The history of land alienation among the tribes began during British colonialism in India when the British interfered in the tribal region for the purpose of exploiting the tribal natural resources. Coupled with this tribal lands were occupied by moneylenders, zamindars and traders by advancing them loans etc. Opening of mines in the heart of tribal habitat and even a few factories provided wage labor as well as opportunities for factory employment. But this brought increasing destitution and displacement. After the British came to power, the Forest policy of the British Government was more inclined towards commercial considerations rather than human. Some forests were declared as reserved ones where only authorized contractors were allowed to cut the timber and the forest -dwellers were kept isolated deliberately within their habitat without any effort to ameliorate their economic and educational standards. The expansion of railway in India heavily devastated the forest resources in India. The Government started reserving teak, Sal and deodar forests for the manufacture of railway sleepers. Forest land and its resources provide the best means of livelihood for the tribal people and many tribes including the women engage in agriculture, food gathering and hunting they are heavily dependent on the products of the forest. Therefore when outsiders exploit the tribe's land and its resources the natural life cycle of tribal ecology and tribal life is greatly disturbed.
Majority tribes live under poverty line. The tribes follow many simple occupations based on simple technology. Most of the occupation falls into the primary occupations such as hunting, gathering, and agriculture. The technology they use for these purposes belong to the most primitive kind. There is no profit and surplus making in such economy. Hence there per capita income is very meager much lesser than the Indian average. Most of them live under abject poverty and are in debt in the hands of local moneylenders and Zamindars.In order to repay the debt they often mortgage or sell their land to the moneylenders. Indebtedness is almost inevitable since heavy interest is to be paid to these moneylenders.
In many parts of India tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases out of which water borne diseases are life threatening. They also suffer from deficiency diseases. The Himalayan tribes suffer from goiter due to lack of iodine. Leprosy and tuberculosis are also common among them. Infant mortality was found to be very high among some of the tribes. Malnutrition is common and has affected the general health of the tribal children as it lowers the ability to resist infection, leads to chronic illness and sometimes leads to brain impairment. The ecological imbalance like cutting of trees have increased the distances between villages and the forest areas thus forcing tribal women to walk longer distances in search of forest produce and firewood.
Educationally the tribal population is at different levels of development but overall the formal education has made very little impact on tribal groups. Earlier Government had no direct programme for their education. But in the subsequent years the reservation policy has made some changes. There are many reasons for low level of education among the tribal people: Formal education is not considered necessary to discharge their social obligations. Superstitions and myths play an important role in rejecting education. Most tribes live in abject poverty. It is not easy for them to send their children to schools, as they are considered extra helping hands. The formal schools do not hold any special interest for the children. Most of the tribes are located in interior and remote areas where teachers would not like to go from outside.
Due to contact with other cultures, the tribal culture is undergoing a revolutionary change. Due to influence of Christian missionaries the problem of bilingualism has developed which 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. It has led to degeneration of tribal life and tribal arts such as dance, music and different types of craft.
The sources of funds made available are
Construction, Maintenance expense is to be borne by the State Governments/Union Territories. The rates for construction of the hostels are fixed which are different for the plains and the hills. It has been represented by various States that these rates are not workable any more in view of the escalation of prices of building materials and long distance involved particularly for the hilly areas. It is, therefore, proposed to revise the norms and to adopt the State PWD schedule of rates as in the case of construction of Ashram Schools. During 1990-91 to 1992-93, the amount of Rs. 8.64 crores has been released to the States/Union under various stages of completion. The scheme envisages setting up of vocational training institutes in inner tribal areas away from the district headquarters to impart training in various courses relevant to the areas. The tribal youth would be given training in three trades of his or her choice, the course in each trade having duration of four months. The trainee is to be attached at the end of one month training to master craftsman for a period of three months to learn his skills by practical experience. At the end of 15 months, the trainee will emerge as a multi-skilled person who can exploit existing employment potentials to his/her best advantage. This is a Central Sector Scheme where the construction and maintenance costs are fully borne by the Central Government. It is implemented through the State Governments. Proposals are obtained from them along with details of existing infrastructure as well as the employment potentials in the proximity of the
Educational complex in low literacy pockets for women in Tribal areas This Scheme provides cent percent financial assistance to NGOs/ Organization established by government as autonomous bodies/educational & other institutions like Cooperative Societies, to establish educational complexes in 136 identified districts of erstwhile 11 states (now 13) where tribal female literacy is below 10% as per 1991 census. Educational complex is meant for girls studying from class I to V with strength of 30 students in each class. The grants are provided to meet non-recurring as well as recurring expenses on building (hiring or maintenance) teaching, boarding, lodging and to also for medical and health care of students.
This is a Central Sector Scheme, with 100% grant, available to the state Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation (STDCCs) and other similar corporations of State engaged in collection and trading of minor forest produce (MFP) through tribals Grants under the Scheme are provided to strengthen the Share Capital of Corporations, construction of Warehouses, establishment of processing industries of MFPs etc. to ensure high profitability of the corporation so as to enable them to pay remunerative prices for MFPs to the tribals.
The Ministry provides Grants-in-aid to its corporation, TRIFED to set off losses on account of fluctuations in prices of MFPs being marketed by it for ensuring remunerative prices to tribal engaged in collection of MFPs either directly or through STDCCs and other such Cooperative Societies. Investment in Share Capital of Trifed The Ministry is the largest shareholder of TRIFED with over 99% contribution in its Share Capital. Under this Scheme, the Ministry provides funds to TRIFED as its contribution in the Share Capital.
This Scheme provides Grants for establishment of Village Grain Banks to prevent deaths of STs specially children in remote and backward tribal villages facing or likely to face starvation and also to improve nutritional standards. The Scheme provides funds for building storage facility, procurement of Weights & Measures and for the purchase of initial stock of one quintal of food grain of local variety for each family. A Committee under Chairmanship of village Headman runs the Grain Bank thus established.
As many as 27 types of projects with focus on tribal education, literacy, medical & health care, vocational training in agriculture, horticulture, craftsmanship etc., are being supported by the Ministry under this Scheme through registered Non-Governmental Organizations.
Under the Scheme "Research & Training" the Ministry provides financial assistance under Grants to Tribal Research Institutes on 50:50 sharing basis; for conducting Research & Evaluation Studies, Seminars, and Workshops etc. Award of Research Fellowship to Tribal Students on 100% basis registered in Indian Universities. Supporting projects of All-India or Inter-State nature on 100% basis to NGOs/Universities etc. for conducting research on tribal matters, Travel Grants and for Publication of Books on tribals.
Under this Scheme cent per-cent assistance is provided to NGOs and other institutions for under-taking projects on development of PTGs on activities mainly focusing on their food security literacy, agriculture technology up gradation, etc.
The post-matric scholarship Scheme provides financial assistance to all ST students for pursuance of post-matric studies in recognized institutions within India. The Scheme provides for 100% assistance from the Ministry to State Governments and UT Administrations implementing the Scheme, over and above their respective committed liabilities. The Ministry also gives financial assistance for setting up Book-Banks in institutions running professional courses like Medicine, Engineering, Law, Agriculture, Veterinary, Chartered Accountancy, Business Management, and Bio-Sciences. Annually, Ministry provides financial assistance to 9 meritorious ST students for Post-graduate, Doctoral and Post-Doctoral studies in foreign universities/institutions of repute.
These Schemes provide 100% central assistance to State/UT Administrations. The up gradation of merit Scheme is for arranging coaching classes in reputed colleges for developing competence among ST students for their better performance in competitive examinations conducted by various universities institutes for admission to Medical and Engineering courses while the Scheme for coaching is for conducting Pre-Examination Coaching for tribal students for various examinations conducted by UPSC, SSC, Banking Services Recruitment Boards etc.
Eight states having scheduled areas, namely, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar (now Bihar & Chhatisgarh), Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh (now Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh), Orissa & Rajasthan and two non-scheduled area states, namely, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have constituted tacs. The TAC consists of not more than twenty-five members of whom as many as three-fourth members are scheduled tribe representatives of the state legislative assembly. The governor of the state may refer matters concerning to administration of welfare of tribals to the TAC for recommendations. The ministry issues guidelines for TAC. As per latest guidelines the TAC should meet at least twice a year and discuss the issues concerning tribal interests and making appropriate recommendation for protection of tribal interests.
The point 11 (b) of 20-point programme is to provide economic assistance to the scheduled tribe families to enable them to rise above poverty line. The ST families are assisted through various schemes implemented by departments of agriculture, rural development, horticulture, animal husbandry, sericulture, forestry, small & cottage industries, etc. The ministry fixes the targets for 22-states/ut s and also monitors the progress of achievements on monthly basis. The officers of the ministry inspected more than 75 projects in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
In the Tana Bhagat movement an attempt was made to emulate the way of life of the Hindu higher castes. It emerged among the Oraon of Chotanagpur; Bihar.It tried to raise the status of its members in the eyes of the surrounding Hindu society and was characterized by a large scale incorporation of Hindu belief-practices into its ideology.
During the second half of the 19th century the whole of Chotanagpur underwent a tremendous change. The old Munda system of Khuntakatti tenure gave way to a new and alien system of exploitation by the landlords known as jagirdar and thikadar.In 1895 Birsa Munda of Chalkad started a movement. In him the Munda found the embodiment of their aspiration. He gave them leadership, a religion and a code of life. He held before them the prospect of Munda Raj in place of foreign rule.
The coexistence of fundamentally different culture patterns and styles of living has always been a characteristic feature of the Indian stage. Unlike most parts of the world, in India, the arrival of new immigrants and the spread of their way of life did not necessarily cause the disappearance of earlier and materially less advanced ethnic groups.
Acceptance or denial of the necessity for assimilation with Hindu society is ultimately a question of values. In the past, Hindu society had been tolerant of groups that would not conform to the standards set by the higher castes. True, such groups were denied equal ritual status; but no efforts were made to deflect them from their chosen style of living. In recent years this attitude has changed. Perhaps it is the influence of the Western belief in universal values which has encouraged a spirit of intolerance vis-a-vis cultural and social divergences. Yet India is not only a multilingual and multiracial country, but is also multi-cultural. And as long as Muslims, Christians, and Parsis are free to follow their traditional way of life, it would seem only fair that the culture and the social order of tribes however distinct from that of the majority community should also be respected. Assimilation, of course, will occur automatically and inevitably where small tribal groups are enclosed within numerically stronger Hindu populations. In other areas, however, and particularly all along India's northern and north-eastern frontier live vigorous tribal populations which resist assimilation as well as inclusion within Hindu caste system.
With the introduction of a system of democratic decentralization to take the place of paternalism characteristic of traditional form of Indian government, a new element has entered the relations between tribes and the more advanced majority communities. The ability to vote in general elections for the Parliament in Delhi and the Legislative Assembly of their respective States did not make much difference to tribals, because they did not understand the implication of the franchise, but the local elections aroused their interest to a much greater extent. The very fact, that some of the most powerful people of the district approached the poorest villagers for their votes and tried to gain their confidence, convinced them of a fundamental change. The very idea that they could choose their representatives was novel. At first, tribals only voted, for non-tribals, for very few were sufficiently educated to stand for election. Even in areas with a preponderance of tribals, the elected representatives were often non-tribes and abused their powers by exploiting those who had voted for them. But as time passed and the tribes gained experience, they have become shrewder in the choice of their representatives.
Tribals in India originate from five language families, i.e. Andamanese, Austro-Asiatic, Dravidian, and Tibeto-Burman. It is also important to point out that those tribals who belong to different language families live in distinct geographic settings. For example, in South Orissa there are languages that originate from the Central Dravidian family, Austro-Asiatic (Munda) family and the Indo-Aryan. In the Jharkhand area, languages are from the Indo-Aryan, North Dravidian and Austro-Asiatic.Tribals in India live in the following five territories.