Schedule Tribe

Mains Marks Booster     1st August 2023        
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  • The Indian Constitution recognizes tribal communities as 'Scheduled Tribes' under Schedule V and defined as tribes or tribal communities specified under Article 342 of the Constitution.
  • As per the census 2011, they make up 8.2% of the Indian population. Primitive traits, geographic isolation, distinctive cultures, aversion to interaction with the outside world, and economic backwardness are these societies' defining traits.
  • Generally speaking, the STs live in two separate geographic regions: Central India and the North-Eastern Area. The greatest ST populations are found in Odisha, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh.
  • According to Census Figures, the Literacy rate for STs in India improved from 47.1% in 2001 to 59% (Male - 68.5 %, Female - 49.40 %) in 2011.
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established under Article 338 A by the 89th Amendment in 2003.

Constitutional Provisions

  • Art. 46: The State is required to safeguard the weaker groups of the population from social injustice and all sorts of exploitation, while also promoting their economic and educational interests, particularly those of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Art. 350:  Instruction in mother tongue
  • Art.243: Seat reservations in Panchayats
  • Art. 275: Grants are made to certain States (STs&SAs) included in the Constitution's Fifth and Sixth Schedules 
  • Art. 330: Seats reserved for STs in the Lok Sabha;
  • Art. 337: Seats for STs in state legislatures are reserved;

Issues faced by STs

  • Loss of ownership: The indigenous people had unrestricted ownership and management rights over natural resources including land, woods, animals, water, etc. until the British arrived.
      • Tribal sovereignty was superseded by state control as a result of the rise of industrialization in India and the finding of mineral and other resources in tribally inhabited areas.
      • After gaining independence, the development process gained momentum, putting more strain on the land and forests.
  • As a result, the indigenous people were torn from their traditional moorings and left without a stable source of income as the ideas of protected forests and national forests gained popularity.
      • Illiteracy: There is no denying that education may help tribal people improve themselves and increase their involvement in the development process, but there are still certain barriers that prevent tribal people from enrolling in school.
      • These include cultural beliefs and biases, extreme poverty, a lack of interest in courses taught in foreign languages, a lack of qualified teachers in the tribal regions, and a lack of other amenities.
      • Displacement and Rehabilitation: Following independence, the core sector and heavy industries were the main areas of development. 
      • The government's acquisition of tribal territory for these projects resulted in the widespread eviction of the indigenous inhabitants. 
      • The tribal areas of West Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, and the Chhotanagpur region suffered the worst.
      • Exploitation: The position of women has been impacted by the deterioration of the natural environment, notably as a result of the clearing of forests and a fast-diminishing resource base. 
      • Tribal men and women have been exposed to the brutal practices of the market economy as a result of the opening of the tribal belts to mining, industries, and commercialization, which has led to consumerism and the commoditization of women.
      • Erosion of identity: Tribal members are becoming increasingly concerned about maintaining their identity as their traditional institutions and laws clash with contemporary institutions. 
      • Another issue to be concerned about is the disappearance of tribal languages and dialects, which in certain places is a sign of a loss of tribal identity.

      PVTGs

      • PVTGs are less developed among the tribals. There are 75 PVTGs residing in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands. In 1973, the Dhebar Commission first recognised them as Primitive Tribal Groups. In 2006, the Government renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). 
      • Basic characteristics of PVTGs - They are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, absence of written language, etc.

      Schemes for Schedule Tribe

      Educational Empowerment

      • Eklavya Model Residential Schools: To provide quality education to tribal children in remote areas.
      • Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools: To introduce digital technology in tribal schools for improved education outcomes.
      • Post Matric Scholarship (PMS): The programme includes correspondence courses that address distance and continuing education as well as professional, technical, and non-professional courses at various levels.
      • Top Class Education for ST Students: To provide quality higher education opportunities to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students.

      Economic Empowerment

      • Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana: To promote sustainable livelihoods among tribal populations by utilizing forest resources.
      • Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana: Holistic development of tribal communities by addressing their basic needs.
      • Vocational Training Centres in Tribal Areas: To impart skill development and vocational training to tribal youth.

      Social Empowerment

        • Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): To uplift the socio-economic conditions of the most vulnerable tribal communities.
      • Special Central Assistance to Tribal Subplan: The State Government receives Special Central Assistance (SCA) from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs as an addition to the State TSP. 
      • SCA is primarily intended for income-generation plans that prioritize supporting families in the agricultural, horticultural, and animal husbandry sectors.

      Legislative Measures

      • SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act): It prevents the perpetration of atrocities against members of conscripted castes and conscripted tribes. 
        • Further, it provides for the establishment of special courts for trial of such crimes, relief and rehabilitation of victims of such crimes. 
      • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006: It acknowledges the rights of tribal communities that live in forests and other traditional forest dwellers to the forest resources on which these societies depended for a range of purposes, such as subsistence, housing, and other sociocultural requirements.
      • The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the scheduled Areas) Act, 1996: It is a legislation that was passed by the Indian government to cover "Scheduled areas" that are not covered by the Panchayati Raj Act or the 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution. 
        • It allowed Gram Sabhas to manage their own natural resources. It is an Act to provide provisions for the Scheduled Areas to get the benefits of Part IX of the Constitution's panchayat-related provisions.

      Recommendations of various committees for Tribes


      • Dhebar commission (1960): 
      • Provide the mid-day meal, clothing, free book, reading and writing materials, etc. to all the tribal children in backward areas, opening of schools in localities where there were at least 30 school-going children, adjustment of timing, vacations, and holidays of schools to suit the tribal social and cultural life, create an atmosphere of tribal culture in the schools etc. 

      Xaxa Committee recommendations for welfare of STs

      • Empower Tribes Advisory Council.
      • Ensure due share in socio-economic progress for tribals, including facilities like health, education, livelihood, drinking water, sanitation, roads, electricity and sustainable income. 
      • Reservation for tribal women, Prevention of tribal land alienation 
      • Teachers for schools in the tribal regions should be recruited locally, teacher training, curriculum, policy of multilingual education, so that early learning is conducted in the local language. 
      • Residential schools.
      • Respect and protect tribals customary rights 

      Mungekar Report 

      • The Gram Sabha should become fully functional.
      • Participatory Approach of Programme Implementation should be a compulsory pre-requisite for programme implementation.
      • Review land laws
      • Devolution of powers and avoid misuse of power in tribal areas
      • Health crisis in Tribal areas should be handled on priority basis

      Institutional Measures

      • National Commission for STs: The Constitution (89th Amendment) Act of 2003 amended Article 338 and added a new Article 338A, establishing the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST). 
          • It was established with the primary purpose of improving the economic standing of the nation's Scheduled Tribes by providing the target population with preferential financial aid through its different programs.
        • The National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC): an apex organization under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, was established in 2001. 
        • It aimed at enhancing the economic status of the nation's Scheduled Tribes by providing the target population with preferential financial assistance through its various programs.
          • TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India): To promote the socio-economic development of tribal communities through marketing support.

          Challenges faced by NCSCs/NCSTs

          Challenges faced by NCSCs/NCSTs

          • Proliferation: The proliferation of institutions has led to institutional uncertainty in several policy areas, such as the instance of the Scheduled Castes, in which the duties and functions of each are obscured.
            • More uncertainty has been brought about by the proliferation and duplication of institutions.
          • Delays: There are delays in the investigation's execution and the rendering of decisions. Additionally, there is a notion that the Commission typically supports the government's stance in legal disputes.
          • Non-binding: The Commissions has extensive investigative and investigative powers and can establish responsibilities and recommend measures, but the recommendations are not binding. 
          • Litigation: In the context of criminal investigations, needs to adhere to the current standards for evidence and prosecution.
            • This undermines the operational efficacy of the commission by making it susceptible to legal action in the form of appeals to higher judicial authorities.

          Way forward

          • Commissions can facilitate online reporting and prosecution of crimes. By creating a simplified SOP and making it available in local languages ??at all police stations.
          • Commissions can help build the capacity of lawyers, judges, and police officers. This ensures discreet correspondence with registered caste members.
          • The Commissions may offer rewards for a department's or organization's work that exhibits innovation, effectiveness, or good impact.
          • An improved framework for organized engagement with civil society organizations working on these communities' problems may be created by the Commission.
          • The Commission has the ability to pinpoint societal norms that encourage discrimination and can work with the government and civil society to plan discussions, hearings, and awareness raising activities.

          Conclusion

          • In India, there are other factors like jobs, programs, and law enforcement that can guarantee social representation equity and access to dignity. 
          • Real empowerment can only be achieved by building sensitive, compassionate societies that are aware of their need to act to end the suffering and shame of disadvantaged and exploited groups.
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