The challenges of exclusion and inclusion
Governments of developing countries are increasingly offering socio-economic assistance programs for the poor and underprivileged segments of their populations. The World Bank report, The State of Social Safety Nets, finds that up to 171 developing countries are implementing at least one type of direct cash transfer assistance (DCTB) program. Nobel Prize-winning economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo suggest such programs in their book “Poor Economics: Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty” to overcome poverty in developing countries and empower poor and disadvantaged groups.
Brazil, in the mid-1980s, implemented the assistance programs described above, and is among the first countries to have done so. Following the success of Brazil, these programs were extended to other Latin American countries, Caribbean countries and countries of sub-Saharan Africa from the 1990s. A little later, Asian countries such as Indonesia and India have also set up various assistance programs. Particularly in India, the state governments and the Union government have put in place such programs to respect the commitments enshrined in the guiding principles of state policy and the fundamental rights provided for in the Constitution of the India.
In addition, governments should also follow through on commitments made to the international community on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Assistance programs in India cover both promotional economic security and protective social security. The recent initiative of the Telangana government’s flagship program “Dalit Bandhu” can be seen and understood in this historical context. Dalit Bandhu is the largest money transfer program in India. The program aims to cover seventy lakh of listed caste (SC) families in the state with an estimated budget of 1.7 lakh crore rupees.
Besides being the largest money transfer program in the country, offering ten lakh rupees to each beneficiary family, Dalit Bandhu has distinct characteristics compared to other such programs. Dalit Bandhu does not seek any bank guarantees from beneficiaries, unlike other similar programs. It is not a loan either. Therefore, beneficiaries are not required to repay the amount they receive under the plan. Another feature is the absence of intermediaries, as eligible beneficiaries will receive the aid amount directly into their bank account.
The uniqueness of the program also extends to the government’s plans to create the “Dalit Security Fund” – a body of work to deal with all the hardships beneficiaries face. District collectors, as well as a committee of beneficiaries, will manage the corpus fund. In addition, all beneficiaries would be provided with an identity card with electronic chip so that the government can follow the progress of the device.
Why only Dalits? Dalits are among the poorest communities in the state and the country. The previous program aimed specifically at them, such as the ‘Three-Acre Land Distribution Plan’, has not been able to make significant progress due to the inherent problems associated with the non-availability of land in the villages and villages. other delicate issues related to them (such as with the land acquisition process). In addition, the state’s largest direct cash transfer program, the “Raithu Bandhu”, only marginally benefits SCs due to the historically “landless” nature of these communities, considered the largest group. of landless workers in rural areas.
Therefore, Dalit Bandhu aims to overcome the problems encountered while administering the previous diets. The government, in the future, may consider expanding similar programs to communities of denotified / nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes and more backward classes in the state, as they are equally poor and disadvantaged.
How can the Dalit Bandhu succeed in achieving his goals of empowering and promoting entrepreneurship among Dalit families? It would depend on the long-term political will of the ruling government and its trustees to implement the program beyond electoral perspectives and actively address any issues that may emerge in the implementation processes. The system begins with around thirty choices for beneficiaries in rural, semi-urban and urban areas. The listed items can be broadly categorized into three types: production-oriented, marketing-oriented, service-oriented and a combination of the three. All of this requires inclusion and cooperation on the part of the market and society as a whole.
All over the world, direct transfer benefit programs are used to break the vicious cycle of poverty and achieve social equity and improved human capital. The whole mechanism is a push towards building structural stability in societies. This is also true in India and in the case of Dalit Bandhu. Indian scenarios, however, present complex issues. Entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial work by Dalit families is not easy, especially in rural and semi-urban areas. Despite the rhetorical saying in Telangana that all communities call each other using their relationship labels in rural areas, the practice of excluding Dalits by non-Dalits is still prevalent in rural areas. Contemporary realities also present success stories where economic and entrepreneurial development has led to changing the behavioral aspects of exclusion and hitherto disadvantaged sections to carve out their own spaces for social inclusion.
In addition, the existing competition in the sectors of activity concerned could constitute significant challenges encountered in the field. Therefore, the problem is not in the inputs and supply of the money transfer, but in provisioning to meet the constraints on the demand side – translating the money into concrete and achievable results.
In conclusion, these diagrams are evolutionary projects, and they should be closely monitored and scrutinized to keep up with the problems that accumulate. As with any program or project, direct transfer benefit programs like Dalit Bandhu also have their perspectives and concerns. What is then needed is a systematic and periodic assessment to ensure an effective deployment of the Dalit Bandhu – in terms of the costs, benefits and problems arising from its implementation and the mechanisms employed to address them.
(The author is professor of political science (retired), University of Osmania)