Discuss the constitutional, statutory and policy framework for protection of the rights of tribal and indigenous people in India.

Published: September 24, 2017

Constitutional Framework
Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 16 makes provisions for equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. Article 46 directs the state for promotion of Educational and Economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections; Article 335 makes provisions towards claims of SCs and STs to services and posts; Article 330 provides for reservation of seats for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha; Article 332 provides for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States; Article 243 D and 243 T provide for reservation in local bodies. Article 164 provides for a minister of tribal welfare in states of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha; and article 338-A provides for National Commission for Scheduled Tribe.
Statutory Framework
Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 (or PESA) was enacted for ensuring self governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas (Fifth Schedule) of India. Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 or simply the Forest Rights Act concerns the rights of forest-dwelling communities to land and other resources, denied to them over decades as a result of the continuance of colonial forest laws in India.
Policy Framework
Under article 275(1), the central government provides special Central Assistance to States/UTs to supplement their efforts in tribal development through Tribal Sub-Plan. Central government is running a special scheme for development of 75 Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) in 15 States/UTs. Around 14  Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) have been set up by Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura. Central government started the scheme of tribal girls / boys hostels in third five year plan. Government also runs Ashram schools in trial areas of some states and provides vocational training in tribal areas.

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