UPSC Exam Preparation-Gist of Yojana August 2018 Issue: Social Empowerment

UPSC Exam Preparation: Gist of Yojana August 2018 Issue: Social Empowerment

Table of Contents: Social Empowerment

1. Introduction

2. Building an Inclusive Society

3.Growth Opportunities for Weaker Sections

4. Social Change among SCs and STs

5. Fostering Entrepreneurship among the Marginalized

6. Social Empowerment for Differently Abled

7. Living a Life of Dignity

8. Constitutional Provisions For Social Justice

9. Empowerment through Political Interventions

10. India’s MMR now at 130

 

Chapter 1- Introduction

Empowerment is having control over one’s life as an individual. And social empowerment means all section of the society having equal control over their lives and opportunity to take important decisions.

For a nation to grow it is a first and foremost requirement that all sections of the society are equally empowered. This can be achieved only when different plans and policies are integrated to ensure equitable growth opportunities and access to all. The government has been trying to empower these different sections by adopting a multipronged approach.

 

  • Women are the most important tool to ensure any nation’s development. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “empowering women tantamounts to empowering the entire family”. In India, however, for women, the struggle for empowering starts from birth – from that the girl child has to fight even for her right to be born. Realizing this, the government has taken many initiatives to make women empowerment the prime focus of the government. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojana and many other such initiatives will go a long way in improving the status of women in the society.

 

  • For the poor and marginalized sections like SCs, STs, OBCs, empowerment means access to many things which most of us take for granted; like basic education; access to livelihood and opportunities for growth. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, MUDRA, Venture Capital Fund scheme, Start up India, Stand Up India, Skill India, scholarships schemes for access to education, reservation in jobs etc have offered these sections inclusive opportunities and equal access to development resources.

 

  • Senior citizens are the powerhouse of experience and knowledge. But many of them feel neglected and unwanted in the twilight years of their life. Schemes like the Integrated programme for senior citizens, Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, Vaya Vandana Yojana, etc have enabled the country’s senior citizens to live a respectable life with economic self-sufficiency.

 

  • For the differently abled, life is a different story altogether. Their disability often makes them feel that they are a burden on society. Their requirements for empowerment are very different thereby requiring programmes customized to suit their needs. Initiatives like Technology development projects in Mission mode, Inclusive education for the Disabled at secondary stage, Accessible India campaign, Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation schemes, etc have encouraged the differently abled to achieve quality of life.

 

  • For tribals, empowerment starts with the right to their very existence as an ethic entity. Very often, national mainstream policies and compulsions result in the tribal communities feeling either isolated from the mainstream or losing their identity. Recent government initiatives like the National Fellowship and scholarship for higher education for ST students, scheme for vocational training, Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce, Scheme of development of particularly vulnerable tribal groups and Forest Rights Act have contributed to social and economic empowerment of tribals.

 

It is generally acknowledged that, when one wishes to move ahead in the development mode one has to carry the least advantaged with one. Each person can make a difference if he or she tries. The government, through its policies, has already started making that different to ensure an overall inclusive growth.

Chapter 2- Building an Inclusive Society

The vision of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, in tune with our constitution, is to build an inclusive society where the most oppressed and backward sections of our population can live a life of dignity, pride, and actively contribute to the nation’s human capital.

These sections of the population are an important target group for the policies and programmes of the Government, and this focus has translated the country wide missions such as the ongoing Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, Aspirational Districts Program, and the Mission Antyodaya (MA) etc.

Scheduled Caste Development:

  • To meet its goal of educational empowerment of the SC population, a large portion of the department’s budget is directed to scholarships and there has been a considerable success in its distribution within the target group.
  • The flagship scheme of the Department, Post-Matric Scholarship (PMS – SC) for SC students has been in operation since 1944 and is the single largest intervention by the Government of India for the educational empowerment of scheduled caste students.
  • It covers approximately 55 lakh students per year, studying at the post matriculation or post-secondary stage, right up to PhD.
  • It has had positive outcomes on literacy levels of the target groups, on dropout rates participation in higher education, and finally in achievement of excellence and building human capital for the service of the nation.
  • Other scholarship schemes for SC students are the Pre-Matric Scholarship, Top Class Education Scheme for studying in premier educational institutions and the National Fellowship, Scheme run in conjunction with UGC.

Welfare of SCs:

  • An important act for protection and dignity of members of SC and ST community is the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
  • The amendments broadly relate to provisions of relief amount for 47 offences of atrocities, rationalization of the phasing of payment of relief amount, enhancement of relief amount depending upon the nature of the offence, payment of admissible relief within seven days and completion of investigation and filing of charge sheet within sixty days to enable timely commencement of prosecution.

Other Details:

  • Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, apart from implementing schemes directly, also keeps tract of the ‘Allocation for the Welfare of SCs’ (AWSC), which is the new name of the SC Sub Plan. The concept of Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes is in existence since 1979-80 to ensure proportionate flow of plan resources for the development of Scheduled Castes (SCs)/Scheduled Tribes (STs). As per consolidated guidelines of Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) issued by erstwhile Planning Commission all the States/Ministries/Departments are required to earmark funds under SCSP out of their Plan outlay, in proportion to the percentage of SC population in the States/Country. The nomenclature was changed to “Allocation for the Welfare of Scheduled Castes” (AWSC) in 2017.
  • The department has developed a web-portal (e-utthaan.gov.in) in 2017 for online capturing of data from various Ministries/Department on the financial, physical and outcome based monitoring indicators as per the formats designed by the NITI Aayog. The financial monitoring has been linked with the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) and accordingly, the monitoring is carried out on a real time basis.
  • Beyond education, the department has adopted an area based approach for the development of SC habitation which focuses on education, health and nutrition, Swacch Bharat, livelihood and skill development.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) envisages an integrated development of SC majority villages, primarily through convergent implementation of central an state schemes, by providing central gap-filling assistance. The programme is being taken up in villages which have more than 50 per cent SC population.

 

Backward Classes Development:

  • Another important target group is the Backward Classes, and for whose welfare, the overall allocation in 2018-19 has been increased by 41.03 per cent.
  • Scholarship schemes remain the mainstay of interventions for the BC population too, with schemes such as Pre and Post-Matric Scholarships and the National Fellowship.
  • Skill development is an important intervention and is being undertaken through the National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC).
  • The way forward is to build upon basics and move towards the development of entrepreneurship abilities of this group, resulting in job creation as well.

 

Social Defence:

  • An important but often neglected target group, is the senior citizens; whose numbers as well as the old age dependency ratio is growing exponentially. Keeping in view the changing demographics, socio-economic needs of the senior citizens, social value systems and advancements in technologies, a revised policy for senior citizens is being drafted.
  • The existing scheme is Integrated Programme for Senior Citizens.
  • Posts of physiotherapist attendant and yoga teachers have been created under the scheme.
  • Provisions for registration, standardisation and rating of senior citizen homes have been made.
  • Rastriya Vayoshri Yojana is a scheme meant for providing living assisted devices. Under the scheme of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse, cost norms were increased by 30 per cent for de-addiction centres supported by the department. These centres have also been provided with cooks, full time doctors and an additional chowkidar.
  • It is for the first time, a National Survey to identify victims of drug abuse has been taken up.

Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers:

  • National Survey of Manual Scavengers in 170 identified districts of 18 states has been undertaken, coordinated and monitored by NSKDC (National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation) in association with the representatives of State Government and social organizations.
  • Manual scavengers identified in the National Survey will be each given payment of One Time Cash Assistance (OTCA) of Rs. 40000 and rehabilitated through subsequent measures.
  • Further, the NSKFDC will focus on areas of training, rehabilitation and awareness generation.
  • Emphasis is also being laid on spreading awareness about the provisions of the “Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013” by organizing workshops in big municipalities with stakeholders including municipal engineers, sanitary inspectors, contractors etc.
  • Engagement with Municipal Corporation is imperative to this scheme.
  • Memorandum of Agreements (MoA) with panchayats and municipal corporations to purchase sanitation related vehicles and equipment are being entered into
  • This department has three Finance Development Corporations viz.
    1. NBCFDC (National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation),
    2. NSKFDC (National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation)
    3. NSFDC (National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation)
  • These corporations are not for profit companies with an objective to promote economic and development activities for the benefit of targeted groups and to assist them in livelihood, skill development and self-employment ventures.
  • To this end the corporations work as an extended arm of the government.

Dr. Ambedkar International Centre:

  • In order to further the ideas of Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, the department of Social Justice and Empowerment has set up Dr. Ambedkar International Centre (DAIC) in 2017.
  • The Centre would play a key role in the dissemination of Dr. Ambedkar’s teachings and vision, and it would be an important centre for research on social and economic issues and would function as a think tank for inclusive growth and related socio-economic issues.

The Department is committed to fulfill the promise made in the Constitution, Article 38, to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people, which is in keeping with the guiding principle of this government in ‘Sabka Saath & Sabka Vikas”. This goal will be realized only when the target population of this department, the marginalized and vulnerable are empowered to fulfill their true potential.

Chapter 3- Growth Opportunities for Weaker Sections

The framers of the Indian Constitution have thought well in advance and ensured to provide adequate and mandatory provisions in the Constitution of India to provide justice in all aspects of life equality in status, social security and economic/financial safeguards to the weaker sections of the society. The successive Governments in India have also made essential amendments to the constitution and brought legislative framework to ensure social and economic safeguards to the deprived sections of the society.

  • As an initial step banks have been nationalized, provisions have been made for priority sector lending requirements for banks; lead bank scheme was introduced to ensure government policy initiatives to get shape in action.
  • Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) have been established to provide last mile connection to the people in rural areas and have banking facilities at their door steps, the concept of service area approach have been brought in.
  • Self-Help Groups – (SHGs) bank linkage programmes were introduced to give a platform for needy people to come up with business and innovative ideas to self-sustain and engage in gainful economic activities, etc.

What is Financial inclusion?

  • Financial inclusion is the process of ensuring access to financial services, timely and adequate credit for needy weaker sections and low income groups at an affordable rate financial inclusion has become one of the most critical aspects in the context of inclusive growth and development.
  • It has become a top policy priority of the Central Government to ensure egalitarian society, as the substantial population of India lives with economic insecurity.
  • Setting steps towards universal financial inclusion is both a national commitment as well as a public policy priority for India.

Challenges for Financial Inclusion:

(i) Agent and vendor risk.

(ii) Consumption oriented expenditure patterns

(iii) Dormant accounts.

(iv) Inadequate awareness levels

(v) Lack of infrastructure.

(vi) Low literacy rates.

(vii) Poor saving habits.

(viii) Recovery related issues.

(ix) Small ticket transactions and high transaction costs.

(x) Sustainability factor

 

Barriers for Financial Inclusion:

  • From the demand side, the reasons identified in the study for financial exclusion are low income, poverty and illiteracy and lack of awareness.
  • From the supply side branch proximity, timings and procedures, attitude of the bank staff and language are the reasons cited.
  • Impediments in approaching the bank due to difficulties in documentation requirements, loan sanction procedure, inflexible repayment terms, inability to communicate the requirements, reluctance to approach the bank for small loans were the major blockade in the road to achieve financial inclusion.
  • Mobile number registration and pin number generation is a big deterrent for customers along with financial illiteracy.
  • Access channels, coordination with mobile service operators are other challenges for banks.
  • Low penetration of financial services, less efficiency of business correspondents also limits the success of financial inclusion.
  • Marginal, farmers, landless labourers, oral lessees, self-employed and unorganized sector enterprises, urban slum dwellers, migrants or ethnic minorities and socially excluded groups, senior citizens and women are out of the purview of financial inclusion.
  • Penetration of bank branches in rural areas was unviable on account of high transaction costs. Business Correspondent (BC) model is observed to be restrictive in rural areas.
  • Lack of financial literacy and poor marketing of financial products leads to low awareness among urban poor depending on the informal credit sources which cater according to their convenience.
  • There is also a large degree of self-exclusion due to the existence of informal credit sources meeting their convenience. The complex financial services market offers a wide range of products however lack of awareness restricts the use of these products.

Study suggests that achievement of inclusive growth was a result of the act of nationalisation of banks way back in 1969. For the purpose of the study, analysis of data published by RBI was made to substantially prove the fact that banking development after nationalisation has paved the way for penetration of banking into unbanked and rural areas. In spite of the massive branch expansion activity carried out by the banks, the challenges of the banking sector has not been met and there is need for recognising new channels to achieve full inclusive growth in the country. Despite vast coverage of formal banking network, the basic financial services are still not accessible to larger sections of the society.

Financial Inclusion and the Government:

  1. The National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation (NSCFDC):
  • NSCFDC was set up by the Government of India in February, 1989 as a Government Company. The broad objective of NSEDC is financing, facilitating and mobilising funds for the economic empowerment of Scheduled Caste communities living below the Double the Poverty Line (DPL) limit.
  1. The National Scheduled Tribes Finance & Development Corporation (NSTFDC):
  • NSTFDC was established during 2001 and it is incorporated as a government company a company not for profit to provide concessional financial assistance to scheduled tribes for their economic and educational development
  • NSTFDC provides term loan for viable projects costing upto Rs 25 lakh per unit.
  • Under the scheme, financial assistance is extended up-to 90 per cent of the cost of the project and the balance is met by way of subsidy/promoters contribution/margin money.
  • The Adivasi Mahila Sashakikaran Yojana (AMSY) is an exclusive scheme economic development of scheduled tribes women under which NSTEDC provides loan up-to 90 per cent for the project costing up-to Rs 1 lakh at an interest rate of 4 per cent p.a.
  1. The National Safaikarmacharies Finance & Development Corporation (NSCFDC):
  • NSKFDC, was established in January 1997 as a ‘company not for profit’. It is fully owned by the Government of India.
  • NSKFDC disburses the funds to the state channelizing agencies (SCAs) nominated by the concerned State Govts./UT Administrations and to Regional Rural Banks (RRBs) and Nationalised Banks for onward disbursement of the funds to the beneficiaries’.
  • The SCAs disburse the funds to the ultimate beneficiaries in association with the District Social Welfare Department.
  1. The National Backward Classes Finance & Development Corporation (NBCFDC):
  • NBCFDC, is a Govt. of India Undertaking under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The company is a not for profit with an objective to promote economic and development activities for the benefit of Backward Classes and to assist the poorer section of these classes in skill development and self-employment ventures.
  1. The National Minorities Finance & Development Corporation (NMDFC):
  • The prime mandate of NMDFC is to provide concessional finance to the Minorities for self-employment / income generation activates.
  • As per the National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992, the notified Minorities are Muslims, Christians, Sikhs Buddhists and Parsis. Subsequently Jain community was also added unto the list of notified Minority Communities in January 2014.
  • Under NMDFC programme, preference is given to artisan and women.
  1. The National Handicapped Finance & Development Corporation (NHFDC):
  • The NHFDC has been set up by Government of India to play a catalytic role in economic empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs).
  • It has been working as an Apex Corporation for the benefit of Persons with Disability (PwDs) (Divyangjan) in the coutry.
  1. Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK):
  • Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Women & Child Development (MWCD).
  • It is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act 1860 and an apex micro-finance organisation.
  • The main objective is to provide micro-credit to poor women for various livelihood support and income generating activities at concessional terms in a client-friendly procedure to bring about their socio-economic development.
  1. MUDRA Yojana:
  • The Finance Minister announced the formation of MUDRA Bank.
  • Accordingly MUDRA was lunched by the Hon’ble Prime Minister on 08 April 2015 for providing loans upto 10 Lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises.
  • Loans are given by Commercial Banks, RRBs, Small Finance Banks, Cooperative Banks, MFIs and NBFCs.
  1. Stand-Up India Scheme:
  • Facilitates bank loans between 10 lakh and 1 crore to at least one Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) borrower and at least one woman borrower per bank branch for setting up a Greenfield Enterprise. This enterprise may be in manufacturing, services or the trading sector.
  1. Venture Capital Fund Scheme:
  • A first of its kind Venture Capital Fund was launched by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to promote entrepreneurship in India among the Scheduled Castes by providing concessional finance to them.
  1. Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY):
  • A new scheme Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana was announced to ensure financial inclusion for weaker sections of the society for providing banking, pension and insurance to reduce the negative effects of earlier schemes, thus giving them financial freedom and stability.
  • 5 crore bank accounts were opened under this scheme across the country.

Chapter 4- Social Change among SCs and STs

The Constitution has recognised the less privileged and more disadvantaged groups Scheduled Castes for their structural disadvantage based on ritual status and Scheduled Tribes for their geographic isolation and disadvantage) for special safe-guards and affirmative measures such as anti-discrimination, anti-atrocity and positive discrimination laws such as prohibition of the practice of un-touch ability (in the case of SCs), protection of right to the land and habitation (in the case of STs), provision of scholarships and reservations in education and employment (for  both the SCs and STs), and more recently, ear marking sub-plans in union and state budgets cutting across various departments of the Government for improving the lot of both the SCs and STs. In fact sub-plan provisions have facilitated creation of an entrepreneurial and commercial class among the SCs and STs in the past decade or so.

Effects of Reservations in Higher Education:

  • Without doubt, one can safely claim that reservations in higher education and in government employment are the main sources of creating a ‘new’ educated middle class among the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the post-independent India.
  • The stricter implementation of reservations in higher education and in government jobs have seen motivated more and more first generation SCs and STs to break the glass-ceiling of social mobility, thereby empowering them in all respects – social, economic and political.
  • The impact of such empowerment is cyclical.   
  • Irrespective of the region and state, the levels of literacy among SCs and STs have increased.
  • The enrolments in elementary education have increased too.
  • The drop-out rates came down significantly and the rates of retention have improved at various levels, though they continue to remain a cause of concern. The transition from elementary to secondary and from secondary to higher education has improved, through there is much to be desired in these transitions.

Higher Education Participation: 

  • The Gross enrolment rations (GER) of SCs and STs have witnessed tremendous improvement in the past fifteen years.
  • A case in point is the way the SCs/STs are able to fill in the jobs at the top and of the civil services and also seeking to transform their representation in once elite professional courses such as engineering, medicine, law and university teaching.
  • Subsequently, this has resulted in re-structuring the middle class, professional occupational profile of these castes and tribes in the recent times. However, it may also be noted that the bulk of Group IV jobs, namely, the lower government and private sector jobs, are largely populated by the SCs and STs, reproducing a sort of a hierarchical pyramid in modern, secular occupations.
  • Another development that is observed in the post liberalisation era is that more and more educated SC/ST professionals are going abroad for higher education and for employment, and are also setting up diasporic groups in their host countries, which signifies tremendous social and economic empowerment the disadvantaged have attained.

A Few Concerns:

  • However, a few concerns are striking. The adverse effect of the growing process of privatisation of higher education on the socially disadvantaged is significant as it seems to limit social mobility prospects among aspiring SCs and STs.
  • Two implications may be drawn.
    • First, since much of the growth of higher education in the post 2000s is in private higher professional education, it is not accessible to large sections of SCs and STs as it does not facilitate reservations as mandated in the Constitution.
    • Second, as there are no reservations in private sector employment where large scale employment opportunities are currently found, SCs and STs are either left out or become educated unemployed. T
    • hese twin issues in a way keep the momentum that the country had gained post-independence in stimulating a process of social change among most disadvantaged tardy.
  • Another cause of concern amidst such a dismal picture of educated employment scenario is that the jobs in the government sector have consistently shrunk and are not expanding as a result of growing trends of privatization in post liberalization era.

The gender parity among all groups (in particular among SCs) remains a serious issue. While participation of women in higher education and increased, it remains for behind men, many women are still to be covered by the policy frame and the scope of opportunities for social and economic empowerment. Lack of employability among SCs and STs, therefore, would also lead to further disinterest in education among these social groups. It is beyond doubt that access to and retention in good quality higher education and subsequent opportunities for social empowerment among these historically marginalised groups.

Chapter 5- Fostering Entrepreneurship among the Marginalized

An emerging economy needs inclusivity in its programmes and schemes to empower each and every section of society. In India society, there remains much scope for initiating programmes to uplift vulnerable sections of society who lack vital social capital to move up the social and economic ladder. Very often minority communities, persons with disabilities and women face alienation due to social stigma. Despite several years of liberalization and economic progress, achieving equal access to resources and opportunities and the state of inclusive development remains an unaccomplished goal.

 

Favourable Social Perception:

  • A Study conducted by Pratham for NITI Aayog suggests that, “about 70 per cent of respondents who come from semi-urban or rural areas aspire to become ‘self-employed’ entrepreneurs, in stark contrast to their urban counterparts (The Indian Express, 2016)”. The findings reiterate the fact that the country’s youth especially in the rural regions are gearing up for entrepreneurship to overcome poverty and unemployment.
  • The largest annual study of entrepreneurial dynamics in the world, The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report 2016-17 finds an increase in the rate of ‘entrepreneurial intention’ to 14.9 per cent compared to 9 per cent 2015-16, whereas the ‘fear of failure’ declined from 44 per cent in 2015-16 to 37.5 percent in 2016-17. The GEM Report 2016-17 finds that nearly 44 per cent of the adults in India see ‘good opportunities to start a business’ while 44 per cent perceive they have ‘capabilities to start a business’
  • Post-1990 economic reforms in India have resulted in sporadic rise of Dalit entrepreneurs in the country but their representation in the country but their representation in the ownership of private enterprises and the employment generated by them has remained very low for the Scheduled caste communities.
  • The Scheduled castes find it difficult to expand their enterprise due to lack of capacity to compete and also due to capacity to compete and also due to discrimination faced in the business arena.

Challenges and Opportunities:

  • Lack of education and skills is a major impediment among the marginalized It results in lack of confidence to undertake responsibilities.
  • Entrepreneurship motivation and Skill development with hands-on training can address these deficiencies.
  • Workshops and seminar sessions have proved to be time-tested methods of attitude orientation and confidence building among youth.
  • Through strategic planning approach comprising focussed entrepreneurial training, guidance and mentoring the Marginalised sections of the population can be geared towards self-employment opportunities.
  • Shortage of finance, fear of risk and lack of functional literacy are some of the reasons that hold them back from starting their own enterprises.
  • Further research findings in this field identify constraints in raw materials supply, lack of adequate capital, absence of marketing infrastructure etc, as some of the primary hindrances for a rural entrepreneur.
  • Due to lack of education, rural entrepreneurs also suffer from lack of aptitude and competency and lack of awareness towards various facilities available to them. Hence they often keep themselves away from venturing into self-employment business and resort to working as daily wage labourers.

 

Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI) has taken several laudable initiatives to empower the youth from the marginalised communities. In order to tackle the above challenges the following policy initiatives were taken by the government.

Start-up India Programme:

  • As part of the start-up India action plan, the Government of India has set up a Fund of Funds for Start-ups (FFS) with a corpus of Rs 10,000 crore to support these companies over the next four years.
  • This money is stated to be disbursed via the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI).
  • A virtual Start-up India Hub was created to provide information and learning resources to aspirants. Although the initiative is appreciable, the impact is too less in a country like ours.

Stand-Up India Initiative:

  • Under Stand up India Initiative, around 1.25 lakh bank branches are encouraged to fund SC/ST and women entrepreneurs to create around 2.5 lakh new entrepreneurs in the country.
  • The idea is to facilitate bank loans from 10 lakhs to 100 lakhs to be given by each bank branch to one SC/ST and one Woman under Start-up India scheme to promote entrepreneurship among them.
  • In fact this scheme was formulated to promote entrepreneurship at grass-roots for economic empowerment and job creation.

The Mudra Scheme (Pradhan Mantri’s Mudra Yojana, PMMY):

  • The Micro Units Development and Re-finance Agency (MUDRA) is the executing financial body that fulfils the programme objectives under Stand-up India initiative.
  • Mudra provides funding support to financial institutions that lend small loans to the micro-units in the country.
  • The micro-loans have been categorized and named ‘Shishu’, ‘Kishor’ and ‘Tarun according to the phase of growth of according to the phase of growth of the firm and its corresponding funding needs.

Conclusion:

  • It is fair to conclude that promoting entrepreneurship abilities among the marginalized and socially backward sections of our nation (especially those who fall under the intersection of the discriminatory forces lower –caste disabled women) can lead to multi-dimensional progress both on the social and economic fronts. It could be used as an effective affirmative action tool to counter the social malaise of discrimination.
  • Regular entrepreneurship development interventions, periodic mentoring and guidance sessions and an integrated policy strategy to micro-enterprises development using the potential of micro fiancé and Self-Help Groups can turn the socially backward communities into competitive entrepreneurs who can drive the economic aspirations of our nation.
  • Moreover, working to enhance livelihood skills and employment training with entrepreneurial motivation has the twin purpose of generating employment on the one hand and exploiting the untapped resources and opportunities on the other hand.

Chapter 6- Social Empowerment for Differently Abled

One of the largest minority groups in India, who have suffered long years of neglect, deprivation, segregation and exclusion are persons with disability (PwD). In India, disabled persons are still oppressed, marginalized and denied the opportunity for full citizenship and participation, and from living a reasonable quality of life because of society’s persistent stereotypical and prejudiced perception of them as inferior, incapable, inadequate, and a burden on the family resources and society.

 

Government Initiative:

  • In order to give focused attention to policy, issues and meaningful thrust to the activities, aimed at welfare and empowerment of the Persons with Disabilities, a separate Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities was carved out of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on May 12, 2012.
  • One of the main objectives of this department is rehabilitation at various aspects including social empowerment such as, Scheme Arising Out Of The Implementation Of The Persons With Disabilities Act (SIPDA), Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme(DDRS), Scheme of Assistance to Disabled Persons for purchase/fitting of Aids/appliances (ADIP) along with other schemes.

Assistance to Disabled Persons:

  • Under ADIP scheme, the department provides aids/appliances help the people with disabilities to achieve more autonomy and mobility which leads to social participation and inclusion.

Technology Development Projects in Mission Mode:

  • With a view to provide suitable and cost effective aids and appliances through the application of technology and to increase their employment opportunities and integration in society scheme was started

Inclusive Education for the Disabled at Secondary Stage (IEDSS):

  • This scheme supports children with disabilities aged 14 or above for completing their secondary education from Class 9 to Class 12 in government, local body and government aided schools.

Accessible India Campaign:

  • Creating universal accessibility for PwD’s in built environment, transport, information and communication technology (ICT) ecosystem.
  • This campaign is based on the principles of social model of disability; that disability is caused by the way society is organised and no the person’s limitation and impairments.
  • A web portal has also been created where people can upload pictures and comments on the accessibility of any building.

Implementation of Persons with Disabilities Act (SIPDA):

  • It is a wide financial assistance is given for skill development, creation of barrier free environment running some institutions in the field and other related activities relating to implementation of the Act

Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Schemes (DDRS):

  • Financial assistance is provided to NGOs, for projects relating to rehabilitation of persons with disabilities.
  • It is aimed at enabling them to reach and maintain their optimal physical, sensory, intellectual, psychological and/or social functional levels through 18 sub-components.

Information, Communication and Technology (ICT):

A mobile app will be launched to provide information on disabled-friendly public utilities in a city. It will feature places like ATMs, banks, malls, toilets and will also have user-generated ratings of how disabled-friendly those places are.

Awareness Generation and Publicity:

The Scheme was launched in 2014 with the objective of providing wide publicity including event based publicity etc. through electronic print, film media, multi media to the schemes and programmes being run by the Central Government for the welfare of persons with disabilities, to create an enabling environment for social inclusion of the PwDs, to disseminate information about the legal rights of the PwDs to sensitize the employers and other similar groups on the special needs of the especially abled persons, to develop content for rehabilitation of different types of disabilities, provide helpline and so on.

Conclusion:

Social empowerment is indispensable to people with disabilities and it is both a continuous process as well as a result. Social empowerment is typically implemented at the four following levels:

(1) the individual level – where the person values him/herself and actively wants to participate in life,

(2) family level-where the family gets guidance and support for social rehabilitation of their members with disabilities

(3) community level-where awareness programme can be conducted.

Social support from the community along with government policies leads to social inclusion where a person level impacting local and national level actions to promote social equity and inclusion of all persons with disabilities. Though social empowerment can be achieved through other areas of practice, such as inclusive education and socio-economic integration, it is also a specific area of practice where tools, methods and approaches exist to facilities social inclusion. Thus, social policies and facilities can become effective tools to encourage people with disabilities to acquire social empowerment.

Chapter 7- Living a Life of Dignity

The crowning expression of productivity among senior citizens is self-esteem-dignity. What the senior citizen in India wants is not fame, name, money, or fortune, but dignity. To be not only conscious of it, but also to be seen to be productive has an enormous amount of value addition to his sense self-respect

‘Cenegenics’ is the latest upcoming practical panacea, in fact a raging fad in cities such as Las Vegas that ensures its practitioner ‘Amortality’. Research in gerontology and neuropsychology shows that mental activity makes neurons sprout new dendrites which will establish connections with other neurons. The dendrites shrink when the mind is idle. To put it simply, a person who stops solving problems arrives at a point where he cannot solve problems.

The field of ageing is beginning to explode, because so many are so excited about the prospect of searching for – and finding the causes of ageing, and maybe even the fountain of youth itself”

In India we are still in the stage of grappling with food, shelter, medical services, insurance, income security for the majority of the 91 million people 60+. Despite the necessity of such large scale interventions from the government that rules the country, there are still thematic areas that NGOs and groups can engage in. Instances of denial of opportunity for productive ageing run into tomes of gerontological literature.

Structural Opportunities:

  • In India, the educated middle class senior’s are very quick to take to the need for knowledge and practice of productive ageing activities.
  • In sharp contrast to the western emphasis on post-retirement leisure, holiday’s good food, fun and frolic, Indian seniors are eager to embrace opportunities for social work.
  • The retired person in India places a high premium on working for a cause rather than fritter away retired life in pastime leisure and fun.
  1. The proof of the above statement is seen in Mumbai where 663 Dignitarians, in a unique collaboration with the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC), have got into the project of Cleaning Mumbai with Dignity. The celebration of Independence Day has got clubbed with what they have titled as ‘Freedom from Garbage Andolan’
  2. Or take their Helpline, for instance, where nearly 200 senior volunteers are working on providing companionship services to lonely seniors in Mumbai alone.

Second Career:

  • Productive ageing should not be restricted to the narrow limits of gainful work.
  • When productivity is broadened to include work beyond participation in the labour force, to embrace activities undertaken with passion, it assumes sociological significance.
  • First, it is useful in arguments of the politics of intergenerational equity.
  • Second, there are definite psychological benefits of productivity in old age such as better health, motivation cognitive functioning, life satisfaction or self-actualisation etc.
  • Third, it has sociological relevance – social integration and participation, instead of living in the fringes of society.

Self Esteem:

  • The crowning expression of productivity among senior citizens is self-esteem – dignity. The senior citizen wants to live the rest of his/her life with self-respect, in dignity.
  • Ancient and medieval visions of ageing as the “renouncing-focused end part of life” is fast changing, making way for the secular, scientific, and individualistic outlook of modernity.
  • This is true of at least the post-independence generation of India which has benefited from the first wave of liberal education.

 

Gold in Geriatrics:

  • Wall Street Journal declared that “there is a lot of gold in geriatrics” – a potential that remains largely unexplored in India by business entrepreneurs. Insurance, housing, health, holidays and culturally oriented care services need to be tailor – made for the seniors.
  • It is time that the Government was cognizant of its humungous responsibilities towards the aged of India and of the ageing demographic’s ramifications a think tank for comprehending the widespread impact of population ageing.

 

The National Policy of Older Persons, 1999, is a brilliant document, very progressive in outlook.

The ageing population growth rate itself is at 350 per cent compared to the growth rate of the general population. There is, therefore, an urgent need to put in action many schemes catering to the needs of the Elderly in India.

At the state level certain Government like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, M.P. and Himachal Pradesh have come up with many laudable schemes addressing issues of the aged. There is great scope of learning from each other.   

Groups of senior citizens and a handful on NGOs, are indeed very active in working along with the Government for drafting policies on Ageing in India. But more sustained efforts are required to mobilize many ministries in New Delhi. To start with, the well organised NGOs, groups and associations of senior citizens could be raising a united voice and dialogue with the Government departments.

Chapter 8- Constitutional Provisions For Social Justice

Our Constitution guarantees justice and equality of opportunity to all its citizens. It also recognizes that equal opportunity implies the competition between equals, and not ‘unequals’

Taking cognizance of the inequality in our social structure, the makers of the Constitutions argued that weaker sections have to be dealt with on a preferential footing by the state. A special responsibility was, thus, placed upon the state to provide protection to the weaker sections of society. Accordingly, the Constitution of India provided for protective discrimination under various articles to accelerate the process of building an egalitarian social order.

In the Preamble to the Constitution of India, first, third and fourth goals respectively mentioned the security of all its citizens:

JUSTICE: social, economic and political;

EQUALITY: of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY: assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation

 

Fundamental Rights:

Right to Equality

Article 14. Equality before the law

Article 15. Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place birth

Nothing in this article shall prevent the state from imposing compulsory service for public purposes, and in imposing such service the state shall not make any discrimination on grounds only of religion, race, caste or class or any of them

Article 16. Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment

Article 17. Abolition of Untouchability

Article 27. Prohibition of employment of children in factories etc

No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in a factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment

 

Directive Principles Of State Policy:

Article 38. State to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people

  1. The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life
  2. The State shall, in particular, strive to minimize the inequalities in income and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.

 

Article 39. Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State:

The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing:

  1. That the citizens, men, and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood
  2. That the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to sub serve the common good
  3. That the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment
  4. That there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women
  5. That the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength
  6. That children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment

 

Article 39A. Equal justice and free legal aid

The state shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities.

 

Provisions Relating To Persons With Disability And The Old:

Article 41. Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases

The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want

Provisions Relating To Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) And Other Weaker Sections:

Article 46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections:

The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. Who comes under the ambit of SCs and STs. These are well defined under the article 366 (24) and 341 as under:

Article 366 (24)

(24) Scheduled Caste means such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under Article 341 to be Scheduled Castes for the purposes of this Constitution:

Article 341: Scheduled Castes

(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be

(2) Parliament may be law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any cate, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.

Safeguards For SCs And STs:

Social Safeguards:

  1. Article 17. It relates to the abolition of untouchability being practiced in the society. The Parliament also enacted the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to tackle the problem of untouchability being practiced against Scheduled Castes
  2. Article 23. This prohibits human trafficking and beggar and other similar forms of forced labour and provides that any contravention of this provision shall be a punishable offence. Although this article is not specifically articulated for the SCs and STs because the majority of bonded labour is from SCs so it holds significance for them
  3. Article 25 (2)(b). It provides that Hindu religious institutions of a public character shall be opened to all classes and sections of Hindu

Economic Safeguards:

Article 46: Economic Safeguards are as in article 46 above

Educational And Cultural Safeguards:

Article 15 (4) As mentioned above also under heading Fundamental Right and subheading – Justice for equality, It empowers the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward class of the citizens and for SCs. The article enabled the State to reserve seats for SCs in educational institutions.

Article 335 Allows relaxation in qualifying marks for admission in educational institutes or promotions for SCs/STs

Political Safeguards:

Article 243D Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Panchayat

Article 243T Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in every Municipality

Article 330 Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People

Article 332 Reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States

Article 332 Reservation of seats and the special representation to cease after sixty years

Service Safeguards:

Article 16 (4) This clause allows the state to reserve vacancies in public service for any backward classes of the state that are not adequately represented in the public services

Article 16 (4A) This allows the state to implement reservation in the matter of promotion for SCs and STs

Article 16 (4B) This allows the state to consider unfilled vacancies reserved for backward classes as a separate class of vacancies not subject to a limit of 50 per cent reservation

Other Safeguards:

Article 164 Appoint special minister for tribal welfare in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Odisha

Article 275 Allows special grant in aids to states for tribal welfare

Article 338A/339 Established a National Commission of SCs and STs. Article 339 allows the central govt. to direct states to implement and execute plans for the betterment of SC/STs

Article 340 Allows the President to appoint a commission to investigate the condition of socially and economically backward classes and table the report in Parliament

Umbrella Schemes for Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates:

The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister has given its approval for continuance of the 8 existing schemes of the Ministry of Home Affairs up-to March 2020 for relief rehabilitation of migrants and repatriates under the Umbrella scheme “Relief and Rehabilitation of Migrants and Repatriates”.

The Schemes are as under:

  1. Central Assistance for one-time settlement of displaced families from Pak Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) and Chhamb settled in the State of Jammu Kashmir.  
  2. Rehabilitation Package and up-gradation of infrastructure of the Bangladesh Enclaves and Cooch Behar District after transfer of enclaves between India and Bangladesh under Land Boundary Agreement
  3. Relief assistance to Sri Lankan refuges staying in camps in Tamil Nadu and Odisha.
  4. Grant-in-Aid to Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) for five years for administrative and social welfare expenses of Tibetan settlements
  5. Grant-in-Aid to Government of Tripura for maintenance of Brus lodged in relief camps of Tripura
  6. Rehabilitation of Bru/Reang families from Tripura to Mizoram
  7. Grant of enhanced relief of RS. 5.00 lakh per deceased person, who died during 1984 Anti-Sikh Riots.
  8. Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims/Family of Victims of Terrorist/Communal/LWE Violence and Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory’

These schemes had been started by the government of India to enable the migrants and repatriates, who have suffered on account of displacement, to earn a reasonable income and to facilitate their inclusion in mainstream economic activities.

Chapter 9- Empowerment through Political Interventions

The idea of empowerment is invoked in many contexts like human rights, economic insecurity, and disadvantaged groups an about their capacity building, and also their capacity building, and also in addressing the problems of rights. Empowerment involves two important aspects: developing capabilities, negotiating skills and the ability of people on the one hand; and obtaining authority to make decisions or participate in decision making on affairs that affect their lives on the other. Theoretically, empowerment is a process that helps people to gain control over their lives through raising awareness, taking action and working in order to exercise greater control.

Empowerment necessarily demands political inclusion in the institutions of decision-making and a change in the existing power relations, where certain sections of society remain outside the decision-making arena due to their specific historical socio-cultural experiences. In a democratic political structure, empowerment therefore, entrails proper and effective representation in the institutions of governance, so that people can voice their concerns and participate in decision making on matters that affect their lives.

Political empowerment is also regarded as political incorporation (inclusion), meaning the extent to which a group has achieved significant representation and influence in political decision-making.

Marginalized Sections:

  • India has a population of 1.3 billion an even with an average economic growth rate of 6-7 percent per annum, almost one fourth of its population still lives in poverty.
  • Seven out of every 10 Indians still live in rural areas.
  • The economic condition of the poor is inextricably intertwined with the social dimensions of his well-being, equity and social rights.
  • The vulnerable and marginalized groups in India are not distinct and easily identifiable.
  • The social fabric is ethnically diverse, socially stratified and heterogeneous in composition.
  • With low literacy, abject poverty, complex social-ethnic environment, the poor and the vulnerable are mired in historical suppression and subordination over the generations.

The constitution provides protective and preferential treatment to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, including the right to be treated equally and affirmative action in the form of reservations in educational institutions and public sector. It also prohibits any practice of discriminating or excluding individuals from social interaction, public places or even physical contact against these groups. But even in the less violent spheres of economic and social lives, participation of the marginalized groups in Panchayati Raj System is dismal because of pressures and restrictions. Their access to political participation depends on their economic and political relations with the dominant social class.

Historical Background:

The task of strengthening the Panchayati raj system fell on the Indian government after independence. To strengthen democracy, villages had to be strengthened because India is a country of village panchayats. Mahatma Gandhi strongly believed in Gram Swaraj. According to him, the villages should be governed by themselves through elected panchayats to become self-sufficient. But surprisingly, they were not included in the draft Constitution. Due to Gandhiji’s intervention it was included in Article 40 of the Directive Principles of the State Policy.

In the beginning, they failed to generate popular interest and enthusiasm. To bring enthusiasm in panchayats, the planning Commission appointed a study team headed by Balwantrai Mehta in 1956. The committee had recommended that “only grass root level agency can establish a link between local leadership and the local people” and it recommended three-tier Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in the country.

By mid 1960s, Panchayati Raj had reached all parts of the country and the people felt that there was a system which could attend to their issues at local level. However, within two years of its reach it failed to strengthen further. It has also been said by the experts that they were lacking constitutional sanction and clarity and most of the PRIs functioned as government’s institutions. According to Mathur, these institutions were not seen as institutions of peoples’ participation that played a role on deepening democracy, but rather seen as instruments to facilitate the implementation of national policies

73rd Constitutional Amendment:

  • In September 1991, the Panchayati Raj Bill was introduced and later it was passed in 1992 as the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act with minor modifications and came into force on 24th April 1993.
  • The significant feature of this act is that it gave Constitutional status to Panchayati Raj Institutions and it became mandatory to all the state governments to implement this act.
  • This Amendment brought, uniformity in structure, composition, powers and functions of PRIs.
  • It gave impetus to Panchayati Raj to promote social and economic development and improvement in living conditions of rural India.
  • Creation of Panchayati Raj is perhaps the best transformation in democratic India to realise the participation of ordinary people in power sharing.
  • The act provided a three-tier system of panchayat at village, intermediate and district levels.
  • The Act says that there should be gram sabha in each village.
  • A landmark feature of the act is that in all the panchayats, seats should be reserved for SCs and STs in proportion to their population and 1/3 of the total number of seats will be reserved for women.
  • Reservation of seats and offices of the chairpersons for scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs) in proportion to their population has the potential to bring radical change in the socio-political structure of this country.
  • The reservation policy has given a chance to elect nearly 18.51 percent of SCs 11.26 per cent for STs and 36.87 per cent for STs and 36.87 percent for women in all the 2,39,582 panchayats in the country.

Marginalised Sections in PRIs:

  • At present, seventeen states are implementing 50 per cent reservation to women at all levels of Panchayati Raj .
  • This has brought about a virtual democratic revolution with more than 50 lakh representatives getting elected at local level every five years; out of which 13 lakh are women and more than 5.5 lakh are Scheduled castes. Within the 5.5 lakh, the Scheduled caste women are also getting elected as presidents and ward members.
  • It’s an important planning approach regarding minimizing the traditional felling about the SC and STs in our society, particularly in terms of keeping them away from society with new generation of Panchayats starting to function, several issues have come to the fore, which have a bearing on human rights.
  • The elected representatives of different pro-poor programmes at panchayati level and unpublished works in India.
  • The SC elected representatives are giving importance to loan and credit for agriculture and animal husbandry related activities.
  • They equally pay attention to the matters of creating and maintaining facilities like roads, drinking water and streetlights in their localities.
  • It is understood that SC leaders accord priority to the developmental activates which leads to benefit of their community.

Article 243D also specifies the mandatory rotation i.e., the structural constraints of reservation of seats among constituencies from one election to the next election in the 3-tier Panchayati Raj system. Though the act failed to provide second term to the contestants in the same constituency but it has helped the same group/community to contest in neighbouring constituency under reservation. This is the real transformation of participatory democracy for the marginalized sections of the society.

The awareness level among the rural masses of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Sikkim has brought significant changes in the functioning of Gram Sabha and its decisions, and they are successfully implementing the decisions of the Gram Sabha Significant feature in Madhya Pradesh Raj Act is that they should conduct more than sixteen Gram Sabha meetings annually. This is a good way of self-governance at the grassroots level.

Another interesting factor on women in Panchayati raj is that political empowerment has enhanced their social status. It has enabled them to participate in all matters connected with the society on an egalitarian basis. The Panchayati membership has given better status to women in the public sphere. They are invited to participate in all the social functions of the panchayati area.

Marginalized Sections: Challenges

  • The states such as Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh Maharashtra, and Rajasthan have also introduced the two-child norm as eligibility criteria for contesting elections.
  • Though this norm goes against both men and women, it is more detrimental to women especially to the scheduled castes and schedule tribe community because majority of the families follow the big and joint family norm.
  • The continued dominance of traditional/dominant groups in rural India and the constitutional provisions of 73rd Amendment have intensified the antagonistic or conflict ridden rural situation which result in, more often than not, the violations of human rights on mass scale including violence, bloodshed and loss of life.
  • Widespread violence preceded and followed the panchayats election in most of the states and many seats were won without being contested. This shows that the tussle of power exists not just between state and panchayats, but also between the traditional dominant power structure and emerging new leadership from the marginalise groups at the grassroots.

Conclusion:

 The 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act intends to empower the marginal sections of the society. Of late, the marginalised communities themselves are actively participating in the decision making and implementing process particularly in developing their communities and also their localities. Despite all these there are still some issues which need to be addressed sincerely like sharing of power with women. A positive step in this direction would give impetus to the empowerment of women in PRIs, particularly of the marginalized communities.

Chapter 10- India’s MMR now at 130

Our country has made a major accomplishment of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target 5.1 of ‘reducing Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015’. As per the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) data India’s Maternal Mortality Rati (MMR) stands at 130/lakh live births a decline of massive 37 points from 167/lakh live births in 2011-13

What is Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)?

  • MMR is defined as the number of maternal deaths from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes) during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, per 100,000 live births, for a specified year.
  • This is a ‘ratio’ and not rate.
  • Maternal Mortality Rate has in its denominator, the number of women, of reproductive age (14-45 years of age).
  • MMR (whose denominator is the number of live births) indicates the risk of death once a women becomes pregnant, and does not take fertility levels into consideration. Hence this is used as a standard indicator over maternal mortality rate.

Why is the MMR an important indicator, what is its significance?

  • MMR is a reflection of the whole national health systems and represents the outcome of its cons and pros along with its other characteristics such as inter-sectoral collaboration, transparency and disparities.
  • Beyond these, it also illustrates even the socio-cultural, political and economic philosophy of a society.
  • Hence, it not only depicts capacity of the health systems to provide effective health care in preventing and addressing the complications occurring during pregnancy and childbirth but the overall picture of development and progress in a country.

Progress:

  • India has shown impressive gains in reduction of maternal mortality with a 22 per cent reduction in MMR since 2013.
  • This means that every day, 30 women are now being saved form pregnancy related deaths in India as compared to 2013.
  • The top three states to contribute to this achievement are Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Assam with more than 60 point decline in their MMRs.
  • In percentage terms, the states of Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand (29per cent) have shown a decline in MMR that is greater than or equal to the national average of 22 per cent.
  • Overall 10 states have achieved the MDG MMR target (139/lakh live births) and six States have achieved the National Health Policy target of 100/lakh live births.
  • The approach of the Union Health Ministry has been multi-pronged. The Ministry has worked on factor of supply, demand, accessibility, factors of reducing out of pocket expenditure (OOPE) on pregnancy related healthcare programmatic factors et al.

 

Ensuring Emergency Care:

  • To increase the demand i.e bringing pregnant women to health facilities for ensuring safe delivery and emergency obstetric care, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) scheme is being implemented.
  • The (JSSK) ensures that every pregnant woman delivering at government health centres gets facilities like free drugs, free diagnostics, free diet, free delivery and Caesarean Sections, free to and fro transportation. Similar facilities have been given to all sick infants up to one year.
  • On the supply side, funds are being provided for strengthening of ‘Delivery Points’ for provision of comprehensive Reproductive, Maternal, New Born Child Health and Adolescent (RMNCH+A) services More than 20,000 delivery points have been strengthened as delivery points, over 2200 facilities have been operationalized as First Referral Units (FRUS) to provide emergency obstetric care services. Additionally over 50 Obstetric HDUs/ICUs have been established to provide critical care to mothers developing life threatening complications.
  • Further, in order to provide state-of-the-art and outstanding quality care to pregnant women and children 100/50/30 bedded Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Wings have been sanctioned in public health facilities with high bed occupancy wherein more than 32,000 additional beds have been sanctioned in more than 590 health facilities across 25 States. Another important component of infrastructure is to ensure adequate and safe supply of blood and blood components.
  • In order to provide outreach services and improve access, approximately 10 lakh Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) have been engaged. The HR is not only hired, to harness their full potential, capacity building of MBBS doctors in Anesthesia (LSAS) and Obstetric Care including C-section (EmOC) skills has been undertaken to overcome the shortage of specialists in these disciplines, particularly in rural area.

Continuum of Care Approach:

  • On the program front, a Continuum of Care approach has been adopted under NHM with the articulation of ‘Strategic approach to RMNCH+A, iron and folic acid supplementation is being given across life stages including pregnant, lactating women and adolescent girls at health facilities and during outreach activities.
  • The Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan was launched in 2016 to ensure quality antenatal care to pregnant women in the country on the 9th of every month and till date more than 1.25 crore antenatal check-ups have been conducted
  • Harnessing IT in healthcare, Mother and Child Tracking System (MCTS) and Mother and Child Tracking Facilitation Centre (MCTFC) have been introduced.
  • A name, telephone, address based web enabled system has been introduced by to track every pregnant women in order to ensure and monitor timely and quality services to them including ANC, JSY benefit Immunization etc.

 

Conclusion:

  • While the above is a very comprehensive statement of the Ministry efforts, another pertinent contributing factor to achieving the current MMR is partnerships with States and with Development Partners. This would not have been possible without the combined efforts of all stakeholders especially the health functionaries, the frontline workers who are at the grassroots to reach out to the pregnant women.
  • Our country is poised to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for maternal mortality before the global target date of 2030.
  • To ensure we do so, the states need to now focus on factors that are their unique challenges.
  • We often say that in India each States is like a country in itself and it is these regional variations that need to be identified and addressed to save the lives of additional mothers.

 

 

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