Status of Scheduled Tribes in India – UPSC Prelims

Status of Scheduled Tribes in India:
  • As per Census-1931, Schedule tribes are termed as “backward tribes” living in the “Excluded” and “Partially Excluded” areas.
  • The Government of India Act of 1935 called for the first time for representatives of “backward tribes” in provincial assemblies.
  • The Constitution does not define the criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes and hence the definition contained in 1931 Census was used in the initial years after independence.
  • However, Article 366(25) of the Constitution only provides process to define Scheduled Tribes: “Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.”
  • 342(1): The President may with respect to any State or Union Territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor, by a public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory.
  • There are over 705 tribes which have been notified. The largest number of tribal communities are found in Odisha.
Legal Provisions:
  • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 against Untouchability.
  • Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
  • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Related Initiatives:
  • Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools
  • Development of PVTGs
  • Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana
Related Committees:
  • Xaxa Committee (2013)
  • Bhuria Commission (2002-2004)
  • Lokur Committee (1965)
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