The creators of modern India wanted to build an inclusive society by minimizing many forms of inequality between social groups and within communities through planned economic development. In order to cope with the development of the most vulnerable sections among the marginalized sections such as the ST, the central government has implemented a multitude of micro-projects since 1975 for no less than 75 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG) out of the 700 ST communities. notified in the country. PVTGs are identified on the basis of stagnant / low population growth, low literacy level, subsistence level of economic status and dependent on pre-agricultural level for livelihoods. The majority of PVTGs are residents of central India.
The largest number of communities in the country listed as ST and PVTG are in Odisha State. There are 62 tribes and among them 13 are PVTG which include Chuktia Bhunnjia, Birhor, Bondo, Didayi, Dangaria Kondha, Juanga, Kharia, Kutia Kandha, Langiasaura, Lodha, Mankidia, Paudi Bhuyan and Saura.
According to a state government survey, their population was around 90,000 in 2015, spread over 20 blocks in 12 districts. Although few in number, these PVTGs have a distinct culture, language and belief system, but have been bordering on low literacy, economic backwardness, isolation and distress.
There are no less than 17 micro-projects launched for PVTG between 1976 and 1995 and these programs still continue with the participation of central and state government, businesses, NGOs and international donors such as IFAD.
The state government has taken a loan of 312 rupees from IFAD for its 800 crore rupee project to empower PVTGs and improve livelihoods. Recently, during the Covid pandemic, the government of Odisha supported PVTG households with special Covid assistance, a ration kit and labor assistance. Many education and economic development activities have long been carried out by the State Department with the support of the Union Department of Tribal Affairs (MoTA). There is a National Council for Tribal Welfare headed by the Prime Minister, where the chief ministers with the 5th and 6th zones listed in their states are members.
The tribal sub-plan has been implemented over the past 40 years with the aim of bridging the gaps between tribes and the rest of social groups. It is about bringing greater socio-economic equality and building an egalitarian society but certainly not about appeasing the tribal community. They deserve all rights as fellow citizens and dignity as human beings.
Resources for tribal development come from a multitude of sources, including special central assistance to the TSP, Articles 275 (1), the TSP component of state ministries and central governments, institutional finance, the fund. CSR of legal persons, the UN, international agencies, the District Mineral Foundation Fund, OMBADC and CAMPA funds, etc.
There are also a number of NGOs, religious organizations, private trusts and educational institutions that have long engaged in tribal development. According to sources, MoTA supports 200 NGOs with 300 projects. There are 38 central government ministries and departments with a tribal sub-plan component. The grant to states under Section 275 (1) of the Constitution of India is 100 percent to states based on the state’s ST population to the country’s total tribal population.
Odisha micro-projects have almost completed about 30 years of operation and no one knows how long they will go on, but despite the huge expenditure, socio-economic indicators such as female literacy, death rate infant, infant mortality rate, women with anemia, children with sickle cell anemia, student dropout rate, etc. not improving is a moot point. PVTGs are always lower than other state S&T and much lower than the state and national average and much lower than other social groups in all these indicators.
A majority of them do not have the basic amenities for life such as housing rights, house, drinking water, sanitation facilities and the road connecting to their hamlets. The vulnerable condition of PVTGs in Odisha has drawn national attention to the problems of their extreme economic backwardness, malnutrition, disease, death from hunger, child labor, displacement due to mining and distress migration. There has been no sign of improvement in the standard of living and quality of life of these groups despite the special projects and micro-projects.
There may be very insignificant success stories of a few individuals or households among them, but the socio-economic and educational status of communities as a whole has not changed much at the same level as that of other social groups.
The approach of the current project model and the cluster method must be rethought. In the changing situation, many of them are slowly migrating from their home countries out in search of livelihoods and most of the time they engage in odd jobs, low paid work and join slums as scavengers and housekeepers in the cities.
Unfortunately, for a long time they are exhibited as museum material in the most vulgar and outrageous manner in state-sponsored Adivasi and Melas exhibitions, murals in cities and decorated like statues in traffic islands. .
Is it decent to show human beings – men, women and children – in this way in front of others? How such exhibitions will help build a positive image of these communities in the public requires thought.
They find it difficult to cope with the changing external conditions which are quite difficult for them. The point is that most non-tribal actors play a major role in the development of state PVTGs. The overdomination of non-tribals persists in all areas.