NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR SCHEDULED TRIBES

NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR SCHEDULED TRIBES 

To prepare for INDIAN POLITY for any competitive exam, aspirants have to know about the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. It gives an idea of all the important topics for the IAS Exam and the polity syllabus (GS-II.). Important National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. terms are important from the polity and governance perspectives in the UPSC exam. IAS aspirants should thoroughly understand their meaning and application, as questions can be asked from this static portion of the IAS Syllabus in both the UPSC Prelims and the UPSC Mains exams.

In this article, you can read about the Basics, Background, Objectives, Composition, tenure, Functions etc about the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. for the UPSC and SPSC.

BACKGROUND
  • India is the abode of a sizeable proportion of indigenous people, who still live away untouched by the shadows of modern society.
  • To identify and distinguish these communities, the Chanda Committee in the year 1960had laid down 5 standards to include any community/caste in the tribal group.
  • These standards are broadly categorized into the following: –
    1. Special Culture
    2. Geographical Isolation
    3. Backwardness
    4. Characteristics Of Tribes
    5. Shyness
  • According to the 2011 Census, the Scheduled Tribes account for 104 million representing 8.6% of the country’s population.

 

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • PVTG (earlier: Primitive tribal group) is a government of India classification created with the purpose of enabling improvement in the conditions of certain communities with, particularly low development indices.
  • This was created based on the Dhebar Commission report(1960, it stated that within Scheduled Tribes there existed an inequality in the rate of development.)
  • The features of such a group include a pre-agricultural system of existence, which practices hunting and gathering, zero or negative population growth, extremely low level of literacy in comparison with other tribal groups.
  • PVTGs with population of less than a 1000 persons are Birjia (Bihar), Sentinelese, Great Andamanese, Onge, Birhor (Madhya Pradesh), Asur (Bihar), Mankidias (Odisha), Jarawa, Cholanaicken (Kerala), Shompen, Birhor (Bihar), Savar (Bihar), Raji (Uttarakhand), Sauria Paharia (Bihar), Birhor (Odisha), Korwa (Bihar), Todas (Tamil Nadu), Kota (Tamil Nadu), Raji (Uttar Pradesh).
  • A multi-member (non-statutory) Commission for SC & ST was set up in August 1978 with Shri Bhola Paswan Shastri as chairman and other four Members.
  • In 1990, the Commission for SCs and STs was retitled as the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and it was set up as a National Level Advisory Body to advise the Government on broad policy issues and levels of development of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
  • Committees set up to configure –
    • Lokur Committtee (1965)
    • H. Ramdhan Committee(1992)
    • Hanumanthappa Committee(1995)
    • Dileep Singh Bhuria Committee(1998)
    • Bizay Sonkar Shastri Committee(2002)
    • Virginius Xaxa Committee(2013) to study the 5 critical issues related to tribal communities –
      • Livelihood and employment,
      • education,
      • health,
      • involuntary displacement and migration,
      • legal and constitutional matters.
    • The Constitution (65th amendment) Act 1990, has amended Article 338 of the constitution. The amended article 338 provides for the establishment of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in place of a Special Officer.
    • The Constitution (Eighty-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2003, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes has been replaced by –
  1. National Commission for Scheduled Castes
  2. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.
  • National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) is established under Article 338A of the Indian constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs co-ordinate all activities relating to the STs.
  • It is a Constitutional Body.

 

REASON BEHIND SEPARATE COMMISSION FOR STS SEPARATE COMMISSION
  • Though upon passing of the 65th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1990, the National Commission for STs came into being with the National Commission for SCs under Article 338 of the Constitution to effectively monitor the safeguards provided for SCs and STs.
  • Geographically and culturally, the STs are different from the SCs and their problems are also different from those of SCs. Thus in 1999, a new Ministry of Tribal Affairs was created to provide a sharp focus to the welfare and development of the STs. It was felt necessary that the Ministry of Tribal Affairs should coordinate all activities relating to the STs as it would not be administratively feasible for the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to perform this role.
  • Hence, in order to safeguard the interests of the STs more effectively, it was proposed to set up a separate National Commission for STs by bifurcating the existing combined National Commission for SCs and STs.
  • By passing the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003, it further amended the Article 338 and inserted a new Article 338-A in the Constitution. The separate National Commission for STs came into existence in 2004.

 

OBJECTIVE
  • To oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to STs under the Constitution or under any other law for time being in force or under any other order to the Government and to evaluate the working of such safeguards.

 

COMPOSITION
  • Consist of Chairperson, Vice Chair Person and 3 other members.
  • Appointed by PRESIDENT by warrant under his hand and seal.
  • Service conditionand tenure of chairpersons and members of NCST is determined by president of India

 

FUNCTIONS
  • To investigate and monitor matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the STs
  • Inquire specific complaints relating to deprivation of rights of ST’s
  • Participate and advice on the planning process of socio-economic development of the STs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a state
  • To present to the President, annually and at such other times as it may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards
  • To make a recommendation for effective implementation of safeguards
  • To discharge such other functions in relation to the protection, welfare and development and advancement of the ST’s.

 

Reports of the Commission

  • The commission presents an annual report to the President.
  • The President places all such reports before the Parliament, along with a memorandum explaining the action taken on the recommendations made by the Commission
  • The President also forwards any report of the Commission pertaining to a state government to the state governor.
  • The Governor places it before the state legislature.

 

 

OTHER FUNCTIONS
  • Measures that need to be taken over conferring ownership rights in respect of minor forest produce to the Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas.
  • Measures to be taken to safeguard rights to the Tribal Communities over mineral resources, water resources etc. as per law.
  • Measures to be taken for the development of tribes and to work for more viable livelihood strategies.
  • Measures to be taken to improve the efficacy of relief and rehabilitation measures for tribal groups displaced by development projects.
  • Measures to be taken to prevent alienation of tribal people from land and to effectively rehabilitate such people in whose case alienation has already taken place.
  • Measures to be taken to elicit maximum cooperation and involvement of Tribal Communities for protecting forests and undertaking social afforestation.
  • Measures to be taken to ensure full implementation of the Provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
  • Measures to be taken to reduce and ultimately eliminate the practice of shifting cultivation by tribals that lead to their continuous disempowerment and degradation of land and the environment.

 

PESA Act, 1996

  • The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA is a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self-governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.
  • Scheduled Areas are areas identified by the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

 

The salient feature of PESA Act

  1. Legislation on Panchayats shall be in conformity with the customary law, social and religious practices and traditional management practices of community resources;
  2. Habitation or a group of habitations or a hamlet or a group of hamlets comprising a community and managing its affairs in accordance with traditions and customs; and shall have a separate Gram Sabha.
  3. Every Gram Sabha to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of people, their cultural identity, community resources and the customary mode of dispute resolution.
  4. The Gram Sabhas have roles and responsibilities in approving all development works in the village, identify beneficiaries, issue certificates of utilization of funds; powers to control institutions and functionaries in all social sectors and local plans.
  5. Gram Sabhas or Panchayats at appropriate level shall also have powers to manage minor water bodies; power of mandatory consultation in matters of land acquisition; resettlement and rehabilitation and prospecting licenses/mining leases for minor minerals; power to prevent alienation of land and restore alienated land; regulate and restrict sale/consumption of liquor; manage village markets, control money lending to STs; and ownership of minor forest produce.

 

POWER

The Commission shall have all the powers of a civil court and in particular in respect of the following matters:

  • Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part of India and examining him on oath.
  • Requiring the discovery and production of any document.
  • Receiving evidence on affidavit.
  • Requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
  • Issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents.
  • Any other matter which the President may, by rule, determine

 

ISSUES WITH NCSC &NCST’S
  • The Data received under the RTI Act, points out the pile of complaints on issues related to atrocities in public places and ‘Service Atrocities’.
  • NCRB data shows a spike in the number of cases filed under SC/ST prevention of atrocities act which shows the discrimination and atrocities are only increasing.
  • The incidents like Dalit lynching in Una, Gujarat; caste related honour killings in Haryana shows that the commission has been ineffective in bringing behavioral change in the society.
  • The case of Rohith Vemula reflect that the discrimination is not only due to backwardness, illiteracy, awareness in the society but is omnipotent and is practiced in best of the best universities and workplace. The commission has been ineffective in preventing the same.
  • The issue of SC/STs are seen as exaggerated even by the apex court, this reflects the Commission mandate to bring awareness has failed even to reach the most enlightened office in the country.
  • NCST was helpless and ineffective in stopping the eviction of tribals in the name of development which deprived them of their basic human rights. E.g.
    • The supreme court order of eviction more than one million forest dwelling people went against the spirit of Forest rights act.
    • The commission was unable to safeguard the tribal rights of Dongria Kondh community of Odisha who faced eviction on a Vedanta development project.
    • The rights of tribals over natural resources have been reduced over the years through the concepts of protected forests etc.,
    • Tribal culture and identity has been declining. As per a report by People’s Linguistic Survey of India, as much as 250 tribal languages have disappeared. NCST has failed to arrest the phenomenon.

 

GOVERNMENT SCHEMES AND INITIATIVES

 

PRADHAN MANTRI ADARSH GRAM YOJANA (PMAGY)

Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana (PMAGY) aims for integrated development of selected villages having more than 50% Scheduled Caste (SC) population through implementation of existing scheme of Central and State Governments in a convergent manner and by utilization of gap filling funds provided as Central Assistance.

Objective Salient features
To ensure integrated development of all villages having total population ≥ 500 and with more than 50% persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes into “model villages” (by 2024-25) so that:

ü  They have all requisite physical and social infrastructure for their socioeconomic development.

ü  Disparity between SC and non-SC population in terms of common socioeconomic indicators (e.g. literacy rate, completion rate of elementary education, IMR/MMR, ownership of productive assets, etc.) is eliminated.

ü  Untouchability, discrimination, segregation, and atrocities against SCs are eliminated, as are other social evils like discrimination against girls/women, alcoholism and substance (drugs) abuse, etc.

ü  Developing Adarsh Gram (Model Village): These villages should be covered with all the facilities necessary for dignified living.

ü  Important components include- physical infrastructure, sanitation and environment, Social Infrastructure, Human Development and Social Harmony and livelihood.

ü  Integrated development of SC Majority Villages by:

§  convergent implementation of the relevant Central and State Schemes.

§  For every new village selected, the Scheme provides for a total of Rs. 21 lakh of which Rs.20.00 lakh is for the ‘Gap-filling’ component and Rs.1.00 lakh is meant for ‘administrative expenses’ at the Centre, State, District and Village level in the ratio of 1:1:1:2.

 

EKLAVYA MODEL RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL

EMRS are set up in States/UTs with grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India. Management of each EMRS is under a committee which include, among others, reputed local NGOs involved with education.

Focus Objectives
ü  Ministry of Tribal Affairs is implementing Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in tribal areas.

ü  Establishing quality residential schools for the promotion of education, Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) for ST students are set up in States/UTs with provisioning of funds through “Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution”.

ü  The establishing of EMRSs is based on demand of the concerned States/UTs with availability of land as an essential attribute.

ü  As per the budget 2018-19, every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons will have an Eklavya Model Residential School by 2022.

ü  Provide quality middle and high-level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas. Enable them to avail of reservation in high and professional educational courses and in jobs in government and public and private sectors.

ü  Construction of infrastructure that provides education, physical, environmental and cultural needs of student life.

 

VAN DHAN VIKAS KARYAKRAM

 

Aims Features
ü  The programme aims to tap into the traditional knowledge and skill sets of tribal people by adding technology and Information Technology for upgradation of output at each stage and to convert the tribal wisdom into a remunerative economic activity. 

ü  Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram seeks to promote and leverage the collective strength of tribal people to achieve a viable scale  to take on the predatory market forces in the areas where these are still prevalent. 

 

ü  Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram is primarily a component under the Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) & Development of Value Chain of Ministry of Tribal Affairs (MoTA). The training component of the Scheme is proposed to be taken up in programme (Karyakram) mode to provide enhanced livelihood and income generation for tribals.

ü  Van Dhan Vikas Kendra:

1.       A typical Van Dhan Vikas Kendra shall constitute of 10 tribal Van Dhan Vikas Self Help Groups (SHG), each comprising of upto 30 MFP gatherers or tribal handicraft artisans i.e. about 300 beneficiaries per Kendra (subject to variability as per local conditions).

2.       Each Kendra would act as common facility centres for procurement cum value addition to locally available MFPs and skill based handicraft.

3.       The Van Dhan Vikas SHGs would belong to contiguous area, preferably in same or near-by villages

4.       At least 60% beneficiaries of the SHG shall be tribal and the SHG shall be led by a tribal member

5.       Preference to be given to convergence with functional SHGs promoted under Aajeevika Mission with majority tribal members.

 

OTHER SCHEMES

 

Initiatives Features
Dr. Ambedkar scheme for Social integration through Inter Caste Marriages ü  Under the scheme, 500 couples can apply annually. Each couple gets Rs 2.5 lakh, of which Rs 1.5 lakh is paid upfront. The balance amount is kept as a fixed deposit and released to the couple after three years.

ü  The number of couples who can avail the scheme in a state depends on its Scheduled Caste population as per the 2011 census.

ü  Among the beneficiary couple, one of the spouses should belong to Scheduled Caste and the other to a Non-Scheduled Caste.

ü  It shall be the discretion of the Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment

 

 

WAY FORWARD
  • There is a dire need of thorough introspection of the NCSC’s & NCST’s and address the miscarriage of social justice in order to uphold the spirit of diversity and the very objectives of Preamble, i.e. tosecure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.
  • Need to reform the institutions like criminal investigation, power to penalize, fixed time period for discussion of commission reports, suo moto powers etc. to bring discernible change and address the real issues more effectively.

 

 

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