Dalits and Tribals: A Budgetary Betrayal?

The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) analysis of the budget allocation for Dalits and Tribals, reveals a shortfall in funding and a lack of representation in media.
Dalits and Tribals: A Budgetary Betrayal?

New Delhi— The central budget allocates one billion rupees annually for the development of Dalits and Tribals. However, there is a significant discrepancy between the allocated budget and the actual situation on the ground. To shed light on this budgetary discrepancy, the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) conducts a comprehensive analysis of the Dalit-Tribal budget each February.

The budget analysis shows that an allocation of 142342.36 crores was made for the benefit of Dalits, who belong to the Scheduled Castes, and 89265.12 crores for Adivasis, who are part of the Scheduled Tribes. The budget includes 329 schemes for Dalits and 336 schemes for Adivasis.

The disconnect between paper & reality

The central government allocates significant funding, measured in billions of rupees, each year towards the development of Dalits and Tribals. However, a disconnect exists between the allocated funds and the actual outcome on the ground. The National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) performs an annual analysis of the Dalit-Tribal budget in February, to shed light on this disparity between budgeted figures and reality.

The budget was 4.5 trillion rupees, but only 37.79% of the total budget, or 53794.9 crore rupees, was allocated specifically for Dalit development. Similarly, only 43.8% of the budget, or 39113 crore rupees, was designated for tribal development. A portion of the Dalit and Adivasi budgets, 3751.06 crore rupees, was used for "General Schemes," which primarily fund roadways and other developments that do not provide direct benefits to marginalized communities or individuals.

In its 2022-23 Dalit-Tribal Budget Analysis, the NCDHR presented its findings and perspectives on education, gender, and health. The Mooknayak team had a conversation with the NCDHR team regarding the budget analysis, during which several key aspects of the budget were highlighted. The analysis revealed a shortfall of 40634 crores for the Dalit budget and 9399 crores for the Tribal budget in the year 2022-23.

Kalpana, from the NCDHR team
Kalpana, from the NCDHR team

No provisions to address health workers issues

Kalpana, an employee of the NCDHR, spoke about the education and health budgets and expressed concern over the treatment of Dalit and tribal health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. She said that despite these workers handling bodies without adequate protection, no provisions were made in the budget to address their needs. Additionally, she pointed out that many Dalits and tribals are unable to benefit from schemes such as Ayushman Bharat due to a lack of awareness and the absence of required documentary evidence. With regards to the educational budget, the NCDHR's data showed that the promised allocation of 7000 crores for post-matric scholarships was not fulfilled this year.

Pal Diwakar, Founder, NCDHR
Pal Diwakar, Founder, NCDHR

No redressal for gender & caste discrimination

Regarding gender budgeting, Pal Diwakar, the founder of the NCDHR, informed The Mooknayak Team that in order to address caste and gender-based discrimination in society, only 0.5% of the budget is allocated for Dalit and Adivasi women.

The data on gender revealed that 7000 cases were registered against Dalit women. Despite this, only 600 crores were allocated for the implementation of the Prevention of Atrocities (POA) law, with a mere 180 crore rupees designated for crime prevention against women. This budget also failed to address the needs of the trans-Dalit community, leaving this marginalized group with a sense of disappointment.

Allocation inadequate for job opportunities

Budget allocation for generation of employment opportunities seems inadequate as the allocation has decreased significantly from 170.96 crore rupees in 2021-22 to 22.97 crore rupees in 2022-23. In the case of the tribal community, the allocation for employment-related expenses decreased from 89.50 crore rupees in 2021-22 to 11.30 crore rupees in 2022-23.

Additionally, the budget allocation for labor welfare was reduced from 24.90 crore rupees for the Scheduled Castes to 19.88 crore rupees and from 12.90 crore rupees for the Scheduled Tribes to 10.66 crore rupees. The NCDHR report highlights the significant disparities between the budget allocation and its implementation. Moreover, the budget fails to address pressing issues such as climate change, which is a major concern, particularly for the Adivasi community. The budget only mentions disaster relief but not climate change directly, leaving this critical issue unaddressed.

Dalits and Tribals: A Budgetary Betrayal?
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Media failure on proper representation

The absence of proper media representation regarding the budget allocation for the Dalit and tribal communities is one of the major reasons for the inadequacy of budget allocation for the community, according to the NCDHR report. The media institutions' disregard of these issues leads to a lack of public scrutiny and advocacy, hindering the assessment of the impact and severity of the problems faced by marginalized communities. This calls for greater attention and discussion of these issues in the media to bring about the necessary changes and improvement in the budget allocation.

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