Karnataka

As corporations multiply, voiceless communities continue to languish

A snake charmer belonging to the Havadiga community, which is among the most backward castes that has been suggested for special package.  

Over the last two months, the State government has set up three corporations to develop Kadugolla, Maratha and Veerashaiva-Lingayat communities, even as pressure is mounting from other caste organisations for similar corporations. While the demand of communities that are politically more influential is being heard, those which have neither numerical strength nor political clout have remained on the fringe of development, observe experts.

The Backward Classes Commission in 2010, after a series of public consultations and ethnographic study, had recommended special packages to as many as 33 small backward communities that needed the attention of the government. Mostly nomadic/semi-nomadic and concentrated in North Karnataka, the strength of these communities in many instances could be as low as 500.

In cold storage

“However, the report went into cold storage and successive governments did not focus on efforts to bring these communities to mainstream. Many of them still do not get caste certificates that would enable children to take up education. Some do not even have voter ID cards,” rued former commission chairperson C.S. Dwarkanath, who had submitted the report. These communities neither have political representation nor numerical strength or economic power to have a say in electoral politics. He said that the Socio Economic Survey (or caste census), the report of which is yet to be submitted to the government, could hold the key in unlocking how castes have fared and the benefits that they have received.

It was only in 2019-20 that the government woke up to the issue and announced the Nomad Development Corporation, which is yet to start implementing schemes for these most backward communities. A provision of ₹78 crore has been made for all the nomadic and semi-nomadic communities.

A look at the budgetary provisions for various other castes points to the imbalance, as those with political clout have got a bigger share of the pie. Micro communities, despite requiring separate funds and diverse schemes, are often clubbed together for allocations.

Terming these communities as “orphan castes”, which are not politically significant, P.R. Ramesh, Congress MLC, said the government should prioritise the most backward communities for development.

“Unfortunately, even today members of many of these communities have not even found employment opportunities in the government, which is the failure of social justice. Even if there are schemes, they are not with long term vision,” he said, in his letter to the Chief Secretary on Monday. He also said that the creation of corporations without budgetary allocation is an attempt to take advantage of elections for votes.

However, a senior Backward Classes Department official said that it was difficult to separate each of the communities to implement government schemes, but acknowledged that the creation of more corporations were “political decisions”.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2021 1:30:44 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/as-corporations-multiply-voiceless-communities-continue-to-languish/article33179663.ece

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