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NCST functioning with less than 50% of sanctioned strength

GS Paper 2

 Syllabus: Constitutional and Statutory bodies

 

Source: TH, TH

 

Context: Data from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA) revealed that the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is currently functioning with less than 50% of its sanctioned strength

  

Issues with the staffing in the commission:

  • The sanctioned strength of the ST panel is one Chairperson+ one Vice-Chairperson+ three Members= total of Five members (two among V-C and Members must be from the ST community and one member must be a woman).
    • However, currently, it just has a Chairperson (Harsh Chouhan) and one Member (Ananta Nayak) with all other positions, including that of the mandatory ST Member, vacant for the last three years
  • Posts under Group A, B and C: Against total sanctioned posts of 124; 70 posts are vacant
    • Among the group A posts: Sanctioned posts of one Superintendent of Police, one Law Officer and one Accounts Officer are vacant since 2004.
      • While Group A posts in the NCST are filled by the Ministry, Groups B and C posts are the NCST’s responsibility
    • The recruitment rules for the posts are yet to be framed
  • Posts of Research Officers, Investigators and Directors are vacant
  • Lack of applicants: The Ministry claimed that the eligibility bar was set too high for the entry of applicants

 

Other concerns:

  • Fewer meetings: In the financial year 2021-22, it has met only four times.
  • High rate of pendency of cases: Its rate of pendency of resolution of complaints and cases that it receives is also close to 50%

 

About NCST:

NCST is a constitutional body set up by amending Article 338 and by inserting a new article 338A in the Constitution (89th Constitution Amendment Act, 2003) in 2004.

 

Erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely:

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

 

For Composition, power, and Reporting: Click on this link

 

For the process of inclusion or exclusion from the Scheduled Tribes list: Click on this link

 

About Scheduled Tribes:

Schedule tribes are termed “backward tribes” living in the “Excluded” and “Partially Excluded” areas (as per Census-1931).

 

  • Article 366of the Constitution only provides a process to define Scheduled Tribes: Tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342
  • 342(1): The President may specify the tribe as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory.
  • Among the 700 tribes notified, the largest number of tribal communities (62) are found in Odisha and no Tribe was identified in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Pondicherry.

 

Few Related Committees

  • Lokur Committee (1965): It set the criteria for defining Schedule Tribes
  • Bhuria Commission (2002-2004): It focused on issues such as the 5th Schedule to tribal land, forests, health and education, the working of Panchayats and the status of tribal women.
  • Xaxa Committee (2013): To study 5 critical issues related to tribal communities: (1) livelihood and employment, (2) education, (3) health, (4) involuntary displacement and migration, (5) and legal and constitutional matters.

 

Initiatives taken:

Eklavya Model Schools, TRIFED, Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana

Development of PVTGs, Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission (announced in the recent budget) (check yesterday’s CA FFP)

 

Insta Links

NCST

 

Mains Links

Q. What are the two major legal initiatives by the State since Independence addressing discrimination against Scheduled Tribes (STs)? (UPSC 2017)

 

Prelims Links:

At the national level, which ministry is the nodal agency to ensure effective implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006? (UPSC 2021)

 

(a) Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

(b) Ministry of Panchayati Raj

(c) Ministry of Rural Development

(d) Ministry of Tribal Affairs

 

Ans: D