The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) has now cleared the way for the inclusion of the ‘Pahari ethnic group’ on the Scheduled Tribes list of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Pahari Community
- Who are the Scheduled Tribes?
- Constitutional Provisions regarding STs
- About National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
About Pahari Community
- The Pahari community, a linguistic group mainly residing in the Pir Panjal valley comprising Rajouri and Poonch districts.
- Paharis are also spread in parts of the Kashmir valley.
- Paharis also comprise both Hindus and Muslims unlike Bakerwals and Gujjars, two prominent nomadic clans.
- The proposal called for the inclusion of the “Paddari tribe”, “Koli” and “Gadda Brahman” communities to be included on the ST list of J&K.
- The suggestion for the inclusion had come from the commission set up for socially and educationally backward classes in the UT.
- The J&K delimitation commission has reserved six of the nine Assembly segments in the Pir Panjal Valley for STs.
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.
About National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is an Indian constitutional body that was established through Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
- On the 89th Amendment of the Constitution coming into force on 19 February 2003, the National Commission for scheduled Tribes has been set up under Article 338A on bifurcation of erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution.
- With this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely;-
- The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC),
- The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST).
- The Commission comprises a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and three full-time Members (including one female Member).
- The term of all the Members of the Commission is 3 years from the date of assumption of charge.
-Source: The Hindu