The paper concentrates on the evaluation of fulfillment of the social and economic rights of the citizens of India recognizing, however, their close inter-dependence with the necessary and simultaneous fulfillment of civil and political rights.
2. It addresses the following questions :
q How far has the State fulfilled its Constitutional obligations to assure every citizen a life of dignity?
q What has been the pace of social and economic progress in India? Has it been fair, fast and equitable?
q To what extent have the constitutional objectives and aspirations in respect of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, women, children and the other weaker sections of the society been realized and fulfilled?
q How has India fared vis-à-vis other developing countries?
q What has been India’s development experience after Independence?
3. It identifies critical achievements as well as significant failings in the aforesaid areas. It points out some of the lessons learnt in the last 51 years of the working of the Constitution and highlights factors that have constrained the pace of India’s socio-economic progress. The paper finally raises some key issues and identifies critical areas for action that may help the country realise and fulfil its constitutional commitments.
4. The Constitution of India rests firmly on the principles of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice. It reflects an uncompromising respect for human dignity, an unquestioning commitment to equality and non-discrimination, and an over-riding concern for the poorest and the weakest in society. The Constitution makes it mandatory to protect and promote freedoms, and to assure every citizen a decent standard of living. Right to dignity, to health and healthy environment, to clean water, to free education upto 14 years and to shelter are emanations of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
5. The Constitutional mechanism for realisation of socio-economic goals is laid in Parts III and IV of the Constitution. Part IV contains Constitutional aspirations and standards for a free and self-governing people and for a just and caring society. Part III declares entrenched basic human rights which are inalienable and not subject to political vicissitudes, are the means for realising and achieving the aspirations of Part IV which though non-justiciable are yet fundamental in the governance of the country.
6. An elaborate Constitutional mechanism has been provided for the uplift and welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes. Special provisions in the Constitution are also provided for ensuring welfare of women and children.
7. An occasion to reviewing the working of the Constitution serves as one for the nation to recall with deep gratitude the services and sacrifices of all those who fought for independence and of those great persons who framed a noble Constitution for India with lofty ideals. In that sense it is an occasion to celebrate the Constitution.
“A servile state, with its splendid strength caged up, hardly daring to breathe freely, governed by strangers from afar; her people poor beyond compare; short – lived and incapable of resisting disease and epidemic; illiteracy rampant; vast areas devoid of all sanitary or medical provision; unemployment on a prodigious scale; both among the middle classes and the masses”.
10. There has been, since Independence, a significant and noticeable expansion and diversification of production. New technologies, modern management, and the advances in science, medicine, engineering and information technology have increased domestic production of a wide range of goods and services. The increase in agricultural production has been impressive with more than four fold increase in the index of agricultural production between 1950-2000. Between 1960-2000, wheat production went up from 11 million tonnes to 75.6 million tonnes, and the production of rice increased from 35 million to 89.5 million tonnes. This is no mean achievement for a country that relied on food aid until the early 1960s. There has been similarly a rapid expansion in both the industrial and service sectors. The index of industrial production went up from 7.9 in 1950-51 to 154.7 in 1999-2000 and electricity generation went up from 5.1 billion KWH to 480.7 billion KWH.
11. This economic expansion has contributed to a steady and impressive growth in India’s GNP. With the exception of 4 years, the country has enjoyed a positive growth rate in its GNP every year since 1950. Particularly striking are the higher rates of growth after the mid-1980s, and even more so after the initiation of economic reforms in 1991. Prudent fiscal and economic management enabled the country to avert the fiscal crisis that many East Asian experienced in the mid-1990s. In fact, the GDP of India grew by 6-8% per annum between 1994-2000 except in the year 1997-98 when it grew by 4.8%.
12. India’s per capita Net National Product (NNP) in 1999-2000 was more than 2.75 times higher than what it was in 1951. Before 1980, the annual average rate of increase of per capita income was around 1.2%. In the first half of the 1980s, per capita NNP grew by 2.4%, and between 1985-90, by 3.2% on average every year. The financial crisis of the early 1990s saw a slowing down in the growth of per capita income, but there has been a quick recovery. Per capita NNP has grown on average by 4.8% every year between 1993-94 and 1998-99.
14. India’s low level of human development reflects the persistence of extensive human deprivations. Despite the growth record, India’s backlog of human poverty is indeed enormous.
15. Development means more than just the expansion of per capita income. It really has to be evaluated in terms of human development. Human development is not the reward of development but is indeed critical to the process of development itself, argues the paper. Human development essentially means enlarging choices, expanding freedoms and assuring human rights. It involves enhancing capabilities – for instance, the capability to live a long healthy and productive life, the capability to acquire knowledge, and the capability to lead a decent life. Human development consists of promoting freedoms – freedom from ignorance, freedom from hunger, and the freedom to participate in decision making. It entails assuring every citizen freedom from fear and repression, freedom from discrimination and exploitation, and the freedom to lead a life of dignity and freedom to be free of traditional social restraints and to achieve full potential so as to lead a life of dignity.
16. Enhancing capabilities and expanding freedoms are what ultimately matter to people. Freedoms are assured when rights are fulfilled – social and economic as well as civil and political. “What ultimately matters is”, Dr. Amartya Sen points out, “how free women and men are to do what they want to do and to be what they want to be”.
17. India’s development over the past 51 years is evaluated in this perspective of freedoms and rights in the paper.
7. Extent of Fulfillment of Rights and Freedoms
18. The extent of fulfillment of various rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution to the citizens is systematically analyzed in the paper with reference to a number of parameters.
7.1 The Right to Survival
7.1.1 Life Expectancy at Birth
19. The gains in life expectancy come from improvements in health and public health conditions, sanitation, levels of environmental cleanliness, and access to safe drinking water – all of which form essential constituents of a decent standard of living. To that extent, life expectancy at birth is not only a measure of the quantity but of the quality of life as well.
q Life expectancy at birth in India has gone up from 32 years in the year 1950-51 to almost 63 years in the year 2000-2001.
q Life expectancy at birth, however, is 17 years less than the life expectancy in Japan (of 80 years), 10 years less than life expectancy in Sri Lanka (73 years), and 7 years less than life expectancy in China (70 years).
q Life expectancy at birth among Indian women is around 63 years. It varies from 57 years in Madhya Pradesh to 75 years in Kerala.
q The record of Kerala in life expectancy at birth is so impressive that it can be said that a child born in Kerala today can expect to live longer than the one born in Washington D.C.
q In most countries and regions of the world, life expectancy among women exceeds that of men by about 5 years. In 1998, among OECD countries, for example, female life expectancy was 79.6 years; it was 73.2 years among men. In India, however, women outlive men by just one year. Sadly, in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa, men outlive women – pointing to the persistence of strong anti-female biases in those States.
q Variation in life expectancy also exists between urban and rural areas – pointing to the unequal opportunities for survival in the two areas.
7.1.2 Sex Ratio
20. The paper points out that almost in all countries in the world, the ratio of women to men is 1005:1000. In India this ratio is 933:1000. The lower sex ratio shows existence of anti-female bias in the society. It also implies that some 40-50 millions girls and women are simply ‘missing’ from the Indian population.
7.1.3 Infant Mortality
21. Infant and child survival are affected by many factors including the earnings and education of parents, the prevalence of malnutrition and disease, the availability of clean drinking water and safe sanitation, the efficacy of health services, and above all by the health and position of women in society. Levels and reductions in Infant Mortality Rates therefore reflect achievements and progress in many of the constituents of decent living.
q Infant mortality in India has almost halved to 72 births per 1000 live births – down from 146 in 1951.
q Many countries, however, do better than India on infant survival. Nepal reports the same levels of infant mortality as exist in India even though India’s per capita income is about 80% higher than Nepal’s.
q In south Asia, India reported the slowest rates of improvements in child survival between 1970-98. India recorded an annual rate of reduction in Infant Mortality Rates of only 2.1%.
q Inter-State and intra-State disparities exist in infant mortality rates.
q In 1998 the infant mortality rate in rural areas was one-and-half-times higher than in urban areas.
q In 1992-93, infant mortality rates amongst Scheduled Caste communities were more than 30% higher than among non-Scheduled Caste and non-Scheduled Tribe communities.
q Infant Mortality rate was also seen to be typically higher among girls than among boys – though the gap has been narrowing down over the years.
q Progress in terms of reducing infant mortality has also not been even across the Indian States. Kerala has been the best performer in the 20 year period between 1975-77 and 1995-97 – doing three times better than Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Rajasthan.
7.1.4 Maternal Mortality
q Estimates of maternal mortality rates in India vary from 400 to 540 deaths per 100,000 live births.
q Maternal mortality levels in India are more than 100 times the levels found in many countries of the West.
q Inter-State and intra-State variations exist in maternal mortality.
q In 1998-99, maternal mortality was estimated at 540-619 in rural areas and 267 in urban areas.
7.2 The Right to Good Health
22. The low levels of life expectancy, high rates of infant mortality and maternal deaths reflect the poor health status of Indians. There are, surrogate indicators also that further confirm the persistence of poor health among a majority of the Indian population.
7.2.1 Child Malnutrition
q About 53% children under five remain malnourished – nearly twice the levels reported in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. This is despite the fact that the country has achieved remarkable expansion in food production and has built up a good safety stock of foodgrains.
q Bangladesh and India report the highest levels of child malnutrition in the world.
q Progress in reducing child malnutrition has been slow. Over a six year period 1992-93 and 1998-99, the proportion of underweight children below the age of 3 years fell by less than 5 percentage points to 46.7%.
7.2.2 Low Birth Weight and Underweight
q In India the percentage of low birth weight babies is 33%. The percentage is only 9% in China and South Korea, 8% in Indonesia and 6% in Thailand.
q The levels of child malnutrition in the country are almost twice the levels reported in sub-Saharan Africa.
The causes for malnutrition and measures required to reduce it are also discussed in the paper.
q Some 52% of married women in reproductive age group viz., between the ages of 15-49 years suffer from anaemia – 46% in urban areas and 54% in rural areas.
q Wide inter-State differences in the percentage of anaemic women in reproductive age group are found in the country. The proportion varies from 23% in Kerala to 86% in Arunachal Pradesh.
q Prevalence of anaemia among children below the age of three is even higher. Close to 74% children below the age of three suffered from anaemia - 71% in urban areas and 75% in rural areas.
7.2.4 Inadequate Provisioning of Quality Health Services
23. Citing statistics, it is shown in the paper that there has been impressive expansion in health services. Improvements in health have no doubt been largely due to the vast expansion of public health services but serious issues of quality, access and efficiency plague the proper functioning of the system. The poor health and nutritional status of Indians reflects, to a large extent, the lack of adequate and easy access to quality health care. India was a signatory to the Alma Ata Declaration in 1978 that assured ‘health for all’ by 2000. But even in the year 2001 easy access to quality health care remains a distant dream for many millions.
q Between 1951 to 1997 primary health care centers increased from 725 to 150,000.
q Despite the commitment to assure universal immunization coverage to all children by the year 2000, the National Family Health Survey 1998-99 reports that only 42% children between 12-23 months were fully immunized – 37% in rural areas and 61% of urban areas.
§ There are wide inter-state variations in immunization coverage with coverage being only 11% in Bihar and 17% in Rajasthan.
§ Only a third of deliveries in rural India were attended to by a health professional and the proportion was less than 25% in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – two of the most populous States in India.
7.2.5 Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
24. According to official statistics, over 90% of India’s population has access to safe drinking water yet ground reality seems to be that large segments of population of the country remains without access to adequate quantities of safe drinking water. The record on providing proper sanitation facilities (principally safe disposal of human excreta) is even worse.
q Many water-borne diseases including diarrhoea continue to threaten the lives of millions of children.
q Water contamination by arsenic and other chemicals pose a serious threat in many parts of the country.
q Indiscriminate drilling, at the same time, is leading to rapid depletion of water levels throughout the country.
q More than 90% of the rural population and about 50% of the urban population does not have proper sanitation facilities.
7.3 Freedom from Hunger
25. Poverty prevents the poor from taking advantage of opportunities that become available to them to improve their lot – be it education, health, work, micro credit etc. Poverty creates externalities that cannot be controlled by individual actors. Reduction of poverty requires collective action. Between the year 1951 to 2000, the incidence of rural income poverty fell from 47% to around 27.09%. 260 million people, however, still live below the poverty live. These people have neither the energy nor the resources to benefit from the development. It is argued that opening of new schools and new clinics and developing new farming techniques would have little significance for those who cannot think beyond finding food for their family.
26. The trend of decline of income poverty between 1951 to 1977-78; between 1977-78 and 1987-88; between 1987-88 and 1993-94 and from 1993-94 onwards, is analysed in the paper.
q Fluctuation is seen in poverty reduction between 1951 and 1977-78.
q Steady and significant improvement in poverty reduction is noticed between 1977-78 and 1987-88.
q Period between 1987-88 and 1993-94 shows setbacks in reduction of poverty.
q After 1993-94, decline in poverty is sharp and significant (there are, however, wide variations between official estimates of poverty and those arrived at by some other economists. The methodologies of estimation of poverty also differ making data not strictly comparable).
q Inter-State variations in poverty are quite large in some cases and the progress in poverty reduction across the States has not been uniform.
7.4 The Right to Education
27. The country has recorded significant achievements in higher education as well as in the spread of literacy but the goal of ensuring universal elementary education is still distant.
q The number of primary schools has increased significantly between 1951 and 1995 from 210,00 to 590,000. Close to 95% of the villages have a primary school within a walking distance of one kilometre.
q The literacy rate has tripled between 1951 to 1991. Elementary education, however, is far from universal despite the Constitutional promise of providing free and compulsory education for all children by the year 1960. The current literacy rate is estimated to be 65.38%.
q India’s adult literacy rate in 1991 was 52% - lower than literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa (57%) and in East Asia (84%).
q India’s female literacy rate in 1991 was 38% - lower than the rate in sub-Saharan Africa (47%) and in East Asia (76%).
q In Sri Lanka, average years of schooling for men are 8 years; it is 2.9 years for Indian men – average years of schooling are 6.4 years for women in Sri Lanka; in India, it is just 1.8 years.
q 62% of primary school entrants reach Grade V in India. The proportion is 90% in Indonesia, 94% in China and Malawi and 98% in Sri Lanka.
q Even amongst those who complete Grade V, quite a few cannot even read and write a simple sentence.
q The literacy rate among Indian women is particularly low – just 54.28%. Several African countries report higher rates of female literacy than in India.
q Inter-State variations in literacy rates exist. Variations in literacy rates also exist between rural and urban areas.
Unequal opportunity in education are a major impediment to young girls and women to realize their full potential.
7.5 Freedom from Gender-Based Discrimination
28. According to Dr. Amartya Sen political, economic and social participation and leadership of women is a crucial aspect of ‘development with freedom’. The paper examines the progress made by the country in this area and discusses several forms of gender-based discrimination existing in Indian society.
7.5.1 Female-Male Differentials in Basic Education
q Female-male differentials are striking in basic education. Nearly half of the Indian women are unable to read or write; the proportion is a quarter for Indian men.
q Gender differentials in literacy exist in most of the States. The position is especially bad in States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa where differences are over 25%.
7.5.2 Anti-female Bias in Mortality
29. The States where female infant mortality rates are higher than those of males and the States where it is other way round are indicated and relevant statistics given in the paper. It is pointed out that anti-female bias is so strong in some parts of the country that instances of female infanticide and foeticide are reported even today from those parts.
7.5.3 Freedom to make Personal Choices
30. Apart from unequal opportunity in education, there are several other socio-economic impediments that curb women’s freedoms as is shown by relevant statistics in the paper.
q Women, in general, continue to be denied the freedom to work and equal opportunities in the workplace.
q Female wage rates in unorganized sector are generally lower than male wage rates.
q A large contribution of work of women does not enter national accounts.
q Most young girls do not have the freedom to choose whom to marry – let alone when to marry.
q Most of them are ‘forced’ to marry young and even today, some 50% of women get married before the legal minimum age of 18 years.
7.5.4 Freedom to participate in Decision Making
31. The representation of women at various levels in services, representative bodies and judiciary as revealed by statistical data given in the paper remains grossly inadequate even after fifty one years of working of the Constitution, which not only deprives them of their due share in income but also of the social benefits that come from enhanced status and independence of women.
q Political participation of women in local bodies has been strengthened by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments. By 1999 as many as 768,582 women had been elected to Gram Panchayats, and 38,582 women to Panchayat Samitis. Another 4,030 women were elected as Zilla Parishad representatives.
q Between 1952 and 1999, women have never found adequate representation in the Lok Sabha. The average representation of women in Lok Sabha works out to only 6.13%.
q The representation of women in Parliament is lower than the world’s average and is even lower than of sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh.
q Women representation in Council of Ministers has never been adequate between the period 1985 and 2001. Countries like Sri Lanka had more women in Cabinet than India.
q Women have inadequate representation in Supreme Court and High Courts as well. The representation of women in High Courts in India is compared in the paper with the representation of women in High Courts of countries in South Asia and it is found that even in South Asia, Sri Lanka had higher representation of women in High Courts than India.
q The representation of women at various other levels in the Central and State Governments as shown by statistical data in the paper is far from adequate.
§ In the Indian Administrative Service women have only around 9.92% representation.
§ The percentage of female employees in the Central Government, State Governments and local bodies was 7.1, 16.6 and 25.6% respectively.
7.5.5 Freedom from Fear
32. The status of women though has shown some improvement in last fifty one years but the objective of achieving equality between men and women is still a distant dream. The paper notes with approval the change in focus in recent years from welfare of women to their empowerment, which it argues is of crucial importance in achieving equality between men and women.
q Many women cannot even leave their houses without the permission of men as the results of a survey quoted in the paper show.
q Statistics quoted from National Crime Records Bureau in the paper reveal high incidences of crime against women and poor rate of conviction in those cases.
8. Lessons From Past Experience
33. A variety of factors have collectively contributed to the persistence of human poverty and to the failure to fulfilment of the constitutional commitments in terms of assuring people of their social and economic rights. A few lessons, as discussed below, can, however be gleaned from the Indian experience of the last fifty one years.
8.1 Information Gap
34. There exists a big gap in social sector statistics. Several forms of ‘silent deprivations’ remain ignored – and their very existence is denied. There is an inherent tendency in the Government reporting to ‘black-out’ any data that may be embarrassing. Unless people have easy access to a whole range of information, ensuring accountability and performance will remain elusive, observes the paper.
8.2 Getting priorities Right
35. Experience of other countries and of Kerala within the country shows that investment in human development results in sustained economic progress. Human security is essentially the security of people, not just territory.
8.3 Not by Growth Alone
36. Through various examples, it is shown in the paper that higher per capita incomes are not necessarily associated with higher levels of human development. Female-to-male ratio is the lowest in Punjab and Haryana – two of India’s most prosperous States. India is among the few developing countries that has since 1951, with the exception of four years, recorded a positive growth in the GNP but despite it, there has not been a perceptible and significant improvement in the quality of life of the ordinary citizen. There has been marked slowing down in the rates of reduction in infant mortality in recent years. Similarly, as statistics given in the paper show, progress in bridging gender gap in literacy has been slow.
37. The situations in which growth does not necessarily result in human development are discussed in the paper. It is pointed out that there are many ways in which economic growth can be harnessed to improve human development. Essentially, economic growth needs to be broad-based and employment intensive. For human development to occur, people must become active agents of change, not merely passive beneficiaries. They must be allowed to actively participate in generating growth and shaping its direction. For it, it is necessary that people are provided with basic economic and political freedoms. Mining nature and undermining nature support systems, pit present human development against any future human development.
8.4 Ensuring Universal access to Basic Social Services
38. At the centre of empowerment and of development efforts, the paper argues, are investments in basic human capabilities – in primary education, primary health care, nutrition programmes, family planning and essential physical infrastructure, such as housing, electricity and roads. Lacking these essentials tantamount to poverty, the paper points out.
39. Ensuring universal access to basic social services is essential for assuring every citizen a decent standard of living. Much of the human poverty, the paper says, can be attributed to a failure to assign a high priority to it. There is serious under-provisioning and overall shortage of good quality and affordable social services. Several examples are cited in its support in the paper. It notes that a feature of India’s development has been the over-emphasis on physical expansion while seriously neglecting quality issues.
8.5 Rationalize Public Spending
40. Government expenditure on poverty alleviation seems to have a strong ‘trickle down’ characteristic, much more distinct than income growth. Practically all States, the paper notes, that have succeeded in reducing income poverty have made sizeable investments in poverty alleviation programmes. The size of government spending matters, and so does the efficiency of expenditure. Leakage, wastage, corruption and inefficiency greatly reduce its impact on poverty reduction. Big potential for rapidly reducing human poverty exists by securing efficiency and value for money in the implementation and management of development programmes.
q The Central Government expenditure as a percentage of GDP at current market prices between 1990-91 and 1996-97, went down from 18.1% to 14.3%. The more worrisome aspect during this period has been that the development expenditure as a multiple of non-development expenditure fell from 3.2 to 2.1 during this period.
q The fiscal situation as revealed by statistics given in the paper of most States is not good.
§ States face serious deficits.
§ The stock of debt has been growing and with it the interest burden.
§ Between 1991and 1998 the debt-to-state GDP ratio went up in Uttar Pradesh from 26% to 31%, in Bihar from 35% to 42%, and in Orissa from 41% to 43%.
q India’s fiscal deficit is among the highest in the world between 5 to 6% of the GDP.
q As a bulk of social sector spending are from State Government revenues, the poor fiscal situation of States gets typically translated into State Governments cutting down their spending on social sector.
q The fiscal squeeze as shown by statistics in the paper has resulted in lower capital spendings on social sector expenditure. The public expenditure on education, for instance, came down from 3.7% of GNP in 1986-87 to 3.2% in 1995-96.
q More resources for social sector and better returns on spendings are needed, observes the paper.
q It is only when the State invests in the social sectors – in health and education – that there is any possibility of sustaining a more equitable and higher economic growth rate in the years to come.
q The conversion of growth into human development is mediated to a large extent by the levels and patterns of public expenditures. How secure people of a nation feel depends upon the levels of public investments in social sector – and also on the efficiency and effectiveness of spendings.
8.6 Greater inclusion and Participation
41. Unequal access to opportunities to basic social services is not only because of inadequate provisioning of basic social services but also due to exclusion of many stakeholders from processes of decision making. It is argued that there is an urgent need for greater inclusion and participation of stakeholders.
42. It is important for policy makers to realize that the success in implementation of programmes comes when people co-operate –not when they are forced to do something that they detest. Co-operation – and not coercion- in all important national endeavours is the golden key for ensuring results and achieving goals. The lessons learnt in implementing family planning programmes during the emergency in the mid seventies when coercive measures proved counter-productive, are recalled in this connection.
43. It is argued that even in areas like population stabilization coercion and an authoritarian approach would not work. The one-child policy is neither appropriate nor desirable in this country, argues the paper. It points out that even in China, the population policy went hand-in-hand with a broad and equitable expansion of social and economic opportunities for women – the proven way to reduce the population growth.
44. A number of reasons are cited as to why emulating China’s one child policy may not work in India. The paper argues that empowerment of women, decentralization, education and improved access to reproductive health care provide a preferable way towards optimizing population growth as evidenced in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Kerala.
9. Issues of Social Justice:
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other Backward
Classes – An unfinished national Agenda
45. The paper points out that despite manifest, avowed and determined concern of the Constitution for uplift and welfare of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes, the objectives have not been achieved. Whatever has been done in this regard has been done hesitatingly, half-heartedly and as a measure of concession forgetting that this relates to their Constitutional rights and not concession to those classes. Supported by relevant statistics the following observations are made, in the paper, in respect of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes.
q The high number of cases registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 shows that atrocities against Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and untouchability continue unabated even today.
q Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Group `B’ & Group `A’ posts in Central Government itself continues to remain inadequate and Scheduled Tribes are not even adequately represented in Group C and Group D services.
q The paper notes that the reservation for other backward communities in Central services was provided only in 1990 and became operational from 1993 onwards and sufficient statistical data are not yet available to draw any definite conclusions to the extent, their reservation has improved in the central services but the adequate representation of backward classes in public services is, still a far cry.
q Landlessness is increasing amongst the Scheduled Castes and the proportion of the Scheduled Caste agricultural labourers to the Scheduled Caste cultivators is increasing which indicates that the Scheduled Caste cultivators after losing their land holdings are becoming agricultural labourers. The results are not very different for Scheduled Tribes also.
q Some studies, the paper notes, have pointed out that allocation of funds for the development and welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has shown a steadily declining trend since the late eighties.
q Allocations for welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and backward classes do not match their developmental needs and priorities and implementation of schemes makes the matter worse.
10. Measures to fulfil the Constitutional Mandates
46. The paper invites suggestions from the public on a number of measures that have been proposed to realize and fulfil the constitutional commitments made 51 years ago. The more mportant amongst them are briefly mentioned below :
10.1 Secure Good Governance
47. Good governance the paper argues is essential for sustainable development and poverty reduction. It alone can ensure sustainable human development. The various strands of good governance are indicated in the paper and it is stated that these need to be strengthened individually and collectively in order to secure good governance. The other proposals made in this regard are stated below.
10.1.1 Change Mind-sets and Attitudes
48. There is a need to surmount the colonial hangover of the notion of the ‘Ruler’ and the ‘Ruled’, ‘Governors’ and the ‘Governed’, ‘Government’ and ‘People’ – the ‘us’ and ‘they’ divide. The interaction between the Administrator and the citizenry needs to be informed by the awareness of and respect for the constitutional rights of the people and that the inter-action is essentially as between a free and self-governing people on the one hand and the agents chosen by them to serve them on the other.
10.1.2 Make Governance Participatory
49. The concept of governance is discussed and the issue as to why governance and not Government is needed to solve the present day problems of the society is addressed in the paper. It is argued that the Government alone can neither solve all the problems of the society nor is it the only crucial actor in addressing major societal issues. The State should do what Osborne and Gaebler called ‘steering’ and not ‘rowing’.
50. For sustainable human development the State should enable, enhance and deploy the power from other societal actors. It should network and dialogue with non-state actors including the public, the media, voluntary organisations, self-help groups, the private for profit sector, community organisations etc. and create conditions for the latter to contribute in achieving developmental goals.
51. The vast potential of civil society participation in effective provision and management of quality elementary education, improving basic healthcare, in population stabilization and in preventing exploitation of the weaker sections of the society is recognized in the paper.
10.1.3 Management of Social Conflicts
52. The paper looks into reasons leading to social conflicts and points out to the dangers in leaving them un-resolved. It stresses the need and the importance of recognizing early warning symptoms and advocates combined effort of the Government and civil society institutions in resolution of these conflicts.
10.1.4 Make Government Transparent and Open
53. Openness is in the public interest and that ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’ against the virus of corruption, observes the paper and it advocates for ensuring transparency and openness in Government. Potential of information technology in providing greater and easy access to information to the citizens and in providing more user-friendly public services to them is recognised in the paper.
10.1.5 Sensitize Public Servants
54. The paper emphasizes the necessity of sensitization of public servants to the special needs of women, the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the other weaker sections of the society and suggests steps to be taken to ensure it.
10.1.6 Introduction of Citizens Charters
55. The paper emphasizes the need for introducing citizens charters in respect of every service provider agency of the State and for laying a suitable mechanism for their enforcement in order to ensure improved and user-friendly delivery of public services. Citizens charters would list the entitlement of the citizenry to public-goods and services along with time schedule within which citizen would be entitled to expect services from such government organisations and from each functionary at various levels.
56. Consumer dispute redressal Forums established under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986 can be authorized to enforce the observance of these charters and award suitable monetary compensations in appropriate cases. In case monetary compensations are awarded, it may be mandatory for concerned Departments to fix responsibilities on individuals responsible for lapse. Alternatively, the institutions of a national ombudsman supported by the regional ombudsman could oversee the citizens charters regime and administer marks.
10.1.7 Regulate Public Funding of Institutions of Civil Society
57. Massive financial grants are being released by various departments of the Government for aiding and promoting civil society initiatives in the country. The paper advocates greater participation of civil society institutions in governance and this, if implemented, is likely to result in even greater allocations for promotion of civil society initiatives.
58. The administration of grants to civil society initiatives has, so far, been reported to be subjective and is said to be lacking in objectivity. The performance-appraisals are not professional.
59. The paper observes that an urgent need exists to streamline distribution and administration of grants so that independent and objective performance appraisal of work of organisations receiving public grants can be ensured and value of public money secured.
60. An independent Expert Group/ Groups to evaluate and report on legitimacy and entitlement of the claims for grants; to evaluate performance of the grantees and to certify the fund utilization is suggested in the paper. The release and renewal of grants will be based on evaluation of the performance by such independent experts, suggests the paper.
10.2 Eliminate Hunger
61. Over 260 million people living below the poverty line in India suffer hunger. Hunger and poverty forces families to make trade offs. Trade offs between hunger and meeting other basic needs. Trade offs for who goes to school and who doesn’t. And trade offs between who eats and who doesn’t. In such trade offs women and children are often the worst sufferers. Poorly-fed and malnourished pregnant women give birth to stunted and unhealthy babies who are prone to diseases. The Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and backward classes are an easy prey of poverty and hunger and women of these categories are its worst victims.
62. The country sadly faces a paradoxical situation of surplus unlifted stocks of good grains in godowns of the Food Corporation of India co-existing with hunger and malnutrition. The Public Distribution System essentially is the food subsidy programme (making up to about half of the total spending on Anti-poverty programmes by the Central Government) for elimination of hunger and is explicitly targeted towards poor. Even after fine-tuning of the Targeted Public Distribution System, the performance of the fair price shops in some of the States, as revealed by some studies, is dismal. The delivery system, according to widely held public perception, has been the substantial beneficiary. The Finance Minister while presenting the budget for the year 2001-2002 conceded that while subsidy grew to Rs.12,125 crores, the satisfaction level with PDS has gone down.
63. An efficient scheme to provide food security to the poor is essential if the right to life provided under Constitution is to have any meaning for poor. Introduction of scheme of food coupons (explained in section 10.2.1.1) or providing cash subsidy or further strengthening of targeted public distribution system itself are amongst some of the options suggested in the paper in this regard.
10.3 Provide Universal and Free Compulsory Elementary Education
64. Today in the year 2001, more than 350 million Indians are illiterate – unable to read or write despite the mandate of Article 45 that required the State to endeavour to provide by the year 1960, free and compulsory education to all children below the age of 14 years. Experience world over shows that investment in basic education yields high returns and even the Indian experience in Kerala supports it. The female education has a positive impact on the lowering the fertility rate. Illiteracy results in far reaching debilitating effects on individual freedom, initiative and skills and lowers the productivity of labour. The paper suggests that providing universal and free compulsory elementary education to all children should not be delayed any longer on any pretext.
65. The paper takes note of the financial requirements to operationalising the right to free and compulsory education upto the age of 14 years and argues that the task is not unachievable for want of funds. The paper notes that realising a fee from professionals, educated and trained in India but taking jobs abroad, is an untapped source of huge revenue that can be tapped to finance the Constitutional obligations of providing free and compulsory education upto the age of 14 years. The paper argues that not to provide universal elementary education on the pre-text of financial constraints is unwise for it is rightly said “if you find education expensive, try ignorance. It is far more expensive”.
10.4 Achieve Excellence in Education
66. Universal and free elementary education would achieve little if its quality is poor. It would then only widen the chasm between the better-educated urban-rich and poorly educated rural-poor. Quality assurance in elementary education, which is the foundation for the empowerment of masses, the paper argues, is too serious a matter to be left alone to the educational administrators. Management of education through remote control by officialdom in these fifty one years has failed to deliver the desired results. The paper advocates evolving a frame work for active involvement of stakeholders (not acting, of course, in a manner seen to be intrusive in the administration or constituting a parallel administration) in the evaluation of quality in elementary education programme. It also suggests for enforcing accountability of schools for student performance.
10.5 Ensure Quality In Basic Health Services
10.5.1 Improve Reproductive Health Care And Nutritional Intake Of Children
67. Excess of males over females, high maternal mortality rate and high percentage of anaemia amongst pregnant women show the neglected state of women health in the country. High rates of mal-nutrition among children are a matter of serious concern. Under-nutrition, studies have shown, has a greater impact on poor children’s cognitive development than on the development of children who are not poor. The paper suggests for urgent and targeted measures to improve nutritional intake of children especially of those belonging to poor and weaker sections of the society. Urgent measures are also called for to improve the reproductive health care in the country, suggests the paper.
10.6 Civil Society Participation in Healthcare
68. The paper discusses relative advantages and disadvantages of civil society participation in healthcare. It notes that the growing shift to holistic view of health has led to increased interest in self-help, preventive health practices and alternative forms of treatment and focus is shifting from professionals to people in many developed and developing countries of the world.
69. The paper notes that a number of countries have enacted statutory provisions to provide for public participation in healthcare and a number of international agencies have lent support to public participation in healthcare. Public participation of civil society in health care within the country such as Rogi Kalyan Samiti of Madhya Pradesh, paper notes, has reportedly resulted in improvement in the functioning of public hospitals in the Madhya Pradesh. The paper suggests that a mechanism needs to be evolved for effective participation of civil society in healthcare.
10.7 Make Effective use of Science and Technology for Socio-Economic Development
70. The paper notes that apart from global competitiveness, new technologies are necessary to handle many of the internal problems such as of education, health, hygiene, communication, information-handling and to make Indian products including produce of traditional producers globally competitive and marketable. This requires an integrated and co-ordinated approach in higher scientific and technological research in the country free from bureaucratic bottlenecks.
71. The paper suggests setting up of a high powered “National Science and Technology Commission” as an umbrella organisation for policy making, planning, promoting and funding of higher scientific and technological research endeavours and for securing greater co-ordination in financial, organizational, managerial and administrative aspects of it so that while various commissions and bodies engaged in specialized research have full autonomy and freedom in their respective areas of work, their work is not hindered by bureaucratic and administrative problems and the scientific and tehnological higher research is carried out in the country in a coordinated and integrated manner in consonance with the needs of the country.
10.8 Give Voice to the People
72. Sustainable human development requires that all sections of the society including disadvantaged and deprived ones have an effective voice that is heard and taken into considerations in the decision-making. The paper suggests a number of specific measures in respect of these sections of the society – some of them are discussed below.
10.8.1 Empowerment of Women
73. The paper notes that the full potential of women remains grossly underutilized even after more than 51 years of the working of the Constitution and suggests steps to enhance the representation of women at various levels of policy making and administration and for extending the process of empowerment of women that began with reservation of one-third seats in Panchayats and Municipalities to State Legislatures and Parliament.
10.8.2 Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other backward classes
10.8.2.1 Establishment of Residential Talent Schools
74. In India, the prospects of talented children achieving their potential depend on the accident of their birth and in particular the social and economic background of the family of birth notes the paper. Those born in affluent families have opportunities of education and training in elite schools while the talents of those in poorer circumstances merely waste and wither away owing to lack of opportunity. It is necessary, therefore, to identify and groom talent amongst the boys and girls of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes and train them in special talent schools to enable them to compete with the rest of the society in an equal manner.
75. The paper accordingly suggests establishment of talent schools for children of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes. These schools would be residential, devoted to grooming the children for high competitive educational excellence to serve the country as Administrators, Scientists and in high professions without losing the common touch and retaining the sensitive awareness of the plight of the poor in the country.
76. The paper identifies the 40 Districts which together have over 50% of the Scheduled Tribes population of the country. Similarly, 100 districts which together have 50% of Scheduled Castes population in the country are also identified. These schools to begin with may be established either in the said 100 districts and 40 districts identified in the paper or in each State in such number of districts selected in decreasing order of the population of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in that State as to separately cover 50% of population of both these categories.
10.8.2.2 Prohibition of Occupations That Are Degrading And Offend Human Dignity: Employment Of Manual Scavengers And Construction Of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993
77. An unfortunate blemish of India’s urban sanitization system has been scavenging by members of certain communities of the Scheduled Castes under inhuman conditions. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 was enacted to put to an end to this practice. The Act is enacted under entry 6 i.e. “Public health and sanitation; hospital and dispensaries” in List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution and the law, therefore, is applicable to the States (other than those at whose instance the Central law was made) only after such States adopt it. Many States have not yet adopted the law.
78. The paper suggests that as the pith and substance of the legislation falls within Entry 24, List III of the Constitution, and encroachment on the topic of entry 6 of List II is merely incidental, both the Preamble and the provision as to the extent of applicability of the statute, need to be amended so as to bring them in accord with the position that the legislation in pith and substance falls within concurrent powers of legislation. This would make the law uniformly applicable in the entire country without the need for the States to adopt it.
79. The paper also suggests amendment in the said Act to completely prohibit employing whether directly or indirectly any person as Safai Karmachari in Scavenging.
10.8.2.3 Eradicate Untouchability and Atrocities
80. The paper suggests a number of specific measures to prevent atrocities on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and eradicate untouchability completely. A number of measures to augment and strengthen Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act and Prevention of Atrocities Act (POA) are also suggested.
10.8.2.4 Monitor Nutritional Status
81. In any human group (in any social and economic sample), there will be people of high intellectual potential but none of them realizes his/her potential unless afforded an opportunity to do so. Their latent talent is quite often submerged under the burden of social neglect and denial of opportunity. Many of the poor, particularly from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes, suffer from mal-nutrition. Maternal anaemia coupled with low birth weight related neurological deficiencies resulting from poverty and malnutrition, exact a great human price. Opportunities in life are denied to them. To remedy the situation, the paper suggests that the district administration should undertake the monitoring, either by itself or through voluntary organisations, of the nutritional status of at least 200 Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe families in the District in the format at Appendix XVIII of the paper. The statistics so obtained should be professionally evaluated by experts (such as NCAER) as sources for policy options and midcourse-corrections of the anti-poverty and health programmes.
10.8.2.5 Provide Adequate Budgetary Allocations
82. The paper suggests evolving of a mechanism to ensure that appropriate budgetary allocations for socio-economic empowerment of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes are made very year and funds allocated for the welfare of these classes are used exclusively for their welfare.
83. Constitution of a National SC and ST Development Authority (both at the Union and State levels) for formulating and approving national Plans and State Plans - Annual, Five Year Plans and Perspective Plans – based on the priorities and the developmental needs of SCs and STs and to supervise monitor and direct the implementation of the developmental plans of SCP and TSP of the Central and State Plans, is also suggested.
10.8.2.6 Ensure Adequate Representation in Public Services
84. The paper takes note of inadequate representation of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other backward classes in public services and serious apprehensions among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes of denudation of their Constitutional rights of reservation following certain judicial pronouncements and amendments made by the Government in reservation orders since 1996 in purported implementation of those judicial decisions and suggests a number of measures to restore pre-1996 position of reservation and to ensure adequate representation of these classes in public services.
85. Another suggestion relates to enactment of a legislation to provide for all aspects of reservation pertaining to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and backward classes including the establishment of Tribunals for ensuring justice in reservations.
10.8.2.7 Social obligations of the Private Sector
86. In the changed economic scenario, the private sector is likely to grow rapidly. The Private Sector Enterprises, by and large, draw substantial support from Government bodies and Banks which handle public-funds. Large investments in their enterprises come from the public funds. Private sector has, therefore, social responsibilities to perform, argues the paper. It needs to help actively in the improvement of socio-economic conditions of the people especially those belonging to the weaker sections of the society so as to build a conflict free and caring society without which no enterprise either public or private can hope to flourish. At present, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes employees in the private sector are believed to be numerically insignificant except at the shop-floor level. There is a increasing apprehension that the employment opportunities of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the other weaker sections would shrink with the reduction in role of the Government.
87. The paper suggests identifying areas of social obligation of the private sector and for evolving a policy frame work for active involvement and participation of the private sector for securing the socio-economic development of the people.
10.8.2.8 Transfer of Tribal Land
88. The paper notes that the tribals are mostly dependent on land and are extremely emotional about it. It also notes that there have been cases where surreptitious means have been adopted to transfer tribal lands to non-tribals despite existence of laws prohibiting such transfer. In Samata’s Case, the Supreme Court while construing the word ‘land’ in Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Area land Transfer Regulation Act held that the ‘land ‘ included both transfer inter vivos between a tribal to a non-tribal as well as transfer of Government land in tribal areas in favour of anybody other than tribals. There is a demand to amend the existing laws to enable the transfer of land in Tribal Areas in favour of companies and multi-nationals for the purpose of securing more efficient agricultural practices or better exploitation of minerals and forest wealth.
89. The paper also notes problems caused by dislocation of people when development works or projects are undertaken.
90. The paper suggests evolving of a mechanism by which while tribal ownership and control over land in tribal areas is protected, optimum utilization of land and other resources in tribal areas becomes possible in the interests of tribals and in larger national interests.
91. Measures to ensure full returns on the minor forest produce collected by the tribals and steps to continuously replenish and re-generate the shrinking stock of minor forest produce, are also suggested.
92. It also suggests evolving of a mechanism whereby dislocation is minimized and resettlement plans and costs are built into the project plans and costs as first charge to be fulfilled before/ simultaneously with the project construction.
10.8.2.9 Transfer Of Areas Under Fifth Schedule To The Sixth Schedule
93. During the working of the Constitution in 51 years, anomalies have occurred in the administration and control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes governed by the Fifth Schedule. The Scheme under the Sixth Schedule, on the other hand, has worked reasonably well.
94. The paper suggests that tribal areas under the Fifth Schedule and tribal areas not covered under either of said two schedules be brought under the Sixth Schedule.
10.8.2.10 Protect Land Ownership/ Land Tenures
95. The paper notes that the majority of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes continue to be agricultural labourers and marginal land holders despite various measures taken by the Government in last 51 years. There are many cases, the paper observes, where the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been forcibly evicted and persecuted from the lands allotted/ granted to them under various schemes. Lands granted to them are often un-developed. A number of land reform cases are held up in judicial process. Cultivable Government land and Bhoodan land is still available for distribution in some States.
96. The paper suggests ensuring true implementation and better enforcement of land reform legislation. It also suggests expeditious distribution of available Government land (not required for public purposes), Bhoodan land and ceiling surplus land amongst landless poor, the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections and for developing lands allotted/ granted to them. Steps to prevent forcible eviction of the scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes and others from land allotted to them and restoration of land to them from which they have been dispossessed etc., are other measures suggested in the paper.
10.8.3 Secure Statutory Wages for Un-organised Labour
97. 250 million workers out of a total workforce of 286 million workers are in the unorganised sector. These workers are exploited in diverse ways and targeted measures are necessary to put to an end of their exploitation observes the paper.
98. It suggests evolving a mechanism to ensure payment of prescribed statutory wages to the un-organized labourers and to prevent their exploitation - on the lines of the Central legislations drafted for agricultural workers in 1978-89
99. The paper also suggests evolving a frame work for securing civil society participation in preventing exploitation of the unorganized labour.
10.8.4 Provide Protection to Farmers
100. Marginal farmers and landless agricultural workers often fall in the grip of moneylenders and poverty due to failure of crops or other natural calamities. Farmers, like industrialists, need to be made entitled to the various benefits of government policy on industry so as to provide sufficient safeguards to them against losses due to natural calamities, etc.
101. The paper suggests for taking steps to give benefits to the agriculturists of Government policy on industry. It also suggests for taking measures to protect Indian peasantry and other traditionally producing classes from the adverse effects of the regimes of WTO, IPR etc. while at the same time helping them to secure the benefits of those regimes.
10.8.5 Civil Society Participation in Management of Water Resources
102. The paper notes need for management of water resources in the country so as to avoid situations of devastating floods in one area and paucity of water in other area of the country.
103. The paper also suggests for evolving a frame work for securing beneficial participation of civil society institutions in better management of water resources in the country.
10.8.6 Eradicate Bonded Labour and Child Labour
104. Despite prohibition of ‘begar’ and other forms of forced labour, the practice of bonded labour has not ended, Child labour too exists. The paper suggests measures for ensuring effective implementation of the provisions in this regard. It also suggests that effective rehabilitation schemes for bonded labours and child labours need to be evolved so as to prevent them from falling again in the same conditions. Amplification of definition of bonded labour to bring all forms of bonded labour within its ambit, is also suggested.
10.8.7 Prevent Immoral Trafficking in Women.
105. The paper notes that pursuant to directions of the Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain’s case, a Committee of Secretaries was constituted to combat trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children. The paper suggests early implementation of recommendations made by the ‘Secretaries Committee’ in this regard.