Day 29 – Q 5.How effective are the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission For Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in addressing the real issues of discrimination and exploitation of the affected groups? Critically evaluate.
5. How effective are the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the National Commission For Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in addressing the real issues of discrimination and exploitation of the affected groups? Critically evaluate.
प्रभावित समूहों के भेदभाव और शोषण के वास्तविक मुद्दों से निपटने में राष्ट्रीय अनुसूचित जाति आयोग (NCSC) और राष्ट्रीय अनुसूचित जनजाति आयोग (NCST) कितने प्रभावी हैं? समालोचनात्मक मूल्यांकन करें।
National commission for scheduled castes (NCSC) and National commission for scheduled tribes (NCST) are established under Article 338A and 338B of the Indian constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
Functions of NCSC/NCST:
- To investigate & Monitor matters relating to Safeguards provided for SC/STs under the Constitution or under other laws or under Govt. Order, to evaluate the working of such Safeguards.
- To inquire into specific complaints relating to Rights & Safeguards of SC/STs.
- To participate and advise in the Planning Process relating to Socio-economic development of SC/STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
- to present to the President, annually and at such other times as the Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards.
Evaluation of NCSC and NCST:
NCSC has been successful towards achieving in its mandate through the works like
- Services Safeguards Wing of has worked towards complaints relate mostly to promotions, discrimination and harassment on various counts, conduct of departmental enquires, transfers etc.,
- NCSC monitors the implementation of the various legal provisions in force regarding atrocities against dalits. Over the years, the Commission has conducted several on-the-spot inquiries into complaints of atrocities.
- Both the commissions have also succeeded in institutionalizing the system of liaison officers and special SC and ST cells in all central ministries and public sector enterprises for the speedy and effective resolution of the grievances of employees of these communities.
- Both the Commissions monitors the levels of literacy and educational development of the Scheduled Castes and has taken special interest in female literacy rates.
- On economic front, they have recommended land ceiling and the redistribution of surplus land by various state governments, suggested a range of tenancy reforms and several measures to prevent the alienation of tribal land.
This is reflected in the statistics which shows
- The literacy gap has closed significantly in the last decade. SC/ST women made the most rapid progress as per the 2011 census. Literacy rate among SC/ST men ad women increased by around 9% and 14 % respectively compared to 10% and 5% among non-SC/ST community.
- Representation of SC and ST members in central government and state government services is more than the prescribed percentage and has significantly increased in the last 2 decades as per a reply given by central government minister during question hour.
- The SC/ST population with houses and other basic amenities have increased by around 30% as per the TISS report.
- Health indicators including IMR, MMR etc., have improved and seen a reduction of more than 5% as per the report by Registrar General of India, Sample Registration System.
The above improvements, though have been realized collectively by the programs of various governments, NCSC and NCST have played a major role. However, the real issues of the communities seems to be not addressed completely.
- As per the Data received under the RTI Act, of around 16000 complaints received by NCSC, around 6000 complaints were related to atrocities in public places and 4000 complaints were related to ‘Service Atrocities’. Further, over 22,000 complaints are pending for disposal.
- NCRB data shows a spike in the number of cases filed under SC/ST prevention of atrocities act which shows the discrimination and atrocities are only increasing.
- The incidents like dalit lynching in Una, Gujarat; caste related honour killings in Haryana shows that the commission has been ineffective in bringing behavioral change in the society.
- The case of Rohith Vemula reflect that the discrimination is not only due to backwardness, illiteracy, awareness in the society but is omnipotent and is practiced in best of the best universities and workplace. The commission has been ineffective in preventing the same.
- SC decision on diluting the provisions of SC/ST act demonstrated that the issue of SC/STs are seen as exaggerated even by the apex court. Commission mandate to bring awareness has failed even to reach the most enlightened office in the country.
- NCST was helpless and ineffective in stopping the eviction of tribals in the name of development which deprived them of their basic human rights. E.g.
- The supreme court order to evict more than one million forest dwelling people went against the spirit of Forest rights act and the commission couldn’t do anything.
- The commission was not able to safeguard the tribal rights of Dongria Kondh community of odisha who faced eviction on a Vedanta development project and took public protest against the same.
- The rights of tribals over natural resources have been reduced over the years through the concepts of protected forests etc., and the commission has been lacking to secure the same.
- Tribal culture and identity has been declining. As per a report by People’s Linguistic Survey of India, as much as 250 tribal languages have disappeared. NCST has failed to arrest the phenomenon.
These are due to various reasons like
- There are delays in conducting the inquiry and in delivering judgements. Also, there is a perception that the Commission tends to confirm the government’s position on most cases.
- The commission inability to reduce the incidence of atrocities and violence against dalits, or to effectively fight the persistent scourge of untouchability is a biggest failure on its part.
- The Commission has been active in suggesting ways of streamlining procedures, implement reservations but is failing in brining fundamental reforms.
- The commission decisions being only recommendatory, without a strong follow up mechanisms are mostly ignored. The annual Reports are often tabled two or more years after they have been submitted to the President. Further, they are not frequently discussed and hence mostly remain on paper.
Thus, there is a need to reform the institutions giving them more power to bring discernible change and address the real issues more effectively. The reforms like powers vis-à-vis criminal investigation, power to penalize, fixed time period for discussion of commission reports, suo moto powers etc., are needed.