TCN special: Misra Commission report excerpts- Part 13

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Economic Empowerment

Economic empowerment of weaker sections of the society comprising Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities is a priority area for the Government. Among the minorities, the proportion of BPL segment is calculated as 28.67 percent (according to the study by Agricultural Finance Corporation Ltd, Mumbai, 2006) and ‘Double the BPL’ proportion is estimated as 43 percent. As per Planning Commission’s survey conducted in 1999-2000, the incidences of poverty are more in rural areas than that of urban areas for all communities except in case of Muslims. Among Muslims, the incidence of poverty is significantly more in urban areas (36.92 percent) as compared to rural areas (27.22 percent). The government has taken various steps towards the economic empowerment of weaker sections. The important Schemes/ programmes, institutional arrangements to implement these and the achievements registered during the past years are discussed below.

Schemes Applicable to All Sections of Population

Employment Generation Schemes: Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP) and Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) are two employment generation credit-linked subsidy schemes. Of these, Rural Employment Generation Programme is implemented by Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and Prime Minister’s Rozagar Yojana by State Governments through District Industries Centres (DICs). Under Rural Employment Generation Programme, capital subsidy in the form of margin money is provided for setting up labour-intensive village industries. Self-help groups are also provided assistance under Rural Employment General Programme. Since its inception in 1995 up to March 2005, 2,09,705 projects have been financed and 28.06 lakh additional job opportunities created. Approximately 12.4 percent Scheduled Castes 5.78 percent from Scheduled Tribes; 23.8 percent Other Backward Classes and 12.8 percent Minorities have been the beneficiaries. About 25.8 percent beneficiaries have been women.

Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana
Since its inception in 1993 has been providing institutional finance to educated unemployed institutional finance to educated unemployed youth for setting up economically viable ventures in rural and urban areas. Under PMRY, loans have been disbursed to 22.80 lakhs self-employment ventures, leading to generation of employment for 34.20 lakh persons. During 1993-99, the proportion of beneficiaries belonging to Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes was about 21 percent and the share of OBCs was 26 percent.

Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)
Launched in 2001, SGRY aimed at providing additional wage employment in rural areas along with food security and creation of durable community assets in rural areas. It specially emphasized wage employment to women, SCs, STs and parents of children withdrawn from hazardous occupations The Scheme has an annual allocation of about RS 6000 crores and 50 lakh tones of food grains. During 2004-05, 50.00 lakhs tones of food grains was released, Rs. 6018.63 crores expenditure incurred, a total of 8223.09 lakh mandays of work created, and 1639619 work completed. In December 2006, the Ministry of Rural Development has decided that Minimum 15 percent beneficiaries of SGRY will be from the minority communities.

Swarnjkayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY)
Lanuched in 1999, Swarnjkayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana is a major self-employment programme being implemented throughout the country. Its guidelines stipulate that at least 50 percent of the beneficiaries will be Scheduled Castes/Tribes, 40 percent women, and 3 percent disabled. Subsidy under SGSY will be uniform at 30 percent of the project cost, subject to a maximum of Rs 7500. For Sc, ST and Disabled However, subsidy limit is 50 percent of the project cost subject to maximum of Rs 10,000.

National Food for Work Programme (NFFWP)
This programme was launched in 2004, in 150 most backward districts of the country, to create additional wage employment. The additional resources are being channeled into focus areas like water conservation and drought proofing, which are a major cause of backwardness in some regions. Wages are paid as a mix of cash and food grains, and will be not less than the minimum wages. Equal wages are to be ensured for women and men workers.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NGREGA)
This Scheme was notified in September 2005. Under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, employment is to be provided to every rural household for 100 days a year to an adult member who volunteers to do unskilled manual work. Every person who does the work is to be paid minimum wages, which shall not be less than sixty rupees per day. Employment is to be provided within 15days of application of work. At least one third of beneficiaries have to be women. The works are to be recommended by the Gram Sabha, and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) have a principal role in planning and implementation. Transparency, public accountability and social audit are to be ensured through institutional mechanisms at all levels. The focus of the program is on land development and water conservation works. The Act envisages a collaborative partnership between Central and State governments, Panchayati Raj Institutions and the local community. National Rural Employment Guarantee Act is being extended to 200 districts in the first phase of its operation and will cover the entire country within a period of five years. During 2007-08 the scheme is being extended to another 130 districts.

Enhancing Employment Potential in Agricultural Sector
An essential requirement for accelerated agricultural growth is the timely availability of institutional credit in a hassle free manner, at a reduced rate of interest. In line with this requirement, the government announced a comprehensive policy in June 2004. The measures envisaged include accelerated flow of agri-credit to farmers through Commercial banks, Cooperative banks, and Regional rural banks: enhancement of coverage of institutional credit through Kisan Credit Cards Scheme, which enabling frequent withdrawal and repayment; and restructuring of loans for providing credit related relief to Framers in distress, Farmers in arrears and Farmers indebted to informal sources; and a One time settlement scheme for small and marginal farmers who have been declared defaulters and have become ineligible for fresh credit.

Enhancing Employment Potential in Industrial Sector
Various schemes of the Central Government aim to reorient employment opportunities to enable weaker sections of the society to face the challenges of economic reforms and expanding private sector, through equipping them with suitable technical skills appropriate technologies and opportunities for vocational arts and crafts sectors such as handlooms, handicrafts, lace making glasswork and meal work, ensuring value addition so that the products are competitive in modern markets. A substantial proportion of the traditional artisans in such industries belong to minorities, particularly the Muslim community. Sector-wise details are as under:

Textiles sector is the second largest provider of employment after agriculture Majority of weavers and artisans belong to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and minority populations. These groups are frequently linked to hereditary or subsistence based occupations, in the unorganized as well as organized textiles sector. Though many schemes devised and implemented by successive governments for this sector do not adhere ot specific community or social groups, yet as a majority of those employed in these sectors belong to those groups, they are naturally the major beneficiaries. These schemes have had a significant impact in terms of employment as well as income generation and living standards of the artisan groups among weaker sections of society, as indicated below.

Decentralized power loom, hosiery and knitting form the largest section of the Textile sector. The Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS), launched in 1999, make funds available to the domestic textile industry for upgrading the technology of existing units, and setting up new units with state-of-the art technology. The Textile Workers’ Rehabilitation Fund Scheme (TWRFS), launched in 1986, provides relief and rehabilitation measures to workers upon the closure of a mill.
A quick survey was organized through the Ministry of Textiles regarding the coverage of religious minorities under the different Training and Employment Schemes. As per results of the survey during 2004-05 to 2006-07 (upto February, 2007), there were 10,875 trainees enrolled in po9werloom service centres and Computer-aided Design Centres (CADCs), of which 2,653 belonged to the religious and linguistic minorities comprising 1966 Muslims, 161 Christians and 526 linguistic minorities.

Handlooms sector provides employment to about 6.5 million people, contributing about 13 present of the total cloth production, on 3.5 million looms. The sector is wholly weaver oriented, with the majority of weavers belonging to the poorest and marginalized sections of society. According to the Ministry of Textiles (Annual Report 2005-06), of the total workforce, women constitute 62.40 percent and Scheduled Castes / Scheduled Tribes constitute 32 percent. It is concentrated in the decentralized sector. Under the Deen Dayal Hathkargha Protsahan Yojna (DDHPY), the Ministry of Textiles provided support ot those agencies in this sector that employ 100 percent Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Women/Minorities. The grant is shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Centre and the concerned State. The Government has ensured availability of raw material to this sector through the Hank Yarn Obligation Order. The Integrated Handloom Cluster Development Scheme is a centrally sponsored scheme, in which 20 Handloom clusters have been identified for development in the first phase at an estimated cost of Rs40.00 crores. The Health Insurance Scheme for handloom weavers, launched in November 2005, aims at financial enabling weavers’ community to access the best healthcare facilities in the country. The scheme covers the weaver, spouse, and two children, at a total premium of Rs 1000.00 per annum, of which GoI contributes Rs 800, and the weaver contributes Rs.200. The annual coverage is Rs 15,000 per family. Similarly the Mahatma Gandhi Bunker Bima Yojana was launched in October 2005, with the objective of providing enhanced insurance coverage to handloom weavers in case of natural or accidental death. During the Tenth Plan, Rs 625.00 crores has been provided for the implementation of various handloom sector schemes.

Handicrafts are important culturally and economically. They have high employment potential, low capital investment, and high value addition. The growth of employment in the handicrafts sector has been from 52.92 lakhs in 1997-98 to 63.81 lakhs in 2004-05. According to the Ministry of Textiles (Annual Report 2005-06), women constitute 47.42 percent of the total workforce in handicrafts while 37.11 percent of the workforce is Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe. In this sector about 32.5 percent of the outlay is earmarked for the benefit of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women artisans @ 15 percent, 7.5 percent and 10 percent respectively. Handicrafts export increased from Rs. 6457.69 crore in 1997-98 to Rs. 15616.32 crores during 2004-05. Important recent initiatives include the setting up o f an India Exposition Mart oat Greater NOIDA; Handicrafts Bhawan at New Delhi; restoration of Bamboo & Cane Development Institute, Agartala, and a scheme for urban Haats at prime locations t the cost or RS.2.00 crore each. While sixteen Haats were set up during the Ninth Plan period, 21 Haats have been sanctioned during Tenth Plan period (upto February 2006). A number of schemes are being implemented for development of handicrafts, including Baba Saheb Ambedkar Hastshilp Vikas Yojana, Design and Technology Upgradation Scheme, Marketing and Support Services Scheme, Training and Extension Scheme etc. During 2005-06, new components included the Artisans Credit Card Scheme under which credit flow of Rs 250 crore by Financial/Banking institutions will be extended to approximately one lakh artisans across the country. National awards are given out to Master Craftspersons every year, to encourage artistic skills and excellence in craftspersons.

In the North Eastern region, the decentralized textile sector comprising handloom, power loom, sericulture, handicrafts, wool and jute forms the main source of gainful employment and income generation of the conditions of minorities.

Small Scale Industries
The Ministry of Small Scale Industries (SSI) assists the States to promote growth and development of the Small Scale Industries, enhance their competitiveness, and generate additional employment opportunities. The schemes undertaken are for training and Upgradation of skills; facilitation or provision of credit from financial institutions and banks; funds for technology Upgradation; integrated infrastructural facilities; training and skills Upgradation; capacity building and empowerment of the units and their collectives. The Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO) is the apex organization since 1954 for assisting the government in this sector. The Growth Centres Scheme and Integrated Infrastructural Development Scheme provide assistance of establishing small scale and tiny units, creating employment opportunities, and increasing exports. Guidelines provide that the schemes be taken up in conjunction with credit and employment schemes, i.e. Prime Minister’s Rozagar Yojana (PMRY), Rural Employment Generation Programme (REGP), Credit Linked Capital Subsidy Scheme etc. Employment in Small Scale Industries has risen from 158.34 lakh persons in 1990-91, to 282.57 lakh persons in 2004-05.

The total employment in the Small Scale sector, including unorganized manufacturing and services, is as high as 713.86 lakh people (2001-02). Small Scale Industries included small enterprises in food processing, glass and ceramics, leather and leather products including footwear and garments, biotech industries, drugs and pharmaceuticals, dyes, gold plating and jewelry, locks, toys, wooden furniture paints, rubber processing, industries based on aromatic and medicinal plants poultry, hatcheries and cattle feed, wires and cables, auto parts and components electronic equipment etc. Of the total employment in Small Scale Industries, a substantial proportion in bound to be from the backward and marginal sections among the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minority communities. Muslims artisans have traditionally specialized in certain occupations such as making of locks, wooden furniture in some geographical sites, gold plating and jewelry making etc, so they are covered under the Small Scale Industries sector for Upgradation of their traditional skills along with technological progress.

Agro and Rural Industries
Agro and Rural Industries deals with Khadi and village and coir industries through the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and the Coir Board (CB), and coordinates implementation of the REGP and PMRY (employment schemes). While the Khadi programme comprises hand spun and hand woven cotton, woolen, silk and muslin varieties, the village industries programme includes the following seven broad classifications:
i. Mineral based Industry;
ii. Forest based Industry;
iii. Agro and rural Industry;
iv. Polymer and chemical based Industry;
v. Rural engineering and Biotechnology;
vi. Handmade paper and Fiber Industry;
vii. Service Industry.
Khadi & Village Industries Commission undertakes skill improvement and marketing support activities in the process of generating employment/ self-employment opportunities in the above industries, in rural areas. It was able to generate 76.78 lakh employment opportunities during 2004-05.

National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector
National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) was set up in 2004 for a period of three years, to examine the problems of enterprises in the unorganized sector and suggest measures to overcome them. NCEUS has constituted Task Force to deliberate on social security for unorganized sector workers; and skill formation in the unorganized sector. NCEUS has also proposed the formation of Growth Poles in different parts of the country, integrating a number of unorganized production units within a geographical location. A few pilot projects for Growth Poles have been proposed and discussions are on with the Government of Chhattisgarh for a multi-product multi-artisan project at Kondagaon in Bastar, based on the skills and resources in the tribal belt of the State. Similar multi-artisanal projects are being discussed in Kollam district in Kerala for coir, handicrafts, cashew processing etc. and in Dausa in Rajasthan for stone cutting and carving, leather, handloom, Khadi, handicrafts, etc. The Commission is also re-examining the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors and interacting with various stakeholders. A draft of the revised National Policy oh Urban Street Vendors has been referred to the Ministry of Urban Employment and Poverty Alleviation.

Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology
Council for Advancement of people’s Action and rural Technology (CAPART): Established in 1986, CAPART acts as a catalyst for development of technologies appropriate for rural areas. It promotes different models of development, through promoting the efforts of NGOs in the relevant areas. These include support to NGOs within the Scheme for Natural Resource Development and Management (NRDM), Scheme for Rural Industrialization, Income Generation and Market Access (RIIMA), Scheme for Rural Development and Promotion of Information Technology (TRD and PIT), Rural Development Scheme (RIDS), Human Resource Development Scheme (HRDS), and Scheme for Empowerment of SC, ST & Disadvantaged Groups and for Persons with Disabilities in rural areas (EWSCTD). The achievements under these various schemes are discussed below:

Under National Resource Development Management, which promotes water conservation, irrigation and agriculture development, Council for Advancement of People’s Action and Rural Technology has sanctioned 88 projects (till 31.12.2005) involving assistance of Rs.7.19 crores. Under Rural Industrialization, Income Generation and Market Access, which supports skill orientation/income generation programs and market support activities like Gramshree Mela, CAPART has sanctioned 20 projects involving assistance of Rs.1.04 crores. Gramshree Meals at various places in the country provide avenues for the products produced by rural artisans and SHGs.

TRD and PIT scheme supports activities such as establishment of technology resource centres, technology service centres, communication resources networks, training in computer application, and intellectual property rights and related issues. Under this scheme CAPART has sanctioned 112 projects involving assistance of Rs 4.18 crores. Under RIDS, programmes for rural innovative habitat development, integrated environmental sanitation rural infrastructure development, .etc, are promoted. CAPART has sanctioned 27 projects under the RIDs scheme, involving assistance include capacity building of PRI functionaries, promotional workshops, and training of rural unemployed youth for sustainable and gainful employment. For imparting skills training to one lakh unemployed youth from 50 backward districts of the country, 29 Nodal NGOs have been identified and training imparted to their representatives. Under the EWSCTD scheme, SAPART undertakes capacity building of NGOs. It has sanctioned 20 projects under this scheme (till 31.12.2005) involving an assistance of Rs.1.11 crores. CAPART incurred total expenditure of Rs. 55.05 crores during 2004-05.