The social empowerment of its marginalised sections is the highest priority for any society. However, this is possible with a conscientious government willing to go that extra mileinensuring that the weak are truly empowered. Taking recourse to the legislative route apart from administrative measures represents that extra mile taken by the government.In fact, taking to legislative route also implies that the government has forged relative consensus among the top lawmakers of the country.In last 4-5 years, there has been a series of legislative measures as well as administrative measures by the government to make surethat the weakest and the most underprivileged sections of Indian society get their full due.
SCs, STs and OBCs
The Modi government strengthened the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and ensured greater protection for SC/STs. Furthermore, apart from the fact that more offences have been recognised and made punishable than before, exclusive special courts for the speedy trial of offences of atrocities have been set up. In fact, a new chapter has been added relating to “Rights of Victims and Witnesses.”
In a related measure, the constitutional status granted to the National Commission for Backward Classes also speaks of the government’s concerns for the OBCs. This was a long pending demand that was finally expedited by the Modi government.
Then the financial commitment of the government to the welfare of SCs and STs is attested by the fact that as compared to the budgetary allocation of Rs 66,159 croresduring 2013-14, the amount has been substantially raised to Rs 1.26 lakh crore for the 2019-20 period.
In terms of scholarships extended to underprivileged students, over 5.7 crore underprivileged students had received scholarship support during 2014-2018. The income eligibility for pre-matric scholarship for SC students has been raised from Rs 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh and from Rs. 44,500 to Rs 2.5 lakh for OBC students.
Apart from scholarships to students, young underprivileged have also been extended financial support to start their own business ventures. Out of over 16 crore Mudra loans, more than half of the beneficiaries belong to SC, ST and OBC communities. Under Stand-up India, an impressive 68,930 loans have been sanctioned to SC, ST or Women entrepreneurs with a total amount of Rs 15,112 crores.
Moreover, under Venture Capital Fund for SCs, Rs. 322.8 crores have beenapproved for 90 companies run by SCentrepreneurs signifying the government’s steadfast commitment to promote independent business and entrepreneurship among the underprivileged communities. After all, only educational and financial empowerment can really lead to social empowerment.
Displaying utmost compassion for our Divyang brothers and sisters, the government has sought to strengthen the legislative framework through the passage of The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Bill 2016.By recognising 21 disabilities, a huge improvement on the earlier 7, the government has treated disability as a dynamic concept keeping pace with the times. The addition of speech and language disability which went rather unnoticed earlier, brings more disabled people under the ambit of the programmes of the government.
Importantly, right to free education for Divyang children (6-18 years) is another major development. Then, apart from granting of reservation of 4% seats in higher education institutions, provision has been made for penalties for offences committed against Divyangs.
Haven’t we all heard enough aboutthe practice of triple talaq being misused against Muslim women in the most arbitrary manner?The hapless and the helpless wife had no recourse to justice for years now.However, in a display of extraordinarily secular spirit of governance, the government has sought to pass a bill to ban the practice of talaq-e-biddat. Although not passed in Rajya Sabha, the government has reaffirmed its resolve through the ordinance route against the instant triple talaq.
In a historic decision ensuring equity and justice for all, the Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act 2019, was brought into effect by the Modi government without affecting the existing reservations to OBCs, SCs and STs. It gives 10% reservation in jobs and educational institutions for economically weaker section (EWS) in general category who have annual family income below Rs 8 lakh. To ensure effective implementation, 25% additional seats were provided in educational institutions to meet the 10% reservation.
Therefore, the government through the above measures has proved itself to be an empathetic and compassionate one. By employing legislative measures coupled with other ways, the messaging is clear: that the government will do everything in its power to truly empower the weakest sections of our society. Empowerment of the weak empowers the society as a whole.