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Mamata Banerjee government to set up scheduled caste advisory council

The body will coordinate with various government departments and explore avenues on how to remove obstacles on the path of development of the scheduled caste population in Bengal.

kolkata Updated: Oct 14, 2017 13:18 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
Mamata Banerjee,West Bengal,SC
Scheduled castes constitute about 23% of Bengal’s population. With the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections due in 2019 and 2021, the ruling party can hope to reap political benefits from the measure. (HT Photo)

West Bengal will shortly have its scheduled caste advisory council, that, according to the state government, will be the first in an Indian state.

The total schedule caste population in West Bengal currently stands at 2.14 crore, which is roughly 23% of the total 9.14 crore (2011 census) population of the state.

The decision to set up the SC advisory council was taken at a meeting of the state cabinet on Friday. After the meeting, education minister and Trinamool Congress secretary general, Partha Chatterjee said it was a brainchild of chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

Read: ‘Creamy layer’ income bar for OBCs raised, new panel for sub-categories

“We are the first Indian state to form such a council. It will play an advisory role for social, educational and economic development of the state,” said Chatterjee.

The government is yet to decide who would be the chairman of the council and what will the strength of the committee.

“Besides helping in formulating policies, the body will also identify the policy loopholes affecting the development of the schedule caste population in the state,” Chatterjee said.

The council will also interact with the different state government departments and guide them on how their activities can be steered for development of schedule castes.

Read: The dead too have a caste in this Bathinda village: Crematorium wall stands for ‘age-old tradition’

One of the major problems that the SC population often faces, the minister pointed out, is in getting institutional finance to start or run a business.

“We have information that they are being denied even Mudra loans meant for small and micro enterprises. The advisory body will identify the avenues for institutional financing, either directly from the state government, or from banks, financial institutions and micro finance institutes,” said Chatterjee.

Read: States lag in setting up courts to address SC, ST grievances

The state government will also begin recruitment of Olchiki language teachers. “As you are all aware that chief minister has already announced that Olchiki language will be taught at graduation level. But there is a shortage of Olchiki language teachers,” Chatterjee remarked.

The script of the language spoken by the Santhals is known as Olchiki. It was developed in the last century.

First Published: Oct 14, 2017 13:18 IST