Economy

Budget 2018: NDA’s tribal development scheme reduced to tokenism

Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana was introduced in 2014 for the overall development of tribal communities

 
By Ishan Kukreti
Last Updated: Thursday 25 January 2018
On December, 12, 2016, the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor told the Lok Sabha that Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana will only retain a token sum of Rs 1 crore.Credit: Vikas/CSE
On December, 12, 2016, the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor told the Lok Sabha that Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana will only retain a token sum of Rs 1 crore.Credit: Vikas/CSE On December, 12, 2016, the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor told the Lok Sabha that Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana will only retain a token sum of Rs 1 crore.Credit: Vikas/CSE

Three years after the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) introduced Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY), a new scheme for the overall development of tribal communities, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) has cut back the entire fund allocated to states.  

While in 2014 the scheme was implemented in 10 states with Rs 100 crore allocated to each state, in 2015-16, it was implemented in 21 states with an allocation for Rs 200 crore to each state.

However, in 2016-17, the allocation to VKY was slashed. On December12, 2016, the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Jaswantsinh Sumanbhai Bhabhor told the Lok Sabha that the scheme will only retain a token sum of Rs 1 crore.

“In 2016-17, no budgetary allocation was made as VKY objectives are being met from the Tribal Sub Plan funds available under the various schemes of the central government and state government. A token provision of Rs 1 crore only was made,” he said.

But data shows that even the amount released for the Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) has been slashed. Data shows that funds released by the Centre towards TSP were reduced by 10 per cent from 2013 to 2017.   

Year Funds released under SCA to TSP (in lakh)
2013-14 1,05,000
2014-15 1,03,999
2015-16 1,13,217
2016-17 93,599
Source: Rajya Sabha


Schemes under education also took a steep hit. For instance, funds for hostels for Scheduled Tribe students were reduced by 94 per cent. Funds for pre-matric scholarships for ST students in IXth and Xth standard saw a drop of more than 75 per cent.

Schemes under education also took a hit. For instance, funds for hostels for Scheduled Tribe students were reduced by 94 per cent. Funds for pre-matric scholarships for ST students in IXth and Xth standard saw a drop of more than 75 per cent. Scheme Funds in lakhs
2013-14
Funds in lakhs
2016-17
Hostels for ST Boys and Girls  10,105 595
Ashram schools in Tribal Sub-Plan 7,217 No funds released
Scheme of Pre-Matric scholarship for ST students studying in classes IX & X 21,943 5,211
National Overseas scholarship 68 0
National Fellowship and Scholarship for Higher Education for ST students 950 504
Source: Lok Sabha


Funds also decreased for the economic development of tribals, who are in the lowest rung of the economic ladder. About 45 per cent of them live Below Poverty Line in rural areas and 24 per cent in urban areas. Funds for Skill Development and Vocational Training (income generation) were slashed by more than 50 per cent in the last four budgets.

Year Fund released for Skill Development and Vocational Training (income generation)  (in lakhs)
2014-15 37,296
2015-16 27,946
2016-17 20,229
2017-18 16,456 (Funds approved)


This is when the Union Budget 2017-18 document shows an overall increase in the allocation made to the tribal affairs ministry from Rs 4,826 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 5,329 crore in 2017-18.

The increased allocation is solely because of the increase in  revenue expenditure, which neither creates assets nor reduces liabilities. It involves salaries of employees and pension. The revenue expenditure increased from Rs 4,766 in 2016-17 to Rs 5,269 in 2017-18. The capital expenditure (that creates assets and reduces liabilities,mostly involving building infrastructure, expenditure on development plans) during the same time period remained stagnant at Rs 60 crore, less than in 2014-15 (Rs 70 crore).

Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojna focuses on:

Employment, education, economic development of tribal areas, health, housing
safe drinking water for all at doorstep, irrigation facilities suited to the terrain, all-weather roads with connectivity to the nearby town/ cities, universal availability of electricity, urban development, institutional mechanism for implementation, promotion and conservation of tribal cultural heritage, promotion of sports, security.

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  • No matter in this scheme or that, the funds earmarked for the tribes ought to be spent efficiently on them...... with visible results on the ground. Eating into important spending while doling out billions of rupees worth of tax exemptions to big capitalists doesn't behoove a regime that identifies itself as welfare govt.

    Posted by: GUEST | 10 months ago | Reply