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Adivasis in Chhattisgarh & M.P.             

Adivasis in Chhattisgarh & M.P.             

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GS 2 ||Governance & Social Justice  ||  Vulnerable Sections ||Tribal & PTGs

ISSUE

  • The states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh fail to give the needed attention to the communities despite significant adivasi population.
  • Adivasis in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are doing poorly, economically and educationally.

Who Are Adivasis?

  • ‘Adivasis’ are India’s indigenous tribal communities. They constitute about 8 % of the population of India (over 84 million people) and have origins that pre-date the Hindu majority. However, because they are outside of the caste system.

Concern?

  • Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are among the four Indian states (other than North-eastern states) with more than 20% Adivasi population.
  • Chhattisgarh, in fact, has an Adivasi population of more than 30%.
  • However, the Scheduled Tribes (STs) have hardly found a mention in the election campaigns in the two states.
  • The Adivasis seem to be the main losers in “New India”.

Adivasis’ Present Condition?

In both states, the Adivasis lag behind other social groups and are losing ground, economically and educationally.

Income

  • The India Human Development Survey, in 2011-12, highlights their backwardness.
  • The annual per capita income of the STs in Chhattisgarh represented 51% of the per capita income of the non-STs.
  • This is a significant decrease from 2004-2005, when this proportion was 68%.
  • In Madhya Pradesh, this proportion has fallen from 65 to 55%.
  • Another such state is Gujarat where STs’ annual per capita income represents only 35% of that of the others.
  • Also, in all three states, STs are poorer than SCs (Scheduled Castes).
  • In Gujarat, their per capita income is 45% of that of SCs; in Chhattisgarh, 58% and Madhya Pradesh, 75%.

Education

  • The appalling socioeconomic condition of the Adivasis is a reflection of their lack of education.
  • Only 7% of STs in the two states are graduates.
  • Data suggests that quotas are not being filled in the university system as well as in the public sector.

Economy

  • The economic situation of the Adivasis is, in fact, closely related to their under-representation among salaried people.
  • In Chhattisgarh, only 6.2% of Adivasis are salaried.
  • In MP, only 3.5% were salaried in 2011-12, compared to 9% in 2004-05.
  • 34% of Adivasis in Chhattisgarh and 46% in MP are “labourers”, which means that they till the land of others.

Political representation of Adivasis is also not in proportion to their population in the two states.

Vulnerability

  • According to the Statistical Profile of STs in India (2013), 15% of the Adivasis in the country live in MP.
  • NOTE: According to the Crime Bureau, more than 20% of the crimes against STs are committed in the state, including 40% of the murders.

Other states?

  • The fortunes of the STs in Chhattisgarh and MP as well as in Gujarat stand in stark contrast to their conditions in South India.
  • This is not because South Indian states are richer, but because they are more egalitarian(social equality and equal rights)
  • In Karnataka, in 2011-12, the annual per capita income of STs represents 80% of that of the other groups, up from 62% in 2004-05.
  • In undivided Andhra Pradesh, it has jumped from 76% to 86% in the same period.
  • In both states, the annual per capita income of STs is either equivalent to (Andhra) or more (Karnataka) than that of SCs, and even of Muslims.
  • Education is a key reason for this, as the percentage of graduates among the Adivasis is 2.6% in Andhra and 3.4% in Karnataka.
  • These are proportions equal to that of SCs and superior to that of Muslims.

 Forest Rights Conditions?

  • The Forest Rights Act (FRA), that provides legal rights to Adivasis over their forest lands, has not been fully implemented.
  • More than 40% of them operate “marginal holdings” and their holdings are shrinking.
  • MP has the largest forest cover in the country, but Adivasis here have found it very difficult to obtain land titles.
  • More than 60% of the forest rights’ claims in the state have been dismissed.
  • Also, FRA allows for a maximum claim of four hectares (ha).
  • But the average size of the land distributed under the act in MP is about 1.45 ha.
  • In Chhattisgarh, Adivasis have filed more than 8,55,000 claims over land since 2006, but 53% of this has been rejected.
  • The average land distributed here is a mere 0.85 hectare, while the Adivasis are entitled to 4 ha.
  • Given their proportion, social justice and inclusiveness concerns, it is fair that the governments take note of Adivasi development and empowerment seriously.

Solution?

  • The most important of these is to provide good government in the worst of law and order environments.
  • A better civil administration structure must come up in place of the one present. This means the best officers drawn from across the country.
  • Perhaps it is time to constitute a new All India Service.
  • In 1999, the National Democratic Alliance government issued a draft national policy on tribals to address the developmental needs of tribal people. Special emphasis was laid on education, forestry, healthcare, languages, resettlement and land rights.
  • The government even established a Ministry of Tribal Affairs. Further, a Cabinet Committee on Tribal Affairs was meant to constantly review the policy. Little has happened, though. The Cabinet Committee hardly ever meets. The draft policy is still a draft, which means there is still no policy.
  • United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government drafted the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill in 2005, but did not act upon it due to pressure from influential self-styled wildlife activists and the wildlife tourism lobby.
  • The Fifth and Sixth Schedules, under Article 244 of the Indian Constitution in 1950 provided for self-governance in specified tribal majority areas. This did not happen. Indeed, migrations reduced the number of adivasi majority areas. But there are still solutions possible within the Indian Constitution and in the universal principles of justice and equality.
  • There are 332 tribal majority tehsils in India, of which 110 are in the North East, where they have won the states of their own.
  • This leaves 222 tehsils encompassing an adivasi population of over 20 million. These tehsils, many of them contiguous, must be immediately made self-governing areas, as envisaged by the Constitution. All these tribal majority areas must be consolidated into administrative divisions whose authority must be vested with democratically chosen leadership.
  • This body could be called the Adivasi Maha-panchayat and must function as a largely autonomous institution. All laws passed by the state legislatures must be ratified to the satisfaction of the Maha-panchayat.
  • At the same time, there are paradoxes that must be dealt with first. The most important of these is to provide good government in the worst of law and order environments. A better civil administration structure must come up in place of the one present. This means the best officers drawn from across the country. Perhaps it is time to constitute a new All India Service, similar to the former Indian Frontier Administrative Service. The IFAS was an eclectic group of officers drawn from various arms of the government. Unfortunately, it was merged into the Indian Administrative Service.
  • Instead of the state capital controlled government, the instruments of public administration dealing with education, health, irrigation, roads and land records must be handed over to local government structures. The police must also be made answerable to local elected officials and not be a law unto themselves.