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  • 01 Jul 2019 GS Paper 1 Indian Society

    Explain how the imperatives of ‘development’ have governed the attitudes towards tribes in India. Discuss how this has shaped the policies of the state. (250 words)



    • Introduce the concept of development.
    • Write about its impact on tribes in India.
    • List the constitutional provisions/government initiatives with respect to the protection of tribes.
    • Highlight the conflict between development and tribal rights.
    • Conclude with a solution-oriented approach.


    • In general, development refers to economic development, particularly industrialization and urbanisation. This involved the building of large dams, factories and mines, especially in the tribal areas which are mineral rich.
      • This particular viewpoint of development is exclusionary in nature and therefore tribals have paid a disproportionate price for the development of the rest of Indian society.
    • The imperatives of this form of development has certainly shaped the attitudes which have been detrimental to the tribals in India for the following reasons, also highlighted by the recent high-level committee headed by Prof. Virginius Xaxa:
      • Private property: The coming of private property in land adversely affected tribals, whose community-based forms of collective ownership were placed at a disadvantage in the new system.
      • In-migration: Many tribal concentration regions and states have also been experiencing the problem of heavy in-migration of non-tribals in response to the pressures of development. This threatens to disrupt and overwhelm tribal communities and cultures, besides accelerating the process of exploitation of tribals.
      • Forced migration: Development and urbanisation have often led to the loss of livelihood, massive displacement and forced migration of tribes.
      • Laws and rules that provide protection to tribes are being routinely manipulated and subverted to accommodate corporate interests.
      • Violence: Tribal protests are being met with violence by the State’s paramilitary forces and the private security staff of corporations involved.
      • Other issues: Large-scale displacement of tribal people for development projects, exploitation and oppression by traders and money lenders, absence of an effective and sensitive civil administration, serious neglect and deprivation, widespread poverty and poor health and educational status.
    • There are several provisions in the Constitution for safeguarding and promoting the interests and rights of the Scheduled Tribes. Few important provisions are:
      • Fifth and Sixth Schedule: Specific safeguards for schedule areas.
      • Article 15: Reservation in educational institution.
      • Article 16: Reservation in posts and services.
      • Article 23: Prohibits traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour.
      • Article 24: Prohibits employment of Children below the age of 14 years in any factory or mine or in any other hazards activity.
      • 73rd Amendment Act: Reservation of Seats for Scheduled Tribes in Panchayats.
      • Reservation of seats for Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and Legislative Assemblies.
      • Article 46: The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections including Scheduled Tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
    • Occurrence of all of the above despite the special Constitutional and progressive legislation, such as PESA, 1996 and FRA, 2006 for the tribal people reflects that the State certainly needs to change its attitude towards tribals and shape its policies accordingly.
    • In the recent past, the government has shifted its focus on development by means of planned change and people’s participation. It is now focussing on both aspects of integration and development. The provisions enshrined for Scheduled Tribes in the Indian Constitution are a testimony to this dual approach. It provides for development as well as for safeguarding and protection of their interests.
      • However, it is also important to note that contrary to what is claimed, the State is actually pursuing assimilation rather than integration for tribals.
    • A policy of integration would provide space for protections and safeguards for their distinct identity, as enshrined in the Constitution. Thus, there is a need to re-orient development in tune with the tribal culture and to adopt a more humane approach to tribal development. That is, the idea of ‘development’ needs to be re-developed.
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