Caste, Urban Spaces and the State: Dalits in Telangana
The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy
23 Nov, 2015
This report, by The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, looks at the caste politics in Telangana soon after the state was formed in 2014. More specifically, it looks at the state’s policy towards Dalits or the Scheduled Castes (SCs). The Centre, an offshoot of The Hindu Group of Publications (also known as Kasturi & Sons Ltd), focuses on research on constitutional concepts.
The report also analyses the tools available to Dalits in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to understand how the reservation policy for Scheduled Castes shaped inclusion in the public and private sectors. For this, the report’s authors conducted a survey of 216 respondents in four Dalit neighbourhoods (bastis) of Hyderabad. It found that notions of impurity and inferiority still dictated the occupations and livelihoods of Dalits.The report highlights some of the challenges faced by Dalits and discusses the effectiveness of policies related to them in pre- and post-bifurcated Andhra Pradesh.
The Open Government Data Platform run by the central government says that the Government of India recognises 59 SCs in Andhra Pradesh. Of these, 48 per cent are Madiga, 40 per cent are Mala or Mala Ayawaru, 2 per cent are Adi Dravida, and 1 per cent each are Adi Andhra, Buduga Jangam, Mala Sale and Relli.
A movement for the sub-categorisation of SCs led to an ordinance in 1999 to sub-divide available government jobs (22.5 per cent) into four groups based on each community’s level of ‘backwardness’. The subsequent Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes (Rationalisation of Reservations) Act, 2000 was declared unconstitutional in 2004 by a five-judge bench with a majority of 4 to 1.
In December 2012, a bill was passed in the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly to increase the budgetary allocation for the welfare of SCs and STs (Scheduled Tribes) to 16 per cent. This matched the proportion SCs and STs in the state’s population. That year, the budgetary allocation for SC/ST welfare was approximately 9.3 per cent – much less than the target of 16 per cent.
Describing AP as one of the most ‘progressive’ states in the country, the report of the Committee for Consultations on the Situation in Andhra Pradesh, chaired by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, said: “It could arguably be said that this very progress has led Telangana to revive the demand for a separate state in order to gain greater political space and to bridge more rapidly the remaining, though diminishing, disparities.”
Among other arguments, the report provides this fact to support this observation: According to the National Sample Survey’s 64th round, 39.3 per cent of SCs in Hyderabad were in the public services, and their share of jobs increased by 15.1 per cent from 1999 to 2008.
In 2014, the backward caste population in the Telangana region of AP (before the bifurcation) was higher than that in the Seemandhra region. The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and minorities comprised around 90 per cent of the Telangana region’s total population.
After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the newly-divided Ministry of Social Welfare implemented its welfare schemes for SCs through the Scheduled Caste Development Department, mainly though the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes Cooperative Financial Corporation and the Telangana State Scheduled Castes Cooperative Financial Corporation.
The report says it was difficult to implement the SCSP in rural areas as was ensuring that only SCs and STs were its beneficiaries. Thus, the SCSP looked more like a tool for rural and urban poverty alleviation than for the upward mobility of Dalits and tribal people.
According to a 2014 study (quoted in this report), from 1990 to 1998, “the absolute number of Dalit firm owners in agricultural, manufacturing, and mining and quarrying sectors declined by 3.8 per cent, 63.6 per cent and 16 per cent respectively.” Most sectors saw a significant increase in Dalit ownership from 1998 to 2005, but a “notable decline of 33 per cent in the sectors of health, education, and community and personal services.”
Factoids and Focus compiled by Ragini Rao Munjuluri.