India has been home to tribals since time immemorial, and they are naturally considered the original inhabitants of India. Their rich history and culture have given the tribes such as Santhal, Munda, Bhil, Meena, Ho Gond and others a distinct identity at the national and international level. The tribal areas of Rajasthan have been home to many tribes such as Bhil, Meena, Bhil-Meena, Damor and Garasia since ancient times. The tribes of Rajasthan have a history full of splendors and valor, and are thus famous for it. The tribal kings established their own kingdoms across the Rajputana. For instance, Dungaria Bhil had Dungarpur, Bansia (Vishna) Bhil had Banswara. Kotia Bhil had Kota, Jetasi Bhil had Abu as their kingdoms, which now constitute districts with these names in modern Rajasthan. Besides, Maharana Pratap, the great Rajputana warrior, had a Bhil warrior as his commander-in-chief, who is still revered by one and all.
However, the tribal people have been victim of social, economic and religious discrimination and exploitation notwithstanding their rich history. They have been deprived of education, have been socially looked down upon and rejected, have been made to serve as bonded labour: a fact that has been time and again accepted, officially and unofficially, by politicians, social workers and scholars alike. Jansatta, a Hindi daily, in a news report headlined, “Kendra Anusuchit Jaati-Janjaati ke Liye Vishesh Tantra aur Kanoon Banane ke Paksh Mein” (Centre in Favour of Framing a Special System and Law for Scheduled Castes and Tribes), quoted Meera Kumar, when she was Union Social Welfare and Empowerment Minister, as saying that more than 16 crore people in India still suffer from the scourge of untouchability. Shivraj Patil, as Union Home Minister, had expressed concern at the discrimination against the scheduled castes and tribes even after six decades of India’s independence and had emphasised on the need of affirmative action to change this. In a similar vein, Hansraj Bharadwaj as Union Law Minister had maintained that the victims of excesses were paid only lip service. He further had said that the discrimination against scheduled castes and tribes should be stemmed at the grassroots level. He cautioned us that if we as a nation failed to change our thinking, these excesses would continue......... more
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