What are the major problems of tribes in India? Suggest measures of welfare. (B.A.LL.B.)
What are the main problems of tribes in India? Suggest measures of welfare.
The Indian tribes at present suffer from mainly two types of problems. Firstly, those which are also found in other people of the country and secondly those which are peculiar to tribal people. In this latter type of tribal problems, the following are the most important-
(1) Cultural Problems. Due to contact with other cultures, the tribal culture is undergoing a revolutionary change. Due to the influence of Christian missionaries, the problem of bilingualism has developed which has led to indifference towards tribal language. The tribal people are imitating Western culture in different aspects of their social life and leaving their own culture. An important influence of cultural contact is seen in the form of the disappearance of youth dormitories, imitation of the western dress and modes of living has led to the degeneration of tribal life and tribal arts, such as dance, music, and different types of crafts.
(2) Religious Problems. Due to the conversion of many tribal people to Hindu and Christian religions, the tribal groups have been divided into several sects on the basis of religion. This has shattered their collective life and conflicts and dissensions are increasing. The tribal people are generally forgetting their tribal religion. This has led to social disorganization.
(3) Social Problems. Due to the influence of the Hindu community, the tribals are facing the problem of increasing bride prices. This has encouraged the development of girls and their forcible lifting by males, Another special problem created by the tribal contact with Hindus is the evil custom of child marriage. The contact with the civilized society has increased the number of pre-marital and extramarital sexual relationships in tribal society and the number of dissolution of marriages. This has also increased the incidence of prostitution and venereal diseases.
(4) Economic Problems. The contact with the civilized world has disintegrated the entire economic system of the tribal people. They have forgotten their ancient crafts. Most of them are working on jobs. Employers everywhere misuse the ignorance of the tribal people, take maximum work from them and give them minimum money in return.
The Indian Constitution has made important provisions for the welfare of tribal people. Posts have been reserved for them in public services, in States, and Centre. Seats have been reserved for their representatives in the Legislatures of different States and in the Indian Parliament. Special provisions have been made regarding their administration. District and regional councils have been established to carry out their welfare. The government has given special attention to their educational and economic development. This has not appreciably improved the condition of tribal people, the following suggestions can be made in connection with tribal welfare –
(1) Economic Reforms. Efforts should be made to encourage tribal people to permanently establish for cultivation because the shifting cultivation practiced by them results in much wastage. The co-operative forests utilization societies can help the tribal people in utilizing the forests in which they live. The Government should arrange for technical help and education to improve the condition of tribal crafts and provision should be made for the marketing of the goods produced by them. Laws should be strictly imposed in tribal areas to solve the problem of indebtedness and to restrict exploitation. Cooperative credit societies can be organized to provide money for small-scale industries. Labour laws should be strictly enforced in tribal areas.
(2) Education Reforms. At the base of the fallen state of tribal society is their widespread illiteracy. Educational expansion, therefore, should be given primary consideration. The tribal education should be given through their own language and in their own cultural background. Colleges should be established to safeguard the tribal fine arts. Provision should be made for technical and commercial education in the tribes. Along with education the tribal music, dance, plays, and recreation should be encouraged. Religious dogmatism and superstitions should be removed through science education.
(3) Reform in the level of health. Efforts should be made to improve the level of health of the tribal people. This will require the provision of medicines, pure water, nutritive food, clean and properly ventilated houses, and a general healthy atmosphere.
(4) Social Reforms. Whatever may be the opposition from certain vested interests, efforts to carry out social reforms in tribals must be realized. The evil customs of bride price, magic, and ritualism, child marriage, prostitution, etc., should be removed. These social reforms can be carried out only after economic reforms.
(5) Political Reforms. It is a pity that the Govt. officials posted in tribal areas misuse the ignorance of tribal people and exploit them for different purposes. They scorn the tribal culture and are completely indifferent to their welfare. The Government should appoint such officials as are conversant with the tribal culture and intend to improve the condition of tribal people.
Efforts for Tribal Welfare
In free India, the State and Central Government have made incessant efforts in the direction of tribal welfare. At the central levels, a commissioner attached with Home Ministry takes care of tribal welfare. Under him there are several Regional Assistant Commissioners whose number has now increased to 16. in the States, there are special Directorates of Tribal Welfare, In Assam five District and Regional Councils have been established for tribal welfare. Tribal Research Institutes for the study of tribal culture and language are working in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and other states.
(1) Educational. Efforts are being made to expand educational facilities in tribal areas. Thousands of scholarships have been granted by the Central and State Government. Provisions have been made for special seats for tribal people in medical, engineering, and technical colleges. Posts have been reserved for them in public services. Primary and secondary schools have been established in tribal areas where there is provision for free education.
(2) Political. In the political field, the tribes send their representatives to State and Central Legislatures, some of whom have risen to the rank of Deputy Ministers and Ministers, Many tribal youths qualify in All India Services and their number is gradually increasing.
(3) Economic. For the economic regeneration of the tribes, the Government has enforced rules regarding land ownership and utilization of land. Crores of rupees have been spent on the development of cottage industries. Community projects have been established everywhere. Grain shops have been opened which provide for an improved type of seeds. Laws in connection with debt have been enforced. Special multi-purpose tribal blocks have been created. Shifting cultivation is restricted and tribal families have been permanently established on suitable land. Efforts have been made to provide housing facilities in Some tribal areas. Hospitals have been opened which provide free medicines, check epidemics and curb all types of diseases. Research institutes have been opened for the study of tribal culture and language. Now roads have been made and old roads improved in tribal areas. Persons working for tribal welfare are given special training for this purpose. Institutes for their training have been established in Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Bombay, and other states.
The above brief outline of the State and Central Government efforts in the direction of tribal welfare show the extent of work that has been done in different Five Years Plans. This has definitely led to some improvement in some directions. The solution to tribal problems, however, requires multi-sided planning. To quote D. N. Majumdar, an authority on Indian tribal problems, “There is no one solution to
tribal problems, there is no common platform to demand it. There are levels of cultural development and there are different patterns of life that the tribes own. In any scheme of rehabilitation of tribal life, the attitudes and configurations of culture must be known to work out plans”, and what is true of one culture area may not be so far a second.