Free Press Journal

Govt gives Rs 200 cr to IFCI to fund SC entrepreneurs: Thawar Chand Gehlot


Thawar Chand Gehlot

The mandate of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is to build an inclusive society, wherein members of the target groups can lead productive, safe and dignified lives with adequate support for their growth and development. In this interview with the Free Press Journal, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot shares his Ministry’s perspective

Can you outline some of the initiatives taken by your Ministry to empower your target groups?

Scholarship Schemes

Scholarships are provided to the students belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) etc to ensure that education is not denied due to the poor financial condition of their families. Scholarships are provided at pre-matric and post-matric levels and also for obtaining higher education in India and abroad. The Scholarships can broadly be classified into the following three types:

i) Pre Matric Scholarship: The objective of the pre-matric Scholarship Scheme is to support SC, OBC children and the children of people engaged in unclean occupations. During 2014-15, under the Scheme, Rs. 624.60 crore were spent for providing scholarship to approximately 1.61 crore students.

ii) Post Matric Scholarship: During 2014-15, under the Scheme, Rs. 2744.31 crore were spent for providing scholarship to approximately 1.44 crore students.

iii) Scholarships for Higher Education:

a) In 2014-15 an amount of Rs 19.29 crore was spent for providing scholarships to 1563 students and the number of Institutions raised from 207 to 212.

b) Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship Scheme provides financial assistance to SC students for pursuing research studies leading to M.Phil, Ph.D and equivalent research degrees. Around 5,500 beneficiaries were provided financial assistance amounting to Rs 148.85 crore under the Scheme in 2014-15.

c) Dr. Ambedkar Post Matric Scholarship for the EBCs- This is a new scheme launched in 2014-15 and is same as the ongoing scheme for the OBCs. A Grant of Rs .050 crore was released to the State of Rajasthan in 2014-15.

d) Educational loans amounting to Rs.32.61 crore were released by National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation, National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation and the National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation to 4592 students.

Scheme for Coaching of SC/OBC Students

The scheme aims to provide quality coaching to SC & OBC students aspiring to appear for competitive examinations conducted by UPSC, Staff Selection Commission, Banks, Railways and for admission in Engineering / Medical / MBA / Law courses. 6176 beneficiaries availed of this scheme in 2014-15 and an amount of Rs.8.14 crores was utilized.

What are some of the other steps taken by your ministry to promote financial inclusion among the socially backward strata in the country?

Skill Development

The skill development programme is being implemented by the three Finance and Development Corporations and one Institute under the Department of SJ&E-

  1. National Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corporation, New Delhi.
  2. National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation, New Delhi.
  3. National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation, New Delhi.
  4. National Institute of Social Defence, New Delhi.

Training has been imparted to the eligible target groups through reputed training institutes such as Apparel Training & Design Centre(ATDC), Electronics Corporation of India Ltd.(ECIL), National Institute for Entrepreneurship & Small Business Development (NIESBUD), Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology (CIPET), National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) and Regional Resource Training Centres etc.

A National Action Plan (NAP) has been formulated with the following components:

  1. A Project Monitoring Unit is being set up in the DEPwD in collaboration with MSDE.
  2. Vocational/skill training would be provided by a network of skill training providers, led by Training Partners both from Govt. and non-Govt. sectors including Vocational Rehabilitation Centres, run by Ministry of Labour & Employment.
  3. A separate Sector Skill Council for PwDs is being created in collaboration with MSDE.
  4. The NAP has a target of skilling 5 lakh PwDs in next 3 years (1 lakh in first year, 1.5 lakh in second year and 2.5 lakh in third year).

Loans, Micro-credit and Insurance

  1. During the year, the NSFDC, NBCFDC, NSKFDC and National Handicapped Finance & Development Corporation (NHFDC) have distributed Rs. 802.20 crore as loan to 16,81,633 beneficiaries belonging to the Scheduled Caste, Other Backward Classes, Safai Karamchari and Persons with Disabilities for self employment ventures.
  2. Under the Scheme of Self Employment for Manual Scavengers (SRMS), beneficiaries are provided loan at a subsidized rate of interest, and credit linked capital subsidy.
  3. National Trust for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities is running a unique health insurance scheme for Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities   providing health cover of Rs. 1.70 lakh, irrespective of age or other pre existing conditions. From May 2014 to April 2015, Rs. 4.97 Crore was released to 9372 beneficiaries.

Tell us about the achievements of your ministry, particularly with regards to Social Empowerment

Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989: Assistance is provided to States/ UTs for implementation of Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. In 2014-15, around 40,000 beneficiaries were provided assistance amounting to around Rs 147.10 crores under the Scheme.

Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse: Under the Scheme of Prevention for Alcoholism and Substance (Drugs) Abuse, online processing of proposals of Grant –in aid   has been implemented from the financial year 2014-15.

What are the steps taken to empower the Transgender Community?

Expert Committee on Transgender Persons: Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has been designated as the Nodal Ministry for Transgender Persons with effect from July 2012. In this regard, an Expert Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary (SJE) to make an indepth study of the problems being faced by the Transgender Community. The Committee has submitted its report on 27th January, 2014. Further, an Inter-Ministerial Committee has been constituted to pursue implementation of the Expert Committee’s recommendation in the light of Supreme Court’s Judgment which has held four meetings so far.

Rehabilitation of Beggars /Destitutes

  1. The Ministry’s approach towards addressing the problem of beggary is rehabilitative rather than punitive. A Draft Bill – Persons in Destitution (Protection, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill has been circulated to State Governments on 17th April, 2015 for their comments to prepare a Central Legislation on the subject.

Swavlamban Camps: 31 Mega Camps for distribution of aids and assistive devices were organized from June 13, 2014 to May 3, 2015, covering 14 States.

Information Technology Initiatives

In order to provide single window facility and avoid undue hassles for the beneficiaries the following steps have been initiated:

  1. e-Scholarship Portal: With the active technical support of Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY), Centre for Good Governance (CGG), Hyderabad and NIC-Bhopal, the national portal for e-Scholarship is being developed.
  2. E-Tracking of loans disbursed by NBCFDC: The NBCFDC has till date disbursed loan amounting to Rs.300 crore benefitting over 3 lakh OBC applicants through the State channelizing Agencies (SCAs). The corporation has adopted a e-tracking software to improve recovery of the outstanding dues.
  3. The NBCFDC has prepared e-marketing module for the products manufactured by the weaker sections of the society. This will enhance marketability and demand of these handicraft items. NBCFDC has signed MoU with GoCoop, an e-marketing agency for the cooperative societies in the country.
  4. A “Job portal for the PwDS” for facilitating employment of PwDs has been developed through NHFDC.
  5. The Department has also, in collaboration with TIFAC (an autonomous body under the Department of Science & Technology), launched a dedicated web portal (Swavlamban. Info) to act as repository of information on aids and appliances.
  6. For improving transparency, and simplifying the application procedure, under the two important schemes of the Department namely Deen Dayal Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) and ADIP, an on-line system, developed by the NIC, has been introduced.

National Institutes

The total number of rehabilitation services provided by National Institutes i.e. National Institute for the Visually Handicapped (NIVH), Dehradun, National for the Orthopaedically Handicapped (NIOH), Kolkata National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH) Secunderabad, National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD), Chennai Swami Vivekanand National Institute for the Rehabilitation Training and Research(SVNIRTAR), Cuttack Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped (AYJNIHH) Mumbai, Pt. Deendayal Upadhayaya Institute for the Physically Handicapped, (PDUIPH), New Delhi during the year 2014-15 is 1019799 which is approximately 15% more than the last year.

What are the new policy level initiatives taken by your ministry towards the upliftment of disadvantaged groups?

Creation of ‘Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Caste Entrepreneurs’ Scheme: The objective of this Scheme is to promote entrepreneurship among the Scheduled Castes and to provide concessional finance to them. The scheme would be implemented by the Industrial Finance Corporation of India (IFCI) Limited to whom Rs. 200.00 Crore has been released.

Credit Enhancement Guarantee Scheme for the Scheduled Castes: The objective of the Scheme is to promote entrepreneurship among the scheduled castes and to facilitate concessional finance to them. The allocated budget of Rs. 200 crore has been released on 26.03.2015 to IFCI Limited.

Commercial Motor Driving Training with Self Defence Skills for Women: For the economic as well as social empowerment of women belonging to the to the category of safai Karamcharis, scavengers and their dependents, the NSKFDC has introduced a course of “Commercial Motor Driving Training with Self Defence Skills for Women”.

Green Business Scheme: Started by NSFDC and NSKFD the aim is to promote protected cultivation to support sustainable livelihoods of Scheduled Castes and Safai Karamcharis. Financial assistance would be provided for those economic activities that could address the challenges of climate change, e.g., E-rickshaw, solar pump and other instruments working on solar energy etc.

Establishment of the Indian Sign Language Research and Training (ISLRTC) at a cost of Rs.20 crore at New Delhi for development of common language of communication for deaf persons in the country.

A new scheme namely Awareness Generation & Publicity Scheme has been launched in September, 2014, with the objective of promoting awareness about the legal rights of PwDs and to sensitize society on causes leading to disabilities etc.