12 Jan 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) What are the criteria used to identify tribals in India? Assess the efforts made towards the integration of tribal communities after independence.


In India, the criteria used to identify tribal communities are based on anthropological, socio-cultural and development factors. These factors have been decided by the Government of India on the basis of recommendations of criteria used in 1931 census, Kalelkar Commission, Lokur Committee, Chanda Committee etc.

The major criteria to identify tribals in India are as follows:

  1. Primitive Traits: Physical features, such as height, complexion, hair, etc. which are believed to be primitive traits.
  2. Distinctive Culture: Use of tribal languages and adherence to cultural practices that are distinct from those of the mainstream population.
  3. Geographical Isolation: Residence in remote and hilly areas, forests, or other areas with limited access.
  4. Shyness of Contact with community at large: The reluctance of tribal communities to interact with outsiders, which is often rooted in their cultural and social beliefs.
  5. Socio-economic Backwardness: Low income, lack of access to education, healthcare, and other basic amenities, primitive agriculture and forest-based livelihoods.

After independence, several efforts have been made towards the integration of tribal communities in India. Some of the notable efforts are:

  1. Constitutional Provisions: The Fifth and Sixth Schedules provides special administrative provisions for the protection of tribal rights and upliftment of tribal communities.
  2. Affirmative Action: Reservation of seats is given in educational institutions and government jobs for tribal communities to aid their integration into the mainstream.
  3. Tribal Welfare Schemes: Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Vikas Yojana (PMVDVY) promotes tribal entrepreneurship through commercialisation of minor forest produce. Other schemes include

Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP), Modified Area Development Approach (MADA) etc.

  1. Land Reforms: To address the issue of landlessness among tribal communities, the Forest Rights Act recognizes the rights of forest-dwelling communities to their traditional forestlands.
  2. Self-Governance: The Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (PESA) empowers Gram Sabhas with the power to manage natural resources, undertake development activities and protect tribal rights.

Despite these efforts, the integration of tribal communities remains a challenge due to following reasons:

  1. PESA rules have not been framed by several states.
  2. The tribal culture and way of life is under threat from rapid modernization and development. E.g., loss of tribal languages.
  3. Relatively advanced communities corner benefits while tribals at large continue to face social, economic, and political marginalization.
  4. Left-wing extremism is a barrier in the development of tribal areas.

The government needs to take a more comprehensive and participatory approach to address the issues faced by tribal communities. A tribal development report as recommended by National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) must be brought out to track the development status of scheduled tribes in India.

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