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Democracy is based upon the equitable distribution of nation’s resources among its citizens and the insurance of lives of the last people in the queue. Marginalized sections are those who are not ensured with the basic necessities of life and thus sidelined. In modern times these necessities include “Roti, Kapda, Makan, Health and Education”. If these things are guaranteed the spirit of our constitution will be strengthened. When women are protected, poor people are employed, disabled are given respect and dignity and SC/ST/OBC are giver equitable rights the concept of welfare state comes into picture.
The Human Development Index replicates these realities on ground level.Scheduled caste/Scheduled tribes are the main victim of discrimination in India. Vedic cultural literatures like Vedas, Brahmanas, Puranas have discriminiatory remarks on Shudras and women. Story of shambuka in ramayan and Eklavya in Mahabharata depicts the actual conditions of shudras. Untouchability takes its root from there only. Today they are struggling for caste discrimination, job discrimination, status discrimination etc. People form Scheduled Caste were called Harijans by Mahatma Gandhi so that there status is enhanced. They are facing mob lynching in the name of cow protection. They are often unable to use public goods like wells and cannot perform marriage rituals.
Due to isolated cultural and social identity the condition of Scheduled Women are other marginalized section in our society. They the problem of sexual harassment, discrimination in labor force, wage discrimination, freedom of choice, female infanticide, honor killing, child marriage, less political representatives, educational, marital rape, domestic violence, witchcraft accusations, health problems, malnutrition, high MMR, religious restrictions, employment restrictions, no property rights, acid attacks etc. Women reservation bill is pending for a very long period of time. Female farmers in rural areas have not been given status of a farmers so they further face economic restrictions.
Children in India are facing huge challenge of sexual abuse, mal nutrition, child labor and child trafficking. Education system after implementation of the Right to Education Act have shown some hope but many discrepancies/amendments in the act have delayed the learning outcome expected. Children face the different health problems such as HIV/AIDS, stunting, infant mortality rate, under five mortality rate. They are facing the problems of health and care, homelessness, violence, poverty, hunger etc. The physiological, psychological, financial, sociological and emotional challenges faced by them are increasing in intensity.
Sexual minorities are one section who are mostly neglected by both society and the government. They face the challenges in financial, social, physical abuse and violence. Their right to have sexual orientation was recently recognized by the honorable Supreme Court. The atrocities upon them was the result of British era law which criminalizes different sexual orientation. The problems faced by minority today are problem of identity, security and equity, poverty mob lynching, anti-national tag, illiteracy, communal violence (UP, Bihar, WB), lack of job opportunity, alienation from mainstream, problem of prejudice and discrimination, unsafe distinct Social and Cultural Life, lack of representation in jobs, politics and bureaucracy, problem of separatism separate statehood demand in NE), Problem relating to the introduction of Common Civil Code.
Disabled people have been protected by the constitution of India through various articles like article 13(1). Article 17, article 21, article 23 and article 32, yet they face problems like inaccessibility in government infrastructures, low representation, lack of health policy for them, educational problems, institutional and legislature barriers. People from North East are discriminated based on their culture, language, race and body language. They are facing the challenge of government indifference in terms of policy making. The insurgency situation and racial violence in North East have made the situation more vulnerable. The frequent migrants from nearby border nations, its strategic location and the essence of separatism are factors which have keep them away from development. AFSPA in some states has not worked properly but alienated the people from these areas. 6th schedule has not been properly implemented which has eroded the cultural autonomy of the region.
Some other marginalized sections which have been neglected are, person with HIV/AIDS, migrants, unorganized workers, homeless people, ex-prisoners, drug and alcohol addicts, lone parents, unemployed persons etc.Constitutional and legislative provisions for the upliftment of marginalized sections in India:The scheduled caste and scheduled tribes are protected by the article of Indian constitution. Article 15 and 15(4) protect from discrimination, article 19 protects from influence of outer people into their territory, article 46 cares about their education, article 330,332, and 334 insures their representation in parliament and legislatures. National commission for SC and ST have been formed according to article 338. 5th and 6th schedules have been there for their administrative and welfare autonomy. Apart from these they have been protected by the parliament and state legislatures. Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act-1989, Forest rights act-2006, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA are some of them.
Women are protected by the constitutional provisions such as equality before law, nondiscrimination and special provisions ,equality in employment, livelihood and equal pay maternity relief ,educational and economic benefits, adequate nutrition , special reservations in panchayats and municipality .They are also protected by legal measures such as IPC sections, the protection of women from domestic violence act, 2005, Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act.
Recenty the honorable Supreme Court has criminalized the marital rape, which is another important law for the women population. Children in India are protected by Article14 equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws. Article 15 (3) special provision . Article 21 (A) provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen. Article 23 prohibits trafficking of human beings and forced labor. Article 24 for protection of children in factory. Article 45 provides early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years. Elderly people have been provide various benefits to support their lives. Insurance scheme, income tax benefits, food security, pension schemes are some of them.
Section 377 of IPC used to criminalize the sexual activities against the order of the nature but recently Supreme Court has set aside the section and gave the freedom of sexual orientation to a large section in the country. The section was in violation of the fundamental rights given by the constitution of India.Article 25, 26, 27, 28 of the Indian constitution provide the religious freedom to the people from religious minorities. It also protects their cultural and linguistic uniqueness. India has signed UN convention for disabed 2006. Sugamya Bharat Abhiyan, Deendayal disabled rehabilitation scheme, credit and insurance schemes, scholarship schemes and 3% quota in government job are supporting the disabaled people. Now they are called Divyang which is very positive and empowering move. Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 will empower them with great opportunities.
Government intervention for the welfare of marginalized section:Both central government and state governments intervene to bring the marginalized sections into the mainstream. Some of the interventions are in the form of legislatures as discussed above and some are in the form of schemes/programmes/projects.Some of the schemes for SC/ST/OBC are Schedule Caste Sub Plan, Tribal Sub Plan, Stand Up India, Van Bandhu Yojna, Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship, National Commission for Backward classes.For women many schemes have been launched such as Swadhar Greh Scheme, Ujjawala Scheme, Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) Scheme..National AIDS Control Programme, National Aids Prevention and Control Policy, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Disease (AIDS) Prevention and Control Act are programmes for AIDS affected people. India runs the second largest antiretroviral therapy programme in the world.
Kunwar Bai, a 105 years elderly woman from Kotabharri village in Kawardha district of Chhattisgarh was facilitated by the Prime Minister of India for overcoming financial challenges by selling her only source of livelihood. Later a film was made on her story namely “Bakri Barabar Shauchalaya”, which won the 3rd price by National Film Development Corporation in short film category. The learning from this real life story is that if a marginalised citizen have the confidence in the government schemes he/she will be empowered irrespective of his/her challenges. The democratic rights only are not sufficient for equaitable distribution of public resources, the implementation by the executives such as polititians, bureaucrats and other machinery are very important and then only the democracy will be strengthened.
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