Antim insaan ke saath, barabari ke liye


As the core values of the Constitution and the very idea of India as an egalitarian, pluralistic and inclusive society faces the greatest threat ever, the brunt is borne by the most vulnerable sections of our society. Aggressive majoritarianism and legitimised hate propaganda have created a formidable climate of fear and violence, with mounting discrimination and exclusions of vulnerable populations. Market fundamentalism, an exclusive focus on economic growth, elite capture and crony capitalism have resulted in vaulting inequalities which especially burden those impoverished populations who are further disadvantaged by gender, caste, tribe, ethnicity, disability and religious identity.

Systemic and structural changes are necessary to address the challenges faced by these groups. At the same time, for each of these excluded populations, it is necessary to secure greater inclusion by strengthening protective and affirmative action. A variety of carefully crafted policy measures to address each of these groups, need to be adopted.

Action points:

10.1 Enact a comprehensive Anti-Discrimination law and constitute an Equal Opportunity Commission to oversee implementation of such a law, which covers all vulnerable groups.

10.2 Prevent rising hate crimes against religious minorities and disadvantaged castes by creating criminal culpability of public officials with command responsibility who fail to prevent hate violence (on the lines of the recent Manipur law on lynching, the first in the country). Secure speedy justice by instituting fast-track courts. Provide significant relief and reparation for lynching and hate crimes.

10.3 Enact a law to reverse the burden of proof for NRC in Assam to the state authorities who claim that the person is a foreigner, instead of the current practice of placing the burden of proof on the alleged undocumented migrant to prove citizenship based on documents to establish their pre-1971 roots.

10.4 Establish an independent commission for looking into systemic injustice meted out to innocent Muslims incarcerated for long years under terror laws, and other such injustices.

10.5 Extend scholarships, on par with SC/ST, for Muslim girls to encourage higher enrolment and retention in school and adopt a policy of ensuring diversity in institutions of higher education.

10.6 Provide statutory backing for Tribal Sub-Plan and Special Component Plan. Introduce gender budgeting, minority development plans and disability plans – by restoring the planning process and the Planning Commission. In each district plan, ensure an inbuilt norm to have a percentage of funds allocated for minority locations in terms of roads, water supply, sewage, schools and medical facilities.

10.7 National mission to end manual scavenging and sewer workers death and full implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. Ensure requisite changes in technology and law to ensure dignity and safety of sanitation workers.

10.8 Establish an independent commission with appropriate powers to monitor and ensure proper implementation of the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and to look into atrocities against Dalit (SC) women. This should be supplemented with SC Commissions in every state, to provide oversight on the state and local governments actions in advancing the development rights of SCs, and also to prevent, investigate and punish atrocities against SCs.

10.9 Reversing tribal land alienation through a range of legislative measures including Gram Sabha’s participation in the identification, investigation and restoration of lands to tribal people. Improved Implementation of Forest Rights Act in the interests of forest dwelling tribal cultivators. Tribal gatherers should be free to find the best market for their products.

10.10 Introduce incentives like special tax benefits for employment of SC, ST and disabled candidates in the private sector.

10.11 Appoint a judicial commission to deal with the large-scale criminal targeting of tribal people in Maoist affected areas and to investigate criminal cases filed against tribals and their supporters who have been languishing in jail for years.

10.12 Undertake special measures for protection and development of denotified tribes, nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples – develop an entire package of educational, housing and other facilities for their survival.

10.13 All government created and allotted housing and house-sites should be done in the name of the woman head of household and must prioritise single woman headed households.

10.14 The requirement of giving father’s name must be changed to mother’s name to prevent stigma against single women and their children, as well as against sex workers.

10.15 Put in place effective protective legislation and regulations that protects women workers from sexual harassment in not just the formal, but also the informal sector.

10.16 Reworking of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016. Standard and dignified procedure for legal gender recognition and affirmative action and inclusion of gender/sexual minorities in all social welfare policies.

10.17 Clear policy for effective infrastructure and service provision to allow for persons with disabilities (PWDs) including those with psychiatric disabilities, to live a dignified life in the community. All policies and schemes of the government and public institutions must be required to carry out disability audits and ensure accessibility of all public spaces and transport for PWDs, implementation of reservations, childcare for disabled persons and effective ICDS integration of all disabled children.

10.18 Households with PWDs should have first claim on all land distribution programs of government surplus lands as well as ceiling surplus lands. Employment guarantees must provide for inclusion of PWDs. Proper enumeration of PWDs must be undertaken.

10.19 Community Kitchens- Affordable and nutritious cooked food and highly subsidised prices, which would protect the destitute aged and sick, as well as single migrants.