To what extent, the British colonialist regime was responsible for the discrimination, abuse, and social and economic marginalization faced by millions of Indians belonging to 'denotified and nomadic tribes'. Discuss critically.

Published: February 19, 2017

That criminal mindset could be caste or community-specific sounds vague and more criminal. The British regime in the 19th century in India dared to notify upon its own notion some tribes of India as branded criminals. It made stringent measures in the guise of series of Criminal Tribes Acts to control and contain these landless and wandering tribes. The successful suppression of Thugees by 1850s prompted British to use similar methods to tackle such issues on a nationwide scale. The Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) 1871 was the maiden draconian approach towards dehumanisation of certain tribes of north India and the subsequent acts in general and the one in 1911 in particular extended to the whole of British India and were more draconian in their content and application against the British-notified tribes in various parts of India. Such acts greatly empowered the local governments to term some tribes/gangs as perpetrators of non-bailable offences. Compulsory registration of the tribes, forced movement of these notified tribes to reformatory settlements- de facto labour camps made these tribes an easy prey of colonial exploitation and discrimination. It also led to widespread pauperisation of the notified tribes. Those who failed to register were charged with a crime under the Indian Penal Code. The camp-dwellers, in the name of rhetoric of social reform by the British, were treated as labourers. The CTA was repealed in 1952, thus, removed the notification on the tribes.

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