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Published : March 30, 2012 | Author : meenakshi
Category : Constitutional Law | Total Views : 63147 | Rating :

meenakshi agrawal hidayatullah national law university

Vulnerable Groups in India- Status, Schemes, Constitution of India

Vulnerable groups are the groups which would be vulnerable under any circumstances (e.g. where the adults are unable to provide an adequate livelihood for the household for reasons of disability, illness, age or some other characteristic), and groups whose resource endowment is inadequate to provide sufficient income from any available source.

In India there are multiple socio-economic disadvantages that members of particular groups experience which limits their access to health and healthcare. The task of identifying the vulnerable groups is not an easy one. Besides there are multiple and complex factors of vulnerability with different layers and more often than once it cannot be analysed in isolation. The present document is based on some of the prominent factors on the basis of which individuals or members of groups are discriminated in India, i.e., structural factors, age, disability and discrimination that act as barriers to health and healthcare. The vulnerable groups that face discrimination include- Women, Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST), Children, Aged, Disabled, Poor migrants, People living with HIV/AIDS and Sexual Minorities. Sometimes each group faces multiple barriers due to their multiple identities. For example, in a patriarchal society, disabled women face double discrimination of being a women and being disabled.

What are weaker sections?
Due to the caste system prevailing in India, the sudras have been exploited for the ages. They were denied the right to education and thus were left languishing behind, socially and economically. Such people have been categorized into Scheduled Castes. Tribal communities, who never mixed with the main society, are similarly challenged and are categorized into Scheduled Tribes.

Backward Classes
The constitution does not define the term backward classes. It is up to the center and the states to specify the classes that belong to this group. However, it is understood that classes that are not represented adequately in the services of the state can be termed backward classes. Further, the President can, under Art. 340, can constitute a commission to investigate the condition of socially and educationally backward classes. Based on this report, the president may specify the backward classes.

Structural norms are attached to the different relationships between the subordinate and the dominant group in every society. A group’s status may for example, be determined on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, skin colour, etc. The norms act as structural barriers giving rise to various forms of inequality. Access to health and healthcare for the subordinate groups is reduced due to the structural barriers.

Structural Discrimination Faced by Groups
In India, members of gender , caste, class, and ethnic identity experience structural discrimination that impact their health and access to healthcare. Women face double discrimination being members of specific caste, class or ethnic group apart from experiencing gendered vulnerabilities. Women have low status as compared to men in Indian society. They have little control on the resources and on important decisions related to their lives. In India, early marriage and childbearing affects women’s health adversely. About 28 per cent of girls in India, get married below the legal age and experience pregnancy (Reproductive And Child Health – District level Household Survey 2002-04, August 2006). These have serious repercussions on the health of women. Maternal mortality is very high in India. The average maternal mortality ratio at the national level is 540 deaths per 100,000 live births (National Family Health Survey-2, 2000). It varies between states and regions, i.e., rural-urban. The rural MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate) is 617 deaths of women age between 15-49 years per one lakh live births as compared to 267 maternal deaths per one lakh live births among the urban population (National Family Health Survey-2, 2000). In most cases the deaths occur from preventable causes. A large proportion of women is reported to have received no antenatal care. In India, institutional delivery is lowest among women from the lower economic class as against those from the higher class.

A major proportion of the lower castes and Dalits are still dependent on others for their livelihood. Dalits does not refer to a caste but suggestsa group who are in a state of oppression, social disability and who are helpless and poor. They were earlier referred as ‘untouchables’ mainly due to their low occupations i.e., cobbler, scavenger, sweeper.7 In a caste-dominated country like India, Dalits who comprises more than one-sixth of the Indian population (160 million approx), stand as a community whose human rights have been severely violated. Literacy

rates among Dalits are only about 24 per cent. They have meager purchasing power; have poor housing conditions; lack or have low access to resources and entitlements. In rural India they are landless poor agricultural labourers attached to rich landowners from generations or poor casual labourers doing all kinds of available work. In the city they are the urban poor employed as wage labourers at several work sites, beggars, vendors, small service providers, domestic help, etc., living in slums and other temporary shelters without any kind of social security. The members of these groups face systemic violence in the form of denial of access to land, good housing, education and employment. Structural discrimination against these groups takes place in the form of physical, psychological, emotional and cultural abuse which receives legitimacy from the social structure and the social system. Physical segregation of their settlements is common in the villages forcing them to live in the most unhygienic and inhabitable conditions. All these factors affect their health status, access to healthcare, and quality of health service received. There are high rates of malnutrition reported among the marginalized groups resulting in mortality, morbidity and anaemia. Access to and utilization of healthcare among the marginalized groups is influenced by their socio-economic status within the society.

Structural discrimination directly impedes equal access to health services by way of exclusion. The negative attitude of the health professionals towards these groups also acts as a barrier to receiving quality healthcare from the health system. In the case of women, discrimination increases by the complex mix of two factors-being a women and being a member of the marginalized community. A large proportion of Dalit girls drop out of primary school inspite of reservations and academic aptitude, because of poverty, humiliation, isolation or bullying by teachers and classmates and punishment for scoring good grades (National Commission Report for SC/ST, 2000). The scavenger community among the Dalits is vulnerable to stress and diseases with reduced access to healthcare. The Scheduled Tribes like the Scheduled Castes face structural discrimination within the Indian society. Unlike the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes are a product of marginalization based on ethnicity. In India, the Scheduled Tribes population is around 84.3 million and is considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged. Their percentages in the population and numbers however vary from State to State. They are mainly landless with little control over resources such as land, forest and water. They constitute a large proportion of agricultural labourers, casual labourers, plantation labourers, industrial labourers etc. This has resulted in poverty among them, low levels of education, poor health and reduced access to healthcare services. They belong to the poorest strata of the society and have severe health problems. They are less likely to afford and get access to healthcare services when required. The health outcomes among the Scheduled Tribes are very poor even as compared to the Scheduled Castes. The Infant Mortality Rate among Scheduled Castes is 83 per 1000 live births while it is 84.2 per 1000 per live births among the Scheduled Tribes.

Need for development of the weaker sections – the SCs STs OBCs and Minorities
The SCs STs OBCs and Minorities, have been forced to remain as the Weaker Sections of India, and the Women confined or oppressed to be the most and multiply exploited sections of the Country, for nearly four millenniums. This bad situation, can not and should not continue anymore. Definitely not in the Twenty-first Century of the third millennium, in an age of fast travel and mass communication.

There is a need for the Government to do something special and tangible, to free and liberate the Weaker Sections, from the cobwebs of oppression, marginalisation and backwardness. They have to be uplifted to the levels of normal human-beings of the World.

Constitutional Provisions for the SC/ST/OBC and minorities
Art. 15(4) : Clause 4 of article 15 is the fountain head of all provisions regarding compensatory discrimination for SCs/STs. This clause was added in the first amendment to the constitution in 1951 after the SC judgement in the case of Champakam Dorairajan vs State of Madras. It says thus, "Nothing in this article or in article 29(2) shall prevent the state from making any provisions for the advancement of any socially and economically backward classes of citizens or for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes." This clause started the era of reservations in India.

In the case of Balaji vs State of Mysore, the SC held that reservation cannot be more than 50%. Further, that Art. 15(4) talks about backward classes and not backward castes thus caste is not the only criterion for backwardness and other criteria must also be considered.

Finally, in the case of Indra Sawhney vs Union of India, SC upheld the decision given under Balaji vs State of Mysore that reservation should not exceed 50% except only in special circumstances. It further held that it is valid to sub-categorize the reservation between backward and more backward classes. However, total should still not exceed 50%. It also held that the carry forward rule is valid as long as reservation does not exceed 50%.

Art. 15 (5) : This clause was added in 93rd amendment in 2005 and allows the state to make special provisions for backward classes or SCs or STs for admissions in private educational institutions, aided or unaided.

Art. 16(4): This clause allows the state to reserve vacancies in public service for any backward classes of the state that are not adequately represented in the public services.

Art. 16 (4A): This allows the state to implement reservation in the matter of promotion for SCs and STs.

Art. 16(4B): This allows the state to consider unfilled vacancies reserved for backward classes as a separate class of vacancies not subject to a limit of 50% reservation.

Art. 17: This abolishes untouchability and its practice in any form. Although the term untouchability has not been defined in the constitution or in any act but its meaning is to be understood not in a literal sense but in the context of Indian society. Due to the varna system, some people were relegated to do menial jobs such as cleaning toilets. Such people were not to be touched and it was considered a sin to even touch their shadow. They were not even allowed to enter public places such as temples and shops. The constitution strives to remove this abhorring practice by not only making the provision a fundamental right but also allows punishment to whoever practices or abets it in any form. Towards this end, Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 was enacted. It has implemented several measures to eradicate this evil from the society. It stipulates up to 6 months imprisonment or 500 Rs fine or both. It impresses upon the public servant to investigate fully any complaint in this matter and failing to do so will amount to abetting this crime. In the case of State of Kar. vs Appa Balu Ingle, SC upheld the conviction for preventing a lower caste person from filling water from a bore well.

In Asiad Projects Workers case, SC has held that right under Art 17 is available against private individuals as well and it is the duty of the state to ensure that this right is not violated.

Art. 19(5): It allows the state to impose restriction on freedom of movement or of residence in the benefit of Scheduled Tribes.

Art. 40: Provides reservation in 1/3 seats in Panchayats to SC/ST.

Art. 46: Enjoins the states to promote with care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections, specially SC and STs.

Art. 164: Appoint special minister for tribal welfare in the states of MP, Bihar, and Orrisa.

Art. 275: Allows special grant in aids to states for tribal welfare.

Art. 330/332: Allows reservation of seats for SC/ST in the parliament as well as in state legislatures.

Art. 335: Allows relaxation in qualifying marks for admission in educational institutes or promotions for SCs/STs.

In the case of State of MP vs Nivedita Jain, SC held that complete relaxation of qualifying marks for SCs/STs in Pre-Medical Examinations for admission to medical colleges is valid.

Art. 338/338A/339: Establishes a National Commission of SCs and STs. Art. 339 allows the central govt. to direct states to implement and execute plans for the betterment of SC/STs.

Art. 340: Allows the president to appoint a commission to investigate the condition of socially and economically backward classes and table the report in the parliament.

Constitutional Provisions for Women

Art. 15(3): It allows the state to make special provisions for women and children. Several acts such as Dowry Prevention Act have been passed including the most recent one of Protection of women from domestic violence Act 2005.

Art. 23: Under the fundamental right against exploitation, flesh trade has been banned.

Art. 39: Ensures equal pay to women for equal work.

In the case of Randhir Singh vs Union of India, SC held that the concept of equal pay for equal work is indeed a constitutional goal and is capable of being enforced through constitutional remedies under Art. 32.

Art. 40: Provides 1/3 reservation in panchayat.

Art. 42: Provides free pregnancy care and delivery.

Art. 44: It urges the state to implement uniform civil code, which will help improve the condition of women across all religions. It has, however, not been implemented due to politics. In the case of Sarla Mudgal vs Union of India, SC has held that in Indian Republic there is to be only one nation i.e. Indian nation and no community could claim to be a separate entity on the basis of religion. There is a plan to provide reservation to women in parliament as well.

NGOs Schemes-
· Scheme of Grant in Aid to Voluntary Organisations working for Scheduled Castes

Ministry’s Schemes-
· Central Sector Scheme of 'Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship' for Providing Scholarships to Scheduled Caste Students to persue Programmes in Higher Education such as M.Phil and Ph.D (Effective from 01-04-2010)

· Interviews for final Selection of awardees under the Scheme of National Overseas Scholarship for SC etc. Candidates for the Selection Year 2009-10.

· Centrally-sponsored Pilot Scheme of PRADHAN MANTRI ADARSH GRAM YOJANA (PMAGY)

· State, District and Block wise abstract of villages selected under PMAGY

· Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojana (Letter, Annexures, and National Allocation for 2009-10)

· Post-Matric Scholarship for SC Students

· Pre-Matric Scholarships for the Children of those Engaged in Unclean Occupations

· Central Sector Scholarship Scheme of Top Class Education for SC Students (Effective from June 2007)

· Self Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers

· National Overseas Scholarships for Scheduled Castes (SC) etc. Candidates for Selection Year 2010-2011

· Form for the Scheme of National Overseas Scholarship for SC etc. Candidates for the Selection Year 2010-11.

· Special Educational Development Programme for Scheduled Castes Girls belonging to low Literacy Levels

· Upgradation of Merit of SC Students

· Scheme of free Coaching for SC and OBC Students

· National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation (NSFDC)

· National Safaikaramcharis Finance & Development Corporation (NSKFDC)

· Assistance to Scheduled Castes Development Corporations (SCDCs)

· Supporting Project of All India Nature of SCs

· National Comission for Safai Karamcharis

The major schemes/programme of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs are-
· Special Central Assistance & Grants Under Article 275(1) Of The Constitution

· Scheme Of Development of Primitive Tribal Groups(Ptgs)

· Tribal Research Institutes

· Girls / Boys Hostels for Sts

· Ashram Schools In Tribal Sub-Plan Areas

· Vocational Trainig Centres in Tribal Areas

· Grants-in-aid to State Tribal Development Cooperative Corporations and others

· Village Grain Bank Scheme

Major schemes for Women-
· Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY)

· Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG)

· Swadhar Yojna

· STEP (Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women) (20th October 2005)

· Stree Shakti Puraskaar Yojna

· Short Stay Home For Women and Girls (SSH)

· UJJAWALA : A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

· General Grant-in-Aid Scheme in the field of Women and Child Development.

Street children are those for whom the street more than their family has become their real home, a situation in which there is no protection, supervision, or direction from responsible adults. Human Rights Watch estimates that approximately 18 million children live or work on the streets of India. Majority of these children are involved in crime, prostitution, gang related violence and drug trafficking.

Status of Orphans/ Street Children in India
· India is the world’s largest democracy with a population of over a billion-400 million of which are children.

· Approximately 26% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line and 72 % live in rural areas.

· Even though the percentage of the Indian population infected with HIV/AIDS is 0.9%, (5) it has the second largest number of people infected with HIV/AIDS in the world, the first being South Africa.

· Despite the many recorded gains in the recent past, issues such as gender inequity, poverty, illiteracy and the lack of basic infrastructure play an important role in hindering HIV/ AIDS prevention and treatment programs in India. The impact of the AIDS crisis has not begun to fully emerge in India and AIDS related orphaning has not been documented.

· Yet, it is estimated that India has the largest number of AIDS orphans of any country and this number is expected to double in the next five years.

· Out of the 55,764 identified AIDS cases in India 2,112 are children.

· It is estimated that 14% of the 4.2 million HIV/AIDS cases are children below the age of 14.

· A study conducted by the ILO found that children of infected parents are heavily discriminated-35% were denied basic amenities and 17% were forced to take up petty jobs to augment their income.

· Child labor in India is a complex problem and is rooted in poverty.

· Census 1991 data suggests that there are 11.28 million working children in India.

· Over 85% of this child labor is in the country’s rural areas and this number has risen in the past decade.

· Conservative estimates state that around 300, 000 children in India are engaged in commercial sex. Child prostitution is socially acceptable in some sections of Indian society through the practice of Devadasi. Young girls from socially disadvantaged communities are given to the 'gods' and they become a religious prostitute. Devadasi is banned by the Prohibition of Dedication Act of 1982. This system is prevalent in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,Tamil Nadu,Kerala, Maharashtra,Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Assam. More than 50 % of the devadasis become prostitutes: of which nearly 40 per cent join the sex trade in urban brothels and the rest are involved in prostitution in their respective villages. According to the National Commission on Women an estimated 250,000 women have been dedicated as Devadasis in Maharashtra-Karnataka border. A study conducted in 1993 reported that 9% of the devadasis are HIV positive in Belgaum district in Karnataka.

Schemes for children
· The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS)

· National Awards For Child Welfare

· National Child Awards For Exceptional Achievements

· Rajiv Gandhi Manav Seva Award For Service To Children

· Balika Samriddhi Yojana (BSY)

· Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY)

· Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG)

· Early Childhood Education for 3-6 Age Group Children Under the Programme of Universaliation of Elementary Education.

· Scheme for welfare of Working Children in need of Care and Protection

· Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA)

· Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme For the Children of Working Mothers

· UJJAWALA : A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation

· General Grant-in-Aid Scheme in the field of Women and Child Development.

Constitutional Provisions for children

Art. 19 A: Education up to 14 yrs has been made a fundamental right. Thus, the state is required to provide school education to children.

In the case of Unni Krishnan vs State of AP, SC held that right to education for children between 6 to 14 yrs of age is a fundamental right as it flows from Right to Life. After this decision, education was made a fundamental right explicitly through 86th amendment in 2002.

Art. 24: Children have a fundamental right against exploitation and it is prohibited to employ children below 14 yrs of age in factories and any hazardous processes. Recently the list of hazardous processes has been update to include domestic, hotel, and restaurant work.

Several PILs have been filed in the benefit of children. For example, MC Mehta vs State of TN, SC has held that children cannot be employed in match factories or which are directly connected with the process as it is hazardous for the children.

In the case of Lakshmi Kant Pandey vs Union of India, J Bhagvati has laid down guidelines for adoption of Indian children by foreigners.

Art. 45: Urges the state to provide early childhood care and education for children up to 6 yrs of age.

Age, and high levels of economic dependence and/or disability combine to create high levels of vulnerability to chronic poverty. While old age pension schemes are in place neither the small amounts made available nor the hassle of accessing them make this a solution to the problem of chronic poverty among the elderly. With the high incidence of chronic ailments and health care needs of the elderly, declining family size, migration and breakdown of traditional family structures that provided support, this group of the population is extremely vulnerable to poverty.

The 1991 census showed that approximately 7.6% of India's rural and 6.3% of India's urban population was above the age of 60. 7.8% males and 7.4% females in rural and 6.2% males and 6.6% females in urban areas were in the category of the aged. The proportion of old-old (70 plus) in India is expected to increase from 2.40 percent in 1991 to 3.75 percent by 2021. The total number of elderly persons in India is projected to increase to 136 million by 2021 from the current level of 55 million in 1991. This has significant implications for social security policies.

The NSS data show that in both rural and urban areas, roughly 50% of aged persons were fully dependent on others, 13 to 16 % were partially dependent and only 30% were economically independent. Economic independence was far greater among males than among females. Close to half the elderly males and only 12% of elderly females were economically independent. In contrast, more than 70% of older females and only about 30% of older males were fully dependent on others. High levels of economic dependence at low household income levels mean that meager resources need to be stretched thinner and thereby increase vulnerability to poverty of physically and financially dependent older persons. Inadequate financial resources are a major concern of the Indian elderly (Desai 1985 cited in Rajan et. al., 2000) and more so among the female elderly (Dak and Sharma 1987 cited in Rajan et. al., 2000). In many situations, the rural elderly continue to work though their number of working hours comes down with increasing age (Singh, Singh and Sharma 1987 cited in Rajan et.al.,2000). Financial problems are more common among widows and among the elderly in nuclear families. Economic insecurity was the sole concern of the elderly in barely sustainable households in rural India (Punia and Sharma 1987 cited in Rajan et. al.,2000).

Constitutional provisions for aged-
In Constitution of India, entry 24 in list III of Schedule IV deals with the “Welfare of Labour, including conditions of work, provident funds, liability for workmen’s compensations, invalidity and Old age pension and maternity benefits.

Further, Item No. 9 of the State List and Item No. 20, 23 and 24 of the Concurrent List relates to old age pension, social security and social insurance, and economic and social planning.

Article 41 of the Directive Principle of the State Policy has particular relevance to Old Age Social Security. According to this Article, “the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in case of undeserved want.”

Schemes for aged-
Major scheme-

National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP)

The National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) which came into effect from 15th August, 1995 represents a significant step towards the fulfillment of the Directive Principles in Article 41 and 42 of the Constitution. It introduces a National Policy for Social Assistance benefit to poor households in the case of old age, death of primary bread-winner and maternity. The Programme has three components, namely:-

* National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS)
* National Family Benefit Scheme (NFBS)
* National Maternity Benefit Scheme (NMBS)
These Schemes were partially modified in 1998 based on the suggestions received from various corners and also on the basis of the feedback received from the State Governments.

Other schemes-

Technology Interventions for Elderly (TIE)

Concessions and Other incentives

Programme for Older Persons

Insurance Policies and Benefits

Annapurna Scheme

Mediclaim/Health Insurance

Free Legal Aids

National Policy on Older Person


Health Facilities


According to the Census 2001, there are 2.19 crore people with disabilities in India who constitute 2.13 per cent of the total population. This includes persons with visual, hearing, speech, locomotor and mental disabilities.Seventy five per cent of persons with disabilities live in rural areas, 49 per cent of disabled population is literate and only 34 per cent are employed. The earlier emphasis on medical rehabilitation has now been replaced by an emphasis on social rehabilitation. The Disability Division in the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment facilitates empowerment of the persons with disabilities.

Disability data as per National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 2002


Percentage Among Total Population











Source: National Sample Survey Organisation 2002

Constitutional Provisions for disabled persons
The Constitution of India ensures equality, freedom, justice and dignity of all individuals and implicitly mandates an inclusive society for all including the persons with disabilities. The Constitution in the schedule of subjects lays direct responsibility of the empowerment of the persons with disabilities on the State Governments Therefore, the primary responsibility to empower the persons with disabilities rests with the State Governments.

Under Article 253 of the Constitution read with item No. 13 of the Union List, the Government of India enacted “The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995”, in the effort to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities and their full participation in nation-building. The Act extends to whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Government of Jammu & Kashmir has enacted “The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation) Act, 1998”.

A multi-sectoral collaborative approach, involving all the Appropriate Governments i.e. Ministries of the Central Government, the State Governments/UTs, Central/State undertakings, local authorities and other appropriate authorities is being followed in implementation of various provisions of the Act.

India is a signatory to the Declaration on the Full Participation and Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asia Pacific Region. India is also a signatory to the Biwako Millennium Framework for action towards an inclusive, barrier free and rights based society. India signed the UN Convention on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities on 30th March, 2007, the day it opened for signature. India ratifies the UN Convention on Ist October, 2008.

Government schemes-
Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/ Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP Scheme)
The main objective of the Scheme is to assist the needy disabled persons in procuring durable, sophisticated and scientifically manufactured, modern, standard aids and appliances that can promote their physical, social and psychological rehabilitation, by reducing the effects of disabilities and enhance their economic potential. The aids and appliances supplied under the Scheme must be ISI.

The quantum of assistance and income limit under the ADIP scheme is as follows:

Total Income                                       

Amount of Assistance

(i) Up to Rs. 6,500/- per month   

(i) Full cost of aid/appliance

(ii) Rs. 6,501/- to Rs. 10,000/- per month

(ii) 50% of the cost of aid/appliance

The scheme is implemented through implementing agencies such as the NGOs, National Institutes under this Ministry and ALIMCO (a PSU).

Scheme of National Scholarships for Persons with Disabilities
Under the Scheme of National Scholarships for Persons with Disabilities, every year 500 new scholarships are awarded for pursuing post matric professional and technical courses of duration more than one year. However, in respect of students with cerebral palsy, mental retardation, multiple disabilities and profound or severe hearing impairment, scholarship are awarded for pursuing studies from IX Std. onwards. Advertisements inviting applications for scholarships are given in leading national/regional newspapers in the month of June and also placed on the website of the Ministry. State Government/ UT Administrations are also requested to give wide publicity to the scheme.

Students with 40% or more disability whose monthly family income does not exceed Rs. 15,000/-are eligible for scholarship. A scholarship of Rs. 700/- per month to day scholars and Rs. 1,000/- per month to hostellers is provided to the students pursuing Graduate and Post Graduate level technical or professional courses. A scholarship or Rs. 400/- per month to day scholars and Rs. 700/- per month to hostellers is provided for pursuing diploma and certificate level professional courses. In addition to the scholarship, the students are reimbursed the course fee subject to a ceiling of Rs. 10,000/- per year. Financial assistance under the scheme is also given for computer with editing software for blind/ deaf graduate and postgraduate students pursuing professional courses and for support access software for cerebral palsied students

National Institutes/Apex Level Institutions
In consonance with the policy of empowerment of persons with disabilities and in order to effectively deal with their multi dimensional problems, the following National Institutes/Apex level institutions have been setup in each major area of disability:-

(i) National Institute for the Visually Handicapped, Dehradun
(ii) National Institute for the Orthopaedically Handicapped, Calcutta.
(iii) Ali Yavar Jung National Institute for the Hearing Handicapped, Mumbai
(iv) National Institute for Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad.
(v) National Institute for Rehabilitation Training and Research, Cuttack.
(vi) Institute for the Physically Handicapped, New Delhi.
(vii) National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD), Chennai

Internal migration of poor labourers has also been on the rise in India. The poor migrants usually end up as casual labourers within the informal sector. This population is at high risk for diseases and faces reduced access to health services. In India, 14.4 million people migrated within the country for work purposes either to cities or areas with higher expected economic gains during the 2001 census period. Lakh number of migrants are employed in cultivation and plantations, brick-kilns, quarries, construction sites and fish processing (NCRL, 2001). Large numbers of migrants also work in the urban informal manufacturing construction, services or transport sectors and are employed as casual labourers, head loaders, rickshaw pullers and hawkers. The rapid change of residence due to the casual nature of work excludes them from the preventive care and their working conditions in the informal work arrangements in the city debars them from access to adequate curative care. In India, there are a large number of international women migrants. Female migration to India constitutes 48 per cent of the total inmigration from other countries.

Among the migrants who are vulnerable, the Internally Displaced People (IDPs) deserve mention. In India, the Internally Displaced People are estimated to be around 6 lakhs (IDMC, 2006). Internal displacement arises out of ethnic conflicts, religious conflicts, political reasons, development projects, natural disaster etc. The Internally Displaced People are vulnerable to access government social security schemes.

The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation Of Employment And Conditions Of Service) Act, 1979 - An Act to regulate the employment of inter-State migrant workmen and to provide for their conditions of service and for matters connected therewith.

Another group that faces stigma and discrimination are the sexual minorities. Those identified as gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, kothi and hijra, experience various forms of discrimination within the society and the health system. Due to the dominance of heteronomous sexual relations as the only form of normal acceptable relations within the society, individuals who are identified as having same-sex sexual preferences are ridiculed and ostracized by their own family and are left with very limited support structures and networks of community that provide them conditions of care and support. Their needs and concerns are excluded from the various health policies and programmes. Only the National AIDS Prevention and Control Policy recognize sexual minority and homosexuals in the context of identifying ‘high risk behaviour’. But pervasive discrimination from the health providers delays or deters their health seeking. Hence they remain excluded from the process of government surveillance carried among the high risk population in the context of HIV/AIDS. The surveillance amongst ‘MSM’ or men who have sex with men, is usually carried out by NGOs and through ‘support groups’, i.e. amongst males who are accessible to NGOs and who are willing to identify with categories, such as kothi, around which support groups are structured. They also undergo considerable amount of psychological stress.

Constitutional Provisions for sexual minorities
Art. 15(1) : The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them.


National AIDS Prevention and Control Policy.

In the Constitution of India, the three pillars of human rights are (a) the right to equality including the prohibition of discrimination in any form, (b) the six vital freedoms of citizens (including the right to speech and expression) and (c) the right to life guaranteed to all persons. These rights have been recognized to be inalienable, unalterable and part of the basic structure of the Constitution which cannot be abrogated. India’s Supreme Court has interpreted the right to life as including the right to live with dignity, right to health, education, human environment, speedy trial and privacy, to name a few. Much of the focus of governmental activity has been to improve the provision of services through grass-roots local self-governance institutions, particularly in rural areas. India has taken an important initiative for the empowerment of women by reserving one-third of all seats for women in urban and local self-government, bringing over one million women at the grassroots level into political decision making. India has guaranteed human rights to all persons in India including the protection of minorities. India has secured their right to practice and preserve their religious and cultural beliefs as a part of the Chapter on Fundamental Rights. Legislative and executive measures have been taken for the effective implementation of safeguards provided under the Constitution for the protection of the interests of minorities. India has been deeply conscious of the need to empower the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and is fully committed to tackle any discrimination against them at every level. The Constitution of India abolished “untouchability” and forbids its practice in any form. There are also explicit and elaborate legal and administrative provisions to address caste-based discrimination in the country. India stated that at independence, after the departure of the colonizers, all the people, including its tribal people, were considered as indigenous to India. This position has been clarified on various occasions, including while extending India’s support to the adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly.

# http://www.fao.org/ag/wfe2005/glossary_en.htm  accessed on October 8, 2011 at 4:21 p.m.

# Structural discrimination refers to rules, norms, generally accepted approaches and behaviours in institutions and other social structures that constitute obstacles for subordinate groups to the equal rights and opportunities possessed by dominant groups. Such discrimination may be visible or invisible, and it may be intentional or unintentional.

# Only 16 per cent of the women in India received all the antenatal care i.e., atleast 3 antenatal check-ups, and at least one tetanus toxoid injection and supplementary iron in the form of iron folic acid tablets/syrups daily for 100 days as recommended by the RCH Programme. (RCH-DLHS-3,2002-04)

# In India, the percentage of home delivery is highest (59 percent), whereas institutional delivery (public and private health institutes) accounts for only 40.5 per cent. Home delivery assisted by skilled birth attendants accounts for 7.1 per cent. Institutional delivery by background characteristics shows that only 22 per cent childbirths of Scheduled Tribes women takes place in institutions as compared to 33 per cent births to Scheduled Caste women. (RCH-DLHS-3,2002-2004, pg 98)

# Dalits in India, are poor, deprived and socially backward. They have faced severe forms of human rights violation. They have been involved in a long struggle to abolish untouchability and caste discrimination.
# Fractile group constitutes of monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE). Population is classified into seven fractile groups. 0-10 is the lowest consumption group while 90-100 is the highest consumption group.
# Women’s Health, Booklet for National Health Assembly II, Complied by Sama Resource Group for Women and Health, New Delhi, October 2006.
# National Health Policy 2002, Government of India.
# AIR 1951 Mad 120
# 1963 AIR 649
# AIR 1993 SC 477
# AIR 1993 SC 1126
# AIR 1982 SC 1473
# 1981 AIR 2045
# 1982 AIR 879
# 1995 AIR 1531
# http://cira.med.yale.edu accessed on October 9, 2011 at 6.55 p.m.
# http://en.wikipedia.org/ accessed on October 9, 2011 at 6.59 p.m.
# 1993 AIR 217
# (1991) 1 SCC 283
# (1984) 2 SCC 244
# Aging in India: Its Socioeconomic and Health: By H.B. Chanana and P.P. Talwar, ImplicationsAsia-Pacific Population Journal, Vol. 2, No. 3 37
# http://www.oldagesolutions.org/Facilities/ConstProv.aspx  accessed on October 10, 2011 at 6.55 p.m.
# http://www.disabilityindia.com/html/facts.html  October 10, 2011 at 9.10 p.m.
# http://www.disabilityindia.com/ and Min of Social Justice accessed on October 11, 2011 at 4.00 p.m.
# Vulnerable Groups in India by Chandrima Chatterjee an Gunjan Sheoran, CEHAT, Mumbai.
# Vulnerable Groups in India by Chandrima Chatterjee an Gunjan Sheoran, CEHAT, Mumbai, pg. 20.
# http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/Session1/IN/A_HRC_8_26_India_E.pdf accessed on October 10, 2011 at 6.55 p.m

Authors contact info - articles The  author can be reached at: meenakshiagrawal@legalserviceindia.com

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Article Comments

Posted by Chechu on July 19, 2015
This article was very much helpful for me to do assignment on the scheduled tribes. It had all that I needed. Thanks a bunch!!!

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