New Delhi (ICNS) — This week, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram presents the Budget for 2006-07. But in every Budget, Dr. Udit Raj, National Chairman, All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations aruges, Dalits are always ignored.
At the time of budget preparation, the Finance Minister of India calls industrialists, businessmen, farmers and trade union leaders for discussions, but Dalits are never called for such discussions.
Last year, we tried to represent our views but that opportunity was not granted.
Dalit Parliamentarians have never seriously raised their voice and when the finance minister presents the budget, others heckle him and get engaged in heated discussions.
Huge commotion prevails during budget discussions, and some times major changes are incorporated.
Economics is somewhat complicated subject and the lack of interest in reading and writing on the part of most Dalit Parliamentarians make them cripple to initiate debate and give appropriate suggestions.
In the ‘Special Component Plan’ (SCP), which is a major device of levelers, the funds allocated for Dalits is inclusive of the budget allocation by both the State and Central governments for Dalits, and that finally means that, it is divertible, and returnable.
Many state governments do it very often and there is no audit and check. Very often, upon enquiry, it is said that if a 100 km road is constructed, 15 km. is used exclusively by Dalits, hence justification of SCP.
In the 9th Five Year Plan, the amount allocated by the Planning Commission was short by 20,000 crores and same was further squeezed by one lakh crore in the hands of state governments, yet the Dalit community did not voice its concern.
The total budget expenditure in the last financial year was Rs.5,14,343.8 crore, out of which community and senior ministerial expenses were Rs.1599.70 crore, and total funds allocated by various State Governments for Dalit upliftment projects were only Rs.6253.04 crore.
If the population of Dalits be 25% of the total population, then the proportionate assistance given should have amounted to Rs.1,28,585.95 crore.
If Rs.6253.04 crore were to be divided among the Dalits who constitute 25 percent, then the total individual expenses amount to Rs.250.13!
On the one hand the budget is not being allocated proportionately, and on the other hand, its misuse and proper use is also of great concern.
It is difficult to know whether the funds allocated either by the State or Central Governments is being used for the exact purpose they were meant.
It may be understood to what extent the figures presented by the bureaucratic and administrative class are authentic, and it is very difficult to find out exactly how and where the funds meant for Dalit upliftment projects have been consistently misused.
Neither the Prime Minister’s Office, nor the Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, have any means through which it could be found out how, here and by whom these funds are being misused, or to find out how long a project has to continue or according to the needs of time, new schemes should be implemented.
In reality, if the benefits of these schemes should reach the Dalit community, then a Monitoring Cell should be constituted at the District level which comprises of representatives of Dalit Members of Parliament, MLA’s, NGOs and Buddhists, and the right to supervise and investigate of on-going schemes for Dalits, and give suggestions too.
The same kind of Monitoring Cell should also be constituted at the State and Central Government levels.
In order to implement all the schemes under the Common Minimum Program, and additional amount of Rs.52,800 crore has been requested.
This amount allocated under the Budget for 2005-06 was Rs.1,43,496.78 crore, and if this be added to the funds allocated by the Left Parties, the present Budget, i.e. for 2006-07, would be Rs.1,96,296 crore.
The Government wishes to restrict this amount to Rs.1,71,000 crore in the financial year 2006-07. In my opinion, the proposed increased amount of Rs.1,96,286 crore must be retained.
Dr. Udit Raj is National Chairman, All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations and Indian Justice Party.