Time and again we all have heard Narendra Modi saying a Sanskrit shloka “ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः। सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः। सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु। मा कश्चित् दुःख भाग्भवेत्॥ (May all be prosperous and happy, may all be free from disease, may all see what is spiritual uplift, may no one suffer).” Hinting clearly that his government shall work towards inclusive development. This idea of inclusive growth is not just for election campaign speech but is a commitment of the Modi government.
The decision of union to provide an outlay of Rs 59,000 crore to post-matric scholarship scheme for students from Scheduled Caste is just a step towards such inclusive growth. As Dr BR Amedkar thought education for all is the only way a nation can progress. The Union’s decision is in fact realisation of Ambedkar’s dream. This is a big push for education and will help increase the gross enrolment ratio of Scheduled Caste students in higher education.
Presently, the scheme is going to benefit four crore Scheduled Caste students. The central government will spend 60 per cent of the programme which is estimated at Rs 35,534 and the rest will be provided by state governments. As mentioned by the cabinet the focus of this scheme shall be on enrolling the poorest students, timely payments, comprehensive accountability, continuous monitoring and total transparency. This comes as a ray of hope and enthusiasm to those poor students who were facing financial challenges for pursuing higher education.
For more than seven decades, Scheduled Castes have remained at the lowest level of the socio-economic pyramid. What has caused more damage to the growth of this section of the demography is the policy of token representation adapted by many previous governments. That is one reason why nothing substantial has been achieved for Scheduled Castes — who refer to themselves also as Dalits — in terms of health and education. The Indian National Congress for years have patronised Scheduled Castes but have never considered them as partners or stakeholders in the country’s development.
The INC never went beyond mere token representation, they systematically relegated leaders like BR Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram to margins and restricted them as mere Scheduled Caste leaders. The modern-day youth from this class is quite different from their previous generations. Now the ‘Dalit’ youth aspires for real opportunities and not merely namesake tokenism. The youth now wishes to have better social acceptability and social prestige, which can be gained by accessibility to higher education and financial stability.
For the past six years, the government has come up with various schemes like Stand-Up India and MUDRA scheme which has greatly benefitted the youth from the SC community too. Apart from these general schemes, steps like venture capital fund for Scheduled Castes and credit enhancement guarantee plan have also benefited Scheduled Caste youth. Modi government is clearly thinking of giving actual benefits to the Scheduled Caste community. One might give credit to the prime minister’s humble background that he has empathy for the poor and downtrodden. Coming from extremely backward caste he understands the problems faced by the Scheduled Caste community.
In 2019, the union government had identified almost 2,700 villages where government programme will ensure better and speedy implementation of welfare schemes from both centre and state government to boost infrastructure and reduce socio-economic disparities. With such a vision of transparent governance and speedy development, the government is writing a new growth story which is deeply inclusive in its approach. Sustained economic development, political representation and educational opportunities, such as this post-matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Caste students, will ensure that members of these castes are an inseparable part of the New India growth story.