FROM SOCIAL BACKWARDNESS TO ENLIGHTENMENT—DETERMINED EFFORTS OF THE LEFT FRONT GOVERNMENT USHER IN A NEW ERA
The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes people forming the bulk of backward class population of our society are economically lagging behind the mainstream of our national life. They constitute almost 28% of the total population of West Bengal and are divided in 38 tribal communities of which 50% are Santhals. The Left Front Government of West Bengal rightly feels that they deserve more assistance from the Government. Hence, for the last eight years, it has been persistently trying to uplift these classes through various programmes.
As a part of the welfare programme, special financial assistance and subsidy are offered to them for promoting agriculture, pisciculture, livestock—rearing, forestry and cottage industries. Young people are being helped in small trades. Co-operatives are also being encouraged.
Special emphasis is being laid on their education. Besides free schooling, they are being provided with text books and exercise books, dresses and mid-day meal. And a scheme of maintenance grant has been introduced for the students belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Santhali script 'Ol-chiki' has been officially recognised and it is being encouraged for development of Santhali language and spread "of education among the Santhali students in their mother tongue.
Despite constraints, several projects are under progress to preserve tribal culture. Setting up of Sidhu-Kanu Cultural Centre at Suri, Jhargram Tribal Cultural Centre and opening of two more centres at Purulia and Alipurduar for development of tribal culture are but honest efforts of the Left Front Government in this direction. Measures have been taken to preserve Totos' of Jalpaiguri—the tiniest tribe numbering 600 from extinction.
The Left Front Government is committed and determined to bring up the backward classes to their rightful position in society and lead them to a bright and proud future.
Government of West Bengal