General Studies Paper 2 (Governance) (Indian Polity & Constitution) (Social Justice)
Question:- 51. The recent reports of various state governments and NCRB indicate that atrocities against SCs and STs have been on rise in the past few years. Discuss the safeguards available to SCs and STs in India. What are the reasons for the current state of situations? Answer in 250 words.
Aug 29, 2022
India is committed to the welfare and development of its people in general and of vulnerable sections of society in particular. Equality of status and opportunity to all citizens of the country is guaranteed by the Constitution of India, which also provides that no individual shall be discriminated against on the grounds of religion, caste or sex, etc. Unfortunately, despite the safeguards present for SC and ST, crime against them has not decreased.
Analysis of data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) indicated a sharp rise in crimes against Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) and that the crime rates against the communities had jumped eight times (746%) and 12 times (1,160 per cent) respectively in the past decade.
PROVISIONS: (Write the most relevant ones)
1. Article 17 seeks to abolish ‘untouchability’. The institution of ‘untouchability’ refers not just to the avoidance or prohibition of physical contact but to a much broader set of social sanctions.
2. Article 46 – promote the educational and economic interests of SCs, STs, and other weaker sections of the society and to protect them from social injustice and exploitation.
3. Article 338 – National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC)
i) -investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and to evaluate their working;
ii) -inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the SCs;
4. Article 338-A – National Commission for Scheduled Tribes(NCST)- Its functions are same as that of NCSC, but with respect to ST than SC.
5. Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act, 1955 and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
The reasons for increasing atrocities against SCs and STs are as follows:
1.Caste discrimination still exists and not much has changed. While modern Indian law has officially abolished the caste hierarchy
-untouchability is in many ways still a practice.
-honour killings are prevalent on a wide scale.
-Half of all atrocities committed against Dalits are related to land disputes.
2. Another factor contributing to the spike in is rising living standards of these communities, which appears to have led to a backlash from historically privileged communities. A 2014 research paper showed that an increase in the consumption expenditure ratio of SCs/STs to that of upper castes is associated with an increase in crimes committed by the latter against the former.
3.The increase in crime rates is also a reporting effect. More crimes are now being reported and registered.
4.SC and ST are viewed as enjoying all the privileges through reservation, thereby leading to a feeling of hatred for them. They are perceived as a threat to the established social, economic and political position of the upper caste. Crimes are a way to assert the upper caste superiority.
5.SC/ST girls face violence at a younger age and at a higher rate than women of other castes. Even when Dalit women acquire political power, as when they are elected as sarpanches, there is often no protection against the social power that sanctions violence and discrimination against them.
6. The risky workplaces compounded with a lack of labour rights protection measures render migrant women more vulnerable to occupational injury.Further, the emerging problem of sub-contracting short-termed labour makes it more difficult for them to claim compensation when they are injured at work places. The enslavement trafficking also contributes to migration of large proportion of Dalit women.
Dalits (SC) and Tribals (ST) are the most marginalized sections of Indian society. Many atrocities have been committed against them since time immemorial. The current trends of increasing crimes indicate loopholes in the safeguard mechanism of these communities. SC/ST commission should start a national helpline number for any harassment on the basis of caste. Also, improving the training of police officers in dealing with such cases so that they can solve the cases without any pressure or prejudice and increasing awareness about several legal remedies and different rights available to the marginalised communities can go a long way.The most crucial thing for ending discrimination and improving fraternity is a consistent societal action to change the entrenched caste rigidity. The government should take proactive measures to improve the participation of people from SC/ST community in decision making and government functioning.