Qualitative Model For Tribal Development
The centre is all set to launch a pilot project under Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) for the holistic development of tribals. The Budget brought little cheer to tribals, who expected state-specific allocation for their welfare. As a result, Union Minister for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Jual Oram, came for their rescue and has introduced Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojna (VKY) as Central Sector Scheme with an allocation of Rs. 100 crore. According to him the central government has proposed to launch this scheme with special focus on the qualitative and sustainable employment for tribal families; bridging infrastructure gaps with focus on quality; improving the quality of education and health and improving the quality of life in tribal areas.
The tribal minister has proposed to implement a pilot project in one block each of the ten Schedule-V states within the limited financial resources provided under the scheme, and possibly one block outside fifth schedule with substantive tribal population and low HDI. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has earmarked 10 crore for each block totaling Rs 100 crore to create an enabling environment for overall development of the tribal people. Jual Oram also asserted that the selection of block will be made in consultation with the respective state governments while taking into account the human development indices.
According to the data released by the Minister, there are about 350 blocks in the Schedule-V areas where population of STs compared to total population of the block is 50 per cent or above. Through VKY, it is envisaged to develop these blocks as model blocks over the period of next five years with qualitative and visible infrastructural facilities enabling congenial environment to further the mission of sustainable development.
Despite several interventions in the past, these blocks are still reeling under various facets of deprivation as far as HDIs are concerned. The scheme will be implemented through robust institutional mechanism on a mission mode to achieve tangible outcomes. A project implementation cell manned with 26 professionals will be set up in the Tribal Welfare department of each state.
According to the Indian census of 2001, approximately 8.2 per cent of the total Indian population has been designated as Scheduled Tribes. The tribal people are concentrated in four regions. They form a majority in the north-eastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Meghalaya.
However, the majority of the tribals live in the belt of middle India from Gujarat to Bengal. In states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha the tribals account for more than 20 per cent of the population. In Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan, the percentage of tribals ranges between 4 and 15 per cent of the total population. However, in the entire middle Indian zone, the tribals are in a majority only in 13 districts.
The third zone of tribal concentration is the ‘Himalayan region’ extending from Kashmir to Sikkim. In the far South, we have the fourth area of concentration, but the population is rather small. There are nearly 450 distinctive tribal groups in the country varying in size from around four millions to a bare two dozen. Although the bulk of the tribals are reported to be Hindu in the census, substantial numbers have been converted to Christianity and some to Islam and Buddhism. Some others still follow their traditional faiths.
The pace of social and economic development of the tribal people is slower and much more challenging than the rest of the social groups. Majority tribes live under abject poverty. The tribes follow many simple occupations based hunting, gathering and agriculture. The technology they use for these purposes belong to the most primitive kind. They don’t have any other mean to increase there per capita income and make profit. There is a wide gap between the tribal people and our society. Most of the tribal people are in debt in the hands of local moneylenders and zamindars. With heavy interest charged by the moneylenders, it has become almost inevitable for them to repay the debt and they are then forced to mortgage or sell their land to the moneylenders.
In many parts of India tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases out of which water borne diseases are life threatening. They also suffer from deficiency diseases. The Himalayan tribes suffer from goitre due to lack of iodine. Leprosy and tuberculosis are also common among them. Infant mortality was found to be very high among some of the tribes. Malnutrition is common and has affected the general health of the tribal children as it lowers the ability to resist infection, leads to chronic illness and sometimes leads to brain impairment. The ecological imbalance like cutting of trees have increased the distances between villages and the forest areas thus forcing tribal women to walk longer distances in search of forest produce and firewood.
Education is considered as the backbone of development, both at the individual household and societal levels. But educating the tribal children has been a challenge for the government for various socio-cultural, economic, ecological and administrative reasons. Educationally the tribal population is at different levels of development but overall the formal education has made very little impact on tribal groups. There are many reasons for low level of education which includes formal education not been considered as necessary to discharge their social obligations. Superstitions and myths played an important role in rejecting education. It is not easy for them to send their children to schools, as they are considered extra helping hands. The formal schools do not hold any special interest for the children. Most of the tribes are located in interior and remote areas where teachers would not like to go from outside.
Seeking these problems, the Goverment of Gujarat first started with the Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojna and it faced many challenges with a 10-point Chief Minister’s programme for tribal development. But in the end it achieved large amount of success. Now the central government is implementing this scheme. Successful completion of the initiative during 2014-15 would be followed by execution of perspective plan during the next five years in respect of all blocks with dominant tribal population and low HDI.
Jual Oram said that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs with its mandate of critical gap filling, is re-engineering the education schemes. The objective of re-engineering is to provide adequate educational infrastructure like residential schools, tribal languages as medium of instruction etc. for STs and incentive for education for ST children through scholarships. This is to be achieved through convergence of schemes in line with ministries along with simplification of process for availing scholarships and also through technological aids in improving learning abilities.
By Sunil Dwivedi