August 9, 2018
Bangla Government working for the welfare of backward classes
The State Backward Classes Welfare (BCW) Department has been working hard for the welfare of the people belonging to backward classes.
The department has provided caste certificates, reservation in the government sector and higher education, educational loans and scholarships, educational and job opportunities, healthcare facilities, and training in different skills.
Various Development and Cultural Boards and an Advisory Council have also been formed.
- The Backward Classes Welfare Department has introduced e-enabled services for the issuance of caste certificates, disbursement of all scholarships, running the hostel monitoring system and monitoring inter-caste marriage incentives schemes, resulting in transparency, speedy disposal, easy access and increased coverage during last seven years.
- The online processing of caste certificates is operational in all the subdivisions of the State. This has considerably increased the issuance of certificates per annum, to 8.50 lakh, from 2.5 lakh prior to 2011. During the last seven financial years (2011-12 to 2017-18), 64.83 lakh scheduled caste (SC) and other backward classes (OBC) certificates were issued. The time for processing caste certificates has also reduced to only four weeks.
- Approximately 41.24 lakh old caste certificates, issued since 1980, have been scanned and uploaded on to the department’s portal. Scanned old certificates are used for online verifications and referencing.
Reservation in Government sector and higher education
- The list of OBCs in Bengal has been extended to include an additional 107 Muslim communities. As a result, more than 97 per cent of the Muslim population of the State has been recognised as OBC and has thus become eligible for reservation in Government jobs and higher education.
- A total of 110 communities have been included as OBCs during the last seven years (Trinamool Congress Government), bringing the total to 176.
- 17 per cent reservation for OBCs has been granted by the West Bengal State Higher Education Institution (Reservation in Education) Act, 2013 without curtailing the general category seats.
- 17 per cent reservation in State Government jobs has also been introduced for OBCs.
Educational loans and scholarships
- In a first-of-its-kind initiative in India, educational loans with low rates of interest are being extended to ST students aspiring for technical, professional and higher education – upto Rs 10 lakh for studying full-time courses within the country and upto Rs 20 lakh for studying courses abroad in recognised institutions or universities.
- Introduction of online processing and disbursement of scholarships through direct benefit transfer (DBT) mode into the bank account of students has immensely benefited ST students. During the last seven years, 56.02 lakh SC and 32.54 lakh OBC students were provided scholarships. Pre-Matric scholarship for OBC students has also been brought under the e-governance system.
- The Sikshashree scholarship scheme was introduced during FY 2014-15 for ST students from classes V to VIII. Scholarship is paid directly into individual bank accounts through DBT mode. During 2014-15 to 2017-18, more than 48.46 lakh SC students were covered under the new scheme.
- During last seven years, around 3,500 SC students were awarded Ambedkar Medha Purashkar, which has a cash award of Rs 5,000, for their meritorious result in their 10th standard board examinations.
Educational and job opportunities
- To increase accessibility and reduce dropouts, the department has introduced the Sabooj Sathi scheme for providing bicycles to students from classes IX to XII. The BCW Department is the nodal department for Sabooj Sathi. A total of 70 lakh bicycles have been distributed.
- The implementation process is managed by a single-window portal – www.wbsaboojsathi.gov.in. Records of distribution are available in the public domain. The e-implemented scheme has won three national-level awards – National Award for e-Governance, Award of Excellence from the Computer Society of India and the Skoch Order of Merit Award for 2017-18.
Hostels for students
- To cater to the demands of outstation students, a number of hostels have been constructed. During the last seven years, 32 hostels have been constructed. Another five are at different stages of construction.
- Five hostels have been approved in the last seven years for post-matric OBC students.
- Three Ashram hostels for SC students (from classes I to X) from economically stressed families have become operative in the last seven years.
- Construction of ICDS centres in tribal-dominated areas in convergence with MGNREGA has been prioritised. Rs 54.36 crore is in the process of getting utilised for 1,070 centres.
- During last seven years, around 65,000 SC candidates, both male and female were provided skill training for different occupations. Out of them 52,000 have got jobs or are self-employed.
- ‘Ethnic Beauty Care’, that is, innovative skill training in beauty and personal care, has been declared as the single largest skill development initiative taken up by any State. Through this programme, 22,000 female SC beneficiaries have been provided livelihood opportunities in the beauty care segment.
- SC beneficiaries having low income are provided opportunities for self-employment in various sectors through loan and subsidy assistance. The average annual coverage of the scheme has been considerably increased by the Trinamool Congress Government to 60,000, from 35,000 before 2011. The per capita investment has also been increased considerably.
- The department has initiated special recruitment drive to fill up the backlog of vacancies in reserved categories in various State Government departments. During the first phase of the special recruitment drive (2014 to 2016), 4,142 people from SC communities have been recruited in different categories while during the second phase (2016 till date), 6,099 vacancies are in the process of being filled up.
Development and Cultural Boards and Advisory Council
- Ten new boards – West Bengal Mangar Development Board, West Bengal Khambu Rai Development Board, West Bengal Bhujel Development & Cultural Board, West Bengal Damai Development & Cultural Board, West Bengal Kami Development & Cultural Board, West Bengal Sarki Development & Cultural Board, West Bengal Newar Development & Cultural Board, West Bengal Gurung Development & Cultural Board, West Bengal Kurmi Development & Cultural Board’ and West Bengal Terai, Dooars, Siliguri Development & Cultural Board – were constituted for the welfare and development of the ten communities.
- A total of 3,203 number houses have been constructed through these boards from a departmental fund of Rs 139.30 lakh.
- For focused and intensive development of SCs of the State, the West Bengal Scheduled Castes Advisory Council has been constituted through an Act of the State Government, with the Chief Minister as the Chairperson. This step is a one-of-its-kind in the country.
- A new scheme titled Career Paramarsh Kendra (CPK) has been introduced with the objective of counselling students and job-seekers to enable them to choose right career path. Thirty CPKs have been set up in sub-divisional headquarters during 2017-18. Each CPK will counsel at least 2,400 target group youths, facilitate at least 400 candidates with self-employment and provide 120 candidates skill training for jobs or self-employment. Another 37 CPKs will be set up during 2018-19.
- In the last seven years 6,063 couples have been provided with inter-caste marriage incentives, at a rate of Rs 30,000 per couple. The total expenditure by the State Government on this head has been Rs 1.81 crore till now.
The department has thus brought about huge development for people belonging to the backward communities.