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Mains Answer Writing

One of the key components of these exams is the written test, which consists of a number of essay and comprehension questions. Candidates are expected to write clear and well-structured answers that demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the topics being tested.

21-September-2023

Q1) The 5th and 6th schedules play a significant role in promoting decentralization and local self-governance in tribal areas. Do you agree? Comment.

 Answer:

The 5th Schedule of the Indian Constitution provides special safeguards and autonomy for scheduled areas, protecting the rights and interests of tribal communities. The 6th Schedule, on the other hand, applies to autonomous districts in tribal areas, granting them substantial autonomy in governance and administration.

Significance of 5th and 6th Schedules in Promoting Decentralization and Local Self-Governance in Tribal Areas:

  • Autonomous governance institutions: The 5th and 6th Schedules establish autonomous governance institutions, like District Councils in Assam’s tribal areas, which exercise substantial autonomy in governance, finance, and resource allocation, ensuring self-governance for tribal communities.
  • Protection of tribal rights, customs and traditions: The 5th and 6th Schedules protect tribal rights, lands, resources, and cultural heritage, empowering local communities. For example, they preserve tribal lands in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh and safeguard traditional governance systems.
  • Resource management and development: The 5th and 6th Schedules empower tribal communities to manage natural resources for economic benefit and ecological balance, such as the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council in Meghalaya regulating forests under the 6th Schedule.
  • Representation and political empowerment: The 5th and 6th Schedules promote tribal representation and empowerment through reserved seats in legislative bodies and local councils, such as autonomous district councils in Karbi Anglong district of Assam.

Complexities and Challenges Associated with the 5th and 6th Schedules:

  • Resource constraints and inadequate infrastructure: hinder effective self-governance in some tribal areas, such as Northeastern regions lacking healthcare facilities and basic infrastructure.
  • Interference by state or central government authorities: undermines the autonomy of local governance institutions, seen in cases of overriding decisions made by District Councils in Manipur or Meghalaya.
  • Disparities in implementation: Varying levels of implementation result in disparities in the degree of decentralization and local self-governance, observed in contrasting levels of autonomy and resources in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya or the Mewar region in Rajasthan.
  • Conflicts with non-tribal interests: Disputes arise between tribal communities and non-tribal entities over land acquisition and development projects, as seen in conflicts between the Dongria Kondh tribe and mining activities in the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha.

Way Forward

  • Enhancing resource allocation: Allocate sufficient funds for infrastructure, healthcare, and basic amenities in tribal areas to strengthen self-governance.
  • Strengthening capacity-building: Invest in programs to improve administrative skills and governance capabilities of local institutions and tribal communities.
  • Implement mechanisms for transparency, such as audits and public consultations: to ensure responsible and inclusive governance in autonomous institutions.
  • Strengthening tribal-NGO partnerships: Collaborate with NGOs to provide support in capacity-building, awareness generation, and advocacy for tribal rights.

Conclusion

By adopting the forward-looking strategies, India can successfully promote decentralization and empower local self-governance in tribal areas contributing to the overall development, well-being, and self-determination of tribal communities, fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.

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