Saturday July 20, 2019
Home Opinion Essence of fr...

Essence of freedom: What independence means to tribals of India

0
//

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

Top Investment Options for Beginners in India

The most important thing that guarantees high returns on your assiduous earnings is safety

0
Time and Money
"Money can't buy happiness". A group of researchers believes the opposite with scientific backing. Pixabay

Investing your savings is a good idea. You just cannot keep saving money because of two main reasons.

Firstly, the savings will not grow. Most of the times they stay the same unless you count the nominal savings account your bank keeps adding half-yearly or yearly. Secondly, some need or the other arises, and you will be inclined to spend the money out of your savings than going for a loan.

We cannot stop some need. Now and then, some appliance in your house needs a repair or replacement, same goes good with your vehicles, kids, spouse and so on.

So locking away your savings so that you will not use them at convenience and letting them grow in the meanwhile is a good strategy.

Only if you knew how, when and where?

Most of us are good at working hard, slogging it out and earning the few extra bucks, but when it comes to investing and make money grow, we have neither the expertise nor the time for it.

As the famous billionaire and investor, Warren Buffet put it – “Unless you are making money while you are sleeping, you will keep working till you die”.

Safety First

Let us explore some of the investment options for people who are planning to invest.

  1. Public Provident Fund (PPF)

For a change, the Public provident fund or PPF as it is more popularly known as needs no introduction. Every employee working in a limited company or a governmental organization knows of this.

PPF is also one of the main reasons behind most of the Indians growing lazy and not trying to look for other investment options unless your wall in the above average or the top bracket. At an interest rate of 7.9% and dual contribution from the employee and the employer, PPF is the lifeline for all employees, especially if they keep contributing until retirement without withdrawing.

There is a facility to withdraw the money if you are jobless for a particular time or you can even avail three-year loans. However, mostly PPF is looked at as a post-retirement benefit than an investment option during your working years.

But an investment nonetheless.

You can save anywhere between ₹ 500 to ₹ 1.5 lakhs a year, and we all know why it is the favorite – These savings exempt from tax, However, if you choose to invest more than ₹ 1.5 lakhs a year in your PPF, the excess amount will neither earn interest or tax benefits. Minimum lock-in period is 15 years.

Fixed Deposit Scheme, India
Fixed Deposits are one of the more common and preferable investment schemes in India. Pixabay
  1. National Savings Certificate (NSC)

At an interest rate of 8% per annum, backed by the Government of India and the convenience of obtaining one (your nearby post office), a National savings certificate or an NSC can be not ignored.

Though it has a minimum lock-in period of 5 years, (the other option is 10-year lock-in period), the guaranteed good yields make it a preferred investment option by quite a few. But this is also the most ignored option by many for some reason.

Investment up to ₹ 1.5 lakhs is exempted from tax. The interest rate is revised quarterly, and the amount is compounded annually.

Another advantage is that the investments in NSC are accepted as collaterals by many banks and NBFCs (non-banking finance corporations). However, you cannot touch your amount for a minimum period of 5 years.

  1. Equity Linked Saving Scheme (ELSS)

Shorter lock-in periods and high-interest rates are the USP of the equity-linked saving schemes (ELSS).

In the ELSS, the minimum lock-in period is three years, and you can choose to make your earnings as regular dividends through the three years or receive a lump sum at once after your lock-in period ends. Therefore, this is a plan that lets you draw the amount within your investment period and gives you a chance to earn more than the rest – 15-18% returns. A near 11% interest offered by NPS (the national pension scheme) is a distant second. In addition, you do not need to invest the entire amount at once. You have an option called SIPs (systematic investment plans) by way of which you can invest as low as ₹ 500 a month.

Investments up to ₹ 1.5 lakhs are exempt from taxation, but returns are taxable. The LTCG or long-term capital gains from ELSS are taxable if they are above ₹ 1 lakh.

There is a fair amount of risk involved, and your investment may not end profitable every time. However, you can take the help of fund managers (or mutual funds) and play it safe.

  1. Recurring and Fixed deposits

Most of the nationalized and private banks offer you this facility at different interest rates and deposit lock-in periods.

In a fixed deposit (FD) scheme, you make a deposit lump sum, which will mature at the end of the pre-determined period, and if you do not have the capital to start with, you can choose a recurring deposit (RD), where you can add a fixed amount every month, which can be withdrawn at the end of the maturity period.

The interest earned with a recurring deposit may be less than that of a fixed deposit, but in case of an RD, you are creating an investment with your savings. Not all of us may have the luxury of investing a lakh or five lakh rupees to start with.

Again, investments up until ₹ 1.5 lakhs in 5 years fixed deposits are exempt from taxation, but returns are taxable. Recurring deposits and fixed deposits for a period of less than five years are not exempt from income tax.

  1. National Pension Scheme (NPS)

Many, after the introduction of 2-tier system, look upon another government-backed scheme, NPS, as a useful option.

Under the Tier I NPS, one has to contribute a minimum of ₹ 6,000 per year to keep the account active. The money cannot be withdrawn till you reach 60 years of age (partial withdrawal allowed in exceptional cases) and if you choose to exit the scheme mid-way, 80% of your savings have to be invested in an annuity plan (which will be returned to you as monthly pension payments after retirement).

The Tier II NPS is a non-retirement scheme, which is more like a savings account and allows you to withdraw money when you want. There is no lock-in period, but government employees can avail tax exemption if they lock-in their savings for a minimum period of 3 years. You need to have an active Tier I account to open a Tier II account. However, this scheme is not looked at as a long-term investment due to certain limits on investments, as you cannot invest more than 50% of your savings in stock markets, etc.

Interest rates are high at 12-14% and investments up to ₹ 1.5 lakhs a year and an additional ₹ 50,000 per year can be exempted under subsection 80 CCD.

Also Read: Online Games: What Risks Do They Pose To Children?

Though there are many more private and non-governmental schemes whit flexible options which offer you a lot of conveniences and promise higher returns, it is always wise to think about safety first when it comes to investments.

It is hard-earned money, and we cannot earn it again. So, it is always safer and wiser to go with a trustworthy scheme which may offer fewer returns than a fancy scheme which gives you a lot more.

The most important thing that guarantees high returns on your assiduous earnings is safety.