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Funds for SC/ST: DST to study allocation, use patterns

Shishir Sinha New Delhi | Updated on September 16, 2018 Published on September 16, 2018

NGOs and activists are not taking the schemes to the really needy

Many flaws seen in the current funding system

In a new initiative by a Ministry, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has started the process of preparing a blueprint for maximum outreach among Scheduled Caste and Tribe communities.

“This exercise aims to ensure that the budget allocated for the welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) benefits them the maximum,” a senior government official told BusinessLine.

Consultations

The DST recently held consultations with those associated with SC/ST communities such as the industry body Dalit Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), tribal universities and institutions besides activists and thinkers from the communities.

Such brainstorming sessions are required to understand the ground realities from those who are part of these communities, the official said.

Every year, the Union Budget makes allocations exclusively for the SC and ST. This fund is spent through the Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP) and the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP). As per the recommendations of the Narendra Jadhav Committee constituted by the Planning Commission in 2010, this earmarking of funds for all Central Ministries/Departments taken together should be at least 16.2 per cent and 8.2 per cent of the total Plan outlay, respectively, under the SCSP and the TSP.

One of the aims of such dedicated allocation is to promote entrepreneurship among these communities. Currently, 29 Central Ministries and 37 departments are obligated to set aside funds under the SCSP and the TSP. For example, the DST has allocated ₹104.85 crore each for the SCSP and the TCP in the current year’s budget.

The official said the present system has too many flaws. First, NGOs and activists are not taking the schemes to the really needy. This is clear from the limited number of applications received for assistance. Second, there is more revenue expenditure than capital spending.

“We need to focus more on aspirational districts. Also, there should be more incubators, especially in districts where the proportion of SC/ST population is high. We believe the newly designed outreach programme will help in preparing a strategy for systematic science and technology intervention,” he said.

Entrepreneurship

Milind Kamble, Founder Chairman of DICCI, is confident that such an initiative will help in fulfilling the entrepreneurship aspiration in a big way. “This is the best time for the SC/ST youth to go for start-ups,” he said, adding that any entrepreneur needs three Ms for success — Money, Market and Mentoring.

The Centre has initiated many steps to help them get these.

For example, in terms of the first M (Money), Mudra scheme (loans up to ₹10 lakh) and Stand-up Scheme (loans up to ₹1 crore) are given for start-ups while credit guarantees (for loans between ₹20 lakh and ₹5 crore) and SC Venture Capital Fund (loans between ₹50 lakh and ₹50 crore) are given to existing businesses.

According to Kamble, to help with marketing, it has now been made mandatory for PSUs to procure at least 4 per cent off their requirements from SC/ST entrepreneurs and 162 PSUs are already doing that. Similarly, for mentoring there is a hand-holding programme for connecting them to the market as well as in capacity building. Four regional conferences are being organised to promote entrepreneurship among tribal youths.

Trust deficit

Commenting on the latest initiatives, Rajesh Paswan, an Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that the real issue is trust.

“People involved in these exercises are more concerned about paper work and not the ground reality. Now when you have people who have earned trust and respect from the said community, and have rapport with State governments, involved in outreach programme, this will certainly yield good results,” he said, adding that the initiative of the DST will help SC/ST entrepreneurs adopt high technology in the place of traditional methods and that will help their businesses to grow.

Published on September 16, 2018
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