GS-1, Social Empowerment, Uncategorized

Debate on Dalit issue in Lok Sabha


There was a special discussion in lok sabha on the atrocities against Dalits that have arisen in various parts of the country. Leaders spoke about injustice and oppression the dalits have had to face for centuries. There have been greater incidences being reported, in una where dalits were publically flogged by the Gau Rakshaks

We have enough laws to deal with, the atrocities against dalits. But it has not made any effect on these issues. There should be a social movement by political parties on the ground that could make an impact. We need reformers of the old like B.R Ambedkar, Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, andAbraham Lincoln who fought for the rights of the blacks and some more of the similar kind.

The Dalits atrocities have taken the country by storm. The issues like the suicide of Rohit vemula, Dalits who were found to be skinning a dead cow were flogged in una, and the case in Andhra Pradesh. These incidents seem to be increasing or they are coming to light much more.

Somehow these incidents take the fight forward, particularly in a democracy where a dalit has a vote.

Highlights of the Debate

  • There were only few members in the lok sabha, considering the kind of agitation these incidents have created and the kind of demand made by all parties.
  • This is very tragic, considering the seriousness of the issue, and the electoral impact this issue is going to have on the future elections in the states of Punjab which has a large section of dalit population around 30%, 22% in Uttar Pradesh, 7% in Gujarat
  • Most of them who spoke were dalits themselves. In women issues, we see women MPs speaking. Whether it is gender inequality issue or dalit issue, we see the concern only from the people of that community. These issues are of equal concern for all of us, and the society at large.

Governments approach towards Dalits

  • Dalits should not be job seekers, but the job givers and should lead the professions. If this happens, we can see a fundamental change in the society. The process of awakening and constant growing amongst the community will have its own dynamics
  • There is little minuscule percentage of dalit entrepreneurs, who are doing very well for themselves. Government is working towards encouraging more entrepreneurship. Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) has been able to give Rs 50,000 crore worth of loans to 80,000 small entrepreneurs so far, most of them from backward castes.
  • Government has taken significant steps, but we still have a long way to go. The time has come, where we need to look forward to dalits. Dalits are emerging as new leaders.
  • Steps taken by the government like Jan Dhan yojna and pension and insurance schemes. “The PM has inculcated courage among those who did not have courage to face the gates of a bank,”
  • Prime ministers strong words against gau rakshaks and that these attacks won’t be allowed and they should not take law into their hands.



Some facts

  • 1 dalit is killed every 18 minutes. 40% of the dalit girls are uneducated. Dalit girls are the largest group in the world who are illiterate. In recent times we see some improvement, but it is not enough and 40% is a very large number.
  • The conviction rate is very low. Its only 2 to 3 %. Even under Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • They are not getting the basic elementary education. Along with education, the economic wellbeing and social discrimination makes the dalit women a triply exploited entity in our society today and because of caste, class and gender.

Need of the Hour

  • The issues remain very serious. It is only through quality education which takes the dalits to the tipping point.
  • We need a reformer now like R. Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram. The movement may not come from the political party, but it will come within the dalit society. Political parties must take note of it and act accordingly.
  • Political parties must undertake social change movements. Only then we can see the real change on the ground.
  • Attention is required in case of nutrition provided to dalit women.


Today dalits have political participation and can raise their voices to demand their rights. In terms of social discrimination, the things are changing in towns. But that is not the case in rural areas. Dalits have been dormant since 70 years of independence, but an awakening has come into them. We may not be able to stop them from here onwards.

Agriculture, GS-3, Indian Economy, Uncategorized

Subsidies in India

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Subsidies: are they solution to a problem or are they themselves a problem?
  3. Subsidies and its opportunity costs
  4. Some subsidies led distortion in India
  5. Direct Benefit Transfers as solution
  6. JAM Trinity – Jan Dhan Yojna, Adhaar and Mobile base
  7. Conclusion

Subsidies are one of the quintessential attributes of any welfare state. India, at the eve of independence was left with uphill task of socio-economic development. Markets were almost nonexistence, masses lived in abject poverty and illiteracy, we were not producing enough food to satiate hunger of masses, life expectancy was just 32 years; in short, there was crisis in every sphere; be it agriculture, industry, health or education; partly due to colonial legacy. Given such circumstances, founding fathers of democratic India rightly envisaged Indian state to be a welfare state. However, 70 years down the line only few problems have abated, while new ones cropped up and poverty still stubbornly remains a pressing problem.

In this context, latest economic survey rightly points out that despite spending as high as 3.77 lakh crore rupees annually on subsidies there is no ‘transformational impact’ on standard of living of masses. While subsidies have helped some poor people to do firefighting in life, main allegation on a subsidy economy is that, through subsidies, money meant for poorest is appropriated by richer sections of the society due to mistargeting and leakages.

Subsidies: are they solution to a problem or are they themselves a problem?

As already said, a welfare state without subsidies cannot be imagined. Governments have to extend subsidies to achieve objectives of socio- economic policy. By this, they aim at-

  1. Making basic necessities affordable to poor people through extension of consumer services.
  2. To prepare a foundation of various economic sectors in which private sector can participate later. When economy is at lower stages of development, it is often unviable and unaffordable for private sector to step in production. This is mainly because there are limited resources with private investors and there are informational externalities/uncertainties. In such case government do handholding by supporting private sector by extending subsidies and withdrawing them when private sector becomes competitive.

Subsidies should be aimed at specific development objectives. On achievement of these objectives subsidies should be phased out. It is only then that subsidies can go well with an undistorted market economy.

However, in a democracy, subsidy once extended becomes a politically sensitive issue and governments suffer huge political risk if they phase out such subsidies. Overtime, new subsidies are extended which pile up on older ones and they soon consume scarce revenue resources of government. This takes a heavy toll on other expenditure of the government. They are forced to cut allocation to developmental and infrastructure avenues. Further, higher subsidy expenditure pushes up fiscal and revenue deficits as government starts spending more than it earns. This fiscal deficit can be closed preferably by raising more revenue through new taxes (proactively) or by borrowing money.

Most significant consequence of either of this alternative is that money is squeezed out of economy and which results in lower consumption/demand. This, in turn hits the growth in economy. Less growth results in lower collection of taxes. On other hand subsidy burden remains same or even increases. Further, higher borrowing results in higher amount of interest to be paid. So in short, careless or politically motivated subsidy results in lower revenues for government and higher unproductive expenditure.

Further, if government is unable to borrow money or to raise taxes, it will have to print new currency to finance deficits, which increases money supply in the economy. This creates inflationary trends in economy. Incoherent subsidy regime unintendedly does more harm than good for the cause it stands – socio- economic development.

Subsidies and its opportunity costs

Subsidies are that part of government expenditure that is ‘consumed’ by beneficiaries. In economics, debate between two alternative uses of money: Consumption and Investment is quite old.

Consider a family of four with limited means which earns Rs 10000 a month. If this family consumes food for all this money, month after month then it is likely that its earning will remain same in perpetuity. However, if family manages to save Rs 3000 a month or Rs. 36000 an year, and invest this money in some return yielding avenue, in education of children or developing skills of working members, then its income will gradually increase and poverty, someday, will certainly will be thing of the past. While doing so family will have to take care that all its basic needs like housing and food, gets fulfilled in Rs 7000 a month. It may be quite hard, but if done, will certainly bring family out of poverty.

Same concept goes for economy as a whole. We have Tax to GDP ratio of around 17.7%. (Center plus states) With this amount government has to provide for interest payments of its debt, expenses for its humongous administration, defence of the country, devolution to states and panchayats, developmental work, infrastructure and for subsidies.

In 2013, total expenditure by government was 13.8% of GDP. Out of this revenue expenditure (consumption) was 12.1% of GDP, leaving just 1.7% of GDP for Capital expenditure (investments). Out of this revenue expenditure, non-plan expenditure was 9.5% of GDP. Further, non-plan expenditure had following breakup –

  1. Interest payments – 36.9%
  2. Defense Services – 12.1%
  3. Subsidies – 24.2%
  4. Grants to states and U.T.s – 6.3%
  5. Pensions – 7.3%
  6. Others – 13.2%

It goes without saying that it is in interest of nation to minimize this consumption part of expenditure and increase allocation to capital expenditure which stood at just 1.7% of GDP. However, most of the components of above list are inflexible. Interest payments cannot be reduces unless there is higher growth in the economy. Pensions are ballooning as there is consistent increase in life expectancy across demographic spectrum of India. Grants to states are also expected to go up given government’s commitment towards federalism. In all this, there is significant scope of reduction in subsidies as they are infested rampantly with problem of mis-targeting and leakage. This can be easily grasped from the fact that just shifting to cash transfers in distribution of subsidized LPG is expected to save annually Rs 15000 crore for the exchequer.

Some subsidies led distortion in India:

  1. Energy- Groundwater nexus – Agriculture sector is perhaps having most justifiable claim on subsidized inputs given the dismal situation of the farmers in the country. On these lines, water and electricity for agricultural use are heavily subsidized by state governments. Again, politics seeped into this economic cause and most governments have failed to ensure rational and sustainable use of subsidized water and electricity. Owing to this, in large parts of India, groundwater is being extracted indiscriminately as electric pump consume electricity that is almost free of cost. This has led to dramatic fall in groundwater levels. Wells have gone dry at numerous places. Water extracted from deep earth often gets contaminated by arsenic mineral. This, together with erratic monsoon due to climate change, has pushed rural India in deep distress.

To remedy this problem, government has plans to separate agriculture feeder network from rest, under Deen Dayal Upadhayay Gram Jyoti Yojna. This separate agriculture feeder will supply electricity only for a few hours a day. This was first tried by Gujrat and results were encouraging as it had role in making Gujrat a power surplus state, along with arresting continuous decline in groundwater levels.

  1. Subsidized fertilizers – Nutrient Based Subsidy or NBS was introduced in 2010 with objective to promote balanced use of fertilizers and to limit fertilizer subsidy of the government. Idea was to fix subsidy as per nutrients (in per Kg ) in the fertilizer and leave the determination of price to suppliers. Presently Urea is not covered under the scheme due to political compulsions. Consequently subsidized price of Urea remained stagnant even when real costs of production have risen significantly. On the other hand Potassium and Phosphorous are covered under the scheme and a fixed subsidy as per content of nutrients is given to suppliers and they change Maximum Retail Price as per market signals. Secondary and Micronutrients are also covered under the scheme. (In short urea is still controlled and P,K, are decontrolled)

As a result, actual use of NPK is in ratio of around 8:3:1 while recommended use is 4:2:1. This additional use of urea doesn’t give any additional benefit to the farmer. Instead this can degrade soil and harm crop. Productivity and quality of a crop depends upon use of diversified mix of macro and micronutrients, which vary from soil to soil.While urea consumption has increased from 59 per cent to 66 per cent of total consumption in 2012-13 over 2010-11, per hectare consumption of fertilizer has declined from 140 kg to 128 kg over the same period. 

Fertilizer subsidy was `67,971 crore in 2013-14, an increase of 11 per cent over 2009-10. Large part of this went to production and consumption of urea that was not needed at all.

Also, due to excessive use of fertilizers groundwater is also getting polluted and chemical bioaccumulation problem is impacting health of people.

Apart from Urea, farmer is not even getting benefit due from NBS in case of subsidized potassium and phosphorus. Subsidy is provided to manufacturers, who in turn are responsible to pass this subsidy to farmers in form of reduced retail prices. Rather, manufacturers have increased their prices forming a cartel and have usurped subsidy meant for farmers. It’s only now that Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers has undertaken review of prices charged by registered manufacturers. It has plans to penalize and cancel registration wrongdoers.

Another mistargeting of fertilizer is that most of this is consumed by rich farmers of Punjab, Haryana and North West Uttar Pradesh. Uptake of fertilizers depends a lot on sufficient supply of water to the crop. As about 60% of total cultivated area of India is rain fed, subsidy is cornered overwhelmingly by well irrigated states.

  1. Cultivation of wheat, Rice and sugarcane at cost of pulses, horticulture crops and coarse but nutritious grains

Consumption patterns in India are shifting rapidly from calorie rich diet to protein and vitamin rich one. Despite this, protein based diet in India is abnormally expensive. Main source of protein for Indian masses is pulses. Last whole year there was clamour on the issue of skyrocketing prices of pulses. India’s subsidy regime had its hand behind this problem.

Pulses are most suitable to be grown in areas of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, yet large parts of these areas are under cultivation of sugarcane. Sugarcane due to high ‘fair and remunerative price’ is being sown in these areas. This create two problems – one, it deprives Indians of their source of protein; two, these areas are water deficit and sugarcane is water guzzling crop. This crop is sucking scarce water rapidly and when monsoon failed again this time, mainly in Marathwada; farmer had no way to escape.

Ironically, pulses are water efficient crops with capacity to rejuvenate soil by process of nitrogen fixing and farmer chooses crop like sugarcane which later proves to be a gross liability for him. Sugarcane is suitable to be grown in areas of Bihar and Bengal given abundant water, but it is not due to lack of electricity and irrigation.

Similar is the case for cultivation of Wheat and Rice. These two crops yield much larger quantity (about 5 times) per acre/hectare than crops like pulses. Higher MSP for pulses is not so high to make whole value of produce more remunerative for farmer. So he prefers conventional grains. This has led to huge stockpile of wheat and rice (40-50 million tons) in government inventory which decays and is carried forward at cost of Rs 5/ year. On the other hand, India has to import more than 25% of its consumption of pulses.

  1. Railways: Subsidization and Cross- subsidization – Between 1993 and 2011, the wholesale price index rose by 295% and the fares of sleeper class and second class travel rose just by 144% and 106% respectively. Consequently, railway runs at heavy loss, which can be construed as subsidy to passengers of the railways. It’s only natural that railway has failed to expand capacity and improve quality to serve needs of booming Indian economy. When British left India had network of 52000 Kms, which now increased to measly 64000 Km.

Apart from this, freight carriers of railways are even more uncompetitive, because railway subsidizes passenger fare further by charging higher freight charges. Accordingly, in 1970’s freight used to contribute 65% of railway revenues and now it does only 33%. This is due to shifting of freight carriage from rail to road transport, which much costlier, more polluting and more time consuming. This has made our economy a lot more uncompetitive.

  1. Agricultural Finance: Farmers are entitled to pre- harvest loan at 7% interest rate. They are allowed further 3% subvention in case of timely payment. Farmers can also take loan for post-harvest time against negotiable warehouse receipt.

Economic survey notes three discrepancies in this subsidy. One, trend indicates that amount for a single loan is increasing for most of these subsidized loans. This means that more subsidies is going in favor of rich farmers. Two, extension of subsidized credit is concentrated in last three months of the financial year, which indicates that reluctant banks otherwise unable to meet priority sector lending targets, desperately disburse loans to reach target at the end only. It is unlikely that this way credit will reach to desirable party. Third, agriculture credit is getting concentrated on peripheries of urban areas, which means that money is being diverted to nonagricultural use.

  1. Food inflation: Fact that India produces surplus foodgrains doesn’t mean that these are available to consumers at cheaper prices. Rather, India till couple of years back witnessed spiraling double digit inflation driven by expensive food, even when world was reeling under deflation. This distortion is mainly due to increasing input costs to farmer coupled with persistent increase in Minimum Selling Price declared by government. This forces government’s agency FCI to procure foodgrains in open ended manner. As a result, government ends up procuring 25-33% of total foodgrains production in the country. Apart from this, about 33% of foodgrains are captively consumed by farmers. All this leaves just 33%-45% of total foodgrains for open market. This. At times, culminates in an absurd situation, where there is shortage of grains in open market which push prices upward and millions of tons of grains stored in FCI godowns.

Few experts believe that entitlements under Food Security Act are sufficient only to fulfill 50% of requirement of foodgrains for a household. For this 50%, there is massive but inefficient storage and PDS system. This in many ways significantly increases price of remaining 50% food grain need of households. So, a well-intended system may be actually working counter to its stated goals.

Direct Benefit Transfers as solution

Given above are only few examples of subsidy support gone wrong. In such scenario, direct benefit transfers comes to rescue government from this problem. It is likely to have multiple benefits –

  1. Fiscal savings – Assuming explicit subsidies being extended by state in current form to remain between 3 to 4 lakh crores, DBT will curb this expenditure by around 15%, which is a conservative estimate of current leakages. This can save government around 50,000 crore, which can be used more efficiently for developmental purposes. Given that government is capable of sailing through implementation of DBT in comparative smooth manner, as there is huge support from beneficiaries and opposition is weak (unlike other issues such as disinvestment, land acquisition), this will prove to be a low hanging fruit.
  2. It hits at roots of corruption – It is common knowledge that subsidized fertilizer is diverted to industrial use from agricultural sector, kerosene is mixed in diesel and PDS food is leaked in black markets. In short, subsidy regime has nurtured a mammoth corrupt ecosystem and black economy in India. When DBT is implemented everything will be sold on market prices by the government. For E.g. Fair Price Shop owner will get PDS food in full central issue price plus margin kept by state government. Then question of giving away PDS commodities illegitimately doesn’t arise.

Further, Direct transfers will eliminate intermediaries which will end system of rent seeking from beneficiaries. Otherwise there is rampant system of illegitimate commission which is collected by government officials where they have power to stop, deny or delay the benefit to be passed.

  1. It is likely to control inflation – Distortions created by subsidy regimes discourage investment in relevant sectors. This creates supply side constraints in economy. It is expected that recent deregulation of diesel will increase production and private firms will reopen their retail outlets. This will create competition which often results in cheaper prices.

Further, trading and purchase at market prices keeps demand in check. For e.g. subsidy on urea encourages farmers to use it more even when there is no due benefit. This created huge demand of urea and in turn high prices of unsubsidized urea. This scenario has increased government’s subsidy on urea manifold, which is not only waste but a disaster in itself. Similar case is with the food grains. DBT will leave more food grain in market and hence lower prices.

  1. Better nutrition – When there is cash transfer poor will be able to diversify their diet by including more items like pulses, eggs etc. This will increase their protein intake.

However, there is risk that some households will misuse this cash in social evils like alcohol, tobacco or gambling. For this government has made eldest women in a household target beneficiary for cash transfers. This step is likely to empower women.

Government launched PAHAL scheme – pan India initiative for transfer of direct benefits for Liquefied Petroleum gas. Its huge success and about 3 crore fake beneficiaries have been eliminated, which will contribute to annual saving of Rs. 15000 crore.

Direct Cash Transfer is also being implemented for transfer of wages in MGNREGS scheme. It has resulted in reduction in delayed and fake payments in relevant areas.

Further, Direct Benefit Transfer for fertilizers and kerosene is on the cards. In case of fertilizers government is facing problems in determination of beneficiaries because there is lack of clear land titles.

JAM Trinity – Jan Dhan Yojna, Adhaar and Mobile base

Direct benefits transfers intend to transfer subsidies directly to account of beneficiaries. For this to happen efficiently there are two separate but related issues which need to resolve as prerequisite. One is medium of transfer and second is identification of beneficiaries.

For first, government is banking upon Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna, under which more than 20 crore accounts have been opened. This is perhaps most significant step toward financial inclusion till date as unbanked population has been halved to 233 million. Subsidies under PAHAL scheme, pensions under National Social Assistance Plan and wages under MGNREGS are being credit to newly opened Jan Dhan account of the people. It also provides for overdraft facility of Rs. 5000 after use of 6 months and Rs. 100000 accidental insurance. These incentives have created a massive demand for opening of accounts. One benefit is that overdraft by account holder will regularly get repaid by automatic transfer of various subsidies in the account. This reduces the risk of default to negligible levels.

However, lakhs of villages doesn’t have any brick and mortar bank branch. In these villages mobile penetration is steadily growing. India has more than 900 million subscribers and out of these about 370 million users are based in rural areas. Rural subscriber base is growing at 2.8 million a year. Currently internet penetration in India is about 40% and is expected to grow spectacularly once national optic fiber network is in place. This all will be developed into digital mobile or internet based cash transfer mechanism.

Further, RBI has opted for differentiated banking by rolling out licences for Payment and Small banks. A bank licensed as a payments bank can only receive deposits and provide remittances. RBI last year issues 11 licences for payment banks to various corporate giants, telecoms and most importantly, India Post. India post is having about 155000 branches mostly in rural areas.

Apart from this, in-principle licences for Small Finance Banks have been granted to 10 entities. Small finance banks are a type of niche banks in India. Banks with a small finance bank license can provide basic banking service of acceptance of deposits and lending. The aim behind these to provide financial inclusion sections of the economy not being served by other banks, such as small business units, small and marginal farmers, micro and small industries and unorganized sector entities. Accordingly, it is likely that within few years subsidies will find way to bank accounts of all beneficiaries.

Now, to be sure of identity of beneficiary, Adhaar card base is blessing in disguise. Atleast 93 crore Adhaar cards have already been issued and it will take some more time for universal coverage. Biometrics captured in this card ensures that there is no duplication and no wrong claim is made. Earlier Supreme Court banned use of Adhaar card on privacy concerns, but on government’s appeal it allowed its use provided it is not made mandatory.

Apart from these initiatives, behavioral and technical remedies may be of immense use to control and target subsidies better. Under ‘Give it up’ campaigning, about 50 lakh LPG users have voluntarily given up there subsidy entitlements. On technological side, Urea is being neem coated, which while enhancing agricultural productivity, makes it unfit for industrial use.

Subsidies are meant for poor people and they shall ensure equitable redistribution of resource. Subsidies extended to rich are regressive. They help in keeping poverty intact and create inefficiencies in economy which culminates in inflation and corruption. In such case economy is retarded as we have seen in India’s case. When India grew in first decade of millennium at average rate of 7.5% it was found that this growth was jobless and unsustainable. India’s economy faced supply side constraints, which didn’t increase productivity as compared to GDP. RBI had to then control spiraling inflation by steep hikes in interest rates. Rationalization of subsidy regime will improve markets in India which will then attract more investment. This in short, can turn the wheel of a virtuous economy which creates more employment and attacks poverty at its roots.

Editorials, Essay, Social Empowerment, Social Issue

Dalit atrocities issues

The Dalit mobilisation that is gaining momentum in the wake of Rohith Vemula’s suicide reflects structural issues.

Reservations have given birth to Dalit entrepreneurs and a Dalit middle class benefiting from government jobs. because of this, anti-Dalit attitudes have been on the rise.

Cases of anti-Dalit atrocities  :

The number of registered cases of anti-Dalit atrocities jumped by 17.1 per cent in 2013 (compared to 2012) according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Theincrease was even more dramatic between 2013 and 2014 is19.4 per cent.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (the PoA act), gives a list of “offences and atrocities”. Which are,

Someone forces a Dalit or an Adivasi “to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance”
“forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades him [sic] naked or with painted face or body”
Dispossesses him “from his land”,
Compels him to do “bonded labour”
Exploits her sexually
“corrupts or fouls the water” he or she is using,
Denies him or her “right of passage to a place of public resort”
Forces him or her “to leave his house, village or other place of residence”, etc.

Because of the detailed list the Constitution drafted by Ambedkar had already taken care of most of these issues.

Article 17 abolishes untouchability
Article 23 prohibits bonded labour and
Article 15(2) stipulates that no citizen should be subject to restriction with regard to access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of entertainment, the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort on the grounds of caste.

In 1955, the Untouchability (Offences) Act reasserted that Dalits should not be prevented from entering any public place.

Then, in 1976, the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act was passed.

All the above mentioned Acts failed to fulfil its purpose. In 1989, The PoA Act was made. This also doesn’t make a huge impact either. Evident from the figures mentioned above regarding crime against Dalit.


In October 2014, a 15-year-old boy was burnt alive by an upper-caste man in Mohanpur village (Rohtas district) because his goats had eaten his paddy crop.
In June 2015, two Dalit boys were killed because they were short of Rs 4in a flour mill of Allahabad.
In October 2015, two kids of three and eight were burnt alive in their house in Ballabgarh village (Haryana) after an argument with local Rajputs.Dalit women continue to be victims of violence and rape.

What has been the response of the state, lately?

new law was passed , Last month. Existing legislation even more sophisticated. This law provides stringent action against atrocities against dalits.

Will that make any difference?

If the police and the judiciary do not change their attitude, No law will be effective. In spite of the fact that the PoA Act has introduced, special courts for speedy trials,

the conviction rate under this act has remained very low and has declined even — from 30 per cent in 2011 to 22.8 per cent in 2013 .And the percentage of “pending cases” has increased from 80 to 84 per cent.On average, only one-third of the cases of atrocities are registered under the PoA Act. The police is reluctant to do so because of the severity of the penalties likely to be imposed by the act.

Many Dalits do not know their rights anyway and cannot fight a legal battle that is costly in terms of time and money.

2011 Census:

74 per cent Dalit live in rural areas
The per-household land area they own on an average is less than hectare. Most of them are landless.
only 22 per cent of the Dalit households live in larger homes
only 34 per cent of them have toilets in their premises
More than 50 per cent Dalit households use firewood as their main fuel for cooking
literacy rate crossed the 66 per cent landmark.
Educated Dalits want more to join the university system.Some of them have succeeded in doing so, but they often face frustrating experiences when they are discriminated.

Editorials, GS-2, Indian Polity, Public Admin 2, Uncategorized

Extreme justice is often injustice

While television anchors have harangued us about how juvenile crime has risen by 47 per cent, they have failed to inform us that actual juvenile crime is still less than 2 per cent of reported crime figures.

Second, most of it is non-violent crime and often the result of vagrancy. Most importantly, most children in trouble with the law come from extremely poor backgrounds and are often runaways from hunger and abuse at home. Does this most vulnerable section of our society require legislation to keep it from being a menace to the rest of us?

Harsh legislation is a cheap fix for politicians to douse public anger at events. But harsh laws do not diminish the problem, nor do they protect future victims.

  1. TADA [Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act] and POTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act] did not end up reducing terrorism, but they ended up empowering lazy policing.
  2. The Act to prevent atrocities on Scheduled Castes often ends up as a vendetta tool in government employment.
  3. Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code, which was introduced to combat dowry-related crimes, has been so abused that the Supreme Court had to step in to regulate its blatant misuse;
  4. Criminalising cheque bouncing has resulted in our criminal courts being flooded with cases from financial institutional lenders and magistrates ending up as recovery agents.
  5.  Yet, we as a society, keep clamouring for harsher laws, which politicians enact to escape being targets of outrage. We fail to heed Irish statesman, author and political theorist Edmund Burke’s dictum that “bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny”.

The new Act has made possible the trial of a young offender as an adult if he or she is accused of a heinous crime. Heinous crime is defined as crime that carries a sentence of imprisonment for seven years or more under any law.

A variety of acts, including non-violent crimes such as forgery, or even crimes of incitement such as sedition, attract a prison term of seven years or more. Under the new law, a stone-pelting teenager in Kashmir or a teenage purveyor of counterfeit currency from Kanyakumari is as likely to be treated as an adult criminal.

From the policeman who makes the arrest, to the Juvenile Justice Board that takes the call on whether to allow prosecution as an adult, large amounts of discretion will necessarily operate. Those who can afford it can and will challenge any decision to prosecute in higher courts. The result is more likely to be greater uncertainty, and lesser justice, as criminal trials get stalled by appeals to superior courts.

“Extreme justice is often injustice,” wrote dramatist Jean Racine, and an India that disempowers the loneliest, the lost and the last will be a much harsher place. Whether safety lies in the path of harshness, or in effective implementation of existing laws, is a call for the republic to take.

Q“The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Bill, 2015 ignores the reality of juvenile crime and disempowers the most vulnerable section of our society.” Critically comment. (200 Words)

Editorials, GS-1, Social Issue, Uncategorized

The Persons with Disabilities

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, (PWDA) has completed two decades of its existence.

  • In 1992, India adopted the Proclamation on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asian and Pacific Region. As a signatory of this proclamation, this act was enacted by the Parliament of India to safe guard the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWD).

What is ‘disability’, according to the act?

In this act disability is defined as blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, loco-motor disability, mental retardation and mental illness.


Highlights of the Act:

  • The act calls for the forming of two central committees and two state committees: The central coordination committee and the central executive committee; the state coordination committee and the state executive committee.
  • The act calls for the government to take the necessary steps to ensure the prevention of disabilities. In accordance with this agenda, the government must screen all the children at least once a year to determine risk factors that lead to disability and attempt to protect the child from such factors. It is also necessary for the state to take measure to reduce risks to prenatal and post natal mothers and child.
  • According to this act, children with disabilities should be provided free education by the appropriate government. The government must take steps to integrate children with disabilities into regular schools, but also make space for special schools that cater expressly to the needs of these children.
  • In addition to the basic education schools, government are also required to make non-formal education programmes for children with disabilities that help attain literacy, rejoin school, impart vocational training, and provide them with free books and educational material.
  • The government is also responsible for making the general environment non-discriminatory towards PWD by adapting and adding to railways, buses, road signals pavement slopes, warning signals, building ramps, Braille signs and auditory signals, etc.
  • The act also provides for non-discrimination of PWD in employment that can be taken up by them, in government and non-government offices.
  • The act calls for the appointment of a chief commissioner who will hear complaints or pleas made with regard to the deprivation of rights of PWD.

However, even after two decades, the majority of disabled people are yet to avail the entitlements envisaged under the law.

  • Inaccessible public places, non-accommodative educational institutions and the lack of employment opportunities for the disabled are widespread.
  • The Act makes it mandatory for the government to provide 3% reservation to the disabled in public employment. But, the percentage of disabled employees in groups A, B and C services is 0.18, 0.37 and 0.18% respectively.
  • Governments at the Centre and in the states did set up several employment exchanges and conduct special recruitment drives, but the required 3% reservation is still far from being implemented in many departments.
  • The majority of state governments, such as Bihar, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which account for the largest proportion of the disabled, are biased against employing educated disabled candidates.
  • Several states have not undertaken any research to ascertain the woes of the disabled. And there are no penal provisions for those who violate the PWDA.

Although the PWDA is marred by loopholes, its existence has ushered in a new wave of advocacy and activism. Despite the PWDA’s weak implementation, it has empowered some among the disabled. They have attained respectful employment.

  • The greater visibility of persons with disabilities in the public domain has brought about a noticeable change in the attitude of non-disabled citizens about the capabilities of such persons, which shows the PWDA has allowed disabled people to seek dignified livelihoods hard to come by earlier.
  • A number of NGOs have sprouted to fight for the rights of disabled people. Several public interest litigations (PILs) were filed in high courts and the apex court to demand the implementation of provisions under the PWDA.
  • The Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment on October 8, 2013, had reprimanded the Indian state for not abiding by the law and consigning millions of disabled to the margins.
  • Thus, owing to the judiciary’s intervention and progressive interpretation of the law, the Central government has committed itself to fulfilling the quota by February 2016. But the larger hurdle is posed by states, where the bureaucracy is not aware of the law.

What needs to be done?

  • Most people who got jobs under the 3% provision live in urban areas. The PWDA’s fruits have not percolated to the most marginalised among the disabled.
  • Disabled women, SCs and STs in rural India are still at the margins, with most still dependent on family members for survival. Government services and information related to welfare schemes and educational and employment opportunities hardly reach them.
  • Therefore, governments at the Centre and in states need to focus on how to reach persons with disabilities in rural India. Sufficient financial allocation and strict monitoring of the PWDA’s implementation can empower the disabled in a substantive sense.


Empowering those with disabilities can’t be restricted to the social justice ministry. It must necessarily involve all government agencies and verticals. Similarly, building public infrastructure that’s disability friendly can’t be executed in isolation. In this regard, the government’s plan to rate public and private companies for disabled-friendly initiatives as part of the ‘Accessible India’ campaign is a step in the right direction. The public sector too must do its bit to empower the differently abled. Also required is a change in mindset so that the differently abled are viewed as a demographic resource. Only then will integrated solutions to their problems follow.