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Focus: GS-I Indian Society

Why in news?

  • The Uttar Pradesh government has recently embarked upon a scheme to take the unique culture of its ethnic Tharu tribe across the world.
  • The intention is to put Tharu villages on the tourism map, and to create jobs and bring economic independence to the tribal population.

More about the U.P. Govt. Scheme for Tharu Tribes

  • The state government is working to connect Tharu villages in the districts of Balrampur, Bahraich, Lakhimpur and Pilibhit bordering Nepal, with the home stay scheme of the U.P. Forest Department.
  • The idea is to offer tourists an experience of living in the natural Tharu habitat, in traditional huts made of grass collected mainly from the forests.
  • The Uttar Pradesh Forest Corporation will train the Tharu people to communicate effectively with visitors, and encourage villagers to acquaint them with aspects of safety and cleanliness, and with the rules of the forest.
  • Tharu homeowners will be able to charge tourists directly for the accommodation and home-cooked meals.
  • The UP government expects both domestic and international tourists to avail of the opportunity to obtain a taste of the special Tharu culture by staying with them, observing their lifestyle, food habits, and attire.

Who are Tharu people?

  • The Tharu (“Tharu” is believed to be derived from sthavir, meaning followers of Theravada Buddhism) community belongs to the Terai lowlands, amid the Shivaliks or lower Himalayas.
  • Most of them are forest dwellers, and some practice agriculture, living in both India and Nepal.
  • In the Indian terai, they live mostly in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
  • According to the 2011 census, the Scheduled Tribe population in Uttar Pradesh was more than 11 lakh; this number is estimated to have crossed 20 lakh now.
  • Members of the tribe survive on wheat, corn and vegetables grown close to their homes.

More about the Tharu language and culture

  • They speak various dialects of Tharu, a language of the Indo-Aryan subgroup, and variants of Hindi, Urdu, and Awadhi.
  • In central Nepal, they speak a variant of Bhojpuri, while in eastern Nepal, they speak a variant of Maithili.
  • Tharus worship Lord Shiva as Mahadev, and call their supreme being “Narayan”, who they believe is the provider of sunshine, rain, and harvests.
  • Tharu women have stronger property rights than is allowed to women in mainstream North Indian Hindu custom.

Background: Scheduled Tribe

  • Scheduled Tribes are referred in Article 366 as those communities, who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.
  • According to Article 342 – Only those communities who have been declared as such by the President through an initial public notification or through a subsequent amending Act of Parliament will be considered to be Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Constitution does not mention about the criteria for specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe.
  • But, commonly Primitiveness, geographical isolation, shyness and social, educational & economic backwardness are the traits that distinguish Scheduled Tribe communities from other communities.

-Source: Indian Express

October 2023