More than 50% Dalits landless, 40% of people displaced for 'development' are Adivasis
Even as the NDA government completes three years in power amid tall claims of development, the India Exclusion Report 2016 released by Centre for Equity Studies (CES) has presented a dismal picture of the condition of historically disadvantaged groups in terms of exclusion with respect to four public goods. The report was released on May 12th at the Indian Social Institute in New Delhi. This is the third edition of the annual flagship publication of CES.
According to a news of ‘Two Circles’, the India Exclusion Report reviews exclusion with respect to four public goods, one each in the areas of the social sector; infrastructure; land- labour, natural resources and legal justice. For 2016 Indian Exclusion Report, the topics chosen were, pensions for the elderly, digital access, agricultural land, and legal justice for under-trials.
The report termed Dalits, Tribals, Muslims, and Elderly and Disabled as worst hit by the continuous exclusion from the four chosen fundamental public services.
"The headline of this and indeed every exclusion report so far has been that the evidence is consistent that for virtually every public good that we examine, it is always the same sets of peoples who are excluded," writes Harsh Mander, who has edited the report in its introduction. "These are the historically oppressed group of women, Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, persons with disabilities and casual informal workers and the poor. This report only confirms these findings, and illuminates the multiple ways in which even the democratic state in the Indian republic has failed these oppressed peoples and not assured them equitable access to the public goods essential for them to lead lives of dignity," he writes.
The report has found that the pattern of land distribution reflects the socioeconomic hierarchy - large landowners invariably belong to the upper castes, cultivators to the middle castes, and agricultural workers are largely Dalits and Adivasis. "The rate of landlessness was highest among Dalits at 57.3%. Among Muslims, it was 52.6%, and 56.8% of women-headed households were landless. Around 40% of all those displaced by "development activity" were Adivasis," reads the report.
"Land reform efforts have not benefited Dalits, women or Muslims significantly. Land allotments to SC/ST households were often only on paper, as allottees were forcefully evicted or not allowed to take possession," the report further adds. The report has taken a dig at PM Narendra Modi on job creation which was one of Prime its prime election promises. "Yet more than halfway through his tenure, there are almost no jobs available. Job creation has fallen to levels even below those that the preceding UPA government plunged to," notes the report.
The report also notes the rising rich-poor gap in the country. The report further notes that the Digital India, which aimed to cover 1,00,200 panchayats under Phase 1 by March 2014 - added only 48,199 panchayats by April 2016 out of which only close to 6,000 panchayats have internet access.
Regarding the legal justice, the report has proposed that state governments, prison departments and jail authorities must work together, and adopt certain reform measures, to make the custodial system more open and less exploitative. While reacting to the report, Adivasi activist and political leader Soni Sori in conversation with TwoCircles.net said, "Yes the report indicates the reality of Adivasis.The discrimination with them is not only in these four parameters but many others also." "Adivasis don't get pension and legal justice is out of bounds for them. We have seen it many times; a tribal picked up by police and thrown in lockup for weeks without an FIR," she added.
National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), General Secretary, Paul Diwakar said, "The continuous exclusion of Dalits from public goods can be attributed to the fact that they are not at power block. At policy designing and implementation, Dalits don't have any say and there is lack of accountability involved." "So, instead of having policies which are pro disadvantaged sections, they frame general polices," he told TwoCircles.net.
According to Navaid Hamid, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, the findings of report aren't surprising. He said, "The government of India which usually calls for sabka-saath and sabka-vikas should spell out the reasons why there is still such exclusion of Muslim in provision of public goods."