The Government has undertaken a series of initiatives for social justice and empowerment. Ekatmakta, Samata and Samajik Samrasta are the guiding principles in this direction. This was stated on April 15 by Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment while addressing a Press Conference on “Major Social Welfare Initiatives” to mark the Birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. Shri Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment was also present.
Shri Gehlot informed the media persons that 14 scholarship schemes for Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes (OBCs) / Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes (DNTs) students covering 3.54 crore students are under digital payment. All Scholarship amount are released to students’ bank account and there is 60% Aadhaar seeding in SC student bank account. Educational Empowerment for SCs is through scholarships, hostels for students, coaching facilities, capital for creation/upgradation of premises, institution etc. The Government of India believes that Education for all is the key to empowerment. M/o SJE implements seven different types of scholarships, which include: Post and Pre-Matric Scholarships; Top Class Scholarship; National Overseas Scholarships; National Fellowship for Scheduled Castes administered by the UGC; Pre-Matric Scholarship for Children of those engaged in unclean occupations; Free Coaching for Scheduled Castes and OBCs (70: 30 ratio); and Upgradation of merit. Nearly 54 % of Budget of the M/o SJ&E is incurred on scholarships for Scheduled castes.
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 has been amended and enforced with effect from 26.1.2016. It is now mandated that the trial for atrocities against SC/ST be completed within two months from the date of filing the charge sheet. The amended Rules, 2016 under the Act came into effect from 14th April, 2016. Relief for new offences and existing offences has been enhanced. For the first time, offences of rape and gang-rape have been included.
Referring to Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of SCs, Shri Gehlot said that the scheme of Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes was launched in 2014-15 with unique feature of higher level of loans from Rs.50 lakhs to Rs.15 crores for SC entrepreneurs. Till date Loans amounting to Rs.236.66 crores to 65 Scheduled Caste entrepreneurs has been sanctioned in different areas.
Shri Gehlot said that under Entrepreneurship, over 17 lakh people have benefitted from subsidy given for loan taken for economic activities in the last three years under Scheduled Caste Sub Plan. Over 8.12 lakh beneficiaries have been given loans by the Corporations for entrepreneurships in the last three years.
He informed that a new scheme “Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana” has been launched recently for distribution of Aids and Assisted Living Devices to Senior Citizens, which will help them to overcome their age related physical impairment and to lead a dignified and productive life with minimal dependence on care givers or other members of the family. The ambitious Scheme, first of its kind in the country is expected to benefit 5,20,000 Senior Citizens over a period of the 3 years.
He said that in memory of Dr. Ambedkar, his Ministry launched following three schemes in 2014-15: (1) Dr. Ambedkar Pre And Scholarship Scheme for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes (DNTs) for facilitating the nomadic community students to pursue education; (2) Dr. Ambedkar Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) for providing assistance in form of scholarship to Economically Backward Classes students pursuing higher education; and (3) Dr. Ambedkar Interest Subsidy Scheme for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Economically Backward Classes (EBCs) to study abroad. The scheme aims to help the needy OBCs and EBCs students to pursue higher studies abroad.
Shri Gehlot further said that under the Dr. Ambedkar Medical Aid Scheme, medical aid is provided to the patients suffering from serious ailments requiring surgery of kidney, heart, liver, cancer and brain or any other life threatening diseases including organ transplant and spinal surgery to the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe persons.
He said that the following places relating to Dr. Ambedkar such as Janam Bhoomi, Mhow, Shiksha Bhoomi 10, King Henry Road, London, Deeksha Bhoomi, Nagpur, Parinirvan Bhoomi, 26, Alipur Road, New Delhi and Chaitya Bhoomi, Dadar, Mumbai were declared ‘Panchtirth’ by the Government of India.
The Minister said that Dr. Ambedkar Foundation finalized a plan for developing prominent places associated with Dr. Ambedkar. An amount of Rs.1,36,000,00/- has been approved for development of Memorial at Mahad. Mahad Satyagraha was led by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar on 20th March, 1927 to allow downtrodden to use water from a public tank. An amount of Rs.4,36,90,685/- has been released to DM, Nagpur for Museum Building at Chincholi, Maharashtra.