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State PCS

Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. Analyze the impact of development projects and policies on tribal communities in India. (150 words)

    18 Apr, 2023 GS Paper 2 Social Justice


    • Start your answer by providing data about tribal communities.
    • Discuss the positive and negative impacts of development projects on tribal communities.
    • Conclude with a way forward approach.


    • According to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, tribal people constitute 8.6% of India's population, but account for 46% of its total poverty.
    • Development projects and policies in India have had a significant impact on tribal communities, who often live in remote and ecologically sensitive areas.

    Impact of Development projects and policies on Tribal communities:

    Positive impacts:

    • Government policies and programs, such as the Forest Rights Act (FRA), Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), and the Tribal Sub Plan approach, have aimed to promote the socio-economic development of tribal communities and protect their rights.
    • The FRA and PESA provide legal recognition and secure the land rights of tribal people.
    • The Tribal Sub Plan approach ensures earmarking of plan funds for tribal sub-plans in proportion to their population.
    • Eklavya model residential Schools have been able to promote education among tribal communities.
    • The PESA Act empowers tribal communities to govern their own affairs and strengthen local self-governance.

    Negative impacts:

    • Forced displacement:
      • Development projects such as mining, dam construction, and industrialization often require large tracts of land, which frequently results in the forced displacement of tribal communities.
      • The Vedanta Group's mining project in the sacred Niyamgiri Hills of Odisha was blocked by the Supreme Court because the tribe living there, Dongria Kondh, had not given their free, prior, and informed consent.
    • Loss of livelihoods:
      • Development projects often lead to the loss of traditional livelihoods of tribal communities. The Virginius Xaxa committee report states that tribals have been pushed out of their traditional habitats due to land acquisition and displacement, which has impacted their agricultural and forest-based livelihoods.
      • The Sardar Sarovar Dam case is an example of this. The dam construction on the Narmada River in Gujarat resulted in the displacement of over 100,000 people, many of whom were tribal communities. The project also led to the submergence of fertile agricultural land and destruction of livelihoods.
    • Destruction of cultural heritage:
      • Development projects and undue outside interference can also lead to the destruction of the cultural heritage of tribal communities, which is against the idea of ‘Tribal Panchsheel’ propagated by J.L. Nehru.
    • Lack of recognition of land and water rights:
      • Tribal communities have been using their land and water resources for generations, but these are often violated by development projects.


    • Development projects and policies have had both positive and negative impacts on tribal communities in India.
    • The way forward involves ensuring the participation and consultation of tribal communities in decision-making processes and promoting their inclusion and empowerment in mainstream society.

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