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Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes

The Government classifies some of its citizens based on their social and economic condition as Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Other Backward Class (OBC).

These citizens are recognised as deserving of special treatment because of the traditional discrimination practiced against them.

 Scheduled Castes

Scheduled castes are those castes which are notified as Scheduled Castes as per provisions contained in Article 341 of the Constitution.

• They suffer from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of age-old practice of untouchability.

• They also suffer because of traditional lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation.

 Specific Schemes for Scheduled Castes

Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan (SCSP)

SCSP is an umbrella strategy to ensure flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from all the general sectors of development for the benefit of Scheduled Castes.

Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana

This Centrally Sponsored Scheme is being implemented for integrated development of Scheduled Castes (SC) majority villages having SC Population concentration more than 50%:

Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Castes

Venture Capital Fund is a Social Sector Initiative launched by the Government of India with initial capital of Rs. 200 crore in order to promote entrepreneurship among the Scheduled Castes population in India.

 Scheduled Tribes

Like the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes are social groups recognised by the Indian Constitution as specially marked by poverty, powerlessness and social stigma. Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India defines Scheduled Tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”. The characteristics of these communities are:

• Primitive Traits

• Geographical isolation

• Distinct culture

• Shy of contact with community at large

• Economically backward

 Specific Schemes for Scheduled Tribes

Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana

The Government of India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs has launched Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) for welfare of Tribals. VKY aims at creating enabling environment for need based and outcome oriented holistic development of the tribal people.

Top Class Education for ST Students

This is a Central Sector Scholarship Scheme for ST students introduced from the academic year 2007-08 with the objective of encouraging meritorious ST students for pursing studies at Degree and Post Graduate level in any of the Institutes identified by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs for the purpose.

Vocational Training Centres in Tribal Areas

The main aim of this scheme is to upgrade the skills of the tribal youth in various traditional/ modern vocations depending upon their educational qualification, present economic trends and the market potential, which would enable them to gain suitable employment or enable them to become self-employed.

Eklavya Model Residential School

In the context of the trend of establishing quality residential schools for the promotion of education in all areas and habitations in the country, the Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) for ST students take their place among the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas and the Kendriya Vidyalayas.

Issues related with them:

• They are considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged.

• They constitute a large proportion of agricultural labourers, casual labourers, plantation labourers, industrial labourers.

• They belong to the poorest strata of the society and have low levels of education, poor health and reduced access to healthcare services.

• Loss of forests, alienation of land and repeated displacement have further made their position vulnerable.

 Other Backward Classes (OBCs)

Backward Classes means such backward classes of citizens other than the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as may be specified by the Central Government from time to time for purposes of making provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of backward classes of citizens which, in the opinion of that Government, are not adequately represented in the services under the Government of India and any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.

 Schemes for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/ Other Backward Classes

  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme for implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (PCR) and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (PoA)
  • As the PCR and PoA Acts are implemented by the respective State Governments and Union Territory

Stand-Up India Scheme

Stand-Up India Scheme facilitates bank loans between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 1 Crore to at least one Scheduled Caste (SC) or Scheduled Tribe (ST) borrower and at least one woman borrower per bank branch for setting up a greenfield enterprise.

Specific Schemes for Other Backward Classes

New Swarnima Special Scheme for Women

  The objective of this scheme is to inculcate the spirit of self dependence among the eligible Women of Backward Classes living below double the poverty line.

Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Construction of Hostel for OBC Boys and Girls

The Scheme aims at providing hostel facilities to students belonging to socially and educationally backward classes, especially from rural areas, to enable them to pursue secondary and higher education.


This is a special scheme under Term Loan for young professional belonging to Backward Classes of the target group.

Mechanisms Existing in India for Vulnerable Sections

Constitutional Provisions

• Article 15(4): State can make special provisions for SCs/STs

• Article 16(4): State can make provision for reservation of appointments/posts for SC/STs

• Article 17: Abolishes Untouchability and its practice in any form

• Article 46: Promotion of educational and economic interests of SCs, STs and the weaker sections

• Article 243 D: Reservation of seats in Panchayats for SC/ST candidates

• Article 275: Special grant in aids to states for tribal welfare.

• Article 335: Relaxation in qualifying marks for admission in educational institutes or promotions

• Article 330 and Article 332 of the Constitution respectively provide for reservation of seats in favour of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and in the legislative assemblies of the states.

Legislations Related to SCs, STs and OBCs

• The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 – It provides for penal provisions for untouchability.

• SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act –It is aimed at atrocities against the members of the SCs and STs

• The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976 – Outlaws bonded labour

• The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989- ( Dealt Above)

• Forest Rights Act 2006 – recognizes the rights to hold and live in the forest land

• The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 — It is an Act to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas.

Institutions and Bodies for the betterment of SC, ST’s and OBC :

National Commission for SCs

  The Constitution under Article 338 has provided for appointment of a special officer to ensure that the safeguards are properly implemented and to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes and report to the President about the working of these safeguards.

National SC Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC)

   NSFDC is Central Public Sector Enterprise incorporated as a ‘not for profit’ company. It is under Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India for financing, facilitating and mobilizing funds for the economic empowerment of persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes families living below Double the Poverty Line.

National Safai Karamacharis Finance Development Corporation (NSKFDC)

• NSKFDC is a “not for profit” company set up by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.

• It functions as an Apex institution for channelizing the funds to Safai Karamcharis/ Scavengers and their dependents through the State Channelizing Agencies.

National Commission for STs

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.

Functions of the Commission

• To investigate & Monitor matters relating to Safeguards provided for STs.

• To inquire into specific complaints relating to Rights & Safeguards of STs

• To submit report to the President annually

Welfare and Socio-economic development of STs

• The Commission would also discharge the following other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development & advancement of the Scheduled Tribes

National Commission for Backward Classes

• The Supreme Court of India in Indira Sawhney Judgment, 1992 directed the government to constitute a permanent body in the nature of a Commission or Tribunal for entertaining, examining and recommending upon requests for inclusion and complaints of over-inclusion and under-inclusion in the list of OBCs.

National Backward Classes Finance and Development Corporation (NBCFDC)

NBCFDC is a “not for profit” company under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Its objective is to promote economic and developmental activities for the benefit of Backward Classes and to assist the poorer section of these classes in skill development and self-employment ventures.

NBCFDC provides financial assistance through State Channelizing Agencies (SCAs)

March 2024