To SC, ST add another SC, raise job quota over 50%: Ministry

September 22, 2008: The Indian Express

The Ministry of Social Justice is piloting an amendment in the Constitution to add denotified tribes as a new beneficiary of reservation with the job quota ceiling raised beyond 50 percent – the limit fixed by the Supreme Court – to accommodate them.

In a Cabinet note to the Ministry of Home Affairs this month, the Ministry has asked it to consider the proposal of the National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes to provide reservation to them by adding a new Article 342A defining the tribes as a ‘Scheduled Community.

Once a denotified tribe is notified as a scheduled community, delete it from the list of scheduled tribe, scheduled castes or Other Backward Castes, as the case may be… Reserve 10 percent of government jobs for DNTs even if the ceiling of 50 percent is exceeded,¶ the Ministry restates the recommendations while pushing the First Stage Proposals for Action.

Other amendments proposed are providing electoral reservation to the Scheduled Community in Lok Sabha, state legislatures, Panchayati Raj institutions and urban local bodies as well as setting up a permanent National Commission for DNTs like those for SCs and STs that have powers of a civil court and monitor the safeguards of these sections.

The rationale for a separate category outside the SC, ST or OBC list stems from the inequity in their rehabilitation. Though 97 percent of denotified tribes and 84 percent of nomadic tribes are categorized as SC, ST or OBC, they have been bypassed in the development process.

And even though state governments are empowered under Article 16 to make separate provision for reservation outside the existing three categories, communities granted quota under this provision can get reservation benefits only in state institutions and not in the Central pool.

Around 11 crore people belong to 150 denotified tribes such as Pardhi, Baori, Sansi, Berad and Kanjar Bhat or 1,500 semi-nomadic or nomadic tribes like Nat, Dombari, Sapera, Madari, Van Gujjar and Kalandar. The denotified tribes were included in an 1871 Criminal Tribes Act branding them as criminal. Though a newly independent India repealed it in 1952, they continue to be hounded.

Other privileges proposed by the Ministry are providing a special housing scheme with campaigns to issue ration cards, BPL (Below Poverty Line) cards, voter identity cards to these tribes with a follow-up in the Inter State Council to evolve a common/coordinated approach among states.

The Ministry plans to float a new Centrally-sponsored scheme to provide post-matric scholarships to students, grants-in-aid to states to build hostels and residential schools, training programmes to help these tribes develop their existing skills and financial assistance to NGOs for awareness campaign and running vocational training centres for these tribes.

After the CabinetÂ’s in-principle approval, a detailed scheme will be formulated and will be submitted for Cabinet Committee on Economic AffairsÂ’ approval for implementation from next financial year 2009-10, says the Ministry on the Centrally-sponsored scheme.

It has also proposed that the ministries of Rural Development and Human Resource Development review their Indira Awas Yojna, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya schemes to extend benefits to denotified tribes. “These ministries would be requested to complete necessary action in this regard within 3-4 months.

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