Recently, government has approved the inclusion of certain communities in the lists of Scheduled Tribes in Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, fulfilling long-pending demands from these states.
GS II: Government policies and Interventions
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Newly Added Tribes
- Who are the Scheduled Tribes?
- Constitutional Provisions regarding STs
- The ST List’s inclusion procedure
- Status of STs in India
About Newly Added Tribes
Hatti Tribe (Himachal Pradesh):
- The Hattis are a close-knit group of people who acquired their name from the custom of selling homegrown produce, livestock, meat, and other goods in town’s “haat” marketplaces.
- The group has been requesting this since 1967, when residents of the Sirmaur district’s bordering Jaunsar Bawar region of Uttarakhand were granted tribal identity.
- Resolutions adopted at various maha Khumblis over the years strengthened their claim for tribal status.
Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran (Tamil Nadu):
- Nomadic tribes like the Narikuravas and Kuruvikaras (jackal catchers and bird eaters) pride themselves on their traditional occupations of hunting and gathering.
- In Jharkhand and Odisha, the Binjhia were categorised as STs, but not in Chhattisgarh.
- The Binjhia are meat eaters, and agriculture is the foundation of their society and economy. They don’t eat beef or pork, although they do drink alcohol, including handia (rice beer).
Gond Community (Uttar Pradesh):
- The Cabinet approved a proposal to bring the Gond community residing in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, under the ST list from the Scheduled Caste list.
- This includes the five subcategories of the Gond community (Dhuria, Nayak, Ojha, Pathari, and Rajgond).
- The ST status granted to the Betta-Kuruba community as a synonym of Kadu Kuruba of Karnataka.
- Betta-Kuruba community has been demanding to include in the ST category for the last 30 years.
Who are the Scheduled Tribes?
The Constitution does not define the criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes.
- However, Article 366(25) of the Constitution only provides process to define Scheduled Tribes: “Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.”
- Article 342(1): The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor, by a public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory.
- The Dhebar Commission (1973) created a separate category “Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs)” which was renamed in 2006 as “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)”.
Constitutional Provisions regarding STs
- Art. 15(4): Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (which includes STs);
- Art. 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar form of forced labour;
- Art. 24: Forbidding Child Labour.
- Art. 29: Protection of Interests of Minorities (which includes STs);
- Art. 46: The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
- Art.164(1): Provides for Tribal Affairs Ministers in Bihar, MP and Orissa;
- Art. 243: Reservation of seats in Panchayats.
- Art.244: Clause (1) Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule, under Clause (2) of this Article.
- Art. 275: Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs&SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.
- Art. 330: Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha;
- Art. 337- Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures;
- Art. 334: 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period);
- Art. 350: Right to conserve distinct Language, Script or Culture;
- Art. 350: Instruction in Mother Tongue.
- Art. 371: Special provisions in respect of NE States and Sikkim.
The ST List’s inclusion procedure
- Tribal Affairs Ministry analyses and forwards the recommendations for inclusion in the ST list to the Registrar General of India for approval after receiving them from the corresponding State governments.
- Before the list is forwarded to the Cabinet for a final decision, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes must first approve it.
Status of STs in India
- The Census 2011 has revealed that there are said to be 705 ethnic groups notified as Scheduled Tribes (STs).
- Over 10 crore Indians are notified as STs, of which 1.04 crore live in urban areas.
- The STs constitute 8.6% of the population and 11.3% of the rural population.
-Source: The Hindu