Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

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Scheduled castes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census.[1] Punjab had the highest percentage of its population as SC (~32%), while Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep had 0%.[1]
Scheduled Tribes distribution map in India by state and union territory according to 2011 Census.[1] Mizoram and Lakshadweep had the highest percentage of its population as ST (~95%), while Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, and Chandigarh had 0%.[1]

The Scheduled Castes[2] (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are officially designated groups of people and among the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups in India.[3] The terms are recognized in the Constitution of India and the groups are designated in one or other of the categories.[4]:3 For much of the period of British rule in the Indian subcontinent, they were known as the Depressed Classes.[4]:2

In modern literature, the Scheduled Castes are sometimes referred to as Dalit, meaning "broken" or "dispersed",[5][6] the term having been popularised by B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), a Dalit himself, an economist, reformer, chairman of the Constituent Assembly of India, and Dalit leader during the independence struggle.[5] Ambedkar preferred the term Dalit to Gandhi's term, Harijan, meaning "person of Hari/Vishnu" (or Man of God).[5] In September 2018, the government "issued an advisory to all private satellite channels asking them to 'refrain' from using the nomenclature 'Dalit'", though "rights groups and intellectuals have come out against any shift from 'Dalit' in popular usage".[7]

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes comprise about 16.6% and 8.6%, respectively, of India's population (according to the 2011 census).[8][9] The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 lists 1,108 castes across 28 states in its First Schedule,[10] and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 lists 744 tribes across 22 states in its First Schedule.[11]

Since the independence of India, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes were given Reservation status, guaranteeing political representation, preference in promotion, quota in universities, free and stipended education, scholarships, banking services, various government schemes and the Constitution lays down the general principles of positive discrimination for SCs and STs.[12][13]:35,137

Definition

Scheduled Castes

As per Article 366 (24) of Constitution of India the Scheduled Castes is defined as;[14] Template:Bq

Scheduled Tribes

As per Article 366 (25) of Constitution of India the Scheduled Tribes is defined as;[15][14] Template:Bq

Identification and procedures

Article 341

(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory and where it is a State after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Castes in relation to that State or Union Territory, as the case may be.

(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Castes specified in a notification issued under clause of any caste, race or tribe or part of or group within any caste, race or tribe, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.[14]

Article 342

(1) The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purpose of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory, as the case may be.

(2) Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.[14]

The inclusion of communities or castes in the list of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes follows specific silent criteria and procedures setup by the Lokur committee.[16] For Scheduled Castes (SCs), the criteria involve extreme social, educational, and economic backwardness resulting from the practice of untouchability.[17] On the other hand, Scheduled Tribes (STs) are identified based on indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the larger community, and overall backwardness.[17] The scheduling process refers back to the definitions of communities used in the 1931 census and is guided by Article 341 and 342. Per the first clause of Article 341 and 342, the list of Scheduled communities is subject to specific State or Union Territory.[18]

History

The evolution of Lower caste to modern-day Scheduled Castes is complex. The caste system as a stratification of classes in India originated about 2,000 years ago, and has been influenced by dynasties and ruling elites, including the Mughal Empire and the British Raj.[19][20] The Hindu concept of Varna historically incorporated occupation-based communities.[19] Some low-caste groups, such as those formerly called untouchables[21] who constitute modern-day Scheduled Castes, were considered outside the Varna system.[22][23]

Since the 1850s, these communities were loosely referred to as Depressed Classes, with the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.The early 20th century saw a flurry of activity in the British authorities assessing the feasibility of responsible self-government for India. The Morley–Minto Reforms Report, Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms Report and the Simon Commission were several initiatives in this context. A highly contested issue in the proposed reforms was the reservation of seats for representation of the Depressed Classes in provincial and central legislatures.[24]

In 1935, the UK Parliament passed the Government of India Act 1935, designed to give Indian provinces greater self-rule and set up a national federal structure. The reservation of seats for the Depressed Classes was incorporated into the act, which came into force in 1937. The Act introduced the term "Scheduled Castes", defining the group as "such castes, parts of groups within castes, which appear to His Majesty in Council to correspond to the classes of persons formerly known as the 'Depressed Classes', as His Majesty in Council may prefer".[4] This discretionary definition was clarified in The Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936, which contained a list (or Schedule) of castes throughout the British-administered provinces.[4]

After independence the Constituent Assembly continued the prevailing definition of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, giving (via articles 341 and 342) the president of India and governors of the states a mandate to compile a full listing of castes and tribes (with the power to edit it later, as required). The complete list of castes and tribes was made via two orders: The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950[25] and The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950,[26] respectively. Furthermore, independent India's quest for inclusivity was incident through the appointment of B. R. Ambedkar as the chair of the drafting committee for the Constitution. Ambedkar was a scheduled caste constitutional lawyer, a member of the low caste.[27]

Government initiative to improve the situation of SCs and STs

The Constitution provides a three-pronged strategy[28] to improve the situation of SCs and STs:

  • Protective arrangements: Such measures as are required to enforce equality, to provide punitive measures for transgressions, and to eliminate established practices that perpetuate inequities. A number of laws were enacted to implement the provisions in the Constitution. Examples of such laws include the Untouchability Practices Act, 1955, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, etc. Despite legislation, social discrimination and atrocities against the backward castes continued to persist.[29]
  • Affirmative action: Provide positive treatment in allotment of jobs and access to higher education as a means to accelerate the integration of the SCs and STs with mainstream society. Affirmative action is popularly known as reservation. Article 16 of the Constitution states "nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provisions for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens, which, in the opinion of the state, is not adequately represented in the services under the State". The Supreme Court upheld the legality of affirmative action and the Mandal Commission (a report that recommended that affirmative action not only apply to the Untouchables, but the other backward castes as well). However, the reservations from affirmative action were only allotted in the public sector, not the private.[30]
  • Development: Provide resources and benefits to bridge the socioeconomic gap between the SCs and STs and other communities. Legislation to improve the socioeconomic situation of SCs and STs because twenty-seven percent of SC and thirty-seven percent of ST households lived below the poverty line, compared to the mere eleven percent among other households. Additionally, the backward castes were poorer than other groups in Indian society, and they suffered from higher morbidity and mortality rates.[31]

National commissions

To effectively implement the safeguards built into the Constitution and other legislation, the Constitution under Articles 338 and 338A provides for two constitutional commissions: the National Commission for Scheduled Castes,[32] and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.[33] The chairpersons of both commissions sit ex officio on the National Human Rights Commission.Scheduled Castes in India.

Constitutional history

In the original Constitution, Article 338 provided for a special officer (the Commissioner for SCs and STs) responsible for monitoring the implementation of constitutional and legislative safeguards for SCs and STs and reporting to the president. Seventeen regional offices of the Commissioner were established throughout the country.

There was an initiative to replace the Commissioner with a committee in the 48th Amendment to the Constitution, changing Article 338. While the amendment was being debated, the Ministry of Welfare established the first committee for SCs and STs (with the functions of the Commissioner) in August 1978. These functions were modified in September 1987 to include advising the government on broad policy issues and the development levels of SCs and STs. Now it is included in Article 342.

In 1990, Article 338 was amended for the National Commission for SCs and STs with the Constitution (Sixty fifth Amendment) Bill, 1990.[34] The first commission under the 65th Amendment was constituted in March 1992, replacing the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the commission established by the Ministry of Welfare's Resolution of 1989. In 2003, the Constitution was again amended to divide the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes into two commissions: the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. Due to the spread of Christianity and Islam among schedule caste community converted are not protected as castes under Indian Reservation policy. Hence, these societies usually forge their community certificate as Hindus and practice Christianity or Islam afraid for their loss of reservation.[35]

Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan

The Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) of 1979 mandated a planning process for the social, economic and educational development of Scheduled Castes and improvement in their working and living conditions. It was an umbrella strategy, ensuring the flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from the general sector of development to the Scheduled Castes.[36] It entailed a targeted flow of funds and associated benefits from the annual plan of states and Union Territories (UTs) in at least a proportion to the national SC population. Twenty-seven states and UTs with sizable SC populations are implementing the plan. Although the Scheduled Castes population according to the 2001 Census was 16.66 crores (16.23% of the total population), the allocations made through SCSP have been lower than the proportional population.[37] A strange factor has emerged of extremely lowered fertility of scheduled castes in Kerala, due to land reform, migrating (Kerala Gulf diaspora) and democratization of education.[38]

Demographics

Scheduled Caste Population by State

States with population of Scheduled Castes as per 2011 census[39]
State Population Scheduled Caste (%) Scheduled Caste Population
India 1,210,854,977 16.63 201,378,086
Andhra Pradesh 84,580,777 16.41 13,878,078
Arunachal Pradesh 1,383,727 0.00 0
Assam 31,205,576 7.15 2,231,321
Bihar 104,099,452 15.91 16,567,325
Chhattisgarh 25,545,198 12.82 3,274,269
Goa 1,458,545 1.74 25,449
Gujarat 60,439,692 6.74 4,074,447
Haryana 25,351,462 20.17 5,113,615
Himachal Pradesh 6,864,602 25.19 1,729,252
Jammu & Kashmir 12,541,302 7.38 924,991
Jharkhand 32,988,134 12.08 3,985,644
Karnataka 61,095,297 17.15 10,474,992
Kerala 33,406,061 9.10 3,039,573
Madhya Pradesh 72,626,809 15.62 11,342,320
Maharashtra 112,374,333 11.81 13,275,898
Manipur 2,570,390 3.78 97,042
Meghalaya 2,966,889 0.58 17,355
Mizoram 1,097,206 0.11 1,218
Nagaland 1,978,502 0.00 0
Odisha 41,974,218 17.13 7,190,184
Punjab 27,743,338 31.94 8,860,179
Rajasthan 68,548,437 17.83 12,221,593
Sikkim 610,577 4.63 28,275
Tamil Nadu 72,147,030 20.01 14,438,445
Tripura 3,673,917 17.83 654,918
Uttar Pradesh 199,812,341 20.70 41,357,608
Uttarakhand 10,086,292 18.76 1,892,516
West Bengal 91,276,115 23.51 21,463,270

Scheduled Tribe Population by State

Percent of scheduled tribes in India by tehsils by census 2011
States with population of Scheduled Tribes as per 2011 census[40]
State Population Scheduled Tribe (%) Scheduled Tribe Population
India 1,210,854,977 8.61 104,254,613
Andhra Pradesh 84,580,777 7.00 5,920,654
Arunachal Pradesh 1,383,727 68.79 951,865
Assam 31,205,576 12.45 3,885,094
Bihar 104,099,452 1.28 1,332,472
Chhattisgarh 25,545,198 30.62 7,821,939
Goa 1,458,545 10.21 148,917
Gujarat 60,439,692 14.75 8,914,854
Haryana 25,351,462 0.00 0
Himachal Pradesh 6,864,602 5.71 391,968
Jammu & Kashmir 12,541,302 11.90 1,492,414
Jharkhand 32,988,134 26.21 8,646,189
Karnataka 61,095,297 6.95 4,246,123
Kerala 33,406,061 1.45 484,387
Madhya Pradesh 72,626,809 21.09 15,316,994
Maharashtra 112,374,333 9.35 10,507,000
Manipur 2,570,390 35.14 903,235
Meghalaya 2,966,889 86.15 2,555,974
Mizoram 1,097,206 94.44 1,036,201
Nagaland 1,978,502 86.46 1,710,612
Odisha 41,974,218 22.85 9,591,108
Punjab 27,743,338 0.00 0
Rajasthan 68,548,437 13.48 9,240,329
Sikkim 610,577 33.72 205,886
Tamil Nadu 72,147,030 1.10 793,617
Tripura 3,673,917 31.76 1,166,836
Uttar Pradesh 199,812,341 0.57 1,138,930
Uttarakhand 10,086,292 2.90 292,502
West Bengal 91,276,115 5.80 5,294,014

See also

References

This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Constitution of India.

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Further reading

External links