1. Constitutional Safeguards:
The Constitution of India has made various provisions to safeguard the interests of the tribals.
1. Article 15 of the Constitution provides equal rights and opportunities to all the citizens of India (including the tribals) without any discrimination.
2. Reservation in employment is made for the tribals under Article 16(4), 320(4) and 335.
3. Seats have been reserved for them in the legislatures (in Lok Sabha and State Vidhana Sabhas) under Articles 330, 332 and 334.
4. Under Article 19(5) the tribals can own property and enjoy it in any part of the country.
5. According to the Article 275 a large amount of money can be taken from the Consolidated Fund of India to be spent on tribal welfare activities.
6. Article 338 empowers the President of India to appoint a Commissioner to look after the tribal welfare activities.
7. Under Article 339(2) the Central Government can give directions to the States in the formulation and execution of tribal welfare plans, projects and programmes.
8. Under Article 275(i) the Centre is required to give grants-in-aid to the States for approved schemes of tribal welfare.
9. Article 164 empowers the State Governments to appoint a separate minister to look into the welfare of the tribals.
10. Article 46 consists of provisions that protect the economic and educational interests of the tribals.
11. Article 224 gives instructions to the administration to take special care to protect tribal interests in “Scheduled Tracts” or “areas”.
12. Article 342 gives power to the President of India to declare on the recommendation of the Governor some groups or communities as “scheduled tribes”. It also gives details on the basis of which new groups could be recommended as “scheduled tribes” entitling them for all the constitutional benefits.
Committees and Commissions:
In addition to the constitutional provisions mentioned above, the government appoints committees, commissions and study teams from time to time to look into the way in which the target groups are making use of the constitutional provisions, the problems faced by them and to suggest measures for further improvement.
Examples of some commissions and Study Teams: (i) Backward Classes Commission [1953-55], headed by Kaka Kalelkar; (ii) the Study Team of Social Welfare and Welfare of Backward Classes [1958-59] headed by Renuka Ray; (iii) The Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission — 1960-61 under the chairmanship of U.N. Dhebar; (iv) The Second Backward Classes Commission [1979-80] under the chairmanship of B.P. Mandal, etc.]
2. Economic Programmes and Facilities:
Majority of the tribals are extremely poor and economically backward. Various economic programmes and projects have been undertaken to improve their economic position.
(i) Development through Five-Year Plans:
The Government spent Rs. 30 crores, Rs. 80 crores, Rs. 101 crores, Rs. 172 crores and Rs. 257 crores on tribal welfare activities during the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Five-Year Plans respectively. Integrated Tribal Development Projects [ITDPs] evolved for the tribal development during the 5th plan [1974-79] cover today 19 states/union territories and 374 lakh tribal populations.
The amount allocated for the tribal sub-plans in the 5th plan was Rs. 1100 crores, in the 6th plan [1980-85] it was Rs. 5,535 crore and in the 7th Plan [1985-90] it was Rs. 10,500 crore.
Specific objectives set forth under the tribal sub-plan strategy were: (i) raising production in the field of agriculture, small industries, horticulture and animal husbandry; (ii) elimination of exploitation of tribals in money lending, bondage, forest, liquor vending, etc; (iii) development of education and training programmes; (iv) development of tribal areas; (v) upgradation of environment of tribal areas.
(ii) Establishment of “LAMPS”:
Large-sized Multi-Purpose’ Co-operative Societies; These co-operative societies are established in the tribal areas for giving productive and unproductive loans, for sale of surplus produce and purchase of necessities of life to the tribal people. Through these societies the tribals are supplied with improved seeds, modern agricultural equipments, chemicals and fertilizers, pesticides, etc. These societies are striving to relieve the tribals from the exploitation of middlemen, contractors and money-lenders.
(iii) The 2 0-pointprogramme focused its attention on the development of the scheduled tribes, including assisting the tribal families economically to enable them to cross the poverty line.
(iv) Encouragement to Crafts and Home Industries:
Encouragement is given to the existing crafts and home industries among the tribals and such new endeavours are also encouraged.
(i) In West Bengal, tribals are encouraged to develop silk industry. A training institute is established in Darjeeling to give proper training to those engaged in sericulture,
(ii) In Bihar, M.P., Orissa and West Bengal, wax industry is encouraged among the tribals of these provinces.
(iii) Madhya Pradesh Government is helping its tribals to prosper in their economic pursuit of collecting beedi leaves,
(iv) Bihar Government has established a Woman’s Co-operative Society for its tribal women to give encouragement to them to pursue their handicrafts.
(v) Agriculture made Stable:
The tribals are persuaded to give up their system of “shifting cultivation” and to settle permanently in a place of their selection by making agriculture their profession.
Thousands of tribals in Assam, Bihar, M.P., Odisha and Tripura, have been made to settle down permanently for agriculture. Thodas of Niligiri Hills and Soligas of Biligiri Rangana Hills in Mysore provide two other examples in this regard.
(vi) Promotion of Labour Interests of Tribals engaged in Mining Industry and Tea Plantations. Attempts have been made to protect the labour interests of the tribals in Bihar, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa who are engaged in mining industry and of the tribals such as Santals, Gonds, Khondas and others who are working in tea plantations of Assam.
3. Educational Facilities
Measures to provide educational facilities to the S.T. have been taken by the Government. Schools are established in some tribal areas. In the first Five-Year Plan itself about 4000 schools were opened in the tribal areas. Education upto 10th standard has been made completely free for them.
The students belonging to S.T. are getting various concessions such as free tuition, stipends, scholarships, free supply of text books, stationery and other equipments. In some places mid-day meals are also supplied. Free boarding and lodging facilities are provided for them. For the S.T. and S.C., 20% of the seats are reserved in technical education and relaxation is made in respect of age limit and qualifying marks.
i. There are Ashrama Schools for proyiding basic education and vocation training for S.T. In these schools education and training is given in areas such as agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, poultry, farming, bee keeping, handicrafts, etc. There are 600 Ashrama Schools of residential character situated in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Chennai, Karnataka, Orissa, Rajasthan and Tripura. ,
ii. Pre-Examination Training Centres for S.C. and S.T. are established in some places to help them to appear for UPSC Examinations and for I.A.S. and I.P.S. Examinations. The 1971 Census Report indicates that literacy has gone down in some tribal areas, while it has registered a slight progress in some other areas. Even in 1981 the literacy campaign could reach only 16.35% of the tribals. In some cases 100% of the expenses of the students may have to be met by the Government.
4. Medical Facilities:
Various medical facilities have been provided for the tribals in the tribal areas. In some places, hospitals are established and in many places mobile hospital facilities have been provided. Many preventive and curative measures to combat the diseases like malaria, leprosy, forest fever, monkey fever, typhoid, small pox, skin diseases etc. are undertaken. Medical camps are organised in the tribal areas to enable the tribals to realise the importance of modern medical facilities.
5. Research Work into the Problems of the Tribals:
Tribal Research Institutes, which undertake intensive studies of tribal arts, culture and customs and problems, have been set up in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, U.P., Rajashan and West Bengal. The research work done in this field has thrown light on the tribal life and problems.
6. Role of Voluntary Organisations:
The tribal welfare is not the concern of the government alone. Private organisations and individuals interested in the task of tribal upliftment must also be given due encouragement in this regard. Takkar Bapu and Gandhiji have shown that individuals and voluntary organisations with social commitment can do a lot for the welfare of tribals. Organisations such as — Sri Ramakrishna Mission, Vanavasi Kalyanashrama, the Rashtreeya Swayam Sevaka Sangha and a number of Christian Missionary Organisations are already working in the field. Such organisations can help the tribals to develop better interaction with the neighbouring people.
Though the Central and the State Governments have taken much interest in the tribal welfare programmes, projects and schemes, much remains to be done. The progress achieved in this field is far from satisfactory. The Sixth Plan document notes with concern that “three decades of development have not had the desired impact on the socially, economically and educationally handicapped section “.
The Welfare progammes have not been effective due to “inadequacies in the administrative machinery, lack of sensitive, trained management, lack of general preparedness for large investments, deficiency in accounting systems, procedural delays and lack of proper monitoring and evaluation…”
The plan document admits [in its clause 26-10] that “no positive steps were taken to ensure that S. C. and S. T. obtained their share of the benefits of public distribution.” Even after the completion of the 7th plan things have not radically improved. It is necessary that in the current plan and in the years to come, due attention is to be paid for the overall improvement of the tribals.