- Strengthening of Institutions:
The capacity of tribal people to harness the fruits of development and to access various schemes for delivery of public goods and services has remained limited. The Integrated Tribal Development Agencies were the institutions assigned with the role to facilitate such access. But over the years, several scheme-specific bodies at District level became stronger whereas ITDAs/ITDPs have become weak or non-existent in most of the states. Similarly, Tribal Research Institutes have become weak in many states. This has reduced knowledge support to persons in charge of tribal development. Urban areas have seen increasing number of tribal people but there is no agency to look after their special problems. During the current year, the Ministry has taken up strengthening of these institutions on priority and also to create new ones so that they can deliver goods and services more effectively. Under the existing scheme of SCA to TSP, Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution and the scheme of ‘Grant-in-Aid to Tribal Research Institutes’, the guidelines have been revised so that these institutions may be equipped with proper infrastructure, manpower and flexibility.
- Improving Literacy :
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is committed to overall development (including health and education) of the people belonging to Scheduled Tribes and to protect the rights of such people and preserve and promote tribal culture and heritage. The Ministry has taken a number of steps towards this. The capacity of tribal people to harness the fruits of development and to access various schemes for delivery of public goods and services has remained limited. The Integrated Tribal Development Agencies were the institutions assigned with the role to facilitate such access. But over the years, several scheme-specific bodies at District level became stronger whereas ITDAs/ITDPs have become weak or non-existent in most of the states. Similarly, Tribal Research Institutes have become weak in many states. This has reduced knowledge support to persons in charge of tribal development. Urban areas have seen increasing number of tribal people but there is no agency to look after their special problems. During the current year, the Ministry has taken up strengthening of these institutions on priority and also to create new ones so that they can deliver goods and services more effectively. Under the existing scheme of SCA to TSP, Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution and the scheme of ‘Grant-in-Aid to Tribal Research Institutes’, the guidelines have been revised so that these institutions may be equipped with proper infrastructure, manpower and flexibility. 2.1 The Ministry had sought views through MyGov platform on ways to decrease dropout and increase literacy amongst ST children. Analysis of responses indicate that high dropouts are due to: • At primary level of education: due to poor learning ability, barriers of language and culture. • Factors outside the school: Lack of Parental and Community support outside the school Loss of livelihood and culture Doubtful about the benefits of education • Examination after class 8 2.2 After drop out most went back to agriculture and traditional vocations. 2.3 Possible solutions suggested were: a. Teaching in tribal language (mother tongue) b. Culturally sensitive curriculum i. Traditional vocations ii. Traditional Crafts iii. Life skills and Livelihood orientation iv. Parents/Community involvement c. Teacher to be mentor and counselor as well 2.4 Based on National University on Educational Planning and Administration’s finding and experience gained in the Ministry, a series of measures have been taken during last one year to address these issues: 1. Development of Bilingual Primers containing text both in regional and tribal language but in local official script through Tribal Research Institutes and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. 2. Content of the primers in the Tribal Cultural context 3. School vacation to be in synchronization with major tribal festivals 4. Construction of Girls toilets: to check girl drop out; physical safety; sanitation issues 5. Vocational training integrated with residential schools- to make education more useful for livelihood, and perceived as relevant and valuable 6. Residential schools (200-300 students capacity) in block headquarters for quality education and physical safety including in LWE affected areas 7. Promotion of Kitchen garden and Sports 8. Traditional Food (minor millet) in school meals 9. School management to engage teachers to overcome shortage 10. 100% screening of children for Sickle Cell Anemia/Trait 11. 100% physical enrolment of children 12. Habit of hygiene and sanitation, use of recyclable material amongst school children, reduction in generation of garbage 13. Engagement of trained lady health workers as Warden/Asstt. Wardens in girls’ hostels.
- Umbrella scheme for Education of ST Children:
The following schemes for education have been merged into an umbrella scheme. (a) Establishing and strengthening of Ashram Schools. (b) Establishing and strengthening of Hostels. (c) Vocational training in tribal areas. (d) Post-Matric Scholarship. (e) Pre-Matric Scholarship. The needs vary from State to State and this new scheme gives flexibility to opt for expenditure. This year bulk of the grants have gone for scholarships.
- Scheduling of Tribes and change of guidelines:
There are several communities which are not included in the list of Scheduled Tribes and who claim the status of Scheduled Tribe on various grounds. The present process for inclusion of a community under Scheduled Tribe is nontransparent. Some of these claiming communities were left out because of some historical mistakes like wrongly spelling them or due to phonetic variations mainly because of writing of vernacular names in Roman script. A task force constituted under the chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs examined these issues in detail and submitted their recommendations to the Ministry of Tribal Affair. All the recommendations of the Task Force have been accepted by the Ministry. One of the key recommendations of the Task Force is that the valid names of communities is that in Devnagri script so that the phonetic variation in English alphabet does not lead to multiple rendering of the names.
- Institutional mechanisms for promotion of Tribal Products and Marketing:
- a) Scheme for Minor Forest Produce: The price of MFP is very often determined by traders rather than by demand and supply because of skewed information. The scheme is initially implemented in States having areas under fifth Schedule of the Constitution for 12 MFPs namely (i) Tendu Leaves (ii) Bamboo (iii) Mahua seed (iv) Sal Leaf (v) Sal Seed (vi) Lac (vii) Chironjee (viii) Wild Honey (ix) Myrobalan (x) Tamarind (xi) Gums (Gum Karaya) and (xii) Karanj. The Ministry’s agency, TRIFED has hosted ‘MFPNET’, a web-based portal through which current price of MFPs can be known across important Mandis of different States. (b) Inauguration of Call Centre and Toll Free Number: In order to provide real time information, daily prices of Minor Forest Produce in various Mandis across the country can now be obtained through Toll Free Number 1800-180-1551 which was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Minister for Tribal Affairs on 02.09.2014. (c) E-Commerce Portal: A portal for direct selling has been launched by TRIFED. In addition, TRIFED has tied up with “snapdeal.com”
- Role of Tribal Research Institutes
6.1 A road map has been drawn to convert TRIs into repositories of knowledge on Tribal issues and become vibrant institutions. Strengthening of TRIs with skilled manpower and core programmes has been funded from 2014-15. While some TRIs have done great work in documentation of ethnography, culture and language, they have been urged to strengthen themselves in socio-economic sectors keeping in view specific problems of tribal people of the State. 6.2 The attention of Chief Ministers’ has been drawn by the Minister for Tribal Affairs to strengthen these institutions. Some of the areas in which improvement has been sought are : • As far as possible, convert the TRI into a Registered Society so that funds can be released directly and approval process of projects can be expedited. • Projects sanctioned by Union Government in which the component of research scholars etc. is supported should not require another round of approvals by various departments in the State Government. • The TRIs have been assigned projects to document traditional tribal medicines and medicinal practices for which they have been advised to constitute Task Forces. The entire cost of the documentation would be borne by the Union Government. The project period for completion of the work has been suggested to be one or two years. These should be exempted from the need for further approvals by the state government. • In a State having substantial tribal population, if there is no TRI, it should be set up. • There should be a full time Director for the TRI. Only willing and qualifying persons should be posted. • Another important assignment for the TRIs will be to document tribal language in local script. Some States like Odisha have done excellent work in this regard. But a lot more work is to be done. This will also be supported by us. Besides this, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) will support preparation of primers in tribal language and local script. TRIs should also be on Tourist Map if they have a robust museum. The museum should also showcase live demonstration such as painting, handicrafts, handlooms etc. TRIs’ museum should not only have architecture, musical instruments, artifacts but also have tribal medicines, literature on tribals, documentary film and so on. Sale Centre should also be opened up on these places. TRIs should be central to tribal festivals. 6.3 The Ministry supports strengthening active research in Universities and reputed institutions in order to involve them in a more focused, long term and policy-oriented work relating to scheduling of Tribes. Currently three institutions are functioning with support from the Ministry: i) National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad in the field of Local Governance and Rural Development. ii) BAIF Development Research Foundation, Pune in the field of Rural Technologies for Improvement in Livelihood and Quality of Life. iii) Bhasha Research and Publication Centre, Vadodra in the field of Information, Education and Communication. The Ministry has recognized the Department of Odia, Vishva Bharati, Shanti Niketan Centre of Excellence in the field of Tribal Language and Literature. Another proposal has been approved by the Ministry to establish a National Research Centre in the Tribal Research Institute, Bhubaneswar to promote research activities on subjects/ issues for socio-economic development and culture of STs. 6.4 A meeting was held by the Ministry with All India Radio (AIR) and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on 26.02.2015. AIR is using more than 126 regional/tribal dialects in its regional broadcasts. A detailed plan is being worked out to expand the scope and add value to the programs in consultation with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and AIR. MoTA has suggested that there is need for coverage of more tribal languages. The outreach of AIR in hilly areas is also limited. FM Radio is one of the new initiatives of AIR. This has a limited range, even under best line of-sight situation. In uneven and forested terrain, outreach of FM is even lower. SW broadcast is more efficient is such terrain, but the availability of SW radio among tribal people has to be attended to. This can be easily assisted under extension programs of many schemes. Against this range of outreach, the Coordination Committee decided that MoTA will prepare basic input on some of the highlighted areas and supply to AIR. Some tribal areas are: a) Coverage of all pregnant mothers under immunization b) Getting dropped out children back to school c) Restore value in traditional foods like millets, vegetables (Chakodi) and so called wild tubers d) Sickle Cell Anaemia survey e) Scope for assessing sports facilities. AIR will prepare local language versions. In many places the outreach of AIR will be for people who are studying in schools and colleges or working in urban areas. Given the level of outreach of AIR, these scripts will be designed.
- Implementation of Forest Rights Act:
The Forest Rights Act is a landmark legislation to recognize the preexisting rights of tribals and other traditional forest dwellers who are in occupation of forest land, but whose rights could not be recorded. After more than seven years of its implementation, by the end of January, 2015, more than 39.61 lakh claims have been filed. Of these, 15.32 lakh Individual Rights and more than 29,800 Community Forest Rights titles have been distributed covering a total area of 72.09 lakh acres of land. So far 83.06 per cent of claim applications filed have been disposed of.
- Vanbandhu KalyanYojana:
In order to achieve comprehensive development of tribals, Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana (VKY) is being implemented by our Ministry which focuses on convergence of different schemes of development. VKY also envisages a shift in working character and rather than focusing merely on physical and financial achievements. For example, instead of number of schools, it will see the number of students who have passed with distinction. The proposed intervention is aimed at adopting a holistic approach commensurate to the Gujarat Model for overall development of the tribal people with sustainability.
- 9. A Project Appraisal Committee, headed by Secretary, Tribal Affairs, with representatives of State Governments, Financial Advisor Planning Commission, etc. has been constituted to appraise and approve the proposals for allocation under various schemes of the Ministry. This has helped in ensuring consultation with the States, convergence of various schemes of the Ministry and other Centrally Sponsored Schemes, transparency in the process of appraisal and fund releases and ensuring optimal allocation of limited financial resources. The Committee has prioritised on education especially that of girl child and low literacy tribes; health especially Sickle Cell Anemia, Malaria, Malnutrition and Livelihood. Facilities of Toilets with running water and electricity in residential schools has been emphasized. This process has helped in synchronizing national priorities with state ones.
- Health and Nutrition Initiatives:
Sickle Cell Anemia: To eradicate Sickle Cell Anemia, health check-up followed by issue of Health cards of students of tribal department schools/ hostels to identify sickle cell trait [HbAS] (SCT) cases has been undertaken. Parents are to be made aware of the problems and its prevention methods. Health ministry has been requested to include Sickle Cell test for all population as prevalence is high in all population groups in malaria-prone areas. The Ministry had discussions with Department of Health Research, their Regional Medical Research Centres (RMRC) and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) of States and other representatives of Tribal Welfare (TW) Departments. Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs visited several places where Malaria is endemic and’ prevalence of Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA) is high and discussed with doctors and district officials. These places include Dadra & Nagar Haveli (Khanvel), Mizoram (Lawngthlai and Saiha), Odisha (Anugul. Rayagada, Gajapati). Andhra Pradesh. (Vishakhapatnam. Srikakulam), Tamilnadu (Jawadhu Hills), Manipur (Senapati), Jharkhand (Ranchi and Gumla), and Kerala (Waynad). Thereafter a protocol of Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA) has been developed in consultation with ICMR. There would be 100% screening of students in schools for Sickle Cell Trait (SCT) / disease through a turbidity test. This would be done jointly by the local doctors and locally trained educated youth (by Tribal Research Institutes) with the help of the School Management Committee. The students will be given a Card about Sickle Cell Status. Counseling of parents will also be done not to marry Sickle Cell Trait carrying person with other person carrying this trait. In places where school drop-out rate is high, the out of school children will be reached out through efforts of Panchayat members, Anganwadi worker, ASHA and ANMs etc. A series of workshops have been planned starting in Odisha, West Bengal, Guwahati and Gujarat in March and April with collaboration of TRIs, RMRC and TW and Health Departments. Calendar for other endemic states is being finalized. Data relating to rural health infrastructure in Tribal Areas have been examined in comparison with rural health infrastructure for all population, State/UT wise. It has been found that per lakh population Sub Centres (SCs), Primary Health Centres (PHCs) and Community Health Centres (CHCs) functioning (as on 31st March, 2014) in the Tribal Areas are significantly less as compared to such infrastructure functioning for all population in the States/ UTs, namely, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep. As the population density of tribal habitations is lower, the per sq.km area availability of health services is expected to be even lower for areas with tribal population.
10.2 But the availability of health services particularly doctors, paramedics and equipments is much less than what is shown here because the actual presence of a doctor in a health centre may not happen even if he is posted. We are sharing this information with field officials of Tribal Welfare Departments to improve monitoring.
10.3 Remoteness, lower demand and lower levels of comfort are some of the reasons why doctors and paramedics do not stay in these remote areas. Many experiments have been attempted such as single doctor PHC supported by a Pharmacist. This does not work for various reasons. Such doctors are often fresh from college. Today, some of the brightest boys and girls go to medical colleges and the discomfort of these remote habitations and the loneliness cannot be compensated by any kind of money. In the absence of equipments, medicines, para-medics and peer group support these doctors have little work. In fact, monetary incentives for remote areas have been attempted in many States, but it has not resulted in better presence of doctors. From field visits across the country, we have observed that the only pattern which works, is a large hospital in every Block which were known as Community Health Centres (CHC) and earlier as Primary Health Centres (PHC). These should have three to four MBBS Doctors, and specialist in disciplines like Medicine, Pediatrics, Obsetrician & Gynaecology, Pathology, Anesthesia and Orthopedics. There should also be supporting paramedic staff and residential facility for doctors and Paramedics. These hospitals should have 100-200 beds. In such large hospitals, doctors and paramedics will have more comfort including a social life. In view of the large number of sanctioned posts, absence of doctors due to non-posting or absenteeism is likely to be low. Once, the people know that medical services are bound to be available to some degree or other in a particular hospital, then people will also come to these hospitals and this will give a sense of satisfaction to the doctors and paramedics. Once the institutions of ‘single – doctor PHCs’ are withdrawn, there will be enough doctors for the Block Level CHC.
10.4 A major area in tribal health relates to public health and not treatments. In earlier days, the presence of ANMs in remote areas was quite good, but owing to change in value systems, even the ANMs’ presence in remote areas has become irregular. One initiative started by MoTA in 2014-15 is to identify tribal students, particularly girl students, who do reasonably well in science subjects, train them as paramedics and keep them attached to an ANM or any other institution with a regular remuneration. A similar effort was started many years ago in Rajasthan where women with very low level of education, but having leadership qualities, were engaged as Health workers by the State Government for elimination of guineaworm epidemic. They have been able to eradicate this scourge in remote areas.
10.5 The Ministry is supporting construction of PHCs or sub centres in Tribal Area which are not funded by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Training of educated Tribal girls/women to be paramedics is yet another attempt to improve primary / Public health care delivery. Untied funds for health service has also been released to many States for any kind of support.
11 National Tribal Festival: 2015
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs organized the National Tribal Festival ‘VANAJ’ in New Delhi from 13th to 18th February, 2015. It was organised at three venues which included the Central Park and the BKS Marg at Connaught Place and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) at Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road, New Delhi. The festival provided glimpses of rich cultural heritage of tribal communities across the country through unique forms of folk dances, songs and other traditional practices and focused on developing a sense of appreciation of the cultural diversity of the country. More than 900 artists and performers from the states of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal participated in traditional dance and music progrmmes of the state concerned. The other highlight of the Festival included state specific tribal huts, exhibition of books, art and crafts, tribal cuisine, award winning photographs and demonstration of traditional skill in painting, craft and traditional medical practices. Screening of documentary films and seminars on subject relevant to tribal issues were other attractions of the six days event. The event would be organised from 2nd Friday to 3rd Wednesday of February every year. 12. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs has been conferred with Web Ratna Award 2014 in the Outstanding Content Category.