Ministry of Tribal Affairs
Honouring and Empowering the Adivasis of India
Posted On: 02 DEC 2022 10:54AM
India will prosper when our tribal communities prosper, Welfare of tribal communities is our foremost priority.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi
Unity in diversity is one of the most spectacular features of the population of India. India has the second-largest tribal population in the world. As per the Census 2011, the tribal population constitutes about 8.9% of the total population in India. The tribal people throughout the country have rich traditions, cultures and heritage with unique lifestyles and customs.
Tribal movements like the Khasi-Garo movement, Mizo movement, Kol movement, etc. are integral chapters in India’s history and struggle for independence. Be it the bravery of Gond Maharani Veer Durgavati or the sacrifice of Rani Kamalapati; the country cannot forget the same. The struggle of Veer Maharana Pratap cannot be imagined without the brave Bhils who fought shoulder to shoulder and made sacrifices. There are many Adivasi heroes who have sacrificed their lives in the struggle for freedom, including Rani Durgavati, Rani Gaidinliu and Baba Tilka Manjhi, Sidhu Murmu and Kanu Murmu, among others.
Commemorating the sacrifice of Tribal freedom fighters and marking their legacy, the Union Government decided to observe the birth anniversary of one of the great Freedom Fighters, Bhagwan Birsa Munda, as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas with effect from November 15, 2021. For the first time in the country after Independence, the art and culture of the tribal society and their contribution to the freedom movement and nation-building are being remembered with pride, and they are being honoured on such a grand scale. This declaration acknowledges the glorious history of tribal communities and recognizes their efforts towards the preservation of cultural heritage.
Empowering the Tribal Communities
Recognizing the need to protect the socio-cultural fabric of tribal communities and underscoring their role in nation-building, the makers of the Constitution of India made special provisions for the protection of tribal culture and the development of Scheduled Tribes. These include the conservation of their language, script and other cultural elements, ensuring their educational interests, providing economic safeguards and taking steps for political empowerment.
Apart from the above constitutional safeguards, a separate Ministry named the Ministry of Tribal Affairs was set up in 1999 with the objective of providing a more focused approach to the integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs). The programmes and schemes of the Ministry are intended to support and supplement other Central Ministries, State Governments and voluntary organizations and to fill critical gaps in institutions and programmes, taking into account the situation of STs through financial assistance.
Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) have been set up to provide quality education to ST students (Class VI-XII) in remote areas through residential schooling facilities. Presently, more than one lakh students are enrolled in 392 ERMS. A number of Fellowship and Scholarship Programmes have also been launched to provide financial assistance to ST students for studies ranging from pre-matric and post-matric levels to the pursuit of higher education and studies abroad.
Funds are released to States under Article 275(1) of the Constitution to enable them to meet the cost of such schemes of development as may be undertaken by the State for the purpose of promoting tribal welfare. Under the Pradhan Mantri Vanbandhu Vikas Yojana, a venture capital fund has been set up to promote entrepreneurship/start-up projects by ST youth. Minimum Support Price (MSP) is ensured for Minor Forest Produce, and marketing support for tribal products is provided through the Pradhan Mantri Jan Jatiya Vikas Mission. In addition, financial aid is provided to Voluntary Organizations working for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes for projects in education, health and livelihood.
Other than the above schemes, TRIFED, (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India) supports retail marketing for livelihood development among tribal communities of India. This includes the Van Dhan Yojana (VDY), which has over nine lakh beneficiaries in 340 districts across the country.
Improved Infrastructure and Livelihood Opportunities
The Pradhan Mantri Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAAGY) aims at providing basic infrastructure in villages with a significant tribal population. Further, the Central Government administers a scheme ‘Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)’ specifically for the PVTG population. The scheme aims at planning their socio-economic development in a comprehensive manner while retaining the culture and heritage of the communities by adopting habitat-level development approach.
Initiatives for Better Health Outcomes
The government is working on a road map for the management, control and eradication of Sickle Cell disease, which is a genetic blood disorder affecting the tribal population in Central, Western and Southern India. Under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the National Health Mission has prepared a comprehensive guideline to control and prevent Haemoglobinopathies, including Sickle Cell Disease, and has disseminated the same to the states. Other health-related schemes, such as Mission Indradhanush, aimed at ensuring full immunization with all available vaccines for children up to two years of age and pregnant women and provision of free vaccines against COVID-19, have laid stress on Adivasi communities. Another important scheme with special reference to tribal groups is the Nikshay Mitra initiative to ensure additional diagnostic, nutritional, and vocational support to those on tuberculosis treatment.
In addition to the above, the Support to Tribal Research Institute (TRI) scheme aims to strengthen TRIs to carry out research, documentation, training and capacity-building activities and serve as a knowledge hub catering to overall tribal development.
Other Initiatives for Holistic Welfare of Tribal Communities
Apart from the schemes that are administered by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the focus is given to tribal welfare by initiatives under other ministries of the Government, cutting across sectors and domains. From housing and road connectivity under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, respectively, to financial empowerment through Jan Dhan accounts, formation of Self-Help Groups and MUDRA Yojana, various Government programmes have greatly benefitted the tribal communities. Swachh Bharat, Gobardhan Scheme and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana are some other such schemes, as highlighted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address on the occasion of Janjatiya Gaurav Divas 2022. The nation is moving with the energy of ‘Panch Praan’ to realize the dreams of Bhagwan Birsa Munda and crores of Janjatiya brave hearts, as was also underlined by the Prime Minister.
Honouring and Celebrating India’s Tribal Communities
10 Tribal Freedom Fighters’ Museums have been sanctioned in States where tribals lived, struggled against the British and refused to bow down. On November 01, 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for preparing a roadmap to develop Mangarh Dham in Rajasthan’s Banswara district. Mangarh Dham, situated near the Rajasthan-Gujarat border, is the site where over 1500 Bhil freedom fighters lost their lives in 1913 in a mass shooting by the British. The Mangarh Dham will be developed as a joint project of the governments of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, as a national memorial showcasing tribal legacy and their rich cultural heritage.
All these initiatives, along with other steps taken by the government, have paved the path of bringing the tribal communities into the mainstream while honouring their cultures, legacies and ways of life.
(Features ID: 151222)