Home Essay/Articles ARTICLE: Working for the integrated Socio-Economic Development of the Scheduled Tribes - Ministry of Tribal Affairs
ARTICLE: Working for the integrated Socio-Economic Development of the Scheduled Tribes - Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Saturday, 26 January 2013 05:15

Working for the integrated Socio-Economic Development of the Scheduled Tribes - Ministry of Tribal Affairs

The Scheduled tribe communities live in about 15% of the country’s areas, in various ecological and geo-climatic conditions ranging from plains and forests to hills and inaccessible areas. Tribal groups are at different stages of social, economic and educational development. While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups, who are characterised by a pre-agriculture level of technology; a stagnant or declining population; extremely low literacy; and a subsistence level of economy.    The essential characteristics for a community to be identified as Scheduled Tribes are indications of primitive traits; distinctive culture; shyness of contact with the community at large; geographical isolation; and backwardness.   The inclusion of a community as a Scheduled Tribe is an ongoing process.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is mandated with overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for the development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs). The programmes and schemes of the Ministry are intended to support and supplement, through financial assistance, the efforts of other Central Ministries, the State Governments and voluntary organizations, and to fill critical gaps taking into account the needs of Scheduled Tribe.  These schemes which are for the economic, educational and social development are administered by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and implemented through the State Governments, Union Territory Administrations and voluntary organizations.    Further, the Ministry constantly interacts with various stakeholders vis-à-vis tribal welfare and development to ensure the reach of the schemes as well evaluating the needs/concerns of the tribals.

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) investigates and monitors all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the working of such safeguards; to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribes.

The Tribal Cooperative Marketing (TRIFED) functions both as a service provider and market developer for tribal products.   Further, in the role as a capacity builder, it imparts training to Scheduled Tribe Artisans and Minor Forest Produce (MFP) gatherers.

The National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) provides financial assistance for the economic development of the Scheduled Tribes.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is administering the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 seeking to recognise and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing in such forests for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.   The Ministry is also involved with the Protection of Civil Rights Act, SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas), Act.

As educational development is a stepping-stone to economic and social development and the most effective instrument for empowering the tribals, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing schemes such as Post Matric Scholarship (PMS), Hostels for Scheduled Tribe students, Establishment of Ashram Schools, Vocational Training Centre, Top Class Education, Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship and National Overseas Scholarship for Scheduled Tribe students to improve their educational status. The Ministry has also launched a new pre-matric scholarship scheme in 2012.

Besides, the Ministry funds schemes for vocational training to Scheduled Tribe youth to increase their employability, educational complexes for strengthening education among Scheduled Tribe Girls in Low Literacy Districts for development of Scheduled Tribe female literacy in tribal areas, residential schools, non-residential schools, hostels, libraries, mobile dispensaries, ten or more bedded hospitals, computer training centres, rural night school, agricultural training, etc.,  supporting the initiatives of the State Governments to provide income earning opportunities in tribal areas and initiatives for research, data etc..  The Ministry also releases funds under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution on the basis of approved projects for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes and raising the level of administration in the Scheduled Areas in these States.

The Budget allocation for various schemes/programmes of Ministry of Tribal Affairs for 2012-13 is Rs.4090.00 Crores.