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Tribal Development Policy of GOI – A comprehensive UPSCTREE analysis !!!

The forest area in the country is 74.74 million hectares covering 22.7 percent of total geographical area. At present 94 percent of the forest dwellers are tribes and their economy is depending on forest to a great extent.They exploited the forests for fulfilling their basic needs by hunting wild life and collecting roots and fruits.

A United Nations report on tribal development pointed out that tribal people in general derived, either directly or indirectly, a substantial amount of their livelihood from the forests. They subsist on edible leaves and roots, honey, wild games and fish.

They build their houses with timber and bamboo and practice cottage crafts with the help of local raw materials. They use herbs and medicinal plants available in the forest to cure their diseases.

Even their religion and folklore woven round the spirits of the forests. This dependency for their livelihood on the forests creates in the tribes an equally strong attachment to the forests. Tribals residing in or near the forests collect various minor forest produces (MFP) during the seasons of their availability both for their own use as also for sale either to government agencies or to contractors.

Tendu leaves are collected during April – May when they mature. Sal seeds are collected in pre – monsoon period. Harra (chebulic myrabolan) is collected when it ripens in early winter. Gum and lac are collected throughout the year except when it rains. Pine trees are tapped for resin during warm and hot seasons. Various edible products, are collected whenever they become available. Thus the collection of minor forest produce goes on throughout the year, though certain months of the year are busier for the collectors

The tribal areas were the last to come under the British rule due to their inaccessibility. To avoid troubles from violent tribes, the British Government adopted a policy of pacification through indirect rule with respect to tribal areas and treated them differently from the rest of the country. Accordingly the following measures were taken.

The Schedule Districts Act of 1874 was enacted to keep large tracts of tribal areas outside the jurisdiction of normal administration. For these areas the executives were endowed with wide powers. The administrative policy was based on the principles of non – interference into the affairs of the tribes and isolation.

All these provinces were provided with autonomy to rule the tribal areas under their control following broad guidelines formulated for this purpose. In accordance with the Policy, Agency Rules have been formulated in the year 1924 by the Government of Madras Provinces suppressing all the existing rules.

The Agency Rules provided for the Revenue and Judicial administration of the tribal areas acquired linkages with the higher levels as their positions were recognized for administrative purposes.

The Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas Act which came into existence in 1935 resulted in the non-applicability of any legislation of the Provincial Government to tribal areas except on the direction of Central Government.

The outcome of British administrative policy can be broadly summarized that the administration in tribe’s areas during pre – independence days was not formalized. The decision making level, both in British India and Indian States, was near enough to the common-man. Maintenance of order and protection from unwanted elements where necessary, were the main objectives of administration.

The British Policy of isolating the tribes led to the misery of the tribes as it freely left them to the exploitation of zamindars, money lenders, and local chiefs. The policy of conservation of forests resulted in curbing age old practices of tribes like shifting cultivation, hunting, and others. The entry of merchants and money lenders further affected the tribes who were already facing many odds such as Vagaries of nature, denudation of hills and loss of soil fertility.

Under these conditions, the policy of non interference of the British with regard to tribal areas helped only to perpetuate the socio – cultural gulf between the tribes and non – tribes besides exposing them to the nefarious practices of merchants and money lenders. Even during the British rule, the miserable plight of the tribes and the exploitation to which they were subjected was recognized by the Governments.

These regulations of the British Government suffered severely with the problems of implementation. Hence they could not do anything to change the plight of tribes. The result is seen in further worsening the situation. The British policy resulted in exploitation and encroachment of tribal lands and thus they have lost command over the natural resources in their own habitat. The British administrators have neglected the tribal areas.

The founders of the Indian Constitution were deeply conscious of the miserable conditions of the tribes who were segregated from the national main stream. The social scientists of this period also focused their attention towards the conditions of the tribes and began to discuss how best to deal with them.

One school of thought led by Elwin argued to protect the aboriginals by completely isolating them from rest of India and later he shifted his stance.

A second school of thought led by Ghurye opined assimilation of the tribes into national main – stream as essential.

A third school believed that tribes should be integrated into the Indian society but not necessarily assimilated which means that it aims to preserve their identity.

Ghurye (1963) made an elaborate discussion on the three solutions suggested for tribals’ problems; no change and revivalism: Isolationism and preservation; and Assimilation

The Government of India came to the stand that the tribal population cannot be left to lag behind and isolatedNor the natural resources in tribal areas can be neglected.

Integration of tribes into the national mainstream was considered to be the solution. The policy is to bring the tribes into the main stream in a phased manner. This policy also cautioned that the tribes should not be allowed to get exploited in this process.

Late Jawaharlal Nehru spelled out the policy as follows: “We cannot allow matters to drift in the tribal areas or lest not take interest in them. At the same time we should avoid over administering the areas and in particular sending too many outsiders into the territory. It is between the two extreme positions we shave to function”.

The Government of India appointed a sub – committee in 1947 with Thakkar Bapa as its chairman to study the position of Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas of the erstwhile British Government.

The committee made several recommendations. One of the important recommendations was that the state should bear the responsibility of the tribal people. It laid emphasis on the protection of tribal lands and prevention of exploitation by money – lenders. It also suggested certain statutory safeguards for the protection of tribes.

After independence the British Policy of isolation and non – interference was replaced by a policy of integration through development. Accordingly several provisions were made in the Indian Constitution.

The most important provision of the constitution is the Article 244, which provides for administration of scheduled areas in accordance with the Schedule V to the constitution and the administration of tribal areas (Assam State) under Schedule VI.

Articles 5, 16, 19, 46, 244, 275, 330, 332, 335, 339 and 342 of the Indian constitution provided specific provisions for the advancement of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

There are reservations in educational institutions, services, political bodies, special relaxations in age, qualifications, etc. Further the provisions are allowed for the necessary funds for Tribal Development Programmes.

Many special provisions were made in Schedule V to the constitution in the interests of the Tribal areas. Clause “6” of the Schedule V empowered the President of India to declare any area where there is predominant concentration of tribal people as Scheduled area.

The constitution of scheduled areas has two clear objectives:

To assist the tribes in enjoying their existing rights unhindered or unobstructed by others;

and to develop the areas and promote economic, educational, and social progress among them.

The Fifth Schedule also gave wide powers to State Governors empowering them even to modify the existing enactments and make regulations for the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes.

Article 338 of the Constitution provides for instituting a Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes with an object of submitting reports on the administration of tribal areas in general and in particular about the provision of educational and medical facilities and communications in such areas.

The Commissioner’s report is to be placed before the Parliament. Under the provisions of the Art. 339 of the Constitution, the Government of India has set up the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission.

The commission in its report submitted in 1960–61, specified the policies to be followed towards Scheduled Tribes.The commission suggested, that the tribal should be assured that his rights in the land are safe and that the Government and Society are there to protect him; that the tribal should be made confident that no one will tamper with his way of life or his benefits and customs; and that the tribal should be made to realize that change is indispensable without which no development is possible, and the development is intended to secure for him and his family greater opportunities of life along with the rest in the country of which he is an inseparable part.

The founding fathers of Indian Constitution laid a firm policy of tribal development by incorporating various provisions on the doctrine of “compensatory discrimination”.

Consequent to the National Policy on Tribal which envisaged for protection and integration of tribes, several protective legislations were passed to provide protection and to safeguard the interests of tribes. These acts and regulations emanate from various constitutional provisions. Some of the Central Acts are:

  1. Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.

  2. Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976.

  3. Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.

  4. Forest conservancy Act, 1980, and

  5. SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The Government of India appointed several commissions and committees from time to time to report on the development of tribes. The foundation for the Tribal Development Policy was laid by the first Prime Minister of India Late Sri. Jawaharlal Nehru, who enunciated the policy of ‘Panch Sheel’ for tribal development.

The essence of this policy is that Tribal Development should be along the lines of the genius of the tribal community and nothing should be imposed upon them.

i) Verrier Elwin Committee – 1960

This committee suggested for the protection of the tribes through enacting of legislations for curbing money lending, scaling down of past debts, and automatic discharge from agreements in the matters of bonded labour and adequate alternative sources of credit.

While legislations were made to prevent land alienation and money lending, cooperatives were planned through the Tribal Development Blocks as alternate sources of Credit.

Considering inadequacies of the individual co-operatives due to lack of sufficient financial base and operational efficiency the State Government of Andhra Pradesh established a State level Cooperative body, ‘The Girijan Cooperative Corporation’ (GCC) to combine co-operative credit and marketing in the interests of the tribes. The different Committees constituted by the Government of India conducted specific studies and dealt with selected subject like personnel policies, Land alienation, credit structure etc

After independence, India has launched Five Year Plans for the planned and rapid development of the country. As designed by the leaders, a Five Year Plan is a comprehensive document with specified aims and objectives for achievement within a period of five years. T

hus the socio – economic goals of the Government are planned to be achieved through the Five Year Plans. As part of the Governments strategy, the various five-year plans have been designed to achieve all-round development of tribes and tribal areas.

It was during the First Five Year Plan, (1951-56), that the policy for tackling the tribal problem took a clear shape as it was aimed to assist the Tribal people to develop their natural resources and to evolve a productive economic life where in they enjoy the fruits of labour and will not be exploited by more organized economic forces from outside. It was decided not to bring about changes except at the initiative of the people themselves and their willing consent, as far as their religious and social life were concerned.

During the Second Five Year Plan Period (1956-61), the First Five Year Plan approach remained same with new schemes to tackle the tribal problems on a wider canvass. It was once again emphasized welfare programmes for tribal people have to be based on respect and understanding of their culture and traditions and appreciation of their social, psychological and economic problems with which they are faced, For the first time Minor Irrigation was emphasized by allocating special funds. During this period, the Government spent 0.92% of the total plan outlay for the purpose. During the end of Second Five Year Plan, some committees, like Renuka Roy Committee, Elwin Committee and Dhebar Commission were appointed to study the progress of the tribal welfare programmes.

The suggestions made by these committees were given due consideration in evolving tribal development programmes in the Third Five Year Plan (1961-66). While continuing old schemes, special emphasis was laid on Cottage Industries, Agriculture, and Education etc. During this plan period 20 tribal development blocks were established in addition to already existing four multi-purpose blocks.

After Third Five Year Plan, three annual plans were formulated for 1966-69 and during this period more or less the earlier schemes were continued.

The Fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74) which was some significant, as it initiated important schemes for tribal development. In addition to manifold increase in the budgetary allocations for tribal development, areas of unrest were identified and special projects were started in the countryGirijan Development Agency (GDA), was established in Srikakulam District, is one among them with special assistance of Rs. 1.5 crores from Government of India. The working of the various Protective Regulations was reviewed and it was found necessary to amend them in order to make them more effective and also to remove certain practical difficulties in the way of implementation. The Land Transfer Regulation Act, 1959 was amended placing absolute prohibition on transfer of immovable property in schedule areas to persons other than tribes. Institutional credit facilities were provided on a large scale for the first time by obtaining special credit facilities from Reserve Bank of India.

The Fifth Five Year Plan (1974-78) marked a significant change in the strategy for tribal development. The plurality of occupations, marked variations in the levels of development and varied geo-ethnic milieu of various tribes gave rise to plethora of problems, which are not amenable to uniform approach for their development. Therefore, area, community and problem specific strategies have been evolved to develop tribes as envisaged by the constitution. As 60 percent of the tribal population has inhabited in the scheduled areas, which are endowed with rich natural resources and the development of the people inhabiting in this area is linked with the development of the area. Hence area approach was adopted for the development of the scheduled tribes living in the scheduled areas of the country. The following strategies are evolved for the development of these three different groups.

Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) at macro level and ITDAs (or) ITDPs at micro level (or) District level as main nodal centers of development in areas of tribal concentration.

Modified Area Development Approach (MADA) – for development of tribes outside TSP area, and Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) for those who are at the Pre-Agricultural stage of economy.

During Sixth Plan, 235 pockets of Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) are identified. Special programmes were chalked out for those areas and Special Central Assistance (SCA) was provided for development of these pockets. To make the programmes result oriented, much greater emphasis was laid on family oriented programmes in economically benefiting sectors than in earlier plans. The various programmes in the Sixth Plan are mainly intended to achieve the objective of narrowing down the gap between the levels of development of tribal areas and other areas and also to bring more rapidly a qualitative change in the tribal communities.

The strategy adopted for tribal development has marginally changed during the Seventh Plan (1985-90). The approach is a judicious mix of beneficiary oriented programmes, human resource development and infrastructure development. The new strategy is oriented for creation of assets under agriculture, horticulture and sericulture by taking up programmes in an integrated manner. Further focus will be given on universalisation of education and provision of quality education by opening full-fledged residential schools and public schools.

In the Eighth Plan (1992-97) the Government while revising the strategies of tribal development was emphasized the problems of the tribes have to be tackled by suitably strengthening the mechanism of planning and implementation of programmes of Tribal Sub-Plan.

In the Ninth Plan (1997- 2002) emphasis is laid on a total integrated effort for all round tribal development and massive efforts have been made for the socioeconomic development of tribal people by the government through organized economic planning. It can be visualized that in the approaches to tribal development, the emphasis is laid down on increasing the living standards of tribes through strategy of growth of core sectors and area development through investment in infrastructure.

The Ninth Plan aimed to empower STs by creating an enabling environment conducive for them to exercise their rights freely, enjoy their privileges and lead a life of self-confidence and dignity, on par with the rest of society. This process essentially encompassed three vital components viz. (i). Social Empowerment, (ii). Economic Empowerment and (iii). Social Justice.

In the Tenth Plan (2002-07) an attempt is made towards empowering tribes through continuing the on-going provided strategy of social empowerment; economic empowerment and social justice through taking effective steps to prevent the serious problem of displacement of tribes and ensuring their effective rehabilitation through a laid-down rehabilitation policy.

This plan tied to expedite the finalization of the National Policy for Rehabilitation of the displaced persons with a special focus on the displaced tribes, by providing them land for land and item for item, last possessed before displacement. The Tenth Plan accorded high priority to prevent and restore the alienated land to the tribes and, if possible, to put a total ban on the transfer of tribe land to non-tribes. The Tenth Plan endeavored to boost agricultural production in tribal areas through the extension of the irrigation facilities through promotion of micro-irrigation systems, and by creating awareness among the tribes for effective water resource management. This plan tried to adopt an effective strategy that takes into account the prospects of the tribes as well as forests together complementing each other. This plan tends to channelize the efforts to ensure that the interests of the tribes protected and linked with the bio-diversity and environment restoration projects. Primary health care services in tribal areas are extended by involving local NGOs to cover all terrains in all seasons with a special focus on women, children and PTGs. Indigenous medicines, traditional knowledge and methods of healing are encouraged in attending to the health needs of the tribes.

The Eleventh Plan (2007-12) is entitled as ‘Towards Faster and Inclusive Growth”. The strategy of this plan for the development of the scheduled tribes is based on inclusive growth. Under this approach development and empowerment of socially disadvantaged groups and bringing them at par with the rest of the society is given top priority.

In his context this plan considers education is the one of the most effective instruments of social empowerment and is vital for securing horizontal and vertical mobility. Hence schemes for the educational upliftment of the STs have borne fruit although the gap between the general population and STs are still at unacceptable levels. An educational scheme in favour of these sections is going to be continued with redoubled vigour. While bringing the STs to the national level may take time, certain aspects of the backwardness need to be immediately set right.

Total eradication of the practice of bonded labour, which especially targets the STs, will be achieved in the 11th Plan. For this, intense efforts will be made to identify and rehabilitate bonded labour and their children. The Special Component Plan (SCP) for Scheduled Castes and the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) are two strategic policy initiatives to secure overall development of the STs and to remove all socio-economic and educational disparities between them and the rest of the population.

Towards promoting education the Plan taken in to account various issues like, while teachers appointed in schools located in tribal habitations are unable to understand the dialect of the ST children, the children are also unable to understand the dialect of teachers.

Care therefore has to be taken for appointing ST teachers in schools located in tribal areas. Adequate attention also should be paid to regional language so that children are not handicapped in higher classes. Timely distribution of fellowships, scholarships, textbooks, uniforms and school bags to students is reqired.

The ICDS/Anganwadi schemes for tribal areas should be evaluated and shortcomings eliminated. Requisite number of primary schools needs to be established in areas that have less number of schools. At the Gram Panchayat level, wherever feasible girls’ hostels will have to be attached to existing primary/elementary schools that do not have hostels Intensive efforts should be mounted to restitute, vitalize and expand agricultural sector for making existing tribal livelihoods more productive.

TRIFED has to shoulder the task of marketing to ensure remunerative prices to STs. There is a need to encourage traditional arts and culture and protect Tribal Rights in Land and Forests of STs. During the plans the primitive conditions of the tribal life, their vulnerability to economic exploitation, the existing socio – psychological barriers due to isolation necessitated a cautious and phased approach for the development of tribes. A special approach has been formulated by the Indian Government with protection and integration of tribes as its principal objective. Following this approach, developmental institutions were established to look after the all-round development of tribes.

There are 67.8 million Scheduled Tribe people, constituting 8.08 per cent of India’s population. There are 698 Scheduled Tribes spread all over the country barring States and Union Territories like Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Pondicherry and Punjab. Orissa has the largest number – 68–of Scheduled Tribes.

Five principles spelt out in 1952, known as Nehruvian Panchasheel, have been guiding the administration of tribal affairs.They are:

1. Tribals should be allowed to develop according to their own genius

2. Tribals’ rights in land and forest should be respected

3. Tribal teams should be trained to undertake administration and development without too many outsiders being inducted

4. Tribal development should be undertaken without disturbing tribal social and cultural institutions

5. The index of tribal development should be the quality of their life and not the money spent

Realising that the Nehruvian Panchasheel was long on generalities and short on specifics, the Government of India formed a Ministry of Tribal Affairs for the first time in October 1999 to accelerate tribal development The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is now coming out with the draft National Policy on Tribals.

The National Policy aims at addressing each of these problems in a concrete way. It also lists out measures to be taken to preserve and promote tribals’ cultural heritage.

Formal education: Formal education is the key to all-round human development.

Traditional wisdom: Dwelling amidst hills, forests, coastal areas, deserts, tribals over the centuries have gained precious and vast experience in combating environmental hardships and leading sustainable livelihoods. Their wisdom is reflected in their water harvesting techniques, indigenously developed irrigation channels, construction of cane bridges in hills, adaptation to desert life, utilisation of forest species like herbs, shrubs for medicinal purposes, meteorological assessment etc. Such invaluable knowledge of theirs needs to be properly documented and preserved lest it should get lost in the wake of modernisation and passage of time.

The National Policy seeks to:

• · Preserve and promote such traditional knowledge and wisdom and document it

• · Establish a centre to train tribal youth in areas of traditional wisdom

• · Disseminate such through models and exhibits at appropriate places

• · Transfer such knowledge to non-tribal areas

Health: Although tribal people live usually close to nature, a majority of them need health care on account of malnutrition, lack of safe drinking water, poor hygiene and environmental sanitation and above all poverty.They have also their own system of diagnosis and cure of diseases. They believe in taboos, spiritual powers and faith healing. There are wide variations among tribals in their health status and willingness to access and utilise health services, depending on their culture, level of contact with other cultures and degree of adaptability. Against this background, the National Policy seeks to promote the modern health care system and also a synthesis of the Indian systems of medicine like ayurveda and siddha with the tribal system.

Displacement and Resettlement: Displacement of people from traditional habitations causes much trauma to the affected people. Compulsory acquisition of land for construction of dams and roads, quarrying and mining operations, location of industries and reservation of forests for National Parks and environmental reasons forces tribal people to leave their traditional abodes and land – their chief means of livelihood. Nearly 85.39 lakh tribals had been displaced until 1990 on account of some mega project or the other, reservation of forests as National Parks etc. Tribals constitute at least 55.16 percent of the total displaced people in the country..

Cash payment does not really compensate the tribals for the difficulties they experience in their living style and ethos. Displacement of tribals from their land amounts to violation of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution as it deprives them of control and ownership of natural resources and land essential for their way of life. The National Policy for Tribals, therefore, stipulates that displacement of tribal people is kept to the minimum and undertaken only after possibilities of non-displacement and least displacement have been exhausted. When it becomes absolutely necessary to displace Scheduled Tribe people in the larger interest, the displaced should be provided a better standard of living. Forest villages Tribal’s age-old symbiotic relationship with forests is well known. Recognising this fact, even the National Forest Policy committed itself to the close association of tribals with the protection, preservation and development of forests and envisaged their customary rights in forests.

It is, however, a matter of serious concern that about 5000 forest villages do not have minimum basic living conditions and face a constant threat of eviction. The National Policy suggests that any forceful displacement should be avoided. Human beings move on their own to places with better opportunities. The forest villages may be converted into revenue villages or forest villages may be developed on par with revenue villages to enable the forest villagers enjoy at least the minimum amenities and services that are available in revenue villages.

Shifting Cultivation: In the evolution of human civilisation, shifting cultivation preceded agriculture as we know it today. In shifting cultivation, tribals do not use any mechanized tools or undertake even ploughing. A digging stick and a sickle are the usual tools. It is widely practised in whole of North- Eastern region besides the States of Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and to some extent in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.

Though the practice is hazardous to environment, it forms basis of life for tribals. Traditionally, shifting cultivation has been in vogue in hilly terrains where tribals have had the right on land either individually or on community basis. Because of poor yields, crops do not meet their food requirement for more than four months or so in a year. The tribals involved in shifting cultivation do not seem to have any emotional attachment to the land as an asset or property needing care and attention as in non-tribal areas. In shifting cultivation lands, no attention is paid to the replenishment of soil fertility. Tribals merely believe in harvesting crops without putting in efforts or investments. Land is just left to nature to recoup on its own. To handle the problem of shifting cultivation, the National Policy will focus on the following aspects:

• · Land tenure system will be rationalised giving tribals right to land ownership so that they will invest their energy and resources in checking soil erosion and fertility – which have hitherto been neglected as land belonged to no one but was subject to exploitation by every one.

• · Agricultural scientists will be asked to focus on shifting cultivation and evolve suitable technologies to improve production.

• · The shifting cultivators will be ensured sufficient food supply through the public distribution system and grain banks. Tribals will be encouraged to raise cash crops and horticultural plantations.

• · Training and extension programmes will be organised to sensitise tribals about alternative economic strategies so that they can come out of shifting cultivation. Land Alienation: Scheduled Tribes being simple folk are often exploited to forgo their foremost important resource – land – to non-tribals. Although States have protective laws to check the trend, dispossessed tribals are yet to get back their lands. Yet, another form of land alienation takes place when States promote development projects like hydro-electric power stations and mining and industries. These developmental activities, which do not confer any benefit on tribals directly, render them landless. The National Policy for Tribals seeks to tackle tribal land alienation by stipulating that • · Tribals have access to village land records

• · Land records be displayed at the panchayat

• · Oral evidence be considered in the absence of records in the disposal of tribals’ land disputes

• · States prohibit transfer of lands from tribals to non-tribals

• · Tribals and their representatives be associated with land surveys

• · Forest tribal villagers be assigned pattas for the land under their tillage since ages

• · States launching development projects take adequate care to keep tribal lands intact and when not possible, allot land even before a project takes off

Intellectual Property Rights: Scheduled Tribes are known for their knowledge and wisdom of ethnic origin. There is, however, no legal and/or institutional framework to safeguard their intellectual property rights. The National Policy, therefore, will aim at making legal and institutional arrangements to protect their intellectual property rights and curtailing the rights of corporate and other agencies to access and exploit their resource base.

Tribal Languages: The languages spoken by tribals – tribal languages – are treated as unscheduled languages. In the wake of changing educational scenario, many of the tribal languages are facing the threat of extinction. The loss of language may adversely affect tribal culture, especially their folklore. The National Policy aims at preserving and documenting tribal languages. Education in the mother tongue at the primary level needs be encouraged. Books and other publications in tribal languages will be promoted

Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs): Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) are Scheduled Tribes known for their declining or stagnant population, low levels of literacy, pre- agricultural technology, primarily belonging to the hunting and gathering stage, and extreme backwardness. They were considered as a special category for support for the first time in 1979. There are 75 Primitive Tribal Groups spread over 15 States and Union Territories. The 25 lakh PTG population constitutes nearly 3.6 per cent of the tribal population and 0.3 per cent of the country’s population. PTGs have not benefited from developmental activities. They face continuous threats of eviction from their homes and lands. They live with food insecurity and a host of diseases like sickle cell anaemia and malaria. The National Policy envisages the following steps to tackle PTGs’ problems:

• · To boost PTGs’ social image, their being stigmatized as ‘primitive’ shall be halted.

• · Efforts shall be made to bring them on par with other Scheduled Tribes in a definite time frame. Developmental efforts should be tribe-specific and suit the local environment.

• · Effective preventive and curative health systems shall be introduced.

• · PTGs’ traditional methods of prevention and cure shall be examined and validated.

• · To combat the low level of literacy among PTGs, area and need specific education coupled with skill upgradation shall be given priority.

• · Formal schooling shall be strengthened by taking advantage of ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’. Trained tribal youth shall be inducted as teachers. • · Teaching shall be in tribals’ mother tongue/dialect • · Considering PTGs’ poverty, school-going children shall be provided incentives.

• · Emphasis shall be on laid on vocational education and training.

• · PTGs shall enjoy the ‘right to land’. Any form of land alienation shall be prevented and landless PTGs given priority in land assignment.

• · Public distribution system (PDS) shall be introduced to ensure regular food supply. Grain banks shall be established to ensure food availability during crises.

• · PTGs’ participation in managing forests shall be ensured to meet their economic needs and nourish their emotional attachment to forests.

Administration: The existing administrative machinery in States and districts comprising Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDA) and Integrated Tribal Development Projects (ITDP) have not been up in terms of the quality of performance and development indicators. The National Policy seeks to revitalise the administration by proposing the following:

• · Skill upgradation-cum-orientation programmes shall be conducted for tribal administration officials.

• · Infrastructure development shall be given priority to so that officials will function from their places of posting.

• · Only officials who have adequate knowledge, experience and a sense of appreciation for tribal problems shall be posted for tribal administration.

• · As the schemes meant for improving tribals’ condition take time, a tenure that is commensurate with their implementation shall be fixed for officials.

Research: The National Policy acknowledges the importance of a good database to deal with Scheduled Tribes’ affairs. Research on tribals’ ethnic profiles, spectrum of problems and prospects and developmental constraints and monitoring and evaluation of schemes and projects needs priority attention. The National Policy for Tribals proposes that the existing Tribal Research Institutes located in different States shall be further strengthened for carrying out purposeful research and evaluation studies and work towards the preservation of the rich tribal cultural heritage. It also envisages the establishment of a national-level research institution.

Participatory Approach: The National Policy recognises the importance of participatory approach to development. Non- Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Voluntary Agencies (VAs) act as catalysts in reaching benefits of Government programmes and policies to the grass-root level and thus optimise the desired accomplishment. Such organisations have direct linkages with people and are conversant with their problems. NGOs can undertake and promote family and community based programmes and mobilise resources in tribal areas. Some well-established NGOs are eager to take part in the development of Scheduled Tribes in general and Primitive Tribal Groups in particular.

The National Policy, therefore, seeks to enlist and encourage NGOs in tribal development activities. They can play an important role in the opening of residential and non-residential schools, hostels, dispensaries, hospitals and vocational training centres, promotion of awareness programmes and capacity building

Assimilation: To bring the tribals into country’s mainstream, the National Policy envisages the following

• · Identification of tribal groups with ‘primitive traits’ shall be done away with on a priority basis.

• · The ‘distinct culture’ of the tribes reflected in their folk art, folk literature, traditional crafts and ethos shall be preserved. Their oral traditions shall be documented and art promoted. • · Opportunities shall be provided for tribals to interact with outside cultures.

• · Their geographical isolation shall be minimised through development of roads, transport and means of communication and provision of concessional travel facility.

During the British regime, the Government did not pay much attention on the tribes living in the interior forest areas. The British rulers enforced law and order with an iron hand. Their attitude towards the tribes was otherwise paternalistic and protective.

Thus, a money economy was introduced among the tribe communities. After Indian independence, a number of polices and programmes were initiated in the tribal areas, which had far reaching consequences. As a result of the national forest policy of 1952 the government began to discourage shifting cultivation. In 1956 shifting cultivation was restricted on certain gradients of hills in the study area, shaking the basic economic system of a large section of the tribes.

The Government on the other hand introduced the special Multi Purpose Project (MPP) in 1956 for developing tribe economy on a special footing. The activities of various other government departments forest, soil and water conservation, roads and buildings, the Girijan Cooperative Corporation, the silk farm etc. have greatly increased employment potential in the tribal areas.

The Fifth Plan marked a significant change in the process of tribal development. The plurality of occupations marked variations in the levels of development and varied geo-ethnic milieu of various tribes give rise to plethora of problems, which are not amenable to uniform approach for their development. Therefore, area specific strategy has been evolved basing on the recommendations of expert committee set up by the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare in 1972 under the chairmanship of Prof. S.C Dube for the rapid socioeconomic development of tribal people inhabiting the scheduled areas where more than 60 percent tribal population are living.

The main objectives of Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) aresocio-economic development of STs and protection of tribals against exploitation.

Similarly, the salient features of TSP are: it falls within the ambit of State Plan meant for the welfare and development of tribals. Such a plan is a part of the overall plan of a State and is therefore called a Sub- Plan.

The benefits given to the tribals and tribal areas of a State from the TSP are in addition to what percolates from the overall plan of a State. The Sub-Plan identifies the resources for TSP areas, prepare a broad policy framework for the development and define a suitable administrative strategy for its implementation. After the introduction of Sub-Plan area programme during the successive Plans there is a tremendous decline in the dependency of different tribes on the collection of forest produce and hunting while decline in hunting activity is the direct result of the forest policy.

Decline in food gathering activity is mainly due to the fact that several tribes are now wholly engaged in the cultivation of modern crops. However the impact of money wages and modern farm technology is negligible in the remote and interior tribal areas.

Enforcement of existing legal/protective measures is resorted to along with the provisions made under the Fifth Schedule to prevent tribe indebtedness, bonded labour and other exploitation. Involving tribes especially those engaged in shifting cultivation, closely and gainfully involved in joint forest management, social forestry, agroforestry etc., are intended to facilitate rightful collection and gainful disposal of minor forest produce and other produce.

Strengthening the gross root democratic institutions viz., PRIs and Gram Sabhas as per the provisions of 73rd and 74th amendments and PESA Act, 1996, resulted in solving the persisting problems through providing basic minimum services.

The XI Plan giving much focuses on “inclusive growth” is ultimately focusing upon the tribal communities who have not joined in the process of growth. During the plans the primitive conditions of the tribe’s life, their vulnerability to economic exploitation, the existing socio – psychological barriers due to isolation necessitated a cautious and phased approach for the development of PTGs.A special approach has been formulated by the Indian Government with protection and integration of tribes as its principal objective. Following this approach, developmental institutions were established to look after the all-round development of tribes.

February 19, 2021

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