Efforts to bridge gap between SCs/STs, others futile: Expert

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New Delhi, Sep 23 (UNI) A former Economic Adviser to the Union Government has come down heavily on the Planning Commission for what he says are its ''futile efforts'' to bridge the socio-economic gap between the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the general public.

''The objective of narrowing down the gap within 10 years was announced by the National Development Council in June 2005, but the Planning Commission is yet not clear in its approach on how to go about it even though more than two years have elapsed since then,'' says Mr Swami Nath, who was at one time also consultant in the Planning Commission.

The former Indian Economic Service officer says the plan panel has held several meetings over the past two years with various representatives of SCs/STs who are not professional planners or experts, ''thus turning the subject matter towards those who would not be able to do justice to the issues involved''.

''Such exercises will go on and on just to appease the representatives,'' he avers in his paper, 'Civil Society, Governance and Planning Development of SCs/STs in the Market Economy', which has been circulated to all concerned, including the Planning Commission, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.

The paper will be presented at the National Seminar on 'SCs/STs: Assets or Liabilities in Nation Building', organised by the Forum for National Interests, here tomorrow.

The seminar coincides with the 75th anniversary of the Poona Pact signed in 1932 when issues of SCs/STs were first raised.

Mr Swami Nath also points to what he says are the moves to divide the SC/ST community, and lists various example such as the bifurcations of the National Commission for SCs and STs and the parliamentary forum for SCs/STs and the creation of a Tribal Ministry for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes.

''Such divisions will not do justice to the cause of SCs/STs,'' he says.

''What one needs is dovetailing targets of sub plans for SCs/Sts with that of the General Plan,'' he adds.

The economist is also doubtful whether the Planning Commission will take up the issues of India being ranked 127th in the Human Development Index and 88th in the Corruption Index.

''Do these issues find place in the Approach Paper to the XIth Plan or will these be mentioned in the documents of the XIth Plan,'' he asks.

UNI

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