Historical Perspective -Isolation

  1. The coexistence of fundamentally different culture patterns and styles of living has always been a characteristic feature of the Indian stage. Unlike most parts of the work, in India, the arrival of new immigrants and the spread of their way of life did not necessarily cause the disappearance of earlier and materially less advanced ethnic groups.
  2. The old and the new co-existed. Such a consequence was partly due to the great size of the sub continent and dearth of communications. More important than this was an attitude basic to Indian ideology, which accepted variety of cultural forms as natural and immutable, and did not consider their assimilation to one dominant pattern in any way desirable. This does not mean, however, that none of the tribes ever became incorporated in the systems of hierarchically ranked castes. Wherever economic necessity or encroachment of their habitant by advanced communities led to continued inter-action between tribes and Hindus, cultural distinctions were blurred and what had once been self-contained and more or less independent tribes gradually acquired the status of castes.
  3. In many cases they entered caste systems at the lowest rung of the ladder. Some untouchable castes of Southern India, such as the Cherumans and the Panyers of Kerala, were undoubtedly at one time independent tribes, neighbouring and in their physical characteristics. They still resemble neighboring tribal groups, which have remained outside the Hindu society. There are some exceptions, such as the Meitheis of Assam who achieved a position comparable to that of Kshatriyas. Tribes who retained their tribal identity and resisted inclusion within the Hindu fold fared on the whole better than the assimilated groups and were not treated as untouchables, even if they indulged in such low-caste practices as eating beef. Thus the Raj Gond princes sacrificed and ate cows without thereby debasing their status in the eyes of their Hindu neighbors, who recognized their social and cultural separateness and did not insist on conformity to Hindu patterns of behavior.
  4. This respect for the tribal way of life prevailed as long as contacts between tribes and Hindu populations of open plains were of a casual nature. The tribal people, though considered strange and dangerous, were taken for granted as part of the work! of hills and forests, and a more or less frictionless co-existence was possible, because there was no population pressure and the advanced communities did not feel any urge to impose their own values on people placed clearly outside the spheres of Hindu civilization.
  5. This position remained unchanged during the Muslim period. Now and then a military campaign extending for a short spell into the wilds of tribal country would bring the inhabitants temporarily to the notice of princes and chroniclers, but for long period the hill men and forest-dwellers were left to themselves. Under British rule, however, a new situation arose. The extension of a centralized administration over areas, which previously were outside the effective control of princely rulers, deprived many aboriginal tribes of their autonomy. Though British administrators had no intention of interfering with tribesmen’s rights and traditional manner of living, the very process of establishment of law and order in outlying areas exposed the tribes to the pressure of more advanced populations.
  6. Thus in areas which had previously been virtually un-administered and hence unsafe for outsiders who did not enjoy the confidence and goodwill of the tribal inhabitants, traders and money-lenders could now establish themselves under the protection of the British administration and in many cases they were followed by setters who succeeded in acquiring large stretches of tribes’ land Administrative officers who did not understand tribal system of land tenure introduced uniform methods of revenue collection. But these had the un-intended effect of facilitating the alienation of tribal land to members of advanced populations. Though it is unlikely that British officials actively favored the latter at the expense of primitive tribesmen, little was done to stem the rapid erosion of tribal rights to land.
  7. In many areas tribals unable to resist the gradual alienation of their ancestral land either with drew further into hills and tracts of marginal land or accepted the economic status of tenants or agricultural labourers on the land their forefathers had owned. There were some tribes, however, who rebelled against an administration, which allowed outsiders to deprive them of their land In the Chhota Nagpur and the Santhal pargansas such rebellions of desperate tribesmen recurred throughout the nineteenth century, and there were minor risings in the Agency tracts of Madras and in some of the districts of Born bay inhabited by Bhils. Thus the Santhals are believed to have lost about 10,000 men in their rebellion of 1855. None of these insurrections were aimed primarily at the British administration, but they were a reaction to their exploitation and oppression by Hindu landlords and money-lenders who had established themselves in tribal areas and were sheltered by a Government which had instituted a system of land settlement and administration of justice favoring the advanced communities at the expense of simple and illiterate tribes. In some cases these rebellions led to official inquiries and to legislative enactments aimed at protecting tribe’s right to their land Seen in historical perspective it appears that land alienation laws had on the whole, only a palliative effect. In most areas encroachment on land held by tribes continued even in the face of protective legislation.

ASSIMILATION OF TRIBALS

  1. Acceptance or denial of the necessity for assimilation with Hindu society is ultimately a question of values. In the past, Hindu society had been tolerant of groups that would not conform to the standards set by the higher castes. True, such groups were denied equal ritual status; but no efforts were mare to reflect them from their chosen style of living. In recent years this attitude has changed Perhaps it is the influence of the Western belief in universal values which has encouraged a spirit of intolerance vis-a-vis cultural and social divergences. Yet India is not only a multilingual and multiracial country, but is also multi-cultural.
  2. And as long as Muslims, Christians, and Parsis are free to follow their traditional way of life, it would seem only fair that the culture and the social order of tribes however distinct from that of the majority community should also be respected Assimilation, of course, will occur automatically and inevitably where small tribal groups are enclosed within numerically stronger Hindu populations. In other areas, however, and particularly all along India’s northern and north-eastern frontier live vigorous tribal populations which resist assimilation as well as inclusion within Hindu caste system.

Democratic Decentralization and Tribals

  1. With the introduction of a system of democratic decentralization to take the place of paternalism characteristic of traditional form of lndian government, a new element has entered the relations between tribes and the more advanced majority communities. The ability to vote in general elections for the Parliament in Delhi and the Legislative Assembly of their respective States did not make much difference to tribals, because they did not understand the implication of the franchise, but the local elections aroused their interest to a much greater extent
  2. The very fact, that some of the most powerful people of the district approached the poorest villagers for their votes and tried to gain their confidence, convinced them of a fundamental change. The very idea that they could choose their representatives was novel. At first, tribals only voted for non-tribals, for very few were sufficiently educated to stand for election. Even in areas with a preponderance of tribals, the elected representatives were often non-tribes and abused their powers by exploiting those who had voted for them. But as time passed and the tribes gained experience, they have become shrewder in the choice of their representatives.
  3. The Government of India has acepted a policy of integration of tribals with the mainstream aiming at developing a creative adjustment between the tribes and non tribes leading to a responsible partnership. By acepting the policy of integration or progressive acculturation the Government has laid the foundation for the uninhibited march of the tribals towards equality, upward mobility, and economic viability and assured proximity to the national mainstream.
  4. The constitution has committed the nation to two courses of action in respect of scheduled tribes, viz
    • Giving protection to their distinctive way of life.
    • Protecting them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation and discrimination and bringing them at par with the rest of the nation so that they may be integrated with the national life.
  5. Thus by the Constitution Order 1950 issued by the President of India in exercise of powers conferred by Clause 9 (i) of Article 342 of the Constitution of lndia, 255 tribes in 17 states were declared to be scheduled tribes. Besides enjoying the rights that all citizens and minorities have the member of the Scheduled Tribes have been provided with special safeguards as follows:
  6. Protective Safeguards
    • Educational safeguards-Article 15(4) and 29
    • Safeguards for employment-Articles 16(4), 320(4) and 333
    • Economic safeguards -Article 19
    • Abolition of bonded labour -Article 23
    • Protection from social injustice and all forms of exploitation -Article 46
  7. Political Safeguards
    • Reservation of seats for ST in LokSabha and Assemblies-Article 330,332,164
    • Appointment of Minister in charge of Tribal welfare
    • Special provisions in respect of Nagaland, Assam and Manipur-Articles-371(A),371(B) and 371
  8. Developmental Safeguards – Promoting the educational and economic interests of the Scheduled Tribes-Articles 46 Grants from Central Government to the states for welfare of Scheduled Tribes and raising the level of administration of Scheduled Areas-Article 75.
  9. Following the reorganization of states, the list of STs was modified by the Scheduled Castes and Tribes List (Modification) order, 1956 on the recommendations of the Backward Classes Commission. In the revised list 414 tribes were declared STs. Since the revision of the list in 1956 there have been several proposals for fresh inclusions and deletion from the lists of the SC and STs

Forced incorporation of tribal communities into mainstream has had its impact on tribal culture and society as much as its economy. Tribal identities today are formed by this interactional process rather than any primordial (original ancient) characteristics peculiar to tribes. Because the interaction with the
mainstream has generally been on terms unfavourable to the tribal communities, many tribal identities today are centered on ideas of resistance and opposition to the overwhelming force of the non-tribal world.

The positive impact of successes – such as the achievement of statehood for Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh after a long struggle – is moderated by continuing problems. Many of the states of the NorthEast, for example, have been living for decades under special laws that limit the civil liberties of citizens. Thus, citizens of states like Manipur or Nagaland don’t have the same rights as other citizens of India because their states have been declared as ‘disturbed areas’. The vicious circle of armed rebellions provoking state repression which in turn fuels further rebellions has taken a heavy toll on the economy, culture and society of the Northeastern states. In another part of the country, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are yet to make full use of their new found statehood and the political system there is still not autonomous of larger structures in which tribals are powerless.

Another significant development is the gradual emergence of an educated middle class among tribal communities. Most visible in the North eastern states, this is now a segment beginning to be seen in the rest of the country as well particularly among members of the larger tribal communities. In conjunction with policies of reservation, education is creating an urbanized professional class. As tribal societies get more differentiated i.e., develop class and other divisions within themselves, different bases are growing for the assertion of tribal identity.

Two broad sets of issues have been most important in giving rise to tribal movements. These are :

  1. Issues relating to control over vital economic resources like land and specially forests,
  2. Issues relating to matters of ethnic-cultural identity.

The two can often go together, but with differentiation of tribal society they may also diverge. The reasons why the middle classes within tribal societies may assert their tribal identity may be different from the reasons why poor and uneducated tribals join tribal movements. As with any other community, it is the relationship between these kinds of internal dynamics and external forces that will shape the future.

Tribes are faced with the problem of preserving their cultural identity and their social existence. Each tribe has three alternatives:

  1. To exist side by side with the majority,
  2. To absorb it self in the dominant group, and
  3. To secede and seek political independence on the basis of equality.

Different tribes have adopted different processes from amongst the above mentioned three processes. For example,

  1. The Bhils and the Meenas have adopted the first process of co-existence,
  2. The Oraon and the Khond tribes have adopted the second process of absorbing themselves in the Hindu society,
  3. The Nagas and the Mizos have adopted the third process of secession.

Our government has not adopted a uniform policy of cultural integration of all tribes because different tribes are at different stages of development and have different goals and aspirations. Naturally we find different levels of integration of different tribes. We can only hold that tribes are gradually being drawn into the wider economic framework of the country and they are getting themselves involved in the market economy.

Agriculture has come to occupy a central place in the economic activity of many tribes. According to the 2001 census figures, about three-fourth of the tribals in the country work as cultivators and about one fifth as agricultural labourers and the rest as labourers in mines, forests or are engaged in other services. The fact that the tribal cultivators are responding positively to modern methods of cultivation points out a positive change in tribal’s economic system. The economic integration of the tribes, however, does not necessarily mean that all tribes have achieved a high level of income. Many are still living below the poverty line.

Tribals are also being integrated in the political system of the country. The introduction of the Panchayati Raj has offered them opportunity for an increased involvement in the political activities. By contesting elections, they have started acquiring power at Panchayat Samiti and state levels. This has also resulted in educational and social development of tribals.

In social life too, because of the reservation policy, they now occupy important social positions. Though clan panchayats have not become altogether irrelevant for them, yet their role is confined to marital and land conflicts. The tribal councils have thus weakened now.

It may be averred that on the one hand the tribals have maintained their cultural identity and on the other hand they have integrated themselves in the broader economic, Social political and religious systems of the country. This integration has enabled the tribals to bridge the social distance that existed between tribals and non-tribals, though they have not succeeded in achieving social equality.

While analyzing the tribal integration in larger society, would it be relevant to adopt Ghurye’s model of labeling tribals as ‘backward Hindus’, or Majumdar’s model of adopting Hindu ideas by tribals through contacts with caste Hindus, or Srinivas’s model of sanskritisation, i.e., tribes emulating high caste practices, or Bailey’s model of postulating a continuum at the two ends of which stand a tribe and a caste, is a matter of discussion. Lutz and Munda criticizing Ghurye and Srinivas models have suggested ‘modernization model’ for understanding tribal change.

Anthropologists have been evaluating the effectiveness of government programmes and pointing out the causes of their failure.

  1. Roy Burman had observed the strong ethnocentric bias of lndian society, the Indian government, and the social scientists vis-a-vis the tribes. He maintained that these groups were designated as ‘tribes’ because the mainstream caste Hindu society perceives these tribes as being radically different from itself, in the pastas well as in the present
  2. Vidyarthi asserted to incorporate the tribal viewpoint which is considered significant for the tribal change. Our contention is that tribals themselves must discard their feeling of ‘being tribals and thus having limitations’. They must develop self-pride and self-confidence, and must stop thriving on borrowed concessions and government’s reservation policy. It is this attitude which will help them achieve social elevation and equality. Government policies alone cannot contribute to their development through ‘appeasement’ approach. It is not by being rooted in the traditional culture but by seeking opportunities to assert themselves that they can elevate themselves in Indian society.

Tribes are becoming conscious, both socially and politically, of maintaining and preserving their ethnic and cultural identity and also of protecting themselves against exploitation by dikus (outsiders). They have stressed their political solidarity. This may, however, result in a new form of ecological cultural isolation. Tribes have generally taken such steps due to their economic backwardness and a feeling of frustration.

To integrate the tribes with the mainstream, special economic opportunities are offered to them. it is “assimilationist”model of the tribe’s integration with non-tribals. The “isolationist”model would not be much relevant today in the face of rapid changes in Indian society on the other hand. Despite vast changes taking place in India, tribal consciousness has been strengthened mainly to project tribes as distinct components of Indian society. Industrialization in the tribal belt in Jharkhand Gujarat, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh for example, has promoted both tribal consciousness and integration with the non-tribal sections in the region. The demand for autonomy by tribals has originated from their fear of loss of cultural autonomy and of exploitation.

To Niharranjan Ray, the very expressions “tribes’; “criminal tribes’; “scheduled tribes” and “scheduled castes” are misleading. He believes that these expressions are unfortunate and unwise. “It has conditioned our attitude towards these communities of peoples and our approach towards the solution of their problems which are theirs as much as of the rest of the Indian population.” From the point of view of Indian nationalism, Ray makes the following observations:

  1. Tribes are Janas or peoples, just like the peoples of other territorial and cultural regions of India. Tribes or Janas differ from other communities in terms of the socio-economic system of jati to which non-tribal Hindu communities belong. Ray writes: “Jati is not caste nor it is just a socio-religious system; it is also an economic system, hereditarily and hierarchically organized according to groups recruited by birth.”
  2. There is a sharp distinction between “incorporation” and “integration”. The tribes have been incorporated rather than integrated into the jati-fold by placing them at different hierarchical level of the system, generally at the lower level. Even this process has been slow, and it has also become redundant because of considerable fluidity in the caste system. There is a need therefore, to draw them into the new techno-economy, a new production system.
  3. There is a need to understand the stresses and strains being suffered by the tribals due to the quicker tempo of modern life, new legal administrative and economic systems.
  4. The tribal people have migrated to other places from their birth places due to economic and other hardships. They have also joined to army.
  5. The nomenclatures – “scheduled tribes”, “denotified tribes” and “scheduled castes” – have inherent seeds of division.
  6. Tribes today are in search of a sense of identity, of a sense of belonging and for self-determination in a new social order. Several new states have been formed in the north-eastern region. The demand for the formation of a separate state is indicative of this new identity. Ray writes: ”Any consideration in the contemporary context, of the traditional Hindu method of tribal absorption is therefore, sheer madness to my mind In the present context this is simply anachronistic.”

But the fact of the matter is that a large number of major tribes have either Hinduised or converted to Christianity and Islam. These processes of change and mobility have no doubt reduced the gap between tribals and non-tribals, but have also created factions and feuds between the non-converts and the converts. A sharp line is drawn in Jharkhand between the tribals converted to Christianity and those who continue to adhere to their traditional way of life.

Problems of tribal communities

  1. Land Alienation :The history of land alienation among the tribes began during British colonialism in India when the British interfered in the tribal region for the purpose of exploiting the tribal natural resources. Coupled with this tribal lands were occupied by moneylenders, zamindars and traders by advancing them loans etc.
  2. Opening of mines in the heart of tribal habitat and even a few factories provided wage labour as well as opportunities for factory employment. But this brought increasing destitution and displacement. After the British came to power, the Forest policy of the British Government was more inclined towards commercial considerations rather than human.
  3. Some forests were declared as reserved ones where only authorized contractors were allowed to cut the timber and the forest-dwellers were kept isolated deliberately within their habitat without any effort to ameliorate their economic and educational standards. The expansion of railway in India heavily devastated the forest resources in India.
  4. The Government started reserving teak, Sal and deodar forests for the manufacture of railway sleepers. Forestland and its resources provide the best means of livelihood for the tribal people and many tribes including the women engage in agriculture, food gathering and hunting they are heavily dependent on the products of the forest. The importance of study of land alienation problem is reflected in following points:
  5. Tribal land is source of livelihood. Previously land was communally owned. In British period the individual pattes were given and hence individual ownership of land came into existence. But simultaneously, there are common lands for grazing etc. these commonly owned lands were shown as government owned and hence the rights of the tribals on the communal lands were not recorded nor recognize. Also the prevalence of shifting cultivation led to the tribal land not being recorded due to ignorance.
  6. During government census. Since shifting cultivation is practiced, the tribals migrated to a other places and hence, the government records it as governmental land After 15-20 years, they claim the land and find that it has been taken away by the government.
  7. The government refuses to record the land on slope of the hills. Land is not recorded at times because of the tribal ignorance regarding the necessity to record it.
  8. Non recording of rights due to fluence of the non-tribals, local officials joining hands with the non-tribals especially in the share-cropping, tenancy etc.
  9. Large scale land alienation takes place when there is setting of large scale projects like irrigation. e.g. polavaram project, Narmada river valley development project.
  10. There are number of loopholes in the legislations made for protection of tribal lands. In Maharashtra for example, the restoration can easily prevent the triblas from giving complaints. Also there is provision for the tribals to produces a medical certificate to prove unfit for cultivation and to transfer his/her land to non-tribal. This can always be taken as advantage by the non-religious charitable endowments and institutions. Therefore when outsiders exploit the tribe’s land and its resources the natural life cycle of tribal ecology and tribal life is greatly disturbed.
  11. Poverty and Indebtedness : Majority tribes live under poverty line. The tribes follow many simple occupations based on simple technology. Most of the occupation falls into the primary occupations such as hunting, gathering, and agriculture.
  12. The technology they use for these purposes belong to the most primitive kind. There is no profit and surplus making in such economy. Hence there per capita income is very meagre much lesser than the Indian average.
  13. Most of them live under abject poverty and are in debt in the hands of local moneylenders and Zamindars. In order to repay the debt they often mortgage or sell their land to the moneylenders. Indebtedness is almost inevitable since heavy interest is to be paid to these moneylenders. Many studies in tribal India reveal that in majority cases, Indebtedness results in bonded labour and land alienation. The results can be listed as follows : slavery, bonded labour and free labour to many lenders, alienation of land and the acquisition by money lenders, prostitution, chronic venereal and allied discuses, malnutrition etc. for e.g., Sarua Phari as ofBihar.
  14. Health and Nutrition: In many parts of lndia tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases out of which water borne diseases are life threatening. They also suffer from deficiency diseases. The Himalayan tribes suffer from goiter due to lack of iodine. Leprosy and tuberculosis are also common among them. Infant mortality was found to be very high among some of the tribes. Malnutrition is common and has affected the general health of the tribal children as it lowers the ability to resist infection, leads to chronic illness and sometimes leads to brain impairment.
  15. In the communities like Khasis and todas, there is widespread malnutrition due to the encroachment of the area. Which is affecting the food supply. Moreover these communities are polyjandrous, which is affecting the fertility and leading to low fertility and sterility which is ultimately leading to low birth rate. These tribes also practice Female infanticide.
  16. Korkus of Melghat region of M.P.Maharashtra borders do not drinks milk of cattle as they believe that it is only for the babies of cattle. So such belief is tending to protein deficiency and malnutrition problem in tribal children. The ecological imbalance like cutting of trees have increased the distances between villages and the forest areas thus forcing tribal women to walk longer distances in search of forest produce and firewood.

Therefore, considering all the above problems virginus XaXa committee recommends specially designed health such “Tribal health plan” will have three features: one, a process framework about ‘how’ to prepare the local plan, which will be in the farm of guidelines on mechanisms; second a series of locally developed need based contents of the plan and third a design or structure of health care system to deliver such services in all scheduled areas. This “tribal health plan” should become an essential feature of the National Health Mission and of the “Tribal sub plan”.

  1. Education :Educationally the tribal population is at different levels of development but overall the formal education has made very little impact on tribal groups. Earlier Government had no direct programme for their education. But in the subsequent years the reservation policy has made some changes. There are many reasons for low level of education among the tribal people: Formal education is not considered necessary to discharge their social obligations.Superstitions and myths play an important role in rejecting education. . As for the content of the education is concerned generate use of books with subject unknown to the tribals are taught in many states. Mother tongue and medium of instruction is another important factor. Many tribal languages and diabetes are in a rudimentary stage and there is hardly any written literature and the main reason for this is their isolation. There is an urgent need for the preservation and development of these dialects. Medium of instruction is important for any education. In most tribal areas education is imparted in regional language. This is a disadvantage to a tribal child who has no knowledge of regional language. This is one of the important factor responsible for under development of tribal education and low achievement of tribal children in examinations. Viginius XaXa Committee also recommends inclusion of local culture, folklore and history in curriculum. It can help in building. Confidence of tribal children and enhance relevance of education in their life. Therefore storytelling, theatres, painting, music and dance performances should be promoted. Similarly, sports such as football archery and other popular local sports are extremely, beneficial and therapeutic for children and should be promoted Most tribes live in abject poverty. It is not easy for them to send their children to schools, as they are considered extra helping hands. The formal schools do not hold any special interest for the children.
  2. Cultural Problems : Due to contact with other cultures, the tribal culture is undergoing a revolutionary change. Due to influence of Christian missionaries the problem of bilingualism has developed which led to indifference towards tribal language. The tribal people are imitating western culture in different aspects of their social life and leaving their own culture. It has led to degeneration of tribal life and tribal arts such as dance, music and different types of craft.

Tribe-Caste Continuum

  1. Anthropologists have differed on the question relating to tribe and caste. According to Ghurye tribal people are backward Hindus differing only in degrees from the other segments of Hindu society. Elwin argued for the recognition of separate social and cultural identity of tribal people. Government of India gives tacit recognition to this identity of keeping alive under constitution sanction their lists of Scheduled Tribe.
  2. According to Andre Beteille there are certain commonly observed differences between tribes and castes. The tribes are relatively isolated as to the castes .They are world within itself having few externalities. Tribes speak a variety of dialects which separates them from non tribes. They follow their own religion and practices which are not common in Hinduism. Language is a criterion of difference as tribes speak their local dialect for example Mundas and Oraons of Chota Nagpur speak different dialects but Bhumij have lost their tribal dialect and speak dominant language of the area.
  3. According to N.K Bose there are many similarities in customs between tribes and castes and they are interdependent Marriage within the clan is forbidden both in the tribe as well as in the caste. Both generally don’t encourage marriage outside the group.
  4. According to Herbert Risley the convention of endogamy is not rigidly enforced in the tribe where as such is the case in a tribe. But this view is not acceptable since the law of endogamy is enforced with extreme rigidity in some tribes.
  5. Max Weber writes in Social Structure that when an Indian tribe loses its territorial significance, it assumes the form of an Indian caste. In this way the tribe is a local group whereas caste is a social group.
  6. According to D.N Majumdar the tribe looks upon Hindu ritualism as foreign and extra -religious even though indulging in it and the in the worship of God and Godless where as in the caste these are necessary part of the religion.
  7. In caste individuals generally pursue their own definite occupations because functions are divided under the caste system. In the tribe individuals can indulge in whatever profession they prefer as there is no fixed relation between them and occupation.
  8. According to Bailey tribe and caste should be viewed as continuam. He seeks to make distinction not in terms of totality of behavior but in more limited way in relation to the political economic system. Briefly Bailey’s argument is that a caste society is hierarchical while a tribal society is segmentary and egalitarian. But in contemporary India both caste and tribe are being merged into a different system which is neither one nor the other.
  9. The tribes in India have been influenced by certain traditions of the communities around them. Major neighbouring community in all the areas has always been Hindus. As a result from the very period there have been several points of contact between the Hindus of the area and tribal communities living within it. The nature and extent of contact the pattern of mutual participation and characteristics of revitalization movements have been different in different parts of India.
  10. The ethnographic records establish that the contacts varied from semi-isolation to complete assimilation. The numerous castes among Hindus have emerged out of the tribal stratums. The recent studies of tribes of Himalayan western and middle India have left no doubt that some of the tribes are Hinduized to the extent that they have been assimilated with the different castes at different levels in the caste system.
  11. The study of two major Central Himalayan tribes. Tharu and Khasa reveal that though they have a tribal matrix and continue to practice certain distinctive tribal customs they have been accepted as Kshatriya. Their culture have been modeled on the ways of living of the Rajputs and Brahmins of the neighbour plain areas. With their fast adoption of the Hindu names and establishment of social connections with the Rajputs and Brahmins of the plains.
  12. They declare themselves as Rajputs and with Brahmins constitute the apex of the social order. With the long and continuous contacts with the regional Hindu castes the tribals of Kharwars has long been assimilated as Rajput castes. There are numerous other tribes which have undergone selective acculturation and have added selected traits or features of the regional Hindus to their respective traditional cultures. In this practice of acculturation most of them failed to occupy any rank in the castes hierarchy while few of them were integrated into the lower strata of the Hindu social system. For more information on Hlndusiation of tibes, see is chapter 1, “Does Sanskritisation exist among tribes”?

Exploitation and Unrest of the tribes

  1. For ages tribals are considered primitive segment of Indian society. They lived in forests and hills without any contact with civilizations. During British rule they consolidated their position and their political aspirations and administrative needs necessitated to open up the entire country.
  2. The British introduced the system of land ownership and revenue. Annual tax was trebled which was beyond the paying capacity of tribal cultivators. Many non tribals began to settle in the tribal areas offering credit facilities. Initially it provided relief to tribals but gradually the system became exploitative. Over the years the tribal population faced all types of exploitation. This aroused the tribal leaders to mobilize the tribals and start agitations.
  3. Thus it is the cumulative result of a number of factors.
    • Indifference from administrators and bureaucracy in dealing with tribal grievances.
    • Harsh and unfriendly forest laws and regulations.
    • Lack of legislation to prevent the passing of tribal land into the hands of non-tribals.
    • Lack of credit facilities. Ineffective government measures to rehabilitate tribal population.
    • Delay in implementation of recommendations of different committee.
    • Discrimination in implementation of reform measures.

Tribal Development Efforts after Independence

Tribal Development Efforts and Policies of Tribal Development. After Independence.

The tribal situation in country poses peculiar problems of development. This peculiarities broadly comes under the geographical demographic and socio-cultural framework. Tribal communities constitute separate socio-cultural group as they posses distinct customs, traditions, marriage, kinship system and property inheritance shyness of contact with the community at large has been the most distinguishing feature of the tribal population which follows from geographical isolation of the vast majority of tribal population. In the country, The tribal economy largely based on food gathering, hunting. Forestland cultivation, shifting cultivation and minor forest produce collection. Therefore, their geographical isolation and economic improvishment made them subject of exploitative economic and trade practices of non-tribals living in the area. So any effort in the direction of development of tribe needs holistic approach. Lets see the approach after independence.

Early Experiments:
  1. In 1952, under first five year plan a programme of community development and launched for comprehensive development of rural areas. It was applied equality to tribal areas too. But it became clear that the tribal areas needed special treatment and hence in 1954, few special multipurpose tribal development projects were launched in those areas. A review of this programme pointed to the need of constituting Tribal development blocks with an area of about 150 to 200sq. miles and with population coverage of about 25000. About 40% of the tribal population in the country were covered by 500 such blocks by the end of the Third five year plan.
  2. The community development block approach and Tribal development block approach had some common aspect Both were sectoral in approach and developmental in outlook, lacking specific administrative perspective and organization to take care. These approaches neglected the protective requirements of tribal development The members of general community were for advanced both economically and educationally than tribals. So advantages offered in these approaches were largely accrued to former as compared to later. Therefore gap between tribal and non-tribal got widened.
  3. In 1961, important observation were made by scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission (Dhebar Commission) and shily Ao committee in 1961 on planning implementation and administration of programmes for tribals development. They took the view that mere area development is counter productive. Which may act as catalog for the more advanced communities to creep into tribals areas for purpose of self aggrandizement. So they advocated in depth vision into administration and infrastructure inadequacies. Particularly to handle problems of land alienation, indebtedness and educational backwardness.
Target Group Approach and Tribal Development Experiment :
  1. During fourth five year plan an approach to develop specific target group and areas like small formers, marginal farmers, agricultural labourers, draught prone areas etc. this approach to particular section of population, occupational category or a scientific problem area for development through strategies appropriate to end. The general block development approach was not as such abandoned. But was to have special approach superimposed on it in the interest of target groups/areas.
  2. As per this approach, idea of special tribal development agencies were operationalized in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. A Mini administration framework with project director at the head was provided to each agency. And they have to pay attention to problem areas specifically relevant to tribal populations. Programme in agriculture and allied sector which concerned the tribal section vitally, social services and development of material roads to improve communications were brought within the roads the scope of activity of these agencies with a marginal orientation towards steps designed to counter the exploitative endeavors of the anti social elements. The tribal development blocks were too small to works as effective unit for planning and implementation this deficiency was sought to be removed by making the tribal development agencies as big as sub-divisions. The pilot experiment with the tribal development agencies was nota cent percent success but they provided voluable insights into deficiencies in planning and administration, both organizational and financial
  3. They suggested that mere grounding of a special administrative frame was not enough unless a co-ordinating of special to the tribal programmes at a sufficiently high level is taken and methodologies and developmental concerning tribals and not merely to few specified sector under a frequented sectoral approach.
The Tribal Sub-Plan Approach:

In beginning of fifth plan, a comprehensive view of tribal problem was taken. In 1972, besides the task force on development of tribal areas, planning commission constituted a working group on personnel policy for the tribal areas under chairmanship of RN. Hakiipur. Several other teams were to go into tribal problems such as rural indebtedness, land alienation, excise policy etc. the result of these deliberations was the birth of new strategy of tribal sub-plan within the broad framework of the state and central plans.

The long term objectives of TSP were to narrow the gap between the levels of development of tribal and others. In brief, the approach envisaged tackling the tribal problems by categorizing them under three identifiable areas and groups.

  1. In regions of substantial tribal concentration, on area development approach is to be combined with a focus on the tribal population and their problems.
  2. In smaller areas of dispersed tribal population where the scheduled tribes live merged with general population, a modified area approach or account of the truncated nature of habitat but with similar focus on the tribes would be called for.
  3. In certain extremely backward and smaller tribal groups living generally in pre-agricultural level of technology in inaccessible areas and facing the problem of their very survival would be treated as a special category both within the areas of tribal concentration and outside. Special group oriented programmes could be formulated for them.

These three categories were brought respectively under integrated Tribal Development Project (MADA), Pockets and Primitive Tribe Projects.

  1. The new tribal sub-plan strategy consisted of twin approach of area development’ and ‘Problem Solving’. The strategy intended to achieve a balance between economic development, infrastructure and education advancement and anti-exploitative protective measures between STs and the rest of community over period of time with the view to put the tribal population in mainstream of national life at par with others. The objectives naturally required diverse measures; identification bottle necks and barriers working against forces of development and agencies working as promoters of change. Along with it required the right type of administrative inputs and administrative setup that to be formed selection of the right type of personnel having the necessary emptying and understanding of tribal problems was also considered to be of prime importance. It was felt that purposive administrative system in the tribal areas should have operational units which have adequate administrative and Financial delegation to take decision with efficiency. The post of project officer was fashioned in this light District collector was made the chairman of the implementation and review committee at project level with local MPs. Besides other district officials as members.
  2. As part of new orientation to ensure resource mobalization for meeting the requirements of tribal sub-plan, state plan outlays, sectoral outlays of the central ministries and institutional finance were specifically identified as the source of finance for implementation of programmed by the Tribal Area Administration. The tribal administration at the state and central levels were to ensure flow of all these funds to the projects areas for investment in eligible schemes. Financial discipline and non-divert ability of tribal sub-plan funds were sought to be achieved by prescribing separate budget heads for tribal sub-plan provision under the respective functional demands of the concerned sectoral departments or by bringing all budgetary provisions for tribal areas development in all sectors under a unified demand with suitable minor heads to the controlled by the tribal development departments of stage as well as center.
  3. The impact of new arrangement will be clear from the fact that state plan outlay for tribal development programme rose from Rs. 900 er. duringFifth plan to Rs. 3550cr. During sixth plan. Total investment from Rs. 1182 cr to Rs. 5550 cr.
  4. The central ministries investment was around Rs. 700 cr. During the sixth plan as against an average annual investment of Rs. 75 cr. Earlier.
  5. For Monitoring of programme, a working group appointed by Ministry of Home affairs recommended a three tier monitoring at block, ITDP and state levels with overall monitoring at the level of Home Ministry Evaluation studies, both holistic and covering specific areas/ progammes have been taken up field organization under the states, the tribal research institutes, national level autonomous organization and professional bodies.
  6. For legislative backup, the special provisions enshrined in the Indian constitution in Article 436, 275, the fifth schedule and several other articles were used states having tribal population enacted regulatory and protective legislations on land alleviation, money lending, rights to forest growths, excise and several other spheres of exploitation, Besides the central law on bonded labour abolition.
  7. However, Innovation in administrative procedures and system seldom yield visible results in short run. Time required for percolation is generally quite considerable in Indian context where depth and expanse of administrative cover are large and complicated Naturally, there are not a few shortcomings still persisting. These mainly relate to co-ordination, linkage, involvement of beneficiaries and organizational inadequacy in certain spheres.

Co-ordination : The project administrator at the ITDP level was envisioned to be a co-ordinator of all activities in the project area programmes of rural development in the tribal areas under integrated rural development, national and employment, rural labourer employment guarantee programme etc, were to be sunburned within the ITDR. All this was aimed at unified and integrated approach to tribal development. It has not yet been found convenient by the states to putthe project administration in sole co-ordinating charge of all items of development administration within his/her jurisdiction.

Beneficiary Involvement: The beneficiaries of welfare administration should not be made mere recipient and on lookess while the government areas as a gigantic dispenser of schemes. This is peculiar to tribal situation where socio-cultural isolation from the general community is considerable in some cases. No doubt, there are at present quite a few institutions, like the panchayati Raj institutions, the autonomous tribal development authorities, the project implement. But there is case for improving active participation, particularly at the project formation stage, as distinguished from formal participation. The projects for tribal area units of administration have been mostly formulated by official agencies with minimal consultation with tribal representatives. In this background there is a case for perfecting and institutionalizing a three tier system of beneficiary consultation at block, ITDP and district level tribal project report more need based more reflective of aspirations and apt in the ecological environment of a particular or its sub-group.

Strengthening Organization : Inadequacy of organizational frame, in certain geographical area inhabited by the scheduled tribes as also in certain vital developmental spheres need serious attention. Till the end of sixth plan, a minimum administrative set up for all the identified primitive tribal groups in country could not be grounded in all the states. A suitable mechanisms of development for a vast mass of tribal forest villagers and shifting cultivators has yet to be perfected. While vast mass of tribal population, who have been ousted and displaced followed implementation of a large number of irrigation, power, mining and industries projects day. Evolving suitable technology acceptable to tribal communities and commissioning an administrative formulation capable of taking a holistic view of the need. The country has advanced pretty for since independence days in molding and fashioning a suitable administration for the scheduled tribes. It may not be futuristic to hope that the rest of the problems nagging the country will be duly taken note of its strategy for tribal development.

Funding of Tribal Development Programmes

The sources of funds made available are

  1. State Plan
  2. Special CentralAssistance
  3. Sectoral Programmes ofCentral Ministries/Departments
  4. Institutional Finance.

The State Governments are required to quantify the funds from State Plan for tribal area development in
proportion to percentage of tribal population in the states.

  1. Construction of the Hostels for Tribal students: Construction, Maintenance expense is to be borne by the State Governments/Union Territories. The rates for construction of the hostels are fixed which are different for the plains and the hills. It has been represented by various States that these rates are not workable any more in view of the escalation of prices of building materials and long distance involved particularly for the hilly areas. It is, therefore, proposed to revise the norms and to adopt the State PWD schedule of rates as in the case of construction of Ashram Schools. During 1990-91 to 1992-93, the amount of Rs. 8.64 crores has been released to the States/Union under various stages of completion. The scheme envisages setting up of vocational training institutes in inner tribal areas away from the district headquarters to impart training in various courses relevant to the areas. The tribal youth would be given training in three trades of his or her choice, the course in each trade having duration of four months. The trainee is to be attached at the end of one month training to master craftsman for a period of three months to learn his skills by practical experience. At the end of 15 months, the trainee will emerge as a multi-skilled person who can exploit existing employment potentials to his/her best advantage. This is a Central Sector Scheme where the construction and maintenance costs are fully borne by the Central Government It is implemented through the State Governments. Proposals are obtained from them along with details of existing infrastructure as well as the employment potentials in the proximity of the proposed location.
  2. Educational complex in low literacy pockets for women in Tribal areas. This Scheme provides cent percent financial assistance to NGOs/ Organization established by government as autonomous bodies/educational & other institutions like Cooperative Societies, to establish educational complexes in 136 identified districts of erstwhile 11 states (now 13) where tribal female literacy is below 10% as per 1991 census. Educational complex is meant for girls studying from class I to V with strength of 30 students in each class. The grants are provided to meet non-recurring as well as recurring expenses on building (hiring or maintenance) teaching, boarding, lodging and to also for medical and health care of students.
  3. Grant-in-Aid to state Tribal development Cooperative Corporation and others: This is a Central Sector Scheme, with 100% grant, available to the state Tribal DevelopmentCooperative Corporation (STDCCs) and other similar corporations of State engaged in collection and trading of minor forest produce (MFP) through tribals Grants under the Scheme are provided to strengthen the Share Capital of Corporations, construction of Warehouses, establishment of processing industries of MFPs etc. to ensure high profitability of the co-orporation so as to enable them to pay remunerative prices for MFPs to the tribals.
  4. Price Support to TRIFED :The Ministry provides Grants-in-aid to its corporation, TRIFED to set off losses on account of fluctuations in prices of MFPs being marketed by it for ensuring remunerative prices to tribal engaged in collection of MFPs either directly or through STDCCs and other such Cooperative Societies. Investment in Share Capital of TRIFED. The Ministry is the largest share holder of TRIFED with over 99% contribution in its Share Capital Under this Scheme, the Ministry provides funds to TRIFED as its contribution in the Share Capital.
  5. Village Grain Banks: This Scheme provides Grants for establishment of Village Grain Banks to prevent deaths of STs specially children in remote and backward tribal villages facing or likely to face starvation and also to improve nutritional standards. The Scheme provides funds for building storage facility, procurement of Weights & Measures and for the purchase of initial stock of one quintal of food grain of local variety for each family. A Committee under Chairmanship of village Headman runs the Grain Bank thus established
  6. Grant-In-Aid to Voluntary Organizations: As many as 27 types of projects with focus on tribal education, literacy, medical & health care, vocational training in agriculture, horticulture, craftsmanship etc., are being supported by the Ministry under this Scheme through registered Non-Governmental Organizations.
  7. Research and Training: Under the Scheme “Research &Training” the Ministry provides financial assistance under Grants to Tribal Research Institutes on 50:50 sharing basis; for conducting Research & Evaluation Studies, Seminars, and Workshops etc. Award of Research Fellowship to Tribal Students on 100% basis registered in Indian Universities. Supporting projects of All-India or Inter-State nature on 100% basis to NGOs/Universities etc. for conducting research on tribal matters, Travel Grants and for Publication of Books on tribals.

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