HistoryFrom the 1850s these communities were loosely referred to as the "Depressed Classes". The early part of the 20th century saw a flurry of activity in the British Raj to assess the feasibility of responsible self-government for India. The Morley-Minto Reforms Report, Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms Report, and the Simon Commission were some of the initiatives that happened in this context. One of the hotly contested issues in the proposed reforms was the topic of reservation of seats for the "Depressed" Classes in provincial and central legislatures.
In 1935 the British passed The Government of India Act 1935, designed to give Indian provinces greater self-rule and set up a national federal structure. Reservation of seats for the Depressed Classes was incorporated into the act, which came into force in 1937. The Act brought the term "Scheduled Castes" into use, and defined the group as including "such castes, races or tribes or parts of groups within castes, races or tribes, which appear to His Majesty in Council to correspond to the classes of persons formerly known as the 'Depressed Classes', as His Majesty in Council may prefer." This discretionary definition was clarified in The Government of India (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1936 which contained a list, or Schedule, of castes throughout the British administered provinces.
After independence, the Constituent Assembly continued the prevailing definition of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and gave (via articles 341, 342) the President of India and Governors of states responsibility to compile a full listing of castes and tribes, and also the power to edit it later as required. The actual complete listing of castes and tribes was made via two orders The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, and The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 respectively.
Constitutional framework for safeguarding of interestsThe Constitution provides a framework with a three pronged strategy  to improve the situation of SCs and STs.
- Protective Arrangements - Such measures as are required to enforce equality, to provide punitive measures for transgressions, to eliminate established practices that perpetuate inequities, etc. A number of laws were enacted to operationalize the provisions in the Constitution. Examples of such laws include The Untouchability Practices Act, 1955, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, The Employment of Manual scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, etc.
- Affirmative action - provide positive preferential treatment in allotment of jobs and access to higher education, as a means to accelerate the integration of the SCs and STs with mainstream society. Affirmative action is also popularly referred to as Reservation.
- Development - Provide for resources and benefits to bridge the wide gap in social and economic condition between the SCs/STs and other communities.
 National commissionsTo effectively implement the various safeguards built into the Constitution and other legislations, the Constitution, under Articles 338 and 338A, provides for two statutory commissions - the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
 HistoryIn the original Constitution, Article 338 provided for a Special Officer, called the Commissioner for SCs and STs, to have the responsibility of monitoring the effective implementation of various safeguards for SCs/STs in the Constitution as well as other related legislations and to report to the President. To enable efficient discharge of duties, 17 regional offices of the Commissioner were set up all over the country.
In the meanwhile there was persistent representation for a replacement of the Commissioner with a multi-member committee. It was proposed that the 48th Amendment to the Constitution be made to alter Article 338 to enable said proposal. While the amendment was being debated, the Ministry of Welfare issued an administrative decision to establish the Commission for SCs/STs as a multi-member committee to discharge the same functions as that of the Commissioner of SCs/STs. The first commission came into being in August 1978. The functions of the commission were modified in September 1987 to advise Government on broad policy issues and levels of development of SCs/STs.
In 1990 that the Article 338 was amended to give birth to the statutory National Commission for SCs and STs via the Constitution (Sixty fifth Amendment) Bill, 1990. The first Commission under the 65th Amendment was constituted in March 1992 replacing the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the Commission set up under the Ministry of Welfare's Resolution of 1989.
In 2002, the Constitution was again amended to split the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes into two separate commissions - the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
 DistributionAccording to the 61st Round Survey of the NSSO, almost nine-tenths of Buddhists and one-third of Sikhs in India belonged to scheduled castes of the Constitution while one-third of Christians belonged to scheduled tribes. The Sachar Committee report of 2006 also confirmed that members of scheduled castes and tribes of India are not exclusively adherents of Hinduism.
|Religion||Scheduled Caste||Scheduled Tribe|
 Scheduled Caste Sub-PlanThe strategy of Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) which was evolved in 1979 is one of the most important interventions through the planning process for social, economic and educational development of Scheduled Castes and for improvement in their working and living conditions. It is an umbrella strategy to ensure flow of targeted financial and physical benefits from all the general sectors of development for the benefit of Scheduled Castes. Under this strategy, population. It entails targeted flow of funds and associated benefits from the annual plan of States/ Union Territories (UTs) at least in proportion to the SC population i.e. 16 % in the total population of the country/the particular state. Presently, 27 States/UTs having sizeable SC populations are implementing Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan. Although the Scheduled Castes population, according to 2001 Census, was 16.66 crores constituting 16.23% of the total population of India, the allocations made through SCSP in recent years have been much lower than the population proportion. Table below provides the details of total State Plan Outlay, flow to Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan (SCSP) as reported by the State/UT Governments for the last few years especially since the present UPA government is in power at the
- Information in respect of 14 States/UTs only and as on 31-12- 2007
Prominent members of SC/STs
- B.R. Ambedkar, jurist, political leader, writer, father of Indian Constitution
- Birsa Munda, freedom fighters
- K.R. Narayanan, tenth President of India
- K.G. Balakrishnan, Chief Justice of India
- Babu Jagjivan Ram, Deputy Prime Minister of India
- G.M.C. Balayogi, dalit speaker, Lok Sabha,
- Damodaram Sanjivayya (1921–1972) (First dalit Chief Minister of a state in India and first dalit President of Indian National Congress party)
- Kashi Ram, founder of Bahujan Samaj Party
- Ajit Jogi, first chief minister of the state of Chhattisgarh, India
- Mayavati, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
- Faguni Ram, Member of Parliament and Minister of State
- Bangaru Laxman, former President of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
- Sushilkumar Shinde, Current Cabinet Minister for Power
- Shibu Soren, current Chief Minister of Jharkhand state in India
- Meira Kumar, Indian politician and Member of Parliament.
- S. Ashok Kumar, Judge Madras High Court and High Court of Andhra Pradesh
- K.S.R. Murthy IAS, Former MP, Lok Sabha
- Ram Vilas Paswan, the president of the Lok Janshakti Party, political party
- Prem Singh (MLA)
- Lala Ram Ken, Member of Parliament(7th and 8th), India
- Divya Bharti, Bollywood actress
- Vinod Kambli, cricketer
- Meira Kumar, Speaker of Lok Sabha
- Ilaiyaraaja , A noted music director and composer, Ilaiyaraaja is also a instrumentalist, conductor, and a songwriter
- List of Scheduled Tribes in India
- Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- Forward caste
- Other Backward Class
- Sharda Prashad (M.L.A)
- ^ Census of India - India at a Glance : Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Population
- ^ The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950
- ^ The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950
- ^ THE CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED CASTES) ORDER, 1950]1
- ^ 1THE CONSTITUTION (SCHEDULED TRIBES)
- ^ http://nhrc.nic.in/Publications/reportKBSaxena.pdf
- ^ The Constitution (Amendment)
- ^ http://www.planningcommission.nic.in/plans/stateplan/scp&tsp/noteguidelinesFor.doc