- How has democratic decentralization worked with respect to Indian tribes? What are the differences in the pre- and post-independence tribal policies of India? 20
- Recently Draupadi Murmu was nominated as the first tribal president candidate after 75 years of independence, is it symbolic of limitations of policy of integration of tribals in independent India? Comment. (20)
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Q1. How has democratic decentralization worked with respect to Indian tribes? What are the differences in the pre- and post-independence tribal policies of India? 20
(Provide a debate about how different tribal policies such as PESA, FRA etc. worked - their benefits and limitations)
- Give data about tribals
- Pre-independence tribal policies:
- In the pre-independence era, tribes were not viewed as integral part of the forests
- Instead, they were alienated from their land and livelihood through forest laws
- Though the colonial forest laws had a façade of conservation, they were meant to unilaterally exploit forest resources for the colonial government and client states
- As a result, tribal revolts broke out in various parts of India
- These revolts were geographically disparate but they all had the same theme of fighting exploitation
- Some revolts were quelled with force but some revolts reached a natural conclusion with enactment of tenancy laws
- Tribes were also ostracized with the enactment of criminal tribes act
- Post-independence tribal policies:
- Post-independence, the criminal tribes were ‘denotified’
- Verrier Elwin advocated tribal isolation policy
- This led to formation of Tribal Panchsheel:
- Non-imposition: People should develop along the lines of their own genius, and the imposition of alien values should be avoided.
- Tribe rights in land and forest should be respected.
- Teams of tribals should be trained in the work of administration and development. Introducing too many outsiders into tribal territory should be avoided.
- Tribe areas should not be over administered or overwhelmed with a multiplicity of schemes.
- Results should be judged not by statistics or the amount of money spent, but by the human character that is evolved.
- Fifth and sixth schedule areas institutionalized in the constitution, gave way for decentralization
- However, tribes were still backward and non-integration of tribes lead to un-development of tribes
- This lead enactment of PESA Act, which institutionalized village level self-governance
- These gram sabhas were empowered to decide on titles and deeds in Forest Rights Act too
- Decentralization at the macro-level also led to creation of states with significant tribal population such as Jharkhand
- Currently, PVTGs are designated to empower underclass among tribes
- Van Dan Vikas Yojana also has helped in reaping economic benefits while maintaining character of decentralization
- Tribal sub-plans at state level also has led to devolution of funds to exacerbate tribal development
- Thus, current policies help in tribe-led, tribe-owned development
Q2. Recently Draupadi Murmu was nominated as the first tribal president candidate after 75 years of independence, is it symbolic of limitations of policy of integration of tribals in independent India? Comment. (20)
- Integration and autonomy of tribal groups has been highly convoluted right since the beginning of British rule.
- Along with these issues they face a range of problems like poverty, under development, cultural isolation and so on.
- To understand these problems various approaches have been advocated, of which few are discussed below.
- Isolation: Verrier Elwin argued that all outside links, responsible for unregulated as well as unrestricted contact with the outside world should be severed. The tribals should be encouraged to flourish in their primitive environment. Government followed this policy with the primitive tribes of Andaman and nicobar like Sentinelese where they are kept isolated and thriving in their own environment
- Assimilationists like Ghurye argued that they should be assimilated with the neighbouring non-tribal cultures. He called tribals a part of Hinduism by calling them backward hindus.
- Integration: Nehru advocated this approach on his tribal panchsheel approach. This stream talks of integrating tribals with the rest of the Indian population, on the basis of equality and mutual respect.
- GOI adopted the policy of integration but the motive wasn’t served:
- State followed the growth-oriented model of development. Here Fernandes and Thakral assert that the policies adopted by the states have not been conducive to the economic growth and prosperity of the tribes. The developmental projects have displaced millions of people and majority of them are tribes. For instance in 2009, around 245 Baiga families in Chhattisgarh were evicted from the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve.
- Kundan Kumar in his studies found that conservation programmes including plantation and protected areas have emerged as tribal land alienation and acceleration of tribal poverty.
- Displacement makes it difficult for them to integrate them into a relatively new social and cultural environment.
- It also results in homelessness, marginalisation, poverty, disintegration of tribes, etc.
- Lack of access of modern education hinders their capacities of acquiring cutting edge skills thus they struggle for employment
- However, there has been increasing sensitivity towards tribal rights. The Forest rights act 2006 was one such step. Other such significant initiatives for their integration and development includes:
- Community kitchen for PVTG
- National commission for STs and reservations in employment
- Assessment of minor forest produces and finding markets for the same through TRIFED.
- National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation is an apex organisation set up exclusively for their development.
- It would take some more effort and time to assimilate tribes into the daily Indian lives, but with Droupadi Murmu emerging as the presidential candidate for a country with such diversity, is in itself symbolic of progressive future.