New Delhi: The National Advisory Council (NAC), chaired by Sonia Gandhi, on Friday pitched for infusion of professional expertise to strengthen the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

The panel also wanted the government to put in place a new framework for effective implementation of the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP), under which a proportion of the total plan outlay of a state is set aside for welfare schemes for Dalits.

The NAC on Friday discussed steps to strengthen delivery of various schemes targeted at welfare of Dalits and decided to make recommendations to the government on the essential elements of implementation framework of the SCSP.

"The current 'post-facto accounting approach' to SCSP consisting largely of pro-rata accounting of expenditure on SCs in existing schemes has to give way to a robust 'pro-active planning approach'," the NAC said in a statement.

Such an approach would ensure inclusive growth and secure quantifiable benefits to the Scheduled Caste population, the advisory panel said adding that a similar approach needed to be followed by the state governments.

It also recommended strengthening of the National Commission for SCs with professional expertise, which may recommend schemes to Central Ministries.

The recommendations were an outcome of a presentation made by Farah Naqvi, Convener of the NAC Working Group on Dalit Issues.

The institutional mechanisms for planning and implementation need to be made more robust, the NAC said.

The NAC said SC Sub-Plans at the Centre and the states should include only such existing schemes, including additional components to existing schemes, or new proposed schemes that fulfil the criteria where benefits to SCs are quantifiable and the scheme has the potential to bridge gaps in development between SCs and others.

"Schemes where benefits to SCs are merely notional are not to be included in the Sub-Plans," it said.

The NAC said the SC Sub-Plans formulated by the Central Ministries need to be appraised by the Planning Commission to ensure that the schemes included in the SC Sub-Plans fulfil the criteria.

"Similarly, state governments may entrust the responsibility to appraise the SC Sub Plans to the Planning Department or any other appropriate agency identified by the state governments," it said.

The NAC wanted strengthened transparency and accountability measures and monitoring of outcomes to be put in place.

The NAC was also briefed about the salient features of the restructured Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) by Prem Narain, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development.

The strengthened and reformed ICDS targets prevent and reduce young child under-nutrition by 10 percentage point; enhance early development and learning outcomes in all children in 0-6 years of age and improve care and nutrition of girls and women and reduce anaemia prevalence in young children, girls and women by one fifth.


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