Scheduled caste

Due to the caste system prevailing in India, the sutras have been exploited for the ages.

They were denied the right to education and thus were left languishing behind, socially and economically.

Such people have been categorized into Scheduled Castes.

Problems Faced by Scheduled Castes


  • A major proportion of the lower castes and Dalits are still dependent on others for their livelihood.
  • Dalits do not refer to a caste but suggest a group who are in a state of oppression, and social disability and who are helpless and poor.
  • They have meager purchasing power; have poor housing conditions; lack or have low access to resources and entitlements.


  • In rural India, they are landless poor agricultural labourers attached to rich landowners from generations or poor casual labourers doing all kinds of available work.

Low-paid workers:

  • In the city, they are the urban poor employed as wage labourers at several work sites, beggars, vendors, small service providers, domestic help, etc., living in slums and other temporary shelters without any kind of social security.

Structural discrimination:

  • Structural discrimination against these groups takes place in the form of physical, psychological, emotional and cultural abuse which receives legitimacy from the social structure and the social system.
  • Physical segregation of their settlements is common in the villages forcing them to live in the most unhygienic and inhabitable conditions.

Poor health:

  • All these factors affect their health status, access to healthcare, and quality of health service received.
  • There are high rates of malnutrition reported among marginalized groups resulting in mortality, morbidity and anaemia.
  • Access to and utilization of healthcare among marginalized groups is influenced by their socioeconomic status within society.
  • Structural discrimination directly impedes equal access to health services by way of exclusion.
  • The negative attitude of health professionals towards these groups also acts as a barrier to receiving quality healthcare from the health system.


  • They were earlier referred to as ‘untouchables’ mainly due to their low occupations i.e., cobbler, scavenger, sweeper.
  • In a caste-dominated country like India, Dalits who comprise nearly 16.6% of the Indian population (160 million approx), stand as a community whose human rights have been severely violated.


  • The members of these groups face systemic violence in the form of denial of access to land, good housing, education and employment.

Poor literacy:

  • Their literacy level is only 66.1 per cent as compared to the all-India level of 73 per cent.
  • Female literacy among them is as low as 56.5 per cent against an all-India female literacy level of 64.6 per cent.
  • In the case of women, discrimination increases by the complex mix of two factors-being a woman and being a member of a marginalized community.
  • A large proportion of Dalit girls drop out of primary school in spite of reservations and academic aptitude, because of poverty, humiliation, isolation or bullying by teachers and classmates and punishment for scoring good grades (National Commission Report for SC/ST, 2000).

Constitutional Provisions for the SC

Art. 15(4): Clause 4 of Article 15 is the fountainhead of all provisions regarding compensatory discrimination for SCs/STs.

Art. 15 (5): This clause was added in the 93rd amendment in 2005 and allows the state to make special provisions for backward classes or SCs or STs for admissions in private educational institutions, aided or unaided.

Art.16 (4): This clause allows the state to reserve vacancies in public service for any backward classes of the state that are not adequately represented in the public services.

Art.16 (4A): This allows the state to implement reservation in the matter of promotion for SCs and STs.

Art.16 (4B): This allows the state to consider unfilled vacancies reserved for backward classes as a separate class of vacancies not subject to a limit of 50% reservation.

Art. 17: This abolishes untouchability and its practice in any form.

Towards this end, the Protection of Civil Rights Act of 1955 was enacted.

  • It has implemented several measures to eradicate this evil from the society. It stipulates up to 6 months imprisonment or a 500 Rs fine or both.
  • It impresses upon the public servant to investigate fully any complaint in this matter and failing to do so will amount to abetting this crime.
  • In the case of the State of Kar. vs Appa Balu Ingle, SC upheld the conviction for preventing a lower caste person from filling water from a bore well.
  • In the Asiad Projects Workers case, SC has held that right under Art 17 is available against private individuals as well and it is the duty of the state to ensure that this right is not violated.

Art. 46: Enjoins the states to promote with care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections, especially SC and STs.

Art. 330/332: Allows reservation of seats for SC/ST in the parliament as well as in state legislatures.

Art. 335: Allows relaxation in qualifying marks for admission in educational institutes or promotions for SCs/STs.

In the case of State of MP vs Nivedita Jain, SC held that complete relaxation of qualifying marks for SCs/STs in Pre-Medical Examinations for admission to medical colleges is valid.

Art. 338/338A/339: Establishes a National Commission of SCs and STs.

Art. 339: allows the central govt. to direct states to implement and execute plans for the betterment of SC/STs.

Art. 340: Allows the president to appoint a commission to investigate the condition of socially and economically backward classes and table the report in the parliament.

Welfare Schemes for SCs

  • Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana
  • Post-Matric Scholarship for SC Students
  • Pre-Matric Scholarships for the Children of Those Engaged in Unclean Occupations ·
  • Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers ·
  • National Overseas Scholarships for Scheduled Castes (SC).  
  • Scheme of free Coaching for SC and OBC Students
  • National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation (NSFDC) is a statutory body set up for promoting entrepreneurship among scheduled cast members.
  • National Commission for Safai Karamcharis: it is a statutory body to protect and promote the interests of Safai Karmacharis.
  • National Commission for scheduled caste: it is a constitutional body set for the protection of the interests of Scheduled castes.
  • Stand up India: this scheme provides loans to women entrepreneurs of Scheduled caste


  • A National Action Plan for free-of-cost skilling of marginalized persons covering SCs, OBCs, EBCs, DNTs, and Sanitation workers including waste pickers.
  • Stipend of Rs.1,000 to Rs.1,500 per month per trainee for trainees having 80% and above attendance in short-term and long-term training.
  • Trained candidates will be provided placement after assessment and certification

Swachhta Udyami Yojna

  • It is aimed at providing a livelihood to Safai Karmacharis, liberating Manual Scavengers and promoting cleanliness.
  • NSKFDC provides concessional loans to –
  1. Entrepreneurs among safai karmacharis identified manual scavengers including women.

2. For viable community toilet projects and sanitation-related vehicles to collect the garbage

Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan

It is a National Campaign for Dignity and Eradication of Manual Scavenging.

Ambedkar Social Innovation and Incubation Mission (ASIIM)

Implemented through Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes, it aims to promote entrepreneurship among Scheduled Castes students in higher education.

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