Between the financial years 2014-15 and 2019-20, the Modi government did not allocate Rs 7.51 lakh crore for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). This gap amounts to whopping 79.16% of the required funds.
So, in other words, only 20.8% of the required amount is being used for the welfare of the SC and ST communities.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in its 2014 manifesto, had talked about “Social Justice and Social Harmony” and had committed to creating an ecosystem of equal opportunity -- for education, health and livelihood. But after completion of its full term at the Centre, we can see that these promises were merely a jumla (fake promise).
In this article, we analyse the Budget documents of the first term of Modi government as well as the 2019-20 Budget, focussing on three parameters: required allocation as against the government’s allocation, gap between actual spending and the allocation, and benefit of the schemes meant for the SCs and STs.
Huge Gap Between Required Amount and Allocations:
In order to ensure direct policy-driven benefits for SCs and STs through special interventions, the Planning Commission, during the 1970s, had presented Special Component Plan (SCP) for the SCs and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) for the STs.
The SCP was later renamed as Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP). The main objective behind the SCSP and TSP is to channel funds for the development of the communities in accordance with the proportion of their population. To increase the development and better utilisation, the funds were made non-lapsable and non-divertible by the Union government in 2006.
However, following the merger of the plan and non-plan budgets in 2017-18, the SCSP and TSP are now referred to as Allocation for Welfare of SCs (AWSC) and Allocation for Welfare of STs (AWST) respectively.
According to an analysis of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) on budget estimates for Dalits and Adivasis, from 2014-15 to 2018-19, required allocation is calculated on the basis of policy guidelines. And for 2019-20, calculation of the required amount is based on the new guidelines, in which ministries or departments are given a set proportion of the CS+CSS [Central Sector Schemes+Centrally Sponsored Schemes] to be earmarked as the Budget for SC and ST schemes.
Based on these sets of guidelines, required amount for 2014-15 to 2019-20 was Rs 6.20 lakh crore for SCs, while the government’s allocation stood at Rs 3.10 lakh crore -- half of the required allocation. Only 8% of the total outlay for the CS+CSS was directed to the funds earmarked for SCs. While SCs constitute about 16% of the total population.
For STs, required allocation [between 2014-15 and 2019-20] was Rs 3.28 lakh crore, while the government allocated Rs 2 lakh crore, which is 61% of the requirement. This allocation is just 5.12% of the total outlay for the CS+CSS, while the ST population constitutes 8% of the total population.
Actual Spending is Very Low
After allocating inadequate funds in the first place, the Modi government has failed in even spending the allocated amount. It managed to spend only Rs 2.07 lakh crore of the allocation for the SCs, which is 43.2% of the required amount, while the expenditure for the Scheduled Tribes (STs) remains 54% of the required amount.
In 2019-20 Budget, there has been an increase in the allocation for SCs and STs as compared to the previous year’s Budget. However, this allocation is far behind the actual requirement.
Status of budgeting for Direct Targeted Schemes and Total Gaps
Central government’s major allocation comes under ‘Non-Targeted Schemes’ and only 37.35% goes to the schemes meant for the welfare of SCs and 40.7% to the schemes targeted at STs. The non-targeted schemes are de facto general schemes, with a mask of SC/ST budget schemes. They do not qualify as the SC/ST schemes that benefit these communities. In 2019-20 Budget, out of 329 schemes for SCs, 233 schemes are non-targeted and without any comprehensive strategy to give benefits to the community. Similarly, only 71 out of 338 schemes for STs have the potential to give direct benefits, while the rest of them are general in nature.
In table no. 2, we have calculated total gap in the allocation to the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes -- amounting to Rs 7.51 lakh crore from 2014-15 to 2019-20. This figure includes gap in allocation, which is 4.38 lakh crore + allocation for non-targeted schemes which is Rs 3.13 lakh crore.
If we juxtapose these allocations and actual expenditure of the government against the guidelines of the Ministry of Finance, these expenditures will not go far in addressing the issues of the SC/ST communities.