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Empowerment of Dalit Women and Girl Children

Annual District Conferences were conducted this year(2013) with the theme of “Empowerment of Dalit Women and Girl Children”. The district conferences were simultaneously organized alongwith campaign on SCSP/TSP Act in the districts of Visakhapatnam, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur and Ranga Reddy. In every district conference the focus was on SCSP/TSP Act. District officials of 10 main departments such as Social Welfare department, SC Corporation, Panchayatraj, Women & Child Welfare Department, Educational Department, Rajeev Vidhya Mission (SSA), District Rural Development Agency, District Water Management Agency, Tribal Welfare and Police department were involved in all these conferences to explain in detail on the Act and the plans of the departments in specific to the respective districts.

Conferences were conducted in the following manner:

Team members of DSS have presided over these conferences and explained about the objective of the conference, broad outlines of SCSP/TSP Act, etc.

GDV Prakash, Programme Manager of DSS while narrating about the objective of the conference pointed out that the Indian Constitution has many provisions in the form of fundamental rights, directive principles, etc for the development of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Similarly many laws were enacted for punishing those indulging in violence and untouchability against SCs & STs. But as these laws were not effective, the dalit movement across the country protested and the Government was forced to bring out a more stringent law, namely, SC/ST (PoA) Act in 1989.

As the dalits all over the country were struggling for betterment of their lives and as there was no significant change in the economic development of SCs and STs, the Government of India introduced SCP and TSP in 1978 the objective of which was to allocate due share in the budget for the development of Scheduled Castes in proportion to the population ratio of these sections. Though this objective was declared and the plans launched, in practice it was not implemented by any government with all the seriousness and sincerity it deserves. Many dalit organizations including some political parties have been continually demanding for

proper implementation of the sub plans by making the plans a statutory obligation. Un-relenting movements throughout the country by dalit and democratic forces continually were carried on to achieve the demand. In our own state, it was intensive under the leadership of former Chief Secretary, Sri Kaki Madhava Rao, IAS. The concerted efforts of all resulted in the enactment of the SCSP/TSP Act in 2013. This is first of its kind in our state and is an acknowledgement of right of the dalits for their due share in the budget of the State. The Act came into effect since Jan 2013 and the government has allocated Rs 8584 crores under SCSP and Rs 3500 crores under TSP for the financial year 2013-2014. This budget has been allocated to various departments and few details are Rs 1124 crores for SC Corporation, Rs 88 crores for waiving off electricity charges for houses from 0-50 units per month, Rs 600 crores for completion of Rs 2.35 lakhs houses @ Rs 45,000/- per house Rs 1,758 crores for development of hostels, pre-metric scholarships for 5th to 8th standard students, 100 new hostels for college students, 1098 community halls @ Rs 7.5 lakhs each and one per mandal, Rs 23 crores for repairs of Ambedkar Bhavans, etc. He also said that in the follow-up meeting held by SWD with other departments, like-minded organizations, the Principle Secretary of SWD has said that their department can only give scholarships and manage hostels. Hence are depending on SERP for reaching the dalit households in through their village organizations. We need to closely monitor all the departments for the effective implementation of the Act.

Sri Jhansi Geddam Convener of DSS pointed out that concerned officials have not fully geared up with necessary schemes for their districts for implementation under SCSP/TSP Act. She stressed the need for more qualitative and need based schemes in lieu of existing routine schemes and she promised the gathering that DSS would approach SWD, WCD and other departments with this demand for new and innovative schemes. She called upon the dalit women to demand for their rightful share of the budget and all other financial resources as they have been denied the same since ages. She explained that the bringing of this Act was due to our continuous struggle. She called this Act as recognition of economic right in which thousands of crores are involved. She urged dalits and dalit women to realize that they have shed their blood for the nation and it is their toil that is the basis of production but they live in utmost vulnerability. The most fertile areas in the state are under severe drought and people are being forced to migrate. We need to look into the reasons for unemployment and underdevelopment. The leaders and political parties fight for separate or unified state, but never raise their voices for the sake of dalit, girijans who have been mercilessly killed. She pointed out that it is a slur on the administration of justice that the accused of massacres in cases like Pottilanka are acquitted. Even the dalit girijan representatives who say that they are for dalit girijans do not raise their voices.

She called up on Dalit Girijan community to be alert as though they are soldiers fighting a war.She said that if one is not alert in the war they will be defeated and will lose their lives, likewise dalit girijans who are facing the same analogous situation need to be very thoughtful always. She told that our lives are being ruined due to lack of knowledge and commented that

we don’t have time to think for our families, but have got addicted to watch the devilish idiot box which lies in the corner of every house. The children also neglect their studies and watch the idiot box all the time which is just nothing but a devil (TVs). We don’t have proper houses, toilets, drinking water, roads and other facilities. Likewise our children don’t get quality education and we are not even recognised as human beings. We are deprived of many things, have been exploited since decades and are living amongst unhygienic and vulnerable conditions. We often keep on blaming someone or the other stating that they are not functioning properly, but never try to correct the things from our side. We need to think that why the anganwadi centres and schools are in such a bad shape and are unable to provide qualitative services. The reason for all these questions is lack of knowledge to us. We achieved the economic right for which we have been struggling for many years. Thousands of crores have come for our development. There are many good officers to implement this Act, but the only thing we need to do is to strengthen ourselves and access the funds. We need to gain knowledge and strive to change the present political system. We need to think before we vote and shouldn’t fall prey to money and liquor and cast our vote. Therefore to create awareness to the community on the SCSP/TSP Act and strengthen the hands of the implementing agencies these conferences are being organized in the district head quarters.

Visakhapatnam district conference on Empowerment of Dalit Women and Girl Children was held after launching the campaign on 18th November at Lions Club, Visakhapatnam. The dignitaries on the dais were Sri B. Shivadhar Reddy IPS, Commissioner of Police-Visakhapatnam, Sri Jhansi Geddam of DSS, Sri Srinivasan, Joint Director-SWD, Dr S. Raja Rao, Director-IGNOU, Sri Mahesh Asst Commissioner of Police, Sri Jacob from SC Corporation and Sri Srinivas from DRDA(Unnathi).

GDV Prakash, Programme Manager-DSS in his presidential address detailed about the object of the conference, about the campaign, history of the Act, its advent and the role played by DSS alongwith other organizations. He has also given the details of the budget at state level and the various allocations made for different programmes such as hostels, scholarships, panchayatraj, housing, income generations schemes for dalit/adivasi women, fisheries, land purchase and other schemes through SC Corporation etc., and has asked the officials to explain details about their respective departments.

B. Shivadhar Reddy IPSCommissioner of Police has said that DSS has agitated constitutionally and got the SCSP/TSP Act.To take up a campaign on the same for awareness and its effective implementation itself is an indication for the success of DSS. The advent of SC/ST (PoA) Act in 1989 lead to decrease in Naxalism in 1990s and there was change in the mindset of land

lords. Organizations such as DSS striving for the proper implementation of the Act lead to many changes in the system. He also said that his suggestion of same Investigating Officer for atrocity & counter cases was accepted by the Justice Punnaiah commission in his recommendations. He said that DSS is working like an army and has said about few of its achievements and has appreciated the efforts of DSS. Therefore let us all join our hands to implement both the Acts for the comprehensive development of the dalit adivasis and has promised that Police department will be there always in this endeavour.

Sri Srinivasan SWD has said that we face lot of problems to mobilise people for government programmes, whereas we notice big crowds in all the programmes of DSS. The awareness levels have increased due to publicity. Every department used to spend nominally for SCs

the Act and there is no proper monitoring mechanism. Schemes such as land purchase schemes were not implemented properly. But now due to this Act 16% of the state budget has been set aside for the development of scheduled castes. The Act has made crystal clear that each department has to identify the development gap and design schemes accordingly to fill the gap. As far as social welfare department is concerned, 62 crores have been allocated for Visakhapatnam district for the construction of 4 new hostels for college students, toilets, drinking water and other infrastructural development in SW hostels. The study of SWD in the district has revealed that lack of quality education is the reason for vacancies in the hostels. A diary has been kept to check the accountability of students and teachers. Almost all the departments have no clarity on the quantum of funds except for Municipal administration department and SWD. Therefore organizations like DSS should put pressure on the departments for effective implementation of the Act. SWD should be given overall responsibility including the convener-ship of the district monitoring committees to drive the implementation of the Act.

Mahesh, ACP has said that SC/STs are unable to access the schemes as the middlemen are exploiting them. To access schemes we must have knowledge on it, should accomplish the

requisite skill on the scheme we have opted, then only development can be achieved. Get the land through new schemes, level it and cultivate in a proper manner by acquiring the necessary skills. Similarly we have responsibility towards the society and have to respond in time as per the need to avert the upcoming danger.

Dr Raja RaoDirector-IGNOU has said that DSS is doing a commendable work and if one goes through their annual report we can notice

a variety of activities taken up boldly, which no other organization is doing. Education is foremost important and it builds a human being. Literacy rate is very low in rural areas, whereas the population is more in rural areas and the situation of dalit adivasis is very vulnerable. Hence we should ensure quality education to the rural poor masses.

Sri Jacob has detailed about a variety of schemes implemented by SC Corporation and has said that we need to utilize the schemes to the optimum level. He has raised the problem of the bankers not willing to give consent letters for their share on the reason that the dalits are defaulters and don’t repay the loans. Therefore we need to systematise ourselves and ensure that the bankers come forward to give the matching amount.

Sri Srinivas of DRDA has explained about the process of baseline survey of all the dalit adivasis in the rural areas and needs assessment to be done accordingly by “Unnathi”. After the process the dalit adivasi women will be given financial assistance for income generation activities. Hence he has asked all the dalit adivasi women to get covered under this base line survey to get linkages.

East Godavari district Conference was held at Officers Club, Kakinada on 19th November. K. Rajamani district co-ordinator has presided over the meeting and the dignitaries on the dais were Sri Kaneti Mohan Rao, First Member of Parliament, Sri Madhusudhan Rao JD-SWD, Sri Satyanarayana, Addl. Supdt. of Police, Sri Chakradhar Rao PO-RVM, Sri Vijaya Rao, ADM-District Education Department, Sri Trimurthulu from Unnathi (DRDA), I. Rameshwara Rao of RPI, I. Suryanarayana of DBVKS, D Rama Rao of DBSU, Jhansi Geddam and GDV Prakash of DSS.

Sri Chakradhar Rao of Rajiv Vidya Mission has said that due to education he has come to this stage, though he is from a remote place. We all need to get our children educated. 70% is the literacy rate of our state and among women it is only 57%. The government has established many schools and most of them are within one kilometre. Even the remote villages have schools. There are many residential schools exclusively for the dalits and tribals. Social Welfare and Tribal Welfare departments are limited to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Let us join hands to build a society without disparity.

Sri Madhusudhanof SWD has said that he knows about DSS. SWD is able to implement some programs because of this Act. From 12 best schools in the district, 10 students from each school will be selected for scholarship @ Rs 10,000/- per head. Overseas scholarship is restricted to countries of Australia, Singapore, England, America and Canada. Each student

will be given Rs 10 Lakhs from SWD and Rs 5 Lakhs as loan from bank. The selection process will be done by the state officials of SWD. Only thing the students need to do is to register with SWD. They will be provided coaching for requisite tests to get admission. Pre metric scholarship has been sanctioned for day scholars from 5th to 8th standard. 36 community halls have been sanctioned @ 1 each for mandal. Proposals have also been sent for study circles and repair of Ambedkar Bhavans. Around Rs 80 crores have been sanctioned for SWD-East Godavari district for construction of various hostels.

Sri Satyanarayana Additional SP has said that he is not used to speak in meetings. Thanks to my SP and Sri Jhansi Geddam for giving an opportunity to speak in this good meeting. Until now all the writers of history have mentioned what is on the forefront, but have not written what is underneath. In general we get satisfied with our job and restrict ourselves to it. It is the

responsibility of every one to question injustice where ever we are. Ambedkar has said that he has brought the chariot to the maximum extent he could and has asked the community to take it forward or else leave it where he has left. We need to take this message of Ambedkar to our children. We need to achieve equality in reality and not on papers. The name Dalit Sthree Sakthi itself sounds very powerful and we get power when authority is in our hands. Let us educate our children, take a pledge that we will not take or give dowries and treat the girl who comes to our house as our daughter. Change is not possible through laws and it is inevitable when the human beings change.

Sri Vijaya Rao of Education Department has said that there is no use of rights and Acts until and unless we know about them. The reason for our backwardness is lack of knowledge on

the schemes and Acts being implemented by the government. Every women need to be educated, should work and then only the society respects them. Financial status is also very important. First of all we will have to change and then only our children will change. We all have to utilize the services of education department and grow as a person with good values. We all should utilize the campaign organized by DSS and gain knowledge on the government schemes and Acts.

Sri Trimurthulu of Unnathi(DRDA) has said that as part of SCSP/TSP Act, survey of SC/ST families is being done and until now 1,80,000 families have been surveyed. The main intention is not to miss even one family; hence we all must ensure that all are covered in the survey. He has also explained about the existing schemes such as Abhaya hastham, Bangaru Talli, etc.

Sri Rameshwara Rao of RPI has said that it was Sri Tharakam of RPl who had raised the issue of SCP/TSP for the first time in our state. They have approached the chief ministers Chandra Babu Naidu, Raja Sekhar Reddy and Kiran Kumar Reddy on the diversion of funds with evidences and that is how the governments function. Ambedkar has said we can achieve rights through continuous struggle. He conveyed heartfelt wishes to Sri Jhansi for carrying out struggle in the same line. We can overcome corruption through incessant struggle and hence we should stand by the organizations fighting truthfully.

Sri Dandangi Rama Rao of DBSU has said that DSS has been working on many issues for the past 7 years and now taking up campaign on SCSP/TSP is very important. He expressed solidarity in this endeavour.

Sri I Suryanarayana of DBVKS has appreciated DSS for taking up this campaign and has asked everyone to ensure that the Act is implemented effectively. If it is Act we can force for its implementation. DSS being a women organization has been raising voices on many issues and we all need to express our solidarity.

Sri Jhansi Geddam of DSS has said that our heartfelt regards to our beloved Sri Kaneti Mohan Rao for all pains in attending this programme. East Godavari is the most fertile land in the state and it is pitiable that this area is under severe drought. We need to look into the reasons for unemployment and underdevelopment. She said she takes pride in as she hails from this

place, but the research reports on this area are troubling her a lot and she feared that what will happen to her mother land and the people. In East Godavari District the entire land is being ruined by ONGC. Though the scientists are saying that the East Godavari district will not be visible in the future, leaders and politicians are not opposing it. Why the perpetrators who demolished Ambedkar statues were safeguarded? We need to discuss about all these things. We have been oppressed for generations together.

This is the first economic right which has been introduced after 60 years of independence. The dalit girijans should come in to main stream by accessing the benefits of the Act.

Later Kaneti Mohan Rao was felicitated and his services for the dalit community were applauded. The conference was concluded with the vote of thanks of K Rajamani – District Coordinator.

West Godavari district conference was held at Conference Hall, Surya Residency, Eluru on 22nd November 2013. P. Susanna state co-ordinatorpresided over the meeting and

the dignitaries on the dais were Sri Mallikarjuna Rao, JD-SWD, Suryanarayana, EO-SC Corporation, Prasad from Panchayatraj, Sarath Babu from DRDA, Manikyaveena from WCD, representatives of peoples organizations such as Abraham Director-APSSC, Manisingh WG District Convener Protection of SCSP/TSP Act, Sudharshan President-Mulanivasi Sangh, Venkateswarlu President of AP Girijana Samakya, G Madhu from BSP, Nethala Ramesh & Nicholas from dalit rights organizations, Siva Srinivas Senior Journalist and Jhansi Geddam of DSS. Susanna in her presidential address has said that the campaign has been initiated to mainstream dalit women through SCSP/TSP Act. Organizations apart from the government departments need to know and understand the Act. This is the first ever economic right we got after Independence.

Sri Mallikarjuna Rao of SWD has appreciated DSS for organizing this campaign and said that everybody should know about the Act. If at all a task force team appointed by the government does a survey it would have revealed how far SC/STs are developed.

Special Component Plan has come into force in 1978, but has failed in implementation. National leaders have said that reservations are sufficient for 10 years, since the implementation is not proper, the result achieved is minimal. Many organizations have agitated for this Act. The Act has come but the government has not formulated implementation mechanism. We can access the funds only when a separate agency is appointed. The state council has met under the chairmanship of CM, but implementation mechanism has not been formulated. Earlier the funds allotted under SC Sub plan and Tribal sub plan used to be diverted and spent for other programs. Now if the budget set aside under SCSP/TSP Act is spent for the SCs and STs, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s desire will be fulfilled.