Static – Modern History (Post-Independence) – Integration of the Tribals (II) | Focus – Mains

Notes for Modern History (Post-Independence)

Integration of the Tribals II

  • To give shape to the government’s policy, a beginning was made in the constitution itself which directed under Article 46 that the state should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the tribal people and should protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation, through special legislation.
  • The governors of the states in which tribal areas were situated were given special responsibility to protect tribal interests, including the power to modify central and state laws in their application to tribal areas, and to frame regulations for the protection of tribals’ right to land and also their protection from money lenders.
  • The application of the Fundamental Rights was amended for this purpose.
  • The constitution also extended full political rights to the tribal people.
  • In addition, it provided for reservation of seats in the legislatures and positions in the administrative services for the Scheduled Tribes as in the case of the Scheduled Castes.
  • The constitution also provided for the setting up of Tribal Advisory Councils in all states containing tribal areas to advise on matters concerning the welfare of tribals.
  • A Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was appointed by the President to investigate whether the safeguards provided for them were being observed.
  • Legislative as well as executive action was taken by the state governments to prevent loss of tribal lands to non-tribal people and to prevent exploitation of the tribals by money lenders.
  • The central and state governments created special facilities and organized special programmes for the welfare and development of the tribal areas and the tribal people including the promotion of cottage and village industries and generation of employment among them.
  • Large expenditures were undertaken and large sums set apart in the Five-Year Plans for the purpose. The funding for tribal welfare significantly increased after 1971.

  • In spite of the constitutional safeguards and the efforts of the central and state governments, the tribals’ progress and welfare has been very slow, and even dismal.
  • Except in the Northeast, the tribals continue to be poor, indebted, landless and often unemployed.
  • The problem often lies in weak execution of even well-intentioned measures.
  • Quite often there is a divergence between central and state government policies, the latter being less in tune with tribal interests.
  • In particular, state governments have been relatively ineffective in administering the positive policies and laws laid down by the central government or by the state governments themselves.
  • Quite often the funds allocated for tribal welfare are not spent or are spent without corresponding results, or are even misappropriated. One of the watchdogs of tribal interests, the Tribal Advisory Councils, have not functioned effectively .
  • Often the administrative personnel are ill-trained or even prejudiced against tribals. But sympathetic officials are also known to be quickly transferred out of tribal areas under the pressure of traders, money lenders, forest contractors and land-grabbers.
  • A major handicap from which tribals suffer is denial of justice, often because of their unfamiliarity with the laws and the legal system.
  • Laws preventing transfer of land to outsiders have continued to be evaded, leading to alienation of land and eviction of tribals.
  • Rapid extension of mines and industries has worsened their conditions in many areas.
  • Forest laws and regulations are also used by unsympathetic and often corrupt forest officials to harass and exploit the tribal people.
  • As a result of loss of land, deforestation and restrictions on the access to the forest, the tribal people have been facing growing unemployment and have been increasingly driven into more inaccessible stretches of hills and jungles.
  • The progress of education among the tribal people has been disappointingly slow.