ALIENATION OF PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TRIBAL GROUPS

ALIENATION OF PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE TRIBAL GROUPS


Author: Ishan Sharma,
3rd Year,
School of Law, Christ(Deemed to be University).

ABSTRACT

A tribe is a group of people connected to a leader and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar proposed a provision for reservation for the oppressed classes. This was in order to uplift their status and diminish the gap in exposure and opportunity which was being observed then, for a period of 10 years. The PVTGs are highly diverse in cultural norms and practices which makes them vulnerable to a very high level of inequality with respect to social and economic conditions. The main sources of livelihood for these communities is hugely dependent over forests. This paper will aim at the vulnerable condition of the PVTGs and how they have been neglected in the society. The current situation of PVTG will be addressed in this paper with regard to the minority rights. It will also make an attempt to give valuable suggestions for the upliftment of this backward community. To conclude with this paper will enlighten the readers with the importance of tribal groups in India and how it is extremely important for a country to protect the minority section.

Keywords: tribal, upliftment, backward communities, government schemes, education

RESEARCH DESIGN

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES:
This paper will aim at the pitiable conditions of the PVTGs and how they have been neglected in the society.
RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
  • Why are the PVTGs neglected and what can be done by the government to equate their position in the society?
  • How effective is the implementation of the regulations that are passed by the government?
SCOPE AND LIMITATION:
This research paper basically covers the existence of PVTG groups existing in Chhattisgarh which are the Baigas, Pahadi Korwas, Kamars, Birhors, Abujh Maddiya. This paper covers the problems of the tribals and backward tribes in general and the legislations passed by the Government of India and other statutory authority.
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY:
This research paper is made on the grounds of Doctrinal research methodology.
SOURCES:
Secondary Source: Online journals, newspaper articles and books
CITATION METHOD:
Harvard Bluebook Citation 20th ed.

INTRODUCTION

Tribal are the people who, in anthropological literature, are characterized generally by a majority of the following features: isolated ethnic groups, low density of population, primitive economy, primitive technology, primitive political organization, primitive religion and the lack of a script for their language. Strictly adhering to the above definition, hardly any of the population groups on the Indian mainland can lay claim of being a tribal group. The tribals in India comprise of the groups which are declared tribals as per an order of the President. Precisely speaking, these are the Scheduled Tribes.[1] 
The Dhebar Commission[2] of 1960-61 stated that within Scheduled Tribes there existed an inequality in the rate of development. On the basis of this report and other studies, during the fourth Five-Year Plan, a new sub-category was recognised and named the ‘Primitive Tribal Group’. The sub category was recognized with the purpose of enabling improvement in the conditions of these communities which had very low development indices. The people under this group had one of these features; pre-agricultural system of existence like practices of hunting and gathering, zero or negative population growth, extremely low level of literacy in the group relative to other tribal groups or a very low level of economy. Ever since the number of groups have been increasing in this ambit and stood at 75 groups till the 2001 census increasing in every Five-Year Plan till the Eighth Five-Year Plan.
In 2006, the Government of India renamed the ‘Primitive Tribal Group’ as the ‘Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups’ thus marking the induction of these communities as we know them today. But only recognition to these groups resolves none of the issues raised as a recent Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) showed that out of the 75 Groups that were recognised 35 groups didn’t even have a Baseline Survey i.e., basic survey to precisely identify the PVTG families, their habitats, and social-economic statuses to make development initiatives for them. The status of the PVTGs around India is developing slowly, like we can see that the literacy rate of the PVTGs have gone up to 30-40% from a single digit figure but the level of female literacy still suffers big time. The population of the PVTGs around the country is highly varying from 4,50,217 seen in Sahariyas while the Sentinelets and Andamanese has very small population of 39 and 43 respectively.
The PVTGs are highly diverse in cultural norms and practices which lead to the high level of inequality in social and economic conditions being observed. This leads to the additional problems faced by the Government in forming schemes as the problems faced by them is different in cases of different communities.
The main sources of livelihood for these communities are related to the forests and hence there suffering is increasing with the onset of industrialization and the decline in forest land which hampers there growth further. The Baigas present here cannot undergo sterilisation under any circumstances, which is a huge violation of the right to life and choice assured by the Constitution Of India.The level of nutrition measured as number of underweight and malnourished infants in all areas and BMI for men and women in the range of age from15-49 were taken and a report was made. The results showed that the number of inf
ants and adults both was 1.5x more than the state average mentioned in the NHRP made by the Government.

COMMON PROBLEMS

The component of employment is one of the most important aspect for all individuals residing in a country. All human beings need a source of livelihood in order to meet their bare minimum needs as to sustain in the society. There lies a huge disparity between the different strata of the society, as it is commonly said, “the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer”. There have been certain attempts by the government to narrow this gap by introducing employment schemes in order to provide widespread employment. There are many skills that are present in the tribal people but there is lack of opportunities and proper awareness. Also, due to urbanization and industralisation, the forest areas are being cut down and new infrastructure is being constructed to provide more employment. Ironically, the only source of livelihood for the tribals are the forest which is being taken away by them and making them unemployed totally.
Another problem is a chronic problem of indebtedness which has been, and is still, probably most difficult problem facing almost the entire tribal population India. Consequently, one of the worst forms of exploitation to the tribals are exposed is through the traditional moneylender. At household level, it is indicative of poverty, of an imbalance between income and minimum consumption requirements as well as resources for carrying on gainful activity and unemployment’.[3] There are in reality a few reasons that majorly lead to this perennial problem, the first one being the condition of abject poverty in which they live. Second, being caught in the vicious cycle of moneylenders which ultimately lead to unending money-lending, this problem can also be traced to the lack of awareness among these tribals about the legal institutions to seek financial support like banks. Moreover, it is a fault on the part of the government as well because they are indifferent towards the tribals and there are no special services that the banks provide in order to encourage the local tribes to resort to banks for loans.
 Land-Alienation is yet another persistent problem which is constantly faced by the PVTG’s as Land is the mainstay of the tribals and more than 90% them are dependent on agriculture and allied activities. Their economy is primarily agro-based. However, with the opening up of tribal areas, their land is being alienated from them.[4]As land is being considered as a priced asset which has begun to have increasing value in the market, there is a war for land that has begun in order to make more and more money out of it. Land with its by products are the major source of livelihood for the PVTG’s, but people with manpower and money are trying to snatch these basic sources of livelihood from these groups. Due to poverty, unawareness and influential support these have-nots are unable to protect their assets and not able to fight against the miseries by the haves. It is not only the private individuals who are trying to take over these land holdings but government also has equal involvement in this wrongdoing where they are taking over the land that has been maintained by the PVTG’s in name of development and misleading them by committing them employment opportunities and monetary compensation. Due to increasing pressure of population coupled with alienation of land, the size of land-holdings in tribal areas had to be reduced in varying degrees from place to place.

HEALTHCARE

The level of healthcare of these communities are in a very bad condition with a smaller number of centres offering medical care and the problems of distance and expenses, hence incurred promoting the spread of diseases and also lack of healthcare. Immunization levels are accepted more though the spread in awareness is still not justifiable. One of the major cause of worry is the dimension of Sexually transmitted infections that continue to be a major health, social and economic problem in the developing world, with more than 340 million new cases occurring each year.
The prevalence rates of sexually trans
mitted diseases (STDs) are far higher in developing countries where STD treatment is less accessible. In most developing countries, incidence and prevalence of STDs may be about 20 times higher than those in developed countries. The situation may be worse in tribal areas where there is little or no access to the health delivery system. A baseline situational analysis of the STD problem in the tribal area is required to plan intervention strategies. The availability of medical facilities in tribal areas is scarce. The scope for laboratory diagnosis of STDs in these areas is remote in the near future. The World Health Organization has advocated a syndromic approach for identification and management of STDs. This is a cost-effective approach for the management of STDs, particularly in remote rural/tribal areas. A study revealed the prevalence of STD syndromes in the tribal of central India. Higher prevalence among women as observed in the present study was also reported by other workers.4 6. This, along with poverty, isolation and illiteracy contributes to a variety of reproductive health problems of women. In men, the highest prevalence (11.2%) was observed in the age group 30-34 years followed by the 35-39 year age group (10.5%). A similar pattern was observed in women, with a prevalence of 21.8% and 19.6% in the two age groups respectively.
[5] A study conducted in south India also showed a similar pattern. Vaginal discharge was the commonest syndrome in women while in men the commonest syndrome was dysurea. The study conducted in Tamil Nadu, South India,[6]also found vaginal discharge as the most common genital syndrome among women. Also in the Reproductive and Child Health Rapid Household Survey Phase II (RCH-RHS II),[7] dysuria was the commonest syndrome in men. The tribal communities are in a phase of transition from their primitive ways of life to a more modern, civilized lifestyle.
Consequently, every aspect of their life, including economic activities and sexual behavior, is being subjected to drastic changes. The low levels of STD syndromes among them offers an opportunity to prevent a potential epidemic in this disadvantaged community. As no baseline data are available, the findings of the present study form the basis for future work in this area. This will also help the authorities to formulate appropriate interventions for this potentially vulnerable group. The study highlights a need to strengthen the reproduction tract infection/sexually transmitted infection control programme in the tribal areas. For this, emphasis should be given on Information, Education and Communication activities, and targeted interventions to control STI.[8]

EDUCATION

Education has been a vital aspect from the beginning of the drafting of the Indian Constitution. It was widely observed that education was the key for a country’s development and thus special provisions were necessary to provide education in all parts of the country. In 1956, the Indian Constitution through Article 350A recognized the need to provide facilities for primary education in the mother tongue to linguistic minorities. However, today, almost four decades later, education is being imparted primarily in the 15 ‘official’ languages that are listed in the English Schedule’ of the Constitution as well as in English. Languages of communities such as the Scheduled Tribes do not figure in the Schedule and remain outside the precincts of the school.[9] In a case a pleading was made to the High Court to construct an Anganbadi Centre in a village called Oropani which is primarily inhabited by PVTG community members. The order passed but no development on that context can be seen till date. This is the main problem with a country like India where there are many legislations and orders passed for the development and actual benefit of these tribal communities but there exists a wide gap between passing of these orders by the government and actual implementation of these orders. There is an urgent need to bridge this gap in order to draw a balance between all sections of the society.
Census data on the actual participation of children from tribal communities in primary schools present a more sobering picture. In 1981 barely 23.9 per cent of tribal children aged 5-14 years in rural areas actually attended schools (Table 1). In states such as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the percentage of tribal children enrolled in schools in rural areas was 24.0 per cent, 16.4 percent and 18.4 percent respectively [India 1984] [10] Chhattisgarh is home to more than 1.5 lakh members of the PVTG communities, but the situation is no better even after the fact that the State Governments have all the powers for their development under ‘The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups’.
It is clear that the dropouts among STs are higher at all levels in comparison to other communities. To arrest this trend, a number of educational programmes have been launched by the State Govts. Although education is in the concurrent list of the Constitution and school educat
ion is basically the responsibility of State Govts, a number of initiatives has been taken by the Central Govt. to boost up the education development of Scheduled Tribes. In this regard, various programmes like Sarva-Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and its components – District Primary Education Programme (DPEP), National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education (NPNSPE), are some of the Centrally Sponsored Schemes for supporting the initiatives taken by the State Govts to provide education to children in the age group of 6-14 years besides mainstreaming out-of-school children and 197 dropouts. These schemes have several interventions to tackle the persistent problem of low literacy and higher dropout ratio of all children belonging to the Scheduled Tribe communities. A number of steps have been taken by the Central Govt. to strengthen the educational base of the Scheduled Tribes. To increase literacy, the Government has taken a number of measures such as opening of schools/educational institutions near the areas predominantly inhabited by the tribals, reservation of seats for STs in educational institutions, relaxation of standards for admission to institutions of higher learning, incentives like free education, scholarship, Mid-day meals, free uniforms, books and stationery, conducting coaching classes for competitive examinations and admission in technical courses, provision of hostels etc. These steps have contributed a great deal in raising the educational level of Scheduled Tribes.
[11]
The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) came into effect from April 1, 2008. The scheme recognised the 75 PVTG communities as the most vulnerable in the ST broad spectrum and hence aimed to adopt a holistic approach to the socio-economic development of PVTGs and gives the state governments flexibility in planning initiatives that are geared towards the specific socio-cultural imperatives of the specific groups at hand.
Activities supported under the scheme include housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, cattle development, construction of link roads, installation of non-conventional sources of energy, social security, etc. Funds are made available only for activities essential for the survival, protection and development of PVTGs and not already funded by any other Scheme of the central/state governments. Each state and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ administration, is required to prepare a long term Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) plan, valid for a period of five years for each PVTG within its territory, outlining the initiatives it will undertake, financial planning for the same and the agencies charged with the responsibility of undertaking the same. The CCD Plan is approved by an Expert Committee, appointed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The Scheme is then funded entirely by the Central government.
There are certain productive measures that are taken by the government in order for the upliftment of these PVTG’s. To begin with Dr. Raman Singh the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh announced a 11-point programme for the development of the PVTGs. The 11 points are, Housing facilities; Drinking water provision; Electrification of villages; Medical check-up; Provision of Food Security; Nutritious food to 0-6 year age-group infants and pregnant women and lactating mothers; Development of skills; Social security; Distribution of Forest Rights Pattas; Distribution of Caste and Domicile certificates; Distribution of blankets, umbrellas and radios for increasing awareness of information level. 
The Commission also sent its comments to Rajya Sabha Secretariat after the Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha. The comments sent by the Commission included the scope of reservation should be extended not only to Primary and Secondary Schools and other Educational Institutions owned and aided by the Government (as had been proposed in the Bill) but also to such public schools and other schools, and institutions such has hospitals etc. which though not funded by the Government had received/continue to receive concessions from the Government in respect of acquisition of lands, buildings or other concessions respecting recognition/affiliation in regard to running of those institutions like electricity, water, provision of public transport etc. There should be 7.5% reservation for Scheduled Tribes in awarding fellowships and/or in granting scholarships in the schools, colleges, Universities, Educational and Technical Institutions etc. 7.5% of seats in the hostels attached to Schools, Colleges, Educational and Technical Institutions should be reserved in favour of Scheduled Tribes.[12]There are certain programmes that are initiated by government in order to encourage and spread the PVTG’s such as Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV), Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Shiksha Karmi Project etc.
As per the Govt. guidelines, one Primary Health Centre is to be set up against the population of 3000 persons in rural areas. At present there are only three Primary Health Centres in the area which are not sufficient to meet the requirement of medical facilities. There is need for setting up at least two more primary health centres in the area due to heavy pressure of patients on PHC of Belpahari. There is a proposal to upgrade the present block health centre at Belpahari from 50 beds to 60 beds. The Commission stated that this proposal of upgradation of this hospital should be got through at the earliest and similarly the proposal for setting up of 10-bed hospital at Odulchua may be approved by the Govt. of West Bengal at the earliest. It was found during the visit of the Chairman that there is a proliferation of leprosy cases among the tribal people. Wi
th a view to prevent the further spread of this disease among the tribals and also for its treatment and eradication, awareness campaign may be launched by the State Govt. The efforts made by Dr.M.G. Mandal by initiating on his own programme for the replacement of the limbs of some leprosy cases is appreciable and the Govt. should make similar arrangement on permanent basis. Similarly, the incidence of Malaria is also very high among the tribals in the area and there is need to take various remedial steps to prevent the spread of the disease. Blood test of the malaria affected people should be conducted, chlorination of the drinking water should be done and the lava oil should be sprinkled on water along with fogging of area from time to time.
[13]

CONCLUSION

In a country of rich evergreen forest and huge tracts of Grassland, tribes have been an inherent part and have contributed immensely in the maintenance of these forest lands. The constitution makers understood the need for special provisions in order to protect the rights and escalate the status of this community in the society. The Dhebar Commission in 1961 recognised the PVTGs and therefore gave them a separate identity. There have been many discussions for the upliftment and empowerment of this community but in actual practice, there is lack of application of the same. This community is living in a pitiable condition where they lack minimum basic needs such as shelter, hygiene and education. They have little opportunity to voice their opinion because there is no legal support readily available and the government shows very little concern towards them.
The government needs to be sensitive towards the needs and demands of these communities as they lack worldly wisdom and street smartness in order outsmart the others and stand for their rights. There is an immediate need for the government to effectively implement the policies that have been passed in order to see overall growth in the country. They need to improve the infrastructure and construct schools and hospitals in these areas as to make the people and the children aware and also provide people employment. There have been special scholarships and hostel facilities provided for the lower and higher education of the children belonging to the tribes to encourage them to receive education and also spread education to all parts of the country. Moreover, once the people will be aware about all the trade practices and job opportunities available, they will be able to do increase their incomes and coincidently increase the total GDP of the country and make it’s rank higher in the world forum. Such issues are important to be put forward as there is a lot of potential that lies with these communities if given proper opportunities and knowledge about the same. There is a mere need for implementation of the orders passed to actually make this community being recognised by the people at large and help them give a better and dignified life.

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[1] Sagar Preet, Tribal Problems: A Gandhian Perspective, 24 JSTOR 29, 29 (1994), http://www.jstor.org/stable/41919746, 29/11/2017.

[2] Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission, Lok Sabha, Report of The Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission Government of India, Volume-I, 2002-2004.

[3] Sagar Preet, Tribal Problems: A Gandhian Perspective, 24 JSTOR 29, 29 (1994), http://www.jstor.org/stable/41919746, 29/11/2017.


[4] Ibid.

[5] Bang Rf Bang A, SEARCH Team. Community based approach to reproductive health (1989).

[6]Thomas K, Thyagarajan SP & Jeyaseelan L, Community prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases and human immunodeficiency virus infection in Tamil Nadu, India: a probability proportional to size cluster survey. Nati Med J India 135,139(2002), 30/11/2017.

[7] George R, Thomas K & Thyagarajan SP,. Genital syndromes and syndromic management of vaginal discharge in a community setting. Int J STD AIDS 367, 370 (2004), 30/11/2017.

[8] Ranjan R & Sharma RK. Gender differentials in the knowledge of RTI and STI in India: evidence from RCH-RHS II Survey 2006 ,806,(2002), www.cicred.org/Eng/Seminars/Bangkok, 24/07/2009.

[9]Geetha B. Nambissan, Language and Schooling of Tribal Children: Issues Related to Medium of Instruction, 29 JSTOR 2747, 2747(1994), http://www.jstor.org/stable/,02/12/2017.

[10] Ibid.

[11] National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Lok Sabha, First Report (2004-05 & 2005-06). 196-197.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid
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