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Denotified, Nomadic, Semi-Nomadic Tribes

  • 27 Dec 2022
  • 7 min read

For Prelims: De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes, Related commissions and committees, Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DWBDNC), Schemes for DNT

For Mains: Issues Related to SCs & STs, Government Policies & Interventions, State of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic Tribes in India.

Why in News?

The Parliamentary panel on Social Justice and Empowerment has asked the government to expedite categorisation of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes under either the SC/ST/OBC lists. Delay would increase their suffering and deprive them of welfare schemes.

Who are Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes?

  • These are communities that are the most vulnerable and deprived.
  • DNTs (Denotified) are communities that were ‘notified’ as being ‘born criminals’ during the British regime under a series of laws starting with the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871.
    • These Acts were repealed by the Independent Indian Government in l952, and these communities were "De-Notified".
  • A few of these communities which were listed as de-notified were also nomadic.
    • Nomadic and semi-nomadic communities are defined as those who move from one place to another rather than living in one place all the time.
  • Historically, Nomadic Tribes and De-notified Tribes never had access to private land or home ownership.
  • While most DNTs are spread across the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) categories, some DNTs are not covered in any of the SC, ST or OBC categories.
  • Many commissions and committees constituted since Independence have referred to the problems of these communities.
    • These include the Criminal Tribes Inquiry Committee, 1947 constituted in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh),
    • Ananthasayanam Ayyangar Committee in 1949 (it was based on the report of this committee the Criminal Tribes Act was repealed),
    • Kaka Kalelkar Commission (also called first OBC Commission) constituted in 1953.
    • The B P Mandal Commission constituted in 1980 also made some recommendations on the issue.
    • The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC), 2002 held that DNTs have been wrongly stigmatised as crime prone and subjected to high handed treatment as well as exploitation by the representatives of law and order and general society.
      • The NCRWC was established under the chairmanship of Justice M N Venkatachaliah.
  • It has been estimated that South Asia has the world’s largest nomadic population.
    • In India, roughly 10% of the population is Denotified and Nomadic.
    • While the number of Denotified Tribes is about 150, the population of Nomadic Tribes consists of about 500 different communities.

What are the Challenges Faced by Nomadic Tribes?

  • Lack of Basic Infrastructure Facilities: Like drinking water, shelter, and sanitation facilities are not available to the communities. Healthcare and education facilities are also not available.
  • Bad Treatment by Local Administration: Due to the stigma of Criminals bestowed upon them in the past, they are still treated as criminals and tortured by the local administration and police.
  • Lack of Social Security Cover: Since they are on move frequently, they do not have a permanent settlement. As a result, they lack social security cover and are not issued Ration Cards, adhar Card, etc. and hence, they are not getting benefits under the government welfare schemes.
  • The caste categorization is not very clear for these communities, in some states some of the communities are included under the SC category, in some other states they are included under OBCs.
    • However, most of the groups from these communities do not have caste certificates and hence are not able to avail the benefits of government welfare programs.

What are the Related Developmental Efforts for These Tribes?

  • Dr. Ambedkar Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship for DNTs:
    • This Centrally Sponsored Scheme was launched in 2014-15 for the welfare of those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC.
    • The scheme of Pre-matric Scholarship for DNT students is helpful in spreading education amongst DNT children especially the girl child.
  • Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of Construction of Hostels for DNT Boys and Girls:
    • This Centrally Sponsored Scheme, launched in 2014-15, is implemented through State Governments/UT Administrations/Central Universities.
    • The aim of the scheme is to provide hostel facilities to those DNT students; who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC; to enable them to pursue higher education.
  • Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs:
    • It aims to provide free competitive exam coaching, health insurance, housing assistance, and livelihood initiatives.
    • It ensures expenditure of Rs. 200 crores to be spent over five years beginning 2021-22.
    • The DWBDNCs (Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities) has been tasked with the implementation of this scheme.
    • DWBDNC was established under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the purpose of implementing welfare programmes.
    • The DWBDNC was constituted on 21st February 2019, under the chairmanship of Bhiku Ramji Idate.

Source: TH

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