Saturday October 21, 2017
Home Opinion Essence of fr...

Essence of freedom: What independence means to tribals of India

0
322

By Kanika Rangray

indianflagOn this 69th Independence day of India, we celebrate the anniversary of the fulfilment of the dream of the many freedom fighters of India; the dream for which they happily laid down their lives, the dream of an “Independent India.”

But the question also arises if this independence is the same for all. What has this independence meant for the tribal society?

The Tribal society of India

For a very long time, the tribal people have been considered as the primitive segment of the Indian society. They have been ear-marked as a community of people who live in forests and hills, and survive on what the forests have to offer them, without any contact with civilisation.

According to the 2011 census, tribal population in India is 104 million, which is 8.6 percent of the Indian population. Majority of the tribal population of India lives in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and some north-eastern states, along with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

When India became an independent and democratic country, relations between tribes and the more advanced majority communities changed; the tribal people now had rights to vote in general elections for the Parliament and Legislative Assembly of their respective states.

However, this did not have much effect on them, because they did not understand the implication of this right, but local elections did affect them. When some of the most powerful people in their district approached the poorest of the villagers for vote appeal; this alerted them to a fundamental change in the system.

Headman_Kapika_und_sein_Enkel

Till date, tribals continue to occupy the lowest economic strata, their area of habitation least developed in terms of infrastructure and all other aspects of development.

The tribal people in India have been exploited since colonial times. The encroachment upon their land by the non-tribal people hampered not only their lifestyle but also led to uprisings among them.

In order to save the Indian tribes from further exploitation, the constitution provided some safeguards:

  • Article 46 of the Indian Constitution says that the state should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the tribal people and should protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation through special legislatures.
  • Article 244(2) (Sixth Schedule) provides a self-government to the tribal peoples by making a provision of the creation of autonomous district council, creation of districts and regional councils. The objective of Sixth Schedule was to enable tribal people to live according to their own ways.
  • Article 275(1) provides special grant-in-aid for promoting the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes (ST).
  • Article 330, 332, 335 allocates a reservation of seats for the STs in Lok Sabha and in state legislatures as well as in services

However, these constitutional provisions have done little to help them. Majority of the tribes in India live below the poverty line. The tribes lead simple lives, with most of the occupations being of the primary kind such as hunting, gathering and agriculture, and they are carried out using simple technology. There is no profit and surplus making in such economy, and hence their per capita income is very meagre in comparison to the Indian average. This leads to debt at the hands of local moneylenders and zamindars, and mortgaging or selling off their lands to moneylenders. Ultimate result is displacement on a large level.

Talking about health and nutrition, the Indian tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases, the water-borne diseases being life threatening, deficiency diseases. Infant mortality rate is also very high in the tribal population of India. Malnutrition is common. Also, the disturbed ecological balance, caused due to the cutting of trees have increased the distances between villages and the forest areas, thereby forcing tribal women to walk longer distances in search of forest produce and firewood.

In terms of formal education, it has made very little impact on tribal groups. Even though there is an ST reservation quota in most schools and colleges across the country, the penetration of education in the tribal groups is still very low. This low level of education can be accounted to many reasons such as formal education not being deemed necessary to discharge their local obligations. Superstition and myths also play their role for tribals rejecting education. Also, extreme poverty makes it difficult for them to send their children to school as they are considered as extra helping hands. Most disappointing is that formal schools themselves do not hold any special interests for these children, and most of the tribes being located in interior and remote areas teachers do not like to go there.

The government initiated a handful of schemes to help the tribal or scheduled tribes (ST) communities; for their development. But the sort of development which they look forth to is like providing them roads, electricity, pukka houses to live in. But isn’t that equal to destroying their culture and their homes?

independenceThe tribes have made their homes in the forests and the hills, they know it better than anyone else. Just like a man living in a village or city knows how to take care of his home better than anyone else, similarly the forests are the homes of their tribes. They nurture it and take care of it better than a ministry set up by the government could do.

Development in the true sense for the tribals would be in educating them and providing them the technology through which they can nurture the forests. Development for the nation would be when these forests are given to these tribes, by making them their caretaker.

The end result would be a developed and independent tribal society of India, and a better green cover which would take us one step forward in achieving a perfect ecological balance in the country.

This would be independence for the tribal society of India.

Next Story

India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

0
5
United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

Next Story

Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

0
54
India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya. 

Next Story

Delhi University Students Win the Enactus World Cup 2017

India wins the Enactus World Cup 2017

0
30
Delhi University
India wins Enactus World Cup 2017. Twitter.

New Delhi, Sep 30: After an extremely tough competition between different students across the world in the Enactus World Cup 2017, Team India, represented by Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), Delhi University emerged as the winner. The winning projects were project UDAAN and Mission RAAHAT.

Supporting the Government of India’s Digital India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan mission, RAAHAT strives to effectively eliminate open defecation and provide safe sanitation in the urban slums; whereas, UDAAN aims at narrowing the digital divide between rural and urban India by setting up computer centres.

The Delhi University college team was led by the college’s faculty advisor, Anuja Mathur and student president of SSCBS Student President Aditya Sharma. The winning projects included 34 more members. The Enactus India and Enactus SSCBS were presented the Ford Better World Award of USD 50,000.

Also Read: Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

President and Global CEO, Enactus, Rachael A. Jarosh congratulated the Indian for winning the world cup and called the projects- RAAHAT and UDAAN, inspirational success stories of Enactus students, who are sowing businesses. She said that the projects address the real world challenges efficiently and innovatively. Enactus India President Farhan Pettiwala said that the two projects created by Delhi University students contribute to the country’s betterment, as they support the Government’s civil and social agenda.

Enactus is an international nonprofit organisation, with 72,000 students from 1,700 universities in 36 countries, which held its annual global event in London from September 26 to 28. A selected group of 3,500 students, business, government leaders and academicians across the globe were present at the event. Participants for the final competition round are qualified from over 72,000 university students. Each team has about 17 minutes to present their projects of entrepreneurial action.

Enactus works to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of students, and to address fundamental, social and economic challenges by developing innovative and experiential learning opportunities for students.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.