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The First National Tribal Carnival, 2016 Preserving Tribal Ethos

Updated: October 21, 2016 12:20 pm

India has the largest population of scheduled tribes, which was estimated to be 10.43 crore according to the 2011 census, which is 8.6 per cent of the national population. There are many tribes not scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution of India though those groups satisfy all criteria to be grouped as an ST under the Constitution. The tribals overwhelmingly dwell in rural and forest areas. As a result, little more than 8.6 per cent of the population are spread over 40 per cent of the forest land richly endowed with mines and minerals in the country. With growing industrialisation, construction of dams, exploration of minings and minerals, earmarking areas for wildlife conservation, tourism, their land is targeted without matching compensation and alternative rehabilitation package. There is a growing feeling of deprivation on account of these for which they have been deftly evicted from their home land. There are over 700 tribal communities notified under Article 342 and 75 are known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) whose number is dwindling with every census.

With more than 700 tribal communities highlighted by their distinct socio-ethnic identities and cultural ethos, India is a veritable tapestry of living, dynamic and energetic communities. Their distinct folk-dance forms, songs and musical instruments and colourful attires do present a mosaic of natural endowments which adds beauty and strength to the nation’s diverse culture with an inherent unity in diversity. The national capital is going to witness, for the first time in nation’s history a congregation of these various tribal communities drawn from various corners of the vast country representing all the States and the Union Territories in the National Tribal Conclave going to be hosted under the auspices of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in the Government of India. The Conclave would be inaugurated by the Prime Minister on October 25, 2016 at 4.00 pm in the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium and continue with exhibitions and seminars in the Pragati Maidan till October 28, 2016. This Conclave is designed to give a feel to the Delhi people as how big and plural is our nation and  its culture. On the other hand, also to facilitate the 30,000 strong tribal participants coming from  every nook and cranny of the vast country to know each other and feel they are an integral part of this vast nation.


During four days long Carnival, social activists, academicians, ethnic experts and legal luminaries would be deliberating on issues pertaining to the tribal communities and their practical aspects. Seminars and symposiums have been organised on subjects covering wide areas of socio-economic and political topics. The Constitution has elaborately dealt with the tools to safeguard the interests and rights of the  tribal groups. Article 15(4) directs to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes/ Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Article 16(4) empowers the State to make provisions for reservation in posts and appointments for such posts favouring any backward class of citizens. Article 39 provides a directive  that the State shall ensure that ownership and control of material resources are so distributed as to subserve common good. Another directive under Article 46 provides that the State shall promote the educational and economic interests of scheduled tribes and protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. Schedules V and VI in the Constitution contain special provisions to protect the interests of the Tribal communities with special power conferred on the Governors in the States.

Besides, several laws have been enacted by the Central Government to protect the interests of the tribals. These are Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the Panchayati (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and the Land Acqusition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2012. The State Governments have also passed many ancillary laws to give effect to the parent Acts passed by the Parliament. But the progress in implementation has been very tardy and slow. As a result, the NDA government-led by A.B.Vajpayee conceived of a separate Ministry for development of the tribal communities of the country.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is the nodal ministry for the overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for the development of the Scheduled Tribes. The separate ministry was created in 1999, which was since independence till 1985 was looked after as ‘Tribal Division’ under the Ministry of Home Affairs and from 1985 till 1998 was a part of Ministry of Welfare. Between 1998 and 1999 it was a part of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment. There has been a phenomenal change in the rate of progress in developing over all aspects of the tribal communities since 1999 with Jual Oram as the first Minister for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs who is repeated with the same responsibility even during the second term of NDA at the Centre led by Narendra Modi.

The educational development of the tribal population is speedier than that for the rest of the population including the scheduled castes. The gap of literacy between the national figure and that of the Scheduled Tribes has been reduced from 17.7 in 2001 to 14 in 2011 according to the census report. The literacy rate for the Scheduled Tribes has increased from 47 per cent in 2001 to 59 per cent in 2011. The number of Ekalabya residential schools meant for tribal students has increased manifold. Under the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan the areas inhabited by the tribal population has been given special attention by the public and private sectors drive for Corporate Social Responsibilities Schemes. Empowerment of the tribal communities has engaged sectors like Education, Health, Employment through skill development and Communication Infrastructure and rural electrification are the areas of additional attention of the Ministry through which there is effort to ameliorate the living conditions of the tribes.

In order to further encourage the meritorious individuals distinguishing in various fields ‘National Tribal Awards’ is introduced in genuine recognition of their respective achievements in various fields that has brought them accolades and national appreciation. During this years National Tribal Carnival too, several such distinguished personalities in the field of Sports, Entrepreneurship, Education, Medicines, Social service, Cultural field etc. will be felicitated  on the 26th, 27th and 28th October at the Carnival venue in Pragati Maidan. There will be more than 100 folk dance troupes participating from 16 States in the most colourful cultural programmes being arranged during the proposed National Tribal Carnival.

by Ashok Sahu

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