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Tribal's Welfare Through Constitution, Government Schemes And Budget Allocation

The election of Droupadi Murmu as India's 15th President is rich in symbolism. She will be the first person from a tribal background to take the office. Ms.Murmu's election is a milestone in the journey of tribal empowerment. Her election to the highest office of the country comes 101 years after two tribes people were elected to legislative bodies in colonial India.

Although, the founding figures of the Republic of India were acutely cognisant of the disadvantageous position of the tribes people and made special provisions such as the Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution, there have been growing concerns among tribal activists about a systematic erosion of protections accorded to tribals, harassment and suppression by the police, and a general intolerance towards tribal autonomy by the state.

Scheduled Tribes, as a term, was introduced as a part of Government of India Act, 1935 to give legal recognition to list of tribes marked for special treatment by the state, which is still practised as evident in affirmative actions provided under Indian Constitution.

In general, the scheduled tribes are described by the following characteristics:
  • Communities that are very old and did not practise a religion with a written text.
  • They did not have a political form of the normal kind.
  • They did not have sharp class divisions, were not part of the caste system and were neither Hindu nor peasants.

Tribes can be classified as:
  • Having Permanent traits like region (middle India, North-East), language (Austric, Tibeto-Burman etc.), physical characteristics (Mongloid, Aryan etc.), ecological habitat.
  • Acquired Characteristics like mode of living, the extent of incorporation into Hindu Society.

Constitutional Safeguards for STs:
Educational & Cultural Safeguards:
  • Art. 15(4):- Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (which cludes STs);
  • Art. 29:- Protection of Interests of Minorities (which cludes STs);
  • Art. 46:- The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation,
  • Art. 350:- Right to conserve distinct Language, Script or Culture;
  • Art. 350:- Instruction in Mother Tongue.

Social Safeguard:
  • Art. 23:- Prohibition of traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar form of forced labour;
  • Art. 24:- Forbidding Child Labour.

Economic Safeguards:
  • Art.244:- Clause(1) Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule, under Clause (2) of this Article.
  • Art. 275:- Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs&SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.

Political Safeguards:
  • Art.164(1):- Provides for Tribal Affairs Ministers in Bihar, MP and Orissa;
  • Art. 330:- Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha;
  • Art. 337- Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures;
  • Art. 334:- 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period.);
  • Art. 243:- Reservation of seats in Panchayats.
  • Art. 371:- Special provisions in respect of NE States and Sikkim

Service Safeguards:
  • (Under Art.16(4),16(4A),164(B) Art.335, and Art. 320(40)

Welfare of Tribal Women through government schemes:
The major policies of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs aim to ensure the overall development of both Scheduled Tribe men and women. However, within the Scheduled Tribes, women often suffer from a greater disadvantage. Ministry of Tribal Affairs therefore, while trying to ensure that women benefit equally from general schemes also has some special schemes meant for the benefit of ST women and girls as given below:
  1. Scheme of Girls & Boys Hostels for STs:
    Under the scheme, Central assistance is given to States / UTs / Universities for construction of new hostel buildings and / or extension of existing hostels. State Governments are eligible for 100% central share for construction of all Girls' hostel and also for construction of Boys' hostel in naxal affected areas. The funding pattern for other Boys' Hostel to State Governments is on 50:50 basis.
  2. Scheme of Ashram Schools in Tribal Areas:
    The objective of the scheme is to provide residential schools for STs to increase the literacy rate among the tribal students and to bring them at par with other population of the country. Under the scheme, State Governments are eligible for 100% central share for construction of all Girls' Ashram Schools and also for construction of Boys' Ashram Schools in naxal affected areas. The funding pattern for the other Boys' Ashram Schools is on 50:50 basis.
  3. Scheme for Strengthening Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts:
    This scheme is being implemented in 54 identified low literacy Districts where the ST population is 25% or more, and ST female literacy rate is below 35%, or its fractions, as per 2001 census. Any other tribal block in a district, other than aforesaid 54 identified districts, which fulfill the same criteria for tribal population and ST female literacy rate, are also covered. The areas inhabited by Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) and naxalite affected areas are given priority.

    This scheme aims to bridge the gap in literacy levels between the general female population and tribal women, through facilitating 100% enrolment of tribal girls in the identified Districts or Blocks, more particularly in naxal affected areas and in areas inhabited by Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), and reducing drop-outs at the elementary level by creating the required ambience for education.

    The scheme is implemented through Voluntary Organizations (VOs) / Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and autonomous society / institutions of State Government / Union Territory Administration. Ministry provides 100% assistance for running and maintenance of educational complexes for ST girls which include free education, boarding and lodging, books, uniforms, medical help, coaching, incentives to girls, periodical awards, etc.

    The scheme envisages convergence with the schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhyalaya of Ministry of Human Resource Development. It meets the requirement of primary level students as well as middle/secondary level students and provides residential facility to ST girl students to ensure their retention in schools.
  4. In addition to above, to maximize retention of ST students within various stages of school education and promoting higher learning, monetary incentives are provided by Ministry of Tribal Affairs in the form of scholarships such as Pre Matric Scholarship, Post Matric Scholarship, National Overseas Scholarship, Scholarship for Top Class Education and Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for ST students.
  5. Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub Scheme (SCA to TSS) (hitherto known as SCA to Tribal Sub Plan (TSP)):
    It is 100% grant from Government of India. Its objective is to bridge the gap between Scheduled Tribes (ST) population and others by providing support for education, health, sanitation, water supply, livelihood, skill development, minor infrastructure etc. It is a flexible scheme and supplements the efforts of the line Ministries/Departments.
  6. Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution:
    It is 100% grant from Government of India. Funding under this programme is to enable the State to meet the cost of such schemes of development as may be undertaken by the State for the purpose of promoting the welfare of Scheduled Tribes in that State or raising the level of administration of Scheduled Areas therein to that of the administration of the rest of the areas of that State. Funds are provided to States for various sectoral interventions.

    The Ministry has insisted upon the States, that in interventions under Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub Scheme, and under Article 275(1) grants, one third beneficiaries should be women / girls.
  7. Adivasi Mahila Sashaktikaran Yojana:-
    National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), an apex organisation under Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing this exclusive scheme for tribal women. Under the scheme, Scheduled Tribes women can undertake any income generation activity. Loans upto 90% for scheme costing upto Rs.1 lakh are provided at a concessional rate of interest of 4% per annum.

Some major schemes of other Ministries are as follows:
The Department of Rural Development, inter-alia, is implementing various rural development programmes namely, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana- Gramin (PMAY-G), Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) and National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) to bring about overall improvement in the quality of life of the people in rural areas, including tribal women.

Department has been earmarking funds towards Scheduled Tribe Component (STC)(erstwhile Tribal Sub Plan) under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) and Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM).

Under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G) (erstwhile Indira Awaas Yojana), 60% of the target allocated are being earmarked for SCs/STs subject to availability of eligible PMAY-G beneficiaries as per Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) 2011. Moreover, there is provision of 5% of the allocation at national level as reserve fund which can be utilized for settlement of households benefitted under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 commonly known as FRA beneficiaries. Primitive Tribal Groups and beneficiary families of the FRA are being covered on priority to achieve saturation. Under DAY-NRLM, the guidelines stipulate that at least 50% of the women beneficiaries shall be members of the SCs/STs. Funds are released to the States/UTs under ST Component and utilized as per programme guidelines.

Following schemes administered by Ministry of Women and Child Development are intended to benefit all women, including ST women:
  1. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
  2. One Stop Centre Scheme
  3. Women Helpline Scheme
  4. UJJAWALA: A Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
  5. Working Women Hostel
  6. Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers.
This information was given by Union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Shri Jaswantsinh Bhabhor in a written reply in Lok Sabha.

Budget for Tribal's welfare:
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has been allocated Rs.7524.87 Crore in the Budget for the year 2021-22 which is an increase of 36.62 % over the previous year's Revised Estimate of Rs. 5508 Crore. Briefing media about the budgetary provisions of the M/o Tribal Affairs in New Delhi today, Secretary, Tribal Affairs Shri R. Subrahmanyam said that there has been a steady growth in the ministry's budget allocations over the last five years and this is the highest ever budget allocation for the Tribal Affairs Ministry.

Giving further details, Shri R. Subrahmanyam said that the overall allocation of funds for the welfare of STs has also seen a huge increase this year. Giving details, he said that in the Union Budget 2021-22, an amount of Rs. 78256.31 crore has been allocated as STC funds (Scheduled Tribes Component) of 41 ministries/departments which is more than 50% increase than the STC Budget of last financial year ,and there is a more than four fold increase in provision of STC funds over the allocation of FY 2014-15. "We will be engaging with these ministries to ensure that the amount is spent fully and well with monitorable outcomes", the Secretary explained.

Highlighting the provisions for Eklavya Model Residential Schools in the budget, the Secretary said that there is a big bonanza in the budget for setting up of these schools with an enhanced per unit cost which will help to substantially improve the quality of these residential schools to the level of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas.

"We are determined that every tribal block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20000 tribal persons must have an EMRS. We will improve their quality and also make them academically more successful", Shri Subrahmanyam elaborated. A total of 740 EMRS schools will be established by the year 2022.

The Secretary also briefed media persons about various other provisions in the budget which will benefit the tribals including setting up of a Central University at Leh, reduction in margin money requirement under Stand Up India Scheme, provision for welfare of tea workers of Assam and West Bengal among others.

Smt Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of Finance, in the Budget Outlay for the Financial Year 2022-2023 has earmarked an enhanced Total Budget Outlay of Rs. 8451.92 Crores for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which is a substantial increase from the previous Total Budget Outlay of 2021-2022 that stood at Rs. 7524.87 Crores. A substantial increase of 12.32% is reflected in the Total Budget Outlay for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

The budget allocation has been in accordance with the approval of the Cabinet vide its decision dated 19.01.2022, which has inter-alia approved 14 schemes of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs under umbrella of Central Sector and centrally Sponsored Scheme, namely National Tribal Welfare Program with total financial outlay of Rs.3,344 Crore; Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) with total financial outlay of Rs.28,920 Crore and Pradhan Mantri Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana with total financial outlay of Rs.26,135 Crore for their continuation till 31.03.2026.

A total amount of Rs 2000 crores has been sanctioned for setting up of EMRSs in the budget for 2022-23. The cabinet has also approved the enhanced cost of construction for each school from Rs. 20 cr in plain areas and Rs. 24 crore in hilly/NE/LWE areas to Rs. 38 cr and Rs. 48 cr. respectively.

The cabinet has approved total outlay of Rs. 28,920 cr for setting up of 452 new schools, upgradation of existing 211 schools and establishment of 15 Centres of Excellence for Sports for the 15th Finance Commission Cycle. By 2025, it is expected that all 740 schools will become functional. Out of 452 new schools, the States have already provided land in 319 locations across the country and states are being pursued to provide suitable land in remaining locations.

As on date, construction is under progress in 207 schools and in another 50 schools, construction is expected to start by March, 2022. Hon'ble PM on Janjatiya Gaurav Divas had laid foundation of 50 EMRs across the country. By August, 2022, construction in 75 schools is expected to be completed and will be dedicated to the nation on the eve of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. The EMRS scheme is flagship scheme of this Ministry and will provide quality education to around 3.5 lakh students in remotest tribal areas on the pattern of Navodaya Vidalayas.

The scope of existing scheme of SCA to TSS has been broadened wherein comprehensive development of 36,428 villages will be undertaken in convergence with line Ministries to develop these villages as Adarsh Gram, under 'Pradhan Mantri Aadi Adarsh Gram Yojana'. These villages have tribal population of more than 500 and 50% tribals. An amount of Rs. 1354 cr. has been allocated which will be utilized as a gap filling arrangement in addition to the STC component of Rs. 87,524 crores allocated to different Ministries for tribal welfare programmes relating to their respective schemes. For next five years an amount of Rs. 7276 cr. has been approved by the cabinet.

In the budget, an amount of Rs. 499 cr. has been earmarked for Pradhan Mantri Janjatiya Vikas Mission during the year. The Mission seeks to achieve livelihood driven tribal development in the next five years through formation of Vandhan groups who have been organized into Vandhan Kendras. The MFP gathered by tribals will be processed in these kendras and marketed through Van Dhan Producer Enterprises. New haats bazaar and ware houses will be developed in next 5 years as part of "Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhyan". TRIFED would be the nodal agency for implementing the scheme. The products produced will be marketed through Tribe India Stores. An amount of Rs. 1612 cr has been earmarked under the Mission for next five years.

An amount of Rs. 50 cr. has been sanctioned in the budget for the new scheme of 'Venture Capital Fund for Scheduled Tribes' (VCF-ST), which is aimed at promoting Entrepreneurship among the STs. The VCF-ST scheme would be a social sector initiative to promote ST entrepreneurship and to support and incubate the start-up ideas by ST youth.

A new scheme for Development of Tribal Entrepreneurships in North East "Logistics and Marketing of Tribal Products in North East" has been approved and an amount of Rs. 75 cr. has been earmarked for the scheme for the year.

The budget has also provided funds for establishment of Central PMU in Ministry and State level Project Management Units with domain experts to monitor each and every scheme (Centrally sponsored and Central sector) like scholarship, EMRS, livelihood etc. and non-scheme initiatives of the Ministry like STC monitoring, FRA etc, which are implemented through States.

The funds have also been provided for IT & Data Cell, Health Cell and Media Cell in Ministry. The PMU would ensure constant data and information flow from States, NGOs, TRIs and grantee Institutions required for monitoring and effective implementation of schemes for achieving goal of 5.0 of Data Governance quality Index and Output Outcome Monitoring framework. For monitoring physical and financial outcomes, Survey, social audit and field visits would be taken.

The Cabinet has also approved increased outlay for Scholarships and NGO schemes and the financial norms for the scholarships for students doing Ph. D and pursuing other higher education courses in top class institutes across the country have been enhanced. The financial norms for the NGOs who are working in remote tribal areas have also been enhanced.

Recent Government Initiatives For Welfare of Scheduled Tribes:
  • Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools
  • Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups
  • Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana
  • Eklavya Model Residential Schools
Inclusion of Tribal Population:
Cultivation of Medicinal Plants:
India tops in the world in exporting generic medicines. The tribe should be encouraged to collaborate with the government for identifying and collecting medicinal plants from the wild and also cultivate suitable species for their self-consumption as well as for sale. The Government of India has decided to take advantage of this trade and has set up a National Medicinal Plant Board.

Infrastructure Development:
The government can collaborate with tribal groups for infrastructure development in their local areas. Meghalaya is known as a living root bridge. They are grown by trained Khasi and Jaintia tribes who have mastered the art of growing root bridges across raised banks of streams running through the dense woods of Meghalaya.

Social Inclusion:
Social exclusion experienced by the tribal people are largely due to discrimination at social and institutional level, it has led to their isolation, shame and humiliation and in turn to self-exclusion among tribes. There is a strong need for awareness among the non-tribal population of India to recognize the ability and dignity of tribes so as to ensure the unity and integrity of the country and spirit of brotherhood.

Dilemma related to their Development in India:
Tribe-Caste Distinction:
Tribal community is less stratified while absorption into the mainstream is creating new class, caste-based division. There is also the erosion of community sense of ownership of resources.

Traditional Culture v/s New Values:
By way of Sanskritization, modernisation, a traditional cultural system of tribals is eroding like languages, dialect. This is challenging their identity leading to resistance and opposition among them example demand for a separate state by Nagas.

Development v/s Rights:
Economic Development of the nation many times leads to their exploitation, especially in forested and mineral belt regions. These challenges affect their means of livelihood and their ethnicity leading to displacement and challenges of rehabilitation, for example- Narmada Bachao Andolan.

Human Development Vs Traditional Systems:
Providing modern education, health facilities may at times challenge the orthodoxy resulting in resistance. This, in turn, stems from lack of harmony between newer means and their traditional systems, example low vaccine coverage due to superstitious among tribals.

Resolving Dilemma:
  • Making them part of the democratic process and decision makings like PESA Act, Special Powers to Scheduled and Tribal Areas.
  • Making them part of the developmental process, example Forest Rights Act for managing forest-based resources.
  • Human Development congruous to their traditional systems like Eklavya Model Schools.
  • Upholding their rights and preventing their exploitation like Land Rehabilitation Act, Mines and Minerals Act etc.

Problems Faced By Tribes:
Loss of Control over Natural Resources:
As India industrialized and natural resources were discovered in tribal inhabited areas, tribal rights were undermined and state control replaced tribal control over natural resources. With the concepts of protected forests and national forests gaining currency, the tribals felt themselves uprooted from their cultural moorings and with no secure means of livelihood.

Lack of Education:
In tribal areas, most schools lack basic infrastructure, including minimal learning materials and even minimal sanitary provisions. Due to the lack of immediate economic return from education, tribal parents prefer their children to be engaged in remunerative employment. Most tribal education programs are designed in official/regional languages, which are alien to tribal students.

Displacement and Rehabilitation:
Acquisition of tribal land by the government for the development process of core sectors like huge steel plants, power projects and large dams led to large scale displacement of the tribal population. The tribal pockets of Chotanagpur region, Orissa, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh suffered the most. The migration of these tribals to the urban areas causes psychological problems for them as they are not able to adjust well to the urban lifestyle and values.

Problems of Health and Nutrition:
Due to economic backwardness and insecure livelihood, the tribals face health problems, such as the prevalence of disease, like malaria, cholera, diarrhea and jaundice. Problems associated with malnutrition like iron deficiency and anemia, high infant mortality rates, etc. also prevail.

Gender Issues:
The degradation of the natural environment, particularly through the destruction of forests and a rapidly shrinking resource base, has its impact on the status of women. The opening of the tribal belts to mining, industries and commercialization has exposed tribal men and women to the ruthless operations of the market economy, giving rise to consumerism and to commoditization of women.

Erosion of Identity:
Increasingly, the traditional institutions and laws of tribals are coming into conflict with modern institutions which create apprehensions among the tribals about preserving their identity. Extinction of tribal dialects and languages is another cause of concern as it indicates an erosion of tribal identity.

What Should be done to Empower Tribes in India?
Improvement in Healthcare Facilities:
Mobile medical camps to improve outreach in remote tribal populations would play a major role. Provision of emergency transportation for pregnant tribal women to health facilities for obstetric care is one of the major necessities of the tribal women. Health workers from tribal communities may become the link between the healthcare facilities and tribal communities to guide patients, explain doctors' prescriptions, help patients take advantage of welfare schemes, and counsel them on preventive and promotive health behaviors.

Improvement in Food and Nutrition Facility:
Large scale opening of Mini-Anganwadis with much relaxed norms and expansion of Village Grain Banks to tribal areas are some of the strategies that can be adopted to `Reach the Unreached' in the tribal areas.

Employment and Income Generation:
Employment and income generation opportunities should be ensured for tribal areas, either through wage or self-employment to raise their economic status and thus liberate them from the shackles of poverty and indebtedness. Efforts should also be made to extend micro-credit for self-employment ventures and implementation of mirror schemes of MNREGA when no work opportunities are available. Collection of minor forest produce and their marketing also needs to be encouraged.

Management of Water Resources:
There should be a more effective operationalization of the National Water Policy in tribal areas, so as to cover extension of irrigation facilities and provision of drinking water with a special thrust on:
  • Watershed management, rain water harvesting and water saving practices
  • Mass education and public awareness amongst the rural and tribal population for effective water resource management and protecting the water resources from pollution.
Empowering Tribal Women:
Effective measures should be taken to improve the lot of tribal women through:
  • Promoting leadership role in Joint Forest Management and Panchayati Raj Institutions
  • Legal and administrative measures to check the practice of victimizing women suspected of witchcraft, along with a massive campaign for social awareness and rehabilitation of victimized women, preferably through women's organizations.
Written By: Prof.Shaikh Moeen Shaikh Naeem ITM University, Gwalior

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