UPSC Notes: Economic Empowerment Of Weaker Sections

Weaker sections of society such as scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, disabled, children, elderly, etc. need special provisions and measures by the government to pull them out of their disadvantaged position. In general, members of such groups suffer many socio-economic difficulties such as inadequate access to healthcare, nutrition, educational facility, inaccessibility to government-sponsored schemes and measures. Therefore, the government of the day has to ensure that the fruits of development reach these people as well through special provisions and schemes tailored especially for their benefit. Vulnerable sections also include people suffering from certain diseases notably HIV/AIDS, cancer, and also sexual minorities.

Special provision for weaker sections of the society

The government provides various schemes for the weaker or vulnerable sections of society to improve the condition of their lives by offering them educational facilities, employment opportunities, livelihoods, affordable healthcare access, and other necessary amenities. Some of them, focus on economic empowerment, which is described below.

Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS)

  • SRMS was started in 2007 to rehabilitate the remaining manual scavengers and their dependents in alternate occupations.
  • Features include one-time cash assistance, training with a stipend, and concessional loans with a subsidy for engaging in an alternate occupation.

National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation (NSFDC)

  • This scheme has an objective to “fight poverty through entrepreneurship”.
  • Incorporated in 1989, NSFDC operates under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to finance, facilitate and mobilize funds for the economic empowerment of people belonging to the SC category and living below double the poverty line.
  • It finances income generation schemes for the target audience.
  • Eligibility criteria for this scheme: SC community + family income below double the poverty line (DPL – less than Rs.98000 for rural and less than Rs.120000 for urban candidates).

National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation (NSKFDC)

  • Established in 1997 and operating under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, NSKFDC works as an apex organization for the all-around socio-economic upliftment of the Safai Karamcharis, Scavengers, and their dependents all over India, through various loan and non-loan based schemes.
  • The scheme promotes economic development activities of the safai karamcharis.
  • It also promotes self-employment ventures for them.
  • The scheme also helps safai karamcharis in income-generating schemes by way of loans, subsidies, advances, or grants.
  • The scheme extends loans to students from the community for pursuing professional or technical education.
  • It also engages in promoting training, quality control, technology up-gradation, and common facility centers for carrying out sanitation works.
  • It helps in the upskilling of personnel from the community in technical and entrepreneurial skills.
  • The scheme also assists self-employed members of the community in procuring raw materials or other outputs or in marketing finished goods and services in units set up by them.

Assistance to Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs)

The chief objectives of the SCDCs are the identification of eligible SC families and encouraging them to take up economic development schemes, sponsoring the schemes to financial institutions for credit support, offering financial assistance in the form of the margin money at a low rate of interest, providing subsidy out of the funds made available to the States under the Scheme of Special Central Assistance to Special Component Plan of the States to reduce the repayment liability and giving the necessary link-up with other poverty alleviation programmes.

Scheme of Development of Primitive Tribal Groups

  • This scheme is for family-oriented income-generating schemes in the sectors of agriculture, minor irrigation, horticulture, animal husbandry, soil conservation, education, forests, fisheries, cooperatives, village, and small scale industries, and for minimum needs programme.
  • Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) were identified based on certain criteria like the pre-agricultural level of technology, literacy level, and declining or stagnant populations.
  • The scheme includes infrastructure development, housing, land development, health, education, cattle and agriculture development, insurance, social security, etc.

Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)

This offers assistance to adolescent girls in the following ways:

  1. Nutrition provision
  2. IFA (iron & folic acid) supplements
  3. Health check-up and referral services
  4. Nutrition and health education (NHE)
  5. Life skill education
  6. Accessing public services
  7. Guidance on family welfare, ARSH (Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Programme), home management, and child care practices
  8. Vocational training for girls 16 and above under the National Skill Development Programme

STEP (Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women)

Launched in 1986-87 as a central scheme, STEP provides skills that give employability to women and to provide competencies and skills that enable women to become self-employed/entrepreneurs.

Stree Shakti Puraskaar Yojana

Instituted in 1991, this scheme awards women achievers on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (8th March) every year.

Objectives of this scheme are as under:

  1. To strengthen the economic development process of women in rural areas and create a conducive atmosphere for social change.
  2. To form one lakh Self Help Women Groups based on thrift and credit principles which inculcates self-reliance and enables women to have greater access to control over resources.
  3. Poverty alleviation by building confidence in rural women by involving them in income-generating activities.

Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY)

Objectives of KSY (aimed at girl children):

  1. Providing literacy and numeracy skills by non-formal means of education.
  2. Stimulating desire for more social exposure and knowledge and thereby improving decision-making capabilities.
  3. Improving the nutritional, health, and development status of adolescent girls.
  4. Promoting awareness of health, hygiene, family care, and nutrition.
  5. Making available more opportunities for life-learning skills, training, and equipping adolescent girls to improve home-based and vocational skills.
  6. Improve understanding of the social environment and help become productive members of society.

National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)

This is a 100% centrally-sponsored scheme and is a part of the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP). Under this scheme, a lump sum of Rs.10000 is given to households under the poverty line upon the death of the primary breadwinner due to natural or accidental causes.

National Old Age Pension Scheme

Under this scheme, a person 65 years or older, will be eligible to receive Rs.75 per month if he/she is found destitute with little or no means of subsistence by himself/herself or through family members.

This article discussed some of the prominent economic empowerment schemes run by the Indian government for weaker sections of society. This is a very relevant topic for UPSC as it comes under social issues, polity, economy, and indeed, is a multidisciplinary subject. It is important to keep reading newspaper articles and editorials on this subject as it can be asked directly or indirectly in the IAS exam. Candidates should also prepare points for the essay paper on this topic, as it is a potential topic. Since there is a plethora of information on this subject, candidates should keep a note of all the points and material they have on this subject neatly classified.

For more articles on important concepts for the IAS exam and updates on UPSC’s current affairs, please visit BYJU’S Free IAS Prep regularly.

Related articles:

Social Security Schemes Gist of Yojana – July 2017 Issue: Social Security
National Pension Scheme Gist of Yojana September 2018 Issue: Employment and Self Employment

Multiple Choice Questions

Consider the following Statements

  1. The One Hundred and Third Amendment of the Constitution of India, officially known as the Constitution (One Hundred and Third Amendment) Act, 2019, introduces a 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of society for admission to Central Government-run educational institutions and private educational institutions (except for minority educational institutions), and for employment in Central Government jobs.
  2. As per Consitution of India, Article 338 gives provision for the establishment of a National Commission to safeguard the interests of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  3. As per Article 46, states will have to promote and protect the educational and economic interests of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
  4. In December 2015, the Indian Parliament passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Amendment Act, 2015.  It gives provision for the establishment of special courts to conduct trials of such offences and rehabilitation of victims.

Choose the correct answer from the below-given options

A) All the statements are true

B) None of the above-given statements are true.

C) Only options 1, 2, and 3 are true.

D) Only options 2, 3, and 4 are true.

Answer: A

Frequently Asked Questions on Economic Empowerment


Q 1. What is meant by Economic Empowerment?

Ans. Economic empowerment is the ability to make and act on decisions that involve the control over and allocation of financial resources.

Q 2. Why is economic development of women important?

Ans. Economic Development of women is important as it sets a direct path towards gender equality and also curtails access to social development of women in the society.

Relevant Links

UPSC Mains General Studies Paper-II Strategy, Syllabus & Structure Social Justice Questions in UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 2
Indian Society Old Questions in UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 1 Topic-Wise General Studies Paper – 1 Questions in UPSC Mains
Governance Questions in UPSC Mains General Studies Paper – 2 UPSC Mains General Studies Paper 1 Syllabus, Strategy & Structure
Topic-Wise General Studies Paper – 2 Questions for UPSC Mains Social Welfare – Schemes to Empower Vulnerable Community


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