Empowerment is having control over one’s life as an individual. And social empowerment means all sections of the society having equal control over their lives and opportunity to take important decisions. It however has different connotations for different people. For the young it would mean freedom to do what they want regardless of social norms and customs while for the aged it would mean being able to live a life of dignity and self-respect in the twilight years of their life. To the male members it could mean financial freedom while to the female members it could mean freedom from gender-based discrimination.
For a nation to grow it is first and foremost requirement that all sections of the society are equally empowered. This can be achieved only when different plans and policies are integrated to ensure equitable growth opportunities and access to all. The government has been trying to empower these different sections by adopting a multipronged approach.
Women are the most important tool to ensure any nation’s development. In the words of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “empowering women tantamounts to empowering the entire family”. In India however, for women, the struggle for empowerment starts from birth – from the fact that the girl child has to fight even for her right to be born. Realizing this, the government has taken many initiatives to make women empowerment the prime focus of the government. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojana and many other such initiatives will go a long way in improving status of women in the society.
For the poor and marginalized sections like SCs, STs, OBCs, empowerment means access to many things which most of us take for granted; like basic education; access to livelihood and opportunities for growth. Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, MUDRA, Venture Capital Fund scheme, Start up India, Stand Up India, Skill India, scholarships schemes for access to education, reservation in jobs etc have offered these sections inclusive opportunities and equal access to development resources.
Senior citizens are the powerhouse of experience and knowledge. But many of them feel neglected and unwanted in the twilight years of their life. Schemes like the Integrated programme for senior citizens, Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana, Atal Pension Yojana, VayaVandana Yojana, etc have enabled the country’s senior citizens to live a respectable life with economic self –sufficiency.
For the differently abled life is a different story altogether. Their disability often makes them feel that they are a burden on society. Their requirements for empowerment are very different thereby requiring programmes customize to suit their needs. Initiatives like Technology development projects in Mission mode, Inclusive education for the Disabled at secondary stage, Accessible India campaign, Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation schemes, etc have encouraged the differently abled to achieve quality of life.
For tribals, empowerment starts with the right to their very existence as an ethnic entity. Very often, national mainstream policies and compulsions result in the tribal communities feeling either isolated from the mainstream or losing their identity. Recent government initiatives like the National Fellowship and scholarship for higher education for ST students, scheme for vocational training, Minimum Support Price for Minor Forest Produce, Scheme of development of particularly vulnerable tribal groups and Forest Rights Act have contributed to social and economic empowerment of tribals.
It is generally acknowledged that when one wishes to move ahead in the development mode it has to carry its least advantaged with it. Each person can make a difference if he or she tries. The government, through it’s policies, has already started making that difference to ensure an overall inclusive growth.