Tribal Area Development Programme – UPSC IAS

In this article, You will read Tribal Area Development Programme – for UPSC IAS.

Tribal Area Development

  • According to census of India 2011, the total population of the scheduled tribes was 84.3 million or 8.6 per cent of the total population of India.
  • The government of India has included 427 communities in the scheduled tribes, given in the eighth schedule of the constitution of India.
  • These are the first people who are living in areas of isolation and have been exploited throughout history. Their sense of history is shallow, in the sense that, after few generations, the remembered history tends to shade off into mythology. Their cultural ethos (language, religion, faith, traditions, and customs) are different from the other sections of society.
  • Numerically, the most important tribes of India are Gonds (8 million), the Bhils and the Santhals, each having a population of more than 35 lakhs.
  • Next to them are the Minas, the Mundas, and the Oraons; each having a population of more than 10 lakhs.
  • Then comes the Hos, the Khonds, and the Kols; each having a population of more than five lakhs. Then there are 45 tribes, each having a population of between one and five lakhs. The smallest tribal community is the Jarawa and Sentales of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
major tribes of india map
concentration of sc st population map


  • The scheduled tribes are essentially subsistence cultivators. Over 90% of them (Gonds, Bhils, Santhals, Mundas, Oraons, Nagas, Khasi, Mizo, etc.) are dependent on cultivation of crops.
  • The tribes of Andaman and Nicobar are dependent on food-gathering and hunting.
  • Most of the forest dwellers (Birhore, Mallar, Kharia, Kadar, Chenchu, etc.) gather various roots and tubers, fruits, honey, manufacture ropes from wild creepers, and keep their collection for personal use or exchange it with agricultural produce. They occasionally indulge in fishing and hunting. The Todas, inhabiting the Nilgiris are pastoral tribes.

Programmes for the Development of Scheduled Tribes

  • The scheduled tribes, as stated above are living in areas of isolation. Their habitat and cultural milieu are quite different from each other, and therefore, their development needs and problems are different from each other.
  • A number of programmes have been initiated by the central and state governments for the development for the development and welfare of the scheduled tribes. They can be classified as under:
Centrally sponsored programmes

Areas of Development

  • Education: The literacy rate of the scheduled tribes is only 49.5% as against the national average of 73.0% (2011). Since education plays an important role in bridging the gap between the tribals and non-tribals and in helping the process of change and modernisation, a considerable amount of money is being spent on the provision of educational facilities to the tribes. For this purpose, award of scholarships, hostel facilities, stipends, stationery grants, boarding grants, mid-day meals etc. have been provided by the central and state governments. The coaching and guidance facilities are also provided to tribal students who appear for the Indian administrative services (IAS) and other competitions. There are overseas scholarships for them. Schemes are also being operated to train tribals to work as teachers in their own areas.
  • Employment: The central and state governments have reserved 7.5% of the vacancies for the candidates of scheduled tribes. Reservation in direct recruitment to class III and class IV posts which normally attract candidates from a locality or region are fixed in proportion to the population of the scheduled tribe in the respective state and Union Territories.
  • Agriculture: About 90% of tribals are cultivators and about 82% of them are engaged in primary economic activities. Most of them are dependent on shifting and/or rudimentary cultivation. The size of holding and the yield per unit area in tribal areas is generally very low. The central and state governments are assisting them in the procurement of improved seeds, fertilisers, irrigation, credit facilities, soil conservation and land reclamation, adoption of better implements.
  • Co-operatives: To achieve the transformation of tribal agriculture and to prevent the exploitation of tribals from moneylenders, forest contractors, and other non-tribals, it is necessary to develop ‘co-operation’ and ‘co-operatives’. Because of extreme poverty, most of the tribals have to borrow money from the moneylenders and traders. However, once they incur a debt, they land into the clutches of the moneylenders from which they find it difficult to extricate themselves. They also need protection from forest contractors also who engaged them as bonded labourers at very low wages. Here, the co-operatives can play a vital role.
  • Communications: Most of the tribals are living in hilly and mountainous areas or in areas of isolation or relative isolation. It is necessary to provide roads, transport, and other means of communication if they are to be absorbed and assimilated in the national stream. They also need marketing facilities to dispose off their surplus product.
  • Land distribution and land alienation: The problem of land alienation is a serious one in tribal areas. Moneylenders, sahukars, and other non-tribal people have continued to grab the land belonging to the tribals on one pretext or the other. To cope with this problem. Safeguards along the following lines have been provided:
    • Provisions restricting the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals by sale, as found in Gujarat, Odisha, and Rajasthan.
    • Provisions restricting transfer of tribal land to any person – tribal or non-tribal, as found in West Bengal, and
    • Provisions restricting the transfer of tribal land by any means.
  • Despite all these legal safeguards, it has not been possible to check land alienation.
  • Industrialisation: The state governments carried out programmes for developing cottage industries and subsidiary occupations among tribal people. These include bee-keeping, poultry, sheep rearing, weaving, sericulture, and palm-gurs. In addition to these, some important industrial projects were located in tribal areas. These included Bhilai, Bokaro, Burnpur, Durgapur, Raurkela, Bhadravati, Kalinga, etc. these projects have provided considerable employment opportunities to tribal people as unskilled labour.
  • Tribal development agency projects: The tribal development agency projects were established in some areas on an experimental basis in 1971-72. In the selected districts the work of the tribal development agencies is being implemented under the chairmanship of the district collector. The agency also has a full-time project officer and other district officers as members.
  • Other schemes of development: A number of schemes were also undertaken to improve the housing, drinking water, and sanitary conditions of tribals and in providing adequate medical facilities to them


  • The benefits, however, have failed to reach the lower strata of the society and got concentrated the hands of the upper crust of the tribal community.
  • The most important criticism of the tribal in development blocks is that the whole programme has been carried out without the participation of tribal people. The tribals had no particularly say in the programmes formulated for their own development, nor were their co-operation obtained in the implementation of these programmes. The unchanging bureaucracy has failed to fulfil the role of development agency.
  • The role of local politicians and local elite power was also not in the interest of the tribal masses. They perpetuated the situation in their self interest.
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