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Dalit People

Volume 405: debated on Monday 19 May 2003

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To ask the Minister of State for International Development what aid to Dalit people and their organisations (a) has been provided in India in each of the past five years and (b) is expected to be provided in 2003–04. [113521]

The Department for International Development has increasingly focused its aid to support the Government of India in sustainably addressing poverty reduction and targeting the poorest. The Dalit people, who number about 170 million, are particularly disadvantaged. Much of the sectoral work in service provision, such as the DFID-supported Child Environment Programme in water and sanitation of UNICEF or the Urban Services for the Poor programmes in Kolkata and Andhra Pradesh, deliver aid to Dalit people. The District Primary Education Programme, which DFID has supported since 1998, and the Lok Jumbish primary education programme, which DFID has been funding for about four years, both have explicit budget lines on educational needs of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, particularly girls. Through such government programmes, DFID seeks to increase the potential for the far greater resources of the Government of India to address the needs of the poorest, including the Dalits.In addition, DFID has a relatively small allocation to civil society organisations, which are required under Indian law to be registered under the Foreign Contributions Registration Act in order to receive foreign contributions. DFID, through its Civil Society Department, has supported a number of UK-based NGOs that work with empowering Dalits. More directly the Poorest Areas Civil Society programme works in most of the 100 poorest districts identified by a Government of India survey that included social criteria. These districts include high levels of Dalits and include many of the districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The PACS programme has made grants to a number of organisations that address issues of discrimination against Dalits and more information on these grants can be obtained from the PACS website www.empowerpoor.org (e.g. grants 7 to "Chetna Vikas" and 8 to "Gramin Evam Nagar Vikas Parishad" among others). This is a new programme and the first grants were made in the UK financial year 2001–02, but are mostly effective in 2002–03 and subsequent years. DFID has also committed 65,000 to the Village Service Trust for four years from 2001–05 for increasing political participation of socially marginalized groups in Theni District, particularly women and Dalits. The Department's support for ActionAid's "Fighting Poverty Together" corporate plan covers work with particularly discriminated groups, including Dalits. Through the Small Grants Scheme, operated by the British High Commission, a grant of £11,000 was made in 1999–2000 to "The Society of Depressed People for Social Justice" in Delhi, creating awareness on legal rights for Dalit women in various slum colonies in Delhi.DFID has recently approved the District Health Management and Sector Reform Programme (for the State of Madhya Pradesh) which will invest £18.4 million over the two years 2003–04 and 2004–05 and will seek to target health service provision "more effectively and equitably to address the needs of disadvantaged groups, particularly Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, other vulnerable communities and women".

To ask the Minister of State for International Development what consideration is given to the position of Dalit people in India when bilateral and multilateral aid programmes are considered by the Department for International Development. [113522]

DFID's programme in India is primarily a bilateral partnership with the Government of India, which itself has a number of Centrally Sponsored Schemes that focus on disadvantaged groups. Recent estimates suggest that the administrative category of "Scheduled Caste", essentially Dalits, has about 9 per cent, higher levels of income poverty than the all-India average of 26.5 per cent, in 1999–2000 and that other indicators also show poorer outcomes than average for Dalits. DFID's overall aim of reducing poverty through supporting appropriate government actions therefore addresses these inequalities of outcomes. DFID is seeking to analyse the non-income barriers to poverty reduction and ways of addressing these. Issues of discrimination against Dalits, Adivasis and Minorities are at the heart of social exclusion and poverty.One way DFID seeks to address the position of Dalit peoples when considering bilateral aid is to build in an explicit focus on indicators such as educational or health outcomes for Dalit girls in annual and mid-term reviews of programmes, (even where these involve DFID funding for Government of India programmes, such as the Sarva Shikshya Abhyan primary education programme). To do this, DFID seeks to encourage the collection of disaggregated data that will permit such analysis. This has already been done through the earlier District Primary Education Programme, for example.Developing the demand side for reform of services to be more accountable to, and responsive to the needs of, particular groups of the poor and, in particular, Dalits, requires support for their organisations and representatives to be directly involved in policy formulation and programme implementation and monitoring. DFID is looking at ways of supporting such constructive engagement with government.