of reservations

In the eyes of the Government(s) in India, the country's population stands categorised into (a) Scheduled Castes, (b) Scheduled Tribes, (c) Other Backward Classes, (d) Religious Minorities and (e) Others.

To cater to the needs of the Scheduled Tribes, there is a Ministry of Tribal Affairs, for the Scheduled Castes/Backward Classes, there is the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, and for the religious minorities, there is the Ministry of Minority Affairs not just at the Centre but also in all States. Like wise to receive, study, consider, accept and tackle the grievances of the EBC, the setting up of a separate Ministry for the 'Others' on a permanent basis is the need of the hour, not just at the Centre but also at the States. This Ministry shall not only deal with the grievances of all the 'Other' category population, but also specifically of the EBC falling within its ambit.

2. Relaxation in age limit/qualifying marks for application for jobs and applications to educational institutions

Presently, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are given an extra period of 5 years in terms of age limit while making applications for jobs under the Government/PSUs etc. The OBCs are given 3 years extra period. This relaxation is available to the SC/ST/OBCs when applying to institutions of higher education too. The relaxation is regardless of the quality of education received by the applicants, the parents' level of education, their place of upbringing, parental job status, parents income etc.

In the case of EBC it can be readily seen that the person is handicapped in every possible way. It is well-known that poverty is the direct consequence of low job status of the heads of the family, which can be directly attributed to the low level of parental education. Thus it can be said that poor people are generally socially and educationally backward. In such a situation, the standard of education received by the offspring/progeny of EBC would not be high, the educational support from poorly qualified parents would be low, capacity to compete would be low and the persons would be suffering from low self esteem and a lack of ambition. The depressing condition would only be on account of peculiarities associated with low economic status. People falling under the EBC should therefore be allowed an extra three/five years (as given to SC/ST etc) based on a self-declaration of parental job status, parental educational qualification, quality of schooling received by the applicants and the general backwardness of the place of residence.

In many States, there are many areas which are poorly developed and the facilities for good education are completely missing. Children from such designated backward areas can be given concession in respect of the time required to complete the course. After all, how can people hailing from backward areas, irrespective of caste, compete with the city bred people, which includes people of all castes/communities? Therefore identification of backward areas in the country, state-wise, district-wise is also a necessity.

Students who belong to the EBC are those whose parents are usually poorly educated and hold low-income jobs which makes them incapable of competing with other candidates who are better placed in life. It is therefore suggested that for admission to professional courses and in job eligibility, relaxation of 5% marks be given to students who belong to the Antyodaya and Non-Antyodaya EBC.

3. Free coaching to children of EBC seeking to appear for competitive exams

Children belonging to the EBC are normally not in a position to avail of the high quality but expensive education imparted by private coaching institutes and coupled with the low educational status of the family, are naturally disadvantaged in preparing for the competitive exams conducted by the UPSC, State Civil Services etc. It is therefore suggested that along with the SC/ST/OBCs, the aspirants falling under the Antyodaya and Non-Antyodaya EBC can be allowed to attend tuitions so that they too get the opportunity of writing competitive exams on equal terms.

4. Hostel facility for children of EBC on the lines of facility to SC/ST/OBC/Minorities

Children belonging to the EBC are normally not in a position to avail of the expensive rented accommodations, where normal hostel facilities are not available. Since such poor children/students many a times do not get normal hostel facilities and cannot afford expensive private accommodation, they are unable to pursue higher education and thus drop out of the education system. Needless to say, the vicious circle of poverty continues contributing to their poverty. The State by building separate hostels for the EBC can enable their continued education. Alternatively, a certain proportion of seats in the presently functioning hostels for SC/ST/OBC/Minorities can be reserved for the EBC. It will also be a fine example of integrated living.

5. Free Mess/food facility

Provision of free food facility to poor students belonging to the "antyodaya" category and studying in schools/colleges and subsidised food facility to "non-antyodaya" category poor children/students.

6. Provision of Land

Provision of Land to the indigent of the Non-Reserved Category on the lines of land given to the poor among the SC/ST/BC.

7. Low-cost housing at non-discriminatory rates

Non-discrimination in amount charged from poor persons of General/Non-reserved category for low-income group housing sites/dwellings constructed and distributed by the State.

ECONOMIC MEASURES

1. Abolishing Jobs/Educational application fee

People having income up to Rs. one lakh and ten thousand are currently exempted from payment of income tax, the reason being that the annual income at that level being low, it would be iniquitous and unjust to burden low income people with income taxes.

There are innumerable ways in which the State ensures that economically backward people are not burdened. Some examples are the provision of low-fare sleeper class facility in trains, low fare buses, etc. Even under the RTI Act, BPL applicants are exempted from payment of application fee, which is a meagre Rs.10/-. Then why should poor job/education seekers be forced to pay huge sums of money as application fees?

State controlled organisations are typically charging job application fees ranging from Rs.10 to a whopping Rs.1000/-. Like-wise, even State-owned Institutes of higher education are application fees ranging from (Rs.30 - Rs. 1500/-). By levying huge application fees (for instance IIM application fee is Rs.1400/-), which in case of EBC amounts to several months income, how does the government expect a low-income person to even apply for an intensely competitive exam, preparation for which requires superior education, coaching etc? Is it not unfair, iniquitous and unjust to burden a poor job/education seeker with huge application fees which would effectively deter him/her from even applying in the first place? Does it not result in disqualification of candidates even before they have applied on the grounds of poverty alone? Does it not amount to denial of even the opportunity to compete? Therefore, the Government must seek to reduce the financial burden on the EBC so that they can at least compete.

It is therefore suggested that, either the fee system should be completely abolished or it should be linked to the economic capacity of the applicant (on the lines of income-tax scheme which requires people to pay tax according to income). The cost of such exemption to the Govt / Educational Institutions will be meagre, while the action will be logical and humanitarian. Moreover, we know that the profit-minded private sector rarely requires job applicants to submit application fees. Then why should the Govt sector, which has a greater social duty to discharge, charge fees from job applicants? Doubtlessly such a measure will greatly benefit the EBC who in other circumstances finding the monetary outflow too steep would choose to stay out of competition, hobbled already as they are with inferior upbringing due to low parental education.

Alternative to abolishment of fee: Currently there are no norms on the maximum fee chargeable by State-controlled organisations advertising the availability of jobs. Like-wise, there is also no law on the maximum fee payable by candidates applying to educational institutions. A law must be passed to fix the maximum fee chargeable for job applications at Rs.50/-, which is currently charged by UPSC. This will end the discretion that is available to companies/government organisations. Likewise, there has to be a cap on the maximum fee chargeable by educational institutions for selling application forms which currently are in the range of Rs.500-Rs.1500 which is too large a sum for poor people as well as for better off people. A Government does not exist to earn profits and there is no reason as to why the Government in the process of job creation or provision of education should make a profit or endeavour to generate revenues. The State can easily bear the small amount of economic outflow resulting from creation of job/educational opportunities.

2. Extension of scholarships/stationery assistance/reimbursement of school fees etc to the EBC not covered by any scheme of reservations

Currently most State Governments are giving Pre and Post Metric Scholarships, stationery purchase assistance, books purchase assistance, school fee reimbursement (in case of private schools) generally to low income families (annual income not exceeding Rs. one Lakh) belonging to the Scheduled Castes/Tribes, OBCs and Minorities.

Since the provision of the above facilities to the SC/ST/OBC/Minorities is primarily based on the self-declared income, the above schemes should be extended to the children belonging to EBC not covered by any scheme of reservations. Such a measure will reduce the economic burden of obtaining education of EBC and enable them to stand up on their own feet and move from the ranks of poor people to the better off category.

3. Reimbursement of railway/bus fare to EBC candidates appearing for written tests/jobs on the lines of reimbursement to the SC/ST candidates

In many cases, currently the SC/ST candidates appearing for written tests for organisations controlled by the State are reimbursed railway/bus fare. This scheme can be extended to the poor/EBC so that they are enabled to at least write the exams. Currently, other poor people are unable to write exams because of high cost of travel, food etc. If the burden is reduced to that extent, they will get the chance to participate in public exams.

4. Creation of separate Finance Corporations at the Centre and States

Poor people, more than anything else need financial support to progress and stand up on their own feet. Presently, separate finance corporations are already functioning for the benefit of SC/ST/OBC & Minorities. Therefore it is only logical and fair that such Finance Corporations should be established for the benefit of the EBC of India presently not covered by any scheme of reservation. Such Corporations will naturally function on the lines of the SC/ST/OBC Finance Corporations.

5. Reimbursement of tuition fee in case of admission to private institutions

Where EBC students obtain admission to expensive private institutions of higher education, a limited amount should be reimbursed to them. Loans are of little use to poor students. The loan burden becomes so huge, that repaying the loan becomes a long-term obligation. Even if the EBC person starts earning, which will be considerably less owing to his lack of communication and other skills, it will take too long a time for them to repay the loans that are currently available on expensive terms. Hence, the Govt should reimburse to the EBC students a limited amount of money paid as fee in private educational institutions.

6. Income Tax Benefit

Parents are reportedly spending anywhere up to Rs.15000/- merely for procuring application forms for their children applying to higher education institutions after completion of the Class 12. Based on submission of proper receipt and other evidence, income tax relief can be given twice to the otherwise better off parents up to a sum of Rs.15,000/-.

7. No school/college fee from Antyodaya Card Holders

Antyodaya card holders are those who belong to the poorest of poor sections of the society. The candidates belonging to such families should be completely exempt from all fees in higher education institutions owned by the Government. In addition, where the candidate applies to private institutions, fees up to a limit can be reimbursed by the Government based on performance/merit and other criteria. Other economic benefits such as limited bus/railway passes, food coupons for purchase of food at college canteens etc can be extended by the Government since they belong to the poorest of poor families.

8. Children of Widows

Over the years, it has been observed that with increase in terrorist crimes, accidents and for other reasons, many families have lost their male heads. With the loss of the Male Earning Members, the family is pushed into a situation of economic destitution and insecurity. Widowed women, find it extremely difficult to bring up their children. The children too, deprived as they are of economic and social support of both parents, may find standing on their own feet too difficult a task. They need all the support of the State. Therefore, children of widows who are unemployed must be fully exempted from payment of all kinds of fees (school/college fees, application fees etc). In addition, they should get other benefits like scholarships, book purchase assistance etc. as detailed above.

9. Marriage Allowance/Gift

In TN there is a scheme for financial grant of Rs.15000/- to BPL people for the marriage of their daughters. It is suggested that this scheme be extended to other States also.

10. Funeral Expenses

With funeral expenses over the years having gone up substantially, the economic situation of the poor people gets aggravated. It is therefore suggested that BPL people be reimbursed a limited amount towards funeral expenses incurred them.

11. Abolishment of Caste-based Counselling Fee:

In Madhya Pradesh, the General Category students (even if very poor) are alone required to pay counselling fee amounting to Rs.10,000/-. This must be immediately abolished.

12. Family Planning Incentive:

A family planning incentive of at least Rs.10,000/- to the poor to undergo FP operation so that they can limit their family sizes and ensure that available resources in the family are more productively deployed for the welfare of their children.

CONSTITUTIONAL/LEGAL MEASURES

1. DECLARATION OF 'ANTYODAYA' CARD HOLDERS AND PERSONS PURSUING TRADITIONALLY 'BACKWARD' OCCUPATIONS AS BACKWARD CLASS AND RESERVATION IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS

We would like to make it clear that we are against any quota promoting inefficiency and loss of merit. Antyodaya Card Holders will typically comprise of persons with very low levels of education and are generally engaged in manual labour such as coolies, safai karmacharis, security guards, malis, manual labourers etc earning wage on a daily basis and they fall in the lowest strata of society.

Children/students belonging to antyodaya card-holders category typically suffer from severely impaired capacities due to low parental literacy, lack of parental attention, poor schooling etc.

Besides, among the unreserved categories, there are several occupations that are traditional and hereditary and can be considered 'backward'. Those who pursue such occupations, are unable to appreciate the importance of higher education and prefer to continue in their traditional pursuits resulting in their continued educational and economic backwardness.

The occupation of temple priests, cooks, shastra teaching, panchang reading etc are examples of such traditional and hereditary occupations. Besides this a large number of Non-reserve category citizens are coolies, safai karmacharis, security guards, malis, manual labourers, and rickshaw pullers. A survey will reveal their poor educational and economic status. With low level of modern education, low incomes, and incapacity to think big, they are totally marginalized from society. People in such occupation deserve all the help. If people in such traditional occupations are declared as 'backward' they will automatically get the preferred opportunity to enter higher education.

It is therefore suggested that people pursuing traditional/hereditary occupations among the hitherto 'unreserved' castes based on careful study be declared 'backward' as OBCs. This is a humanitarian and logical approach in light of the Supreme Court judgment that while upholding caste-based reservations, did not specifically rule out the provision of reservation on the basis of criteria such as occupation, physical handicap etc.

Considering that the children belonging to the antyodaya card-holders and those pursuing traditionally backward occupations with low incomes face numerous difficulties and possess numerous disadvantages (as enumerated before) which renders them unfit to compete with the better offs (including the better off among the SC/ST/OBC/Minorities) sections of the society, it is proposed that this category of people be declared backward and be eligible to reservation in educational institutions.

It must be appreciated that reservation in jobs and reservation in educational institutions are on a different footing. Reservation in education is perhaps more desirable than reservation in jobs. If a person is deprived of higher education owing to a recognised difficulty/disadvantage, he is condemned to a state of penury and backwardness for the rest of his life. His immediate family and progeny consequently suffer from the various deprivations. However, if the person is enabled to obtain quality higher education, he/she will eventually stand up on his/her own feet. His/her immediate family and progeny will then be assured of an improved standard of living, obviating the future need for reservations/ state generosity.

2. AMENDMENT TO ARTICLE 15(4)

The State can also get the constitution amended by insertion of the expression "socially or educationally or economically" backward class of citizens in place of the current expression "socially and educationally" backward class of citizens. Such an amendment will enable the Governments to frame affirmative action policies on the basis of economic/ occupational backwardness.

The primary difficulty of an EBC (not covered by any scheme of reservation) is economic incapacity. It is therefore only logical that an economically backward class person should not be made to bear a financial expenditure for a service that is higher than the expenditure incurred by an economically forward person for the same service, no matter to which caste/category he/she belongs. The income-tax laws are based on the same logic, that a low-income person will not pay more income tax than a higher income person.

On the same principle, in addition to the amendment suggested above, the following amendment to Article 15(4) of the Constitution of India is long over due.

Article 15(4) currently reads "Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes"

The above Article should be amended to read "Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially or educationally or economically backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes. However, in making such a provision, the State shall ensure that an economically backward person shall not bear a higher economic burden than a economically forward person in availing any services under the State".

3. Law to eventually replace outright caste-based reservations:

A law needs to made to gradually replace blanket caste-based reservations with a system based on scientifically constructed deprivation index so that all and only the genuinely disadvantaged benefit from State Affirmative Action.

4. Constitution of commission to compile data on and report on all caste-based violence

Currently, only crimes against Scheduled Castes/Tribes is recorded as caste crimes while caste-based crimes against other sections of the society are recorded as ordinary crimes. Using this one-sided data, various groups have been the Non-reserved class people are being needlessly made to feel guilty and are being threatened into submission. Therefore it is suggested that a Commission be constituted that shall keep track of all caste-based crimes so that a true picture may emerge.

5. Prohibiting use of unconstitutional terms

Introduction of specific law to prohibit use of illegal, unconstitutional, dubious and dual-use terms such as "upper caste", "forward caste", "caste Hindus" etc which have been used to defame and terrorise the Non-Reserved Class citizens into making them feel guilty for alleged acts of individuals and to force them to surrender their citizenship rights.

6. Law to ban caste-based abuse

In India, people of the Non-Reserved Class Hindus are routinely openly abused by political parties, various groups and media by calling them as "dominant", "oppressors", etc for the mere fact that their birth mark is different. If the General Category Non-Reserved Class Hindus are to live with dignity and as citizens of India, a law is must to categorise the above behaviour as caste-based abuse and such behaviour should be made a non-bailable punishable offence. The point is if Scheduled Castes should not be abused by reference to their 'caste', why should any other person be abused by reference to his/her own caste?

7. Prohibiting formation of caste-based unions

In Government work places, people of the reserved categories are forming caste-based unions and are vitiating the work atmosphere. It is therefore suggested that a specific law to ban formation of caste-based unions in Govt work places.

8. Prohibiting patronisation of caste-based unions

Introduction of specific law to ban elected politicians patronising caste-based unions which is vitiating work atmosphere in Govt work places.

9. Prevent misuse of SC/ST Atrocities Act

SC/ST Atrocities Act, very frequently, is being used as a weapon of exploitation against general category. While we are not against the SC/STs, we request the Commission to undertake necessary steps and safeguards to prevent its misuse.

SUMMARY OF MEASURES TO BE TAKEN FOR THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC ADVANCEMENT OF THE ECONOMICALLY WEAKER SECTIONS NOT BELONGING TO THE RESERVED CATEGORIES/GROUPS

NON-ECONOMIC MEASURES

  1. Creation of Separate Ministry: Creation of a separate permanent Ministry with requisite staff and resources for dealing with the issues relating to not jut the Poor Sections not covered by any scheme of reservations but also for the General Category (i.e Non-Reserved Class).
  2. Relaxation in Qualifying Marks: Relaxation in qualifying marks to candidates of poor families while applying for admission to higher educational institutions and for jobs under the State Governments.
  3. Relaxation in Age Limit: Relaxation in age limit to candidates of poor families while applying for admission to higher educational institutions and for jobs under the State.
  4. Free Coaching: Provision of free coaching to poor students/candidates seeking to appear for public competitive exams such as Civil Services, etc.
  5. Free Hostel facility: Provision of free hostel facility to poor students belonging to the "antyodaya" category and studying in schools/colleges and subsidised hostel facility to "non-antyodaya" category poor children/students since they have highly impaired capacity to pay for private/commercial rate hostel accommodation.
  6. Free Mess/food facility: Provision of free food facility to poor students belonging to the "antyodaya" category and studying in schools/colleges and subsidised food facility to "non-antyodaya" category poor children/students.
  7. Provision of Land: Provision of Land to the indigent of the Non-Reserved Category on the lines of land given to the poor among the SC/ST/BC.
  8. Low-cost housing at non-discriminatory rates: Non-discrimination in amount charged from poor persons of General/Non-reserved category for low-income group housing sites/dwellings distributed.

ECONOMIC MEASURES

  1. Complete exemption of Fee: No fees to be charged in schools/colleges from children of all "Antyodaya" Card Holders
  2. Abolishing caste-based fees: College admission/Job Application fees that are currently caste-based and require people of the Non-Reserved Category (even if poor) to pay exorbitant sums must be completely abolished. There is no need for the government institutions/offices to raise money by charging application fees which currently range from Rs.10 - Rs.2000/-. The loss of such income to the State Government would be very minor and easily affordable to the State Governments which have huge budgets.
  3. Scholarships: Extension of all kinds of scholarships/stationery assistance/reimbursement of school fees etc to the poor students not covered by any scheme of reservations.
  4. Fare Reimbursement: Reimbursement of railway/bus fare to poor candidates appearing for written tests/jobs on the lines of reimbursement to the SC/ST candidates.
  5. Tuition Fee reimbursement: Reimbursement of tuition fee to meritorious poor students of the Non-Reserved Category in case of admission to private institutions.
  6. Abolishment of Caste-based Counselling Fee: In most of the places in country, the General Category students (even if very poor) are alone required to pay counselling fee up to Rs.10,000/-. This must be immediately abolished.
  7. Creation of separate Finance Corporations: Creation of separate finance corporations to provide loans/economic assistance at subsidised interest rates and collateral to start entrepreneurial activity by poor people of the Non-Reserved Category.
  8. Benefit to children of Widows: Children of unemployed widows to get all benefits of fee exemption in schools/colleges.
  9. Marriage Allowance/Gift: Financial assistance of appropriate amount to be given for the marriage of girls belonging to poor families
  10. Funeral Expenses: Poor families to be provided material at subsidised rate to meet expenses in connection with cremation of dead family members.
  11. Income Tax Benefit: Parents are reportedly spending anywhere up to Rs.15000/- merely for procuring application forms for their children applying to higher education institutions after completion of the Class 12. Based on submission of proper receipt and other evidence, income tax relief can be given twice to the otherwise better off parents up to a sum of Rs.15,000/-.
  12. Family Planning Incentive: A family planning incentive of at least Rs.10,000/- to the poor to undergo FP operation so that they can limit their family sizes and ensure that available resources in the family are more productively deployed for the welfare of their children.

CONSTITUTIONAL & LEGAL MEASURES

  1. Reservation in educational institutions: For "antyodaya" card holders. Merit should not be sacrificed in the name of quotas.
  2. Traditional Occupations to be declared "backward": Declaration of traditional occupations such as one of temple priest, cook, coolie, sweeper, rickshaw puller, manual labourers as 'backward' to enable them to seek advancement through education.
  3. Law to replace outright caste-based reservations: A law needs to gradually replace blanket caste-based reservations with a system based on scientifically constructed deprivation index so that only the genuinely disadvantaged benefit.
  4. Constitution of commission to compile data on and report on all caste-based violence.
  5. Prohibiting formation of caste-based unions: Introduction of specific law to ban formation of caste-based unions in Govt work places.
  6. Prohibiting patronisation of caste-based unions: Introduction of specific law to ban elected politicians patronising caste-based unions which is vitiating work atmosphere in Govt work places.
  7. Prohibiting use of unconstitutional terms: Introduction of specific law to prohibit use of illegal, unconstitutional, dubious and dual-use terms such as "upper caste", "forward caste", "caste Hindus" etc.
  8. Law to ban caste-based abuse: Introduction of a specific law to make calling of the NRC Hindus as "dominant", "oppressors", etc a term of caste-abuse and making such caste-abuse a non-bailable punishable offence.
  9. Prevent misuse of SC/ST Atrocities Act

General Measures

  1. Good, transparent, corruption free, sensitive government is the backbone of a welfare State. Certain measures can be taken to improve the Governance, which will improve the status of all the citizens of the State:
    1. Make internet available to all the schools and Panchayats. Provide all the information in regional language. Provide information about all the rules and regulations to the people.
    2. Educate people about various welfare measures taken by the State. Inform them about various government schemes and inform them about their rights.
    3. Make people understand that the Government machinery is for their welfare and the Government Officers are not aristocrats.
    4. Conduct awareness camps and train the people to participate and utilize various government schemes effectively. Each year train at least 10 people from each village for a week,
    5. Make all Government records accessible and spread the awareness about RTI.
  2. Good Education is the key of all round development.;
    1. Increase the investment in education.
    2. Appoint good quality teachers with good salary.
    3. Increase public-private partnership in education. Encourage healthy competition among education providers.
    4. Give educational vouchers to the students rather than investing in ill government schools.
    5. Link developmental funds of a region to the quality of education of the schools in that region.
  3. Good primary health care, sewage disposal, and safe drinking water.
  4. Total prohibition of alcohol and tobacco in the State.

Back<<

Add to: DiggAdd to: Del.icio.usAdd to: RedditAdd to: StumbleUponAdd to: GoogleAdd to: TechnoratiAdd to: Newsvine

For more information:
Telephone Us: 011-46081209, 011-64598338, 91-9891155057, 91-9868340420
Email Us: info@youthforequality.com