AIR spotlight summary: Initiatives for Tribal Welfare
The 142nd birth anniversary of the great freedom fighter who belong to the Tribal community of Jharkhand – Bhagvan Birsa Munda was celebrated across several parts of India.
He fought against the might of the British Empire and he has a place of pride in the Indian Culture especially among the Tribal communities.
It is also an occasion to look back at the progress of the Tribal sector in the country and how far the community has come in terms of welfare ever since the ministry of Tribal affairs was set up in 1999.
A lot of work has been done for the upliftment of the community which is extremely marginalised because of their cultural practices and geographical and cultural exclusion.
How do you look back on the journey of Tribal welfare in India? Where do you think we stand today?
Entire Tribal welfare ministry is dedicated to the development of the Tribal communities in the country. Ministry has various schemes like Tribal research institutes which are spread across the country.
- Tribal Research Institutes
These institutes are engaged in the work of providing planning inputs to the State governments, conducting research and evaluation of studies and collection of data in training and capacity building of the stakeholders.
Apart from the Tribal institute there are organizations which are working for the livelihood of the Tribals such as TRIFED.
- It has been setup in 1987 and since then in various states TRIFED has taken various activities such as Collection of Minor Forest Produce (Non-timber forest produce) by ensuring remunerative price for their products.
- This helps farmers who are unaware of the real value and thereby they will be protected from exploitation of middlemen and unscrupulous traders.
Is there any uniform centralised platform for the tribals to know what the MSP of a particular MFP (Minimum Forest Produce) is?
MFP is the major source for the livelihood of the no of Tribals in the country.
- Recently the government has initiated fixing of minimum support price of MFP. Adequate publicity arrangement have been made and recently TRIFED has organised a national wide workshop by inviting Chief Secretaries, Secretary tribal welfare, Secretary of Ministry of forest, managing directors of state tribal federations and forest corporations.
- This prestigious scheme of central government is to endure remunerative price for totally 24 commodities like Mahua Seed, Sal leaves and Tamarind and Wild Honey.
- There is a national level committee which fixes the price by taking various factors of production keeping in view of the market trends.
- 75% of the funds for the procurement will be provided by the government of India to the State government’s tribal welfare department and this department will provide 25% of the funds to the implementing agencies for the procurement.
Forests Rights Act and PESA Act
Forests Rights Act, 2006 has given adequate ownership powers for the tribals. It is a very path breaking Act in a sense that for the very first time it not only recognised the traditional forest dwellers as the legitimate owners of the forest land but also for the very first time made conservation accountable.
PESA (Panchatraj extension to scheduled areas) act 1996, provides Gram panchayat the ownership and the authority to deal with forest produce and tribals issues.
Education of Tribals
Many girls’ hostels and Ashrams have been setup in tribal dominated blocks for the education of tribal children.
- Ekalavya model of residential schools are set up: Poorna Malavath who climbed Everest is also from one of the tribal welfare schools.
Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana:
Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana has been launched by Central Government of India for holistic development and welfare of tribal population of India.
- The scheme proposes to bring tribal population of the country at par with other social groups and include them in overall progress of the nation.
- The government aims for holistic development of tribals by plugging in the infrastructural gaps and lags in human development indices.
Employment opportunities for the tribals are shrinking on the account of shrinking forest cover.
TRIFED has setup TribesIndia a chain of showrooms where several categories of handicrafts are being marketed like tribal textiles, tribal jewellery.
TRIFED is also working on the capacity building of the tribes.
- Issuing of Forest Pattas:
Over 58 lakh people have applied for the forest pattas(for the ownership of forest produce) but only just about 14 lakh pattas have been issued individually and some more have been issued at the community levels.
- Nitrition and health of the tribal community:
It was identified a while ago that sickle cell anaemia is one of the major diseases afflicting the tribal community in the country and a lot of effort is being made to improve the health status of the community.
Research by the Indian council of Medical research has further shown that the scheduled tribal community is generally at the lower level of nutrition.
- Tribal Housing
Most of the tribals live in single room houses and faced challenges in accessing potable drinking water, Sanitation and electricity access.
Infrastructure facilities like road connectivity will improve the quality of life in tribal areas, in terms of quick access to health services, better education, and social service. Special focus is also given for repair and maintenance of existing roads in tribal areas.