Maharashtra, December 9, 2016: Even after seventy years of independence, poverty is one of the critical issues India is struggling with and this time Maharashtra has come up with a devastating number of around 61.6 per cent Scheduled tribe population, residing in the hinterlands are living below poverty line (BPL).
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This status was presented in the Parliament on Monday and is way higher than the national average of 45.3 per cent of tribals’ staying in rural areas. This brings Maharashtra the very next state to Odisha where almost 63.5 percent of STs living in the rural area are BPL, mentioned The Indian Express.
In spite of Maharashtra governments’ spending nearly Rs. 4000 crore annually on tribal development the number of BPL population has increased, which is reflected by the spate of deaths of tribal children due to malnutrition.
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Suresh Tendulkar committee formed in 2005 had set the parameters for BPL categorization which stipulated that anyone with a daily per capita expenditure of less than Rs 27 and Rs 33 in rural and urban areas respectively will be below the poverty line. According to the calculations of the Tendulkar committee, roughly 22 per cent of India is deemed to be BPL.
According to Indian Express report, the concentration of tribal population is nearly 1.05 crore which is nine percent of the population. There are a total of 45 Scheduled Tribe communities in Maharashtra with the tribal population largely concentrated in the western hilly districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Jalgaon, Nashik, Palghar and Thane and the eastern forest districts of Chandrapur, Gadchiroli, Bhandara, Gondia, Nagpur, Amravati and Yavatmal.
Mostly around 85 percent of these tribal population reside in the rural areas and the rest, 15 per cent, in urban areas. Economically the tribal population are the worst off considering the rest of the social groups of the state. The plight of STs is a little better in urban areas. While urban poverty in Maharashtra is pegged at 9.1 per cent, that of STs staying in cities is 23.3 per cent.
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Although the condition of this section of the population is critical but the picture of rural areas are the most vulnerable ones. In a stark contrast, the difference between poverty in state and that of the STs alone is mind blogging, it is 24.2 percent as against 61.6 percent of the STs living BPL, mentioned The Indian Express. This number is second only to Odisha where rural ST poverty is 63.5 percent.
It is strange that even after spending substantial funds by the state, the BPL ST’s in rural areas is increasing. There has been an upward swing of this condition from 1993-94 onwards, where it was 50.38 per cent which in 2004-05 rose to 56.6 percent and finally to 61.65 percent.
Ignorance of the state about the condition of this population is the result of their numbness to their problems, claims the activists. Reflecting on this issue Dr Bipin Jojo of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences Centre for Social Justice and Governance said. “The voice of tribals is not as consolidated as that of Dalits in India. People get concerned of tribals only when a mishap occurs with this group. There are well-intentioned bureaucrats formulating the policies to help the community but it is a reality that at the lower rung these policies do not translate into action to ensure the development of tribals,” They also claim that government policies formulated for improvement of the group are largely ineffective.
Former MLA and tribal rights activist Vivek Pandit further elaborated that “Earlier, we had policies to help improve human development indicators. We have now moved on to policies which concentrate more on creation of wealth. Sadly, these policies are failing miserably because they are not in tune with ground realities. So we have a situation where there is no movement of human development indicators nor are we ensuring that wealth in created in these communities.
– prepared by Saptaparni Goon of NewsGram. Twitter: @saptaparni_goon