Tribal Welfare and Development in India

‘Tribal transition’ is tribal welfare and tribal development. The govern­mental programmes implemented in India for the uplift and rehabilitation of tribals have not been able to achieve their goals and tribal proletarianisation has persisted since independence.

No wonder, the problem of tribal welfare engaged the attention of a number of scholars in different parts of the country not only in the 1970s and the 1980s (like L.P. Vidyarthi in Bihar in 1971, A.K. Danda and M.G. Kulkarni in Ma­harashtra in 1974, and Ranjit Gupta, and M.V.T. Raju in Andhra Pradesh in 1971) but also in the 1990s.

Tribal Welfare:

The strategies adopted by the British administrators for solving the prob­lems of the tribals included acquiring tribal land and forests and declaring certain tribal areas as excluded or partially excluded. But, the British gov­ernment had also established a number of schools and hospitals in the tribal areas with the help of Christian missionaries who converted many tribals to Christianity. Thus, by and large, during the British period, the tribals remained victims of colonial-feudal domination, ethnic prejudices, illiteracy, poverty, and isolation.

After Independence, provisions were made in the Constitution to safeguard tribal interests and promote their developmental and welfare ac­tivities. Gandhiji and Thakkar Bapa also did some pioneering work among the tribes.

Nehru enunciated the policy of Panchseel for tribal transformation, which rested on following five principles:

(1) Avoiding imposing the culture of the majority people on them and encouraging in every way their (tribal) own traditional arts and cul­ture.

(2) Respecting tribal rights on land and forest.

(3) Training tribal leaders for administrative and developmental activi­ties with the help of some technical personnel from outside.

(4) Avoiding over-administering of the tribal areas.

(5) Judging results not on the basis of money spent but the quality of hu­man character evolved.

In 1960, the Scheduled Tribe Commission was set up under the chair­manship of U.N. Dhebar to work for the advancement of the tribals.

After the Fifth Five Year Plan, the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) strategy was de­signed in 1980 which consisted of two things:

(i) Socio-economic development of the STs, and

(ii) Protection of tribals against exploitation. The funds for TSPs are provided by state governments and the central ministries.

However, TSP results have not been commensurate with the expecta­tions and the investments made so far as heavy emphasis is laid in several states on infrastructural development without corresponding emphasis on the development of the STs. The TSP schemes are supposed to lay empha­sis on family-oriented income-generating schemes in sectors like agriculture, animal husbandry, cooperatives, tribal crafts and skills, etc., besides laying emphasis on education, health, and housing.

In the Five Year Plans, the programmes for the welfare of the STs aim at:

(1) Raising the productivity levels in agriculture, animal hus­bandry, forestry, cottage and small-scale industries, etc., to improve the economic conditions,

(2) Rehabilitation of the bonded labour

(3) Educa­tion and training programmes, and

(4) Special development programmes for women and children. But various evaluation studies on all these pro­grammes for the integrated development of the tribals have brought out the inadequacies of these programmes.

Submitted by : Professor Emmett, Category : Tribes, Tag : Tribals in India