SC/STs report stumps Home Ministry
HOW DO you generate a debate about the problems faced by SC and STs when the report that should form the basis for such a debate is marked 'Confidential'?
That is the dilemma currently facing the Vajpayee government after Rashtrapati Bhawan marked the report drafted by a seven-member committee of governors as 'Confidential'. The Committee, chaired by Maharashtra Governor P.C. Alexander, was constituted by President K R Narayanan at the end of a Governors' Conference held in the Capital last July. It submitted its report to the President on April 28 this year.
The committee's brief was to carry out an in-depth study of the problems faced by SC/ST communities in taking advantage of the government's welfare measures and to make recommendations about how to remove these impediments. The 138-page report was submitted to the government on May 24 this year along with a covering letter from the President to the Prime Minister. It was then dispatched to the Home Ministry on June 5.
But because the Rashtrapati Bhawan has decided that the report is secret, the government cannot circulate it much further. Rashtrapati Bhawan is even supposed to have refused to part with a copy of the report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. The reason: it is confidential.
The secrecy is all the more surprising because the "classified" report, which the Hindustan Times has seen, contains nothing earth-shaking or even sensitive.
It commences with the President's assessment of the report and also the painstaking work of the Committee in drafting its recommendations. The first six chapters are divided into sub-clauses such as methodology, social discipline, administrative action, evaluation of the performance of the States, methodology for planning, budgeting, implementation of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1984, protection of civil rights Act 1955 and critical appraisal.