Huzurabad: Think innovation and the State that immediately springs to mind is Telangana. On Monday, the State saw the unveiling of yet another welfare scheme of gigantic proportions that could prove to be a game-changer for Dalits in the State. Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, launching the Telangana Dalit Bandhu at Shalapalli on the outskirts of Huzurabad, described the scheme as not merely an initiative aimed at Dalit empowerment, but a movement that should sweep the entire country for the betterment of the down-trodden communities.
“Dalit Bandhu will bring about a qualitative change in the lives of SCs in the next four to five years. Though the scheme was planned for launch more than a year ago, it was delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We will implement the scheme on the lines of Rythu Bandhu,” the Chief Minister said at the launch programme, where he announced that the entire SC population in the State, government employees included, will be eligible to avail the benefits of the scheme just as they are benefitting from the Rythu Bandhu programme for farmers. “I, however, request them to avail the scheme only after all the other eligible beneficiaries particularly the poorest of the poor who are without any livelihood benefit from it,” he said.
Under Dalit Bandhu, every Dalit family in the State would be given Rs 10 lakh to start a business venture of their choice, without any bank linkages or facing the stress of having to return the money. The Rs 10 lakh that would be deposited directly into the accounts of Dalit families will serve as capital to start a business with the end goal being the economic empowerment of the entire SC community. Besides elevating their financial position that would also minimise, if not completely eliminate, social inequalities, the scheme is expected to trigger a ripple effect that would have a direct impact on the entire rural economy by igniting spending in other sectors.
The Chief Minister, stating that the scheme was being implemented as a pilot project in Huzarabad Assembly constituency, said that in addition to the Rs 500 crore already released for its implementation in the constituency, the State government will release another Rs 2,000 crore to cover more than 21,000 Dalit families in the constituency within the next two months, much to the delight of the massive gathering that greeted the announcement with claps and chants of ‘Jai KCR.”
Before formally launching the Dalit Bandhu scheme at a massive public meeting in Shalapally, Chandrashekhar Rao paid floral tributes to the portraits of Dr B R Ambedkar and Babu Jagjivan Ram. The entire State Cabinet along with MPs, MLAs, MLCs and other elected representatives and officials participate in the function.
Striking a note of caution, the Chief Minister advised the beneficiaries not to take up the same businesses in the area. “Alternatively, you can also collaborate and form groups of 10 that would facilitate setting up of bigger business ventures since you will have Rs One crore at your disposal. This would fetch more profits,” he said, adding that if required, he would visit some mandal after 20 days to get feedback.
Rao, stating that the idea of Dalit empowerment took seed in his mind 25 years ago in Siddipet when he started Dalit Chaitanya Jyoti, an awareness programme, said there were 17 lakh SC families with a total population of 70 lakh in the State. “A total of Rs 1.7 lakh crore is required to extend Dalit Bandhu to all these SC families in the State. We will allocate Rs 30,000 crore to Rs 40,000 crore in the State Budget every year for the next three-four years to cover all the SC families under the scheme,” he said.
‘Opposition did nothing for Dalit empowerment’
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Monday slammed the Opposition parties for creating unnecessary confusion in the minds of the people over implementation of Telangana Dalit Bandhu scheme, for their political gains. He ridiculed them for coming up with absurd demands and arguments, though none of them provided funds or sought implementation of such schemes till now.
Addressing a massive gathering at the launch of Dalit Bandhu scheme in Shalapally here, the Chief Minister pointed out that none of the Prime Ministers, Chief Ministers or any other leader from any of these political parties had earlier made any attempt to address the socio-economic discrimination towards Dalits on such a large scale. He said his detractors had always raised doubts over all his initiatives ranging from Telangana movement to free power and Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme to Mission Bhagiratha.
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