Nature Talk Waiting For A National Tribal Policy

    The Government at the Centre has changed. Manmohan Singh led Congress dominated UPA government has been replaced by Narendra Modi led BJP dominated NDA government. Will this change bring some change in the living conditions of the tribal people of India? During election campaign in Mandla and Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh, Mr. Modi, while showering praise on Shri Shivraj Chouhan, the BJP Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and reminding the audience about the creation of the Ministry of Tribal Welfare during NDA tenure under Atal Behari Vajpeyee, had declared that “our Government in Delhi will also be devoted to the welfare of tribal communities.”( Narendra Modi addresses rally in Madhya Pradesh, speaks of ensuring t... Now that NDA has come to power, one expects Mr. Modi to remember about the National Tribal Policy that was articulated by Vajpeyee government just before the general election 2004 but never took a final shape as UPA government’s scrutiny could not be concluded. True, National Tribal Policy never figured in BJP election manifesto but the force, with which Mr. Modi was displaying his sense of commitment towards welfare of the tribal people albeit during election campaigns, particularly in tribal dominated states, one wonders as to why Mr. Modi did not assure the tribal electorates of a National Tribal Policy. Can the welfare of the tribal people be really brought about with long-term benefits to them without a comprehensive National Tribal Policy that addresses issues like “alienation of Tribal Land; Tribal Forest Interface; Displacement, Resettlement & Rehabilitation; Enhancement of Human Development Index, Creation of Critical Infrastructure, violent Manifestations; Conservation & Development of particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PTGs)”? Some optimists expected at least a hint about it in the Budget 2014-15 tabled on 10 th July in the Parliament but only to be disappointed. True, in budget one finds a new welfare scheme for tribals entitled ‘Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana’ with an allocation of Rs.100crore and is included in the list of twenty-nine 100 crore schemes euphemistically called ‘100crore club’ (100 crore club: Jaitley bats out centuries this budget - Hindustan Times ...). Also one finds 31.665% rise in the routine allocation under Tribal Sub Plan, the last year’s allocation of Rs.24, 598 crore,( 4.43% of Rs.555322/-allocated towards plan expenditure) being raised to Rs. 32,387 crore,( 5.633% of Rs.5,75, 000/-allocated towards plan expenditure) this year. These figures may suggest that the present government is more generous towards the tribal welfare than the previous government. But the indication that the present government is inclined to change the existing laws governing land acquisition to make it easier for developmental projects creates apprehension if it shall not accentuate alienation of tribal land as underneath lie rich mineral resources irresistibly attractive for investment. It is in this context that a comprehensive National Tribal Policy becomes imperative, as it can be bulwark against possible alienation of tribal land besides ensuring protection to their life and livelihood. We believe in declaration of a National Tribal Policy lies the evidence of the most sincere commitment towards tribal welfare and therefore hope the present NDA government will not delay its declaration and fulfill the commitment it had made a decade before to the tribals of India. (BKN)