(GIST OF YOJANA) Stretching a Hand to the Vulnerable [MAY-2018]


(GIST OF YOJANA) Stretching a Hand to the Vulnerable

[MAY-2018]


Stretching a Hand to the Vulnerable

Social Inclusion refers to access to favourable opportunities in society to enhance one’s life chances. Such opportunities comprise of education, employment, social services and social protection. The absence of these opportunities is social exclusion, which results in marginalization, poverty and material deprivation. This article deals with the programmes and policies of the government towards improving the lives of the vulnerable like the girl child, women, weaker sections and elderly.

Constitutional Provisions

The Constitution of India through its Preamble seeks to secure to all its citizens-justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; and equality of status and of opportunity. The Indian Constitution has outlined through the Fundamental Rights and the Directive the State’s policies for Social Inclusion. Part III of the Indian Constitution provides for 6 Fundamental Rights for Social Inclusion. These include Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights and Right to Constitutional Remedies. These Rights are also available to persons with disabilities.

Article 15 (3) empowers the State to make special provisions for women and children in educational institutions and employment opportunities. This provision has been widely invoked by Government for providing exclusive reservation of certain categories of posts for women and for reservation of women in local bodies and educational institutions. Article 15 (4) seeks to promote the educational advancement of socially and educationally backward classes of citizens, i.e. the OBCs, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in matters of admission of students belonging to these categories in unaided educational institutions. Article 17 abolishes untouchability and its practice in any form. The enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence in accordance with the law.

Governance Structures

The Government of India’s Social Inclusion program memes is implemented by the Ministries of Social Justice & Empowerment, Tribal Affairs, Women and Child Development and Minority Affairs.

Ministry of social Justice and Empowerment

The Ministry is the custodian of 2 Acts, specifically aimed at curbing (i) untouchability and (ii) atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. These are the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes was set up under Article 383 of the Constitution in 1990, to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Scheduled Castes under the Constitution and all Laws in force and to inquire into specific complaints with respect to deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes.

The economic empowerment of Scheduled Castes is through the special central assistance to the scheduled castes sub-plan (SCSP). Assistance is provided by the State Scheduled Caste Development Corporations, which implement economic development schemes with the equity transferred by the central government. The State Scheduled Caste Development Corporations provide credit and inputs by way of margin money loans and subsidy.

Department for Empowerment of persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan)

The Department for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities deals with the legislation governing different aspects of disability and welfare and empowerment of persons with disabilities. These are the Rehabilitation Council of India Act 1992, The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1955 and the National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act 1999.

There are 3 Statutory bodies under the Department. The Rehabilitation Council of India is responsible for regulating training policies and programmes for various categories of professionals in the area of rehabilitation and special education. The Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities is the statutory functionary under the Act of 1955 to coordinate work of State Commissioners for persons with disabilities. The Accessible India Campaign is a nationwide flagship campaign to ensure a barrier-free and conducive environment for Divyangjans all over the country, launched by the Prime Minister on December 31, 2015, for creating universal accessibility for persons with Disabilities.

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Ministry of Tribal Affairs

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs was established with the objective of providing a focused approach to the integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes, in a coordinated and planned manner. The scheduled areas are notified under Article 244 (1) of the Constitution. Article 244 (2) relates to those areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram which are declared Tribal Areas and provides for District Councils/Regional Councils for such areas.

National policy for Older Persons

India’s National Policy for Older Persons seeks to encourage individuals to make provisions for their own as well as their spouse’s old age; to encourage families to take care of their older family members and to promote research and training facilities to train geriatric caregivers and organizers of services for the elderly. The Government has constituted the National Council for Older Persons to advise and aid the Government in Developing polices for older persons.

Ministry of Women and Child Development

The Ministry of Women and Child Development was established in 2006 with the responsibility to advance the rights and concerns of women and children and to promote their survival, protection, development and participation in a holistic manner. It was also expected to bring about inter-ministerial and inter-state convergence with regard to women and child programmes. The National Policy for Empowerment of Women lays down detailed prescriptions to address discrimination against women, strengthen existing institutions, and provide better access to health care, equal opportunities for women’s participation in decision making and mainstreaming gender concerns in developmental processes. The policies and programmes of government have been formulated on the lines of the broader vision laid down by the National Policy for Empowerment of Women. Amongst the flagship schemes implemented by the Ministry of Women and child Development are the Umbrella ICDS, Women Empowerment Schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and a series of grant in aid schemes in the field of women and child development. The umbrella lCDS comprises of 6 subcomponents namely the Anganwadi services scheme, the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, the National Creche Scheme, the Poshan Abhiyan, the Scheme for Adolescent Girls and Child Protection Scheme. The [CBS is aimed at improving the nutritional and child health status of children below the age of six years and pregnant and lactating mothers as also to reduce the mortality, morbidity and malnutrition. The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme is to celebrate the girl child and enable her education. The main objectives of the scheme are to prevent gender-based sex-selective elimination, to ensure survival and protection of the girl child and to ensure education and participation of the girl child. The scheme seeks to improve sex ratio at birth in selected gender critical districts by 2 points a year. On International Women ’s Day dated March 8, 2018, the Prime Minister launched the National Nutrition Mission and pan India expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao at Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan. The Prime Minister said that there was no question of discrimination based on gender and stressed the importance of girls getting access to quality education just like boys. Emphasizing that a daughter is not a burden, the Prime Minister said that girls are bringing pride and glory to the Nation excelling in several fields.

Conclusion

India’s Social Inclusion programmes are comprehensive and their implementation supervised by a number of independent Ministries with adequate resource allocations. Not only have statutory legal provisions been enacted, autonomous National Commissions have been established to protect the rights envisaged by the Indian Constitution to the vulnerable sections. There are economic empowerment programmes envisaged under the policies of Government implemented through the apex Finance and Development Corporations. The comprehensive implementation of National Policies will enable India to greatly empower her vulnerable population.

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