Dronacharya Award: “A shameful chapter in India’s history” – Jharkhand

Jharkhand Human Rights Movement C/o-Mr. Suleman Odeya, Near Don Bosci ITC Gate, Khorha Toli, Kokar, Ranchi -834001. 0651-3242752 Email: [email protected]

Ref: JHRM/PI/2013/04 Date: 29/08/2013

Sri Pranab Mukherjee,
President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi – 110004

Sub: Requesting for suspension of prestigious “Dronacharya Award” under the purview of the Supreme Court’s judgment, which is given for excellence in sports coaching in India. 

Dear Sir,

With due respect, we would like to bring your kind attention on the matter of prestigious “Dronacharya Award”, which is presented by the Government of India to the excellent coaches for their excellence in sports coaching. […]

In the above said judgement the Apex Court [The Supreme Court of India] has stated that the injustice done to the tribal people of India is a shameful chapter in our country’s history. The tribals were called ‘rakshas’ (demons), ‘asuras’, and what not. They were slaughtered in large numbers, and the survivors and their descendants were degraded, humiliated, and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them for centuries. They were deprived of their lands, and pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc. And now efforts are being made by some people to deprive them even of their forest and hill land where they are living, and the forest produce on which they survive.

The Court has said that the well known example of the injustice to the tribals is the story of Eklavya in the Adiparva of the Mahabharat. Eklavya [Ekalavya] wanted to learn archery, but Dronacharya refused to teach him, regarding him as low born. Eklavya then built a statue of Dronacharya and practiced archery before the statue. He would have perhaps become a better archer than Arjun, but since Arjun was Dronacharya’s favourite pupil Dronacharya told Eklavya to cut off his right thumb and give it to him as ‘guru dakshina’ (gift to the teacher given traditionally by the student after his study is complete). In his simplicity Eklavya did what he was told.

The Apex Court’s observations make it very clear that Dronachaya was an assassinator of excellence rather than protector of it therefore; giving the excellence award for sports coaching in the name of Dronacharya means insulting the excellence coaching in sports and also humiliating the Scheduled Tribe/Adivasis (the Indigenous People) of India.

However, despite the Supreme Court strong observations and comments the Indian Government has been giving awards to the sports coaches in the name of Dronacharya. Therefore, we humbly request you to suspend the Dronacharya Award immediately to uphold the dignity of the Scheduled Tribe/Adivasis (the Indigenous People) of India and in respect of the sports coaching. […]

Gladson Dungdung, General Secretary, JHRM, Ranchi.
Sunil Minj,  Chairperson, JHRM, Ranchi.

Source: JHARKHAND MIRROR | The Voice of the Indigenous Peoples
Address : https://jharkhandmirror.org/
Date Visited: Fri Sep 06 2013 09:37:40 GMT+0200 (CEST)

The Jharkhand Mirror is an initiative to bring the untold Stories, Analysis Reports and Articles about the Indigenous People in the public domain. It was launched in January 2008 as a web media to bring the stories especially about the Indigenous People of Jharkhand. […]

Source: About us | JHARKHAND MIRROR
Address : https://jharkhandmirror.org/about/
Date Visited: Fri Sep 06 2013 09:39:19 GMT+0200 (CEST)

New Delhi: Tribals are subject to oppression and cruelty even after independence and still picked up by the investigating officers to cover up shoddy investigations, Supreme Court Judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said on Monday.

Justice Chandrachud was speaking at the 13th B R Ambedkar Memorial Lecture on the topic of ‘Conceptualising Marginalisation: Agency, Assertion & Personhood’ by the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, (IIDS) Delhi and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, South Asia. […]

The only recourse available to us is to faithfully abide by and give life to the constitutional ideals which Dr Ambedkar helped formulate, and use those to bring transformative change in the minds and perceptions of the society,” he said.

Source: ‘Members of De-Notified Tribes Picked Up to Cover Up Shoddy Investigations’: Justice Chandrachud, PTI (The Wire, 7 December 2021)
URL: https://thewire.in/rights/members-of-de-notified-tribes-picked-up-to-cover-up-shoddy-investigations-justice-chandrachud
Date Visited: 8 December 2021

Tribal alienation in an unequal India

“The tribal people have not been included in or given the opportunity to benefit from development.” Photo: A.M. Faruqui

[…] With greater access to the electronic media across the country, the differences are glaringly visible for those at the base of the development pyramid. Inequality in India operates on multiple axes — of gender, class, caste, region, religion and ethnicity. But perhaps the worst suffering is of India’s tribal people, who suffer a double whammy of both disadvantaged region and ethnicity.

A paper in the Economic and Political Weekly, (Sanchita Bakshi et al: “Regional Disparities in India: A Moving Frontier”, January 3, 2015) reveals that if we want to get an accurate picture of regional inequalities, a well-recognised element of India’s growth experience, we have to look much deeper than just States or even districts. We need to go to the subdistrict or block level. And there we find that an overwhelming share of the most backward subdistricts has a high concentration of tribal population. […]

Source: Mihir Shah, The Hindu, July 04, 2015
URL: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/mihir-shah-writes-on-tribal-alienation-and-need-for-inclusive-growth/article7383721.ece
Date Visited: 12 October 2020

A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence and Voice by
Ganesh [G.N.] Devy | Publications >>

A call for harnessing the potential of Denotified Tribes, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes for national development: “India’s labour force must be liberated from an abhorrent colonial doctrine (‘criminality by birth’)” – Report and Recommendations of the Technical Advisory Group | “Adivasi”, “Tribals” and “Denotified tribes” (classifications in different states) >>

The Nomadic Tribes of India, were formally known and notified as the “Criminal Tribes of India”(DNTs) by the British as per the 1871 Act. Today they constitute a total population of about 60 million. While these communities are enlisted in various disadvantaged sub categories by the government, what they all share is the stigma of being ‘born criminals’.

These tribes were originally nomadic and traditionally seen as traders in commodities like salt and honey. After the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 they were seen by the British government as an intelligence threat as they wandered unchecked across the country carrying messages and information. Since they could not be forcibly settled the notification act was used as a means to control the activities and movements of these groups.

These groups were formally ‘de-notified’ in 1952 by the Indian government, but event today they continue to carry the stigma of being ‘born criminals’.

Bhasha launched the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes Rights Action Group (DNT-RAG) in 1998 to create a national campaign for protection of human rights of the DNTs. The campaign involved community activists, writers, artists, media and human rights organizations.

Source: “Justice for the DNTs”, Bhasha | TAG Report (Download PDF) >>
URL: https://bhasharesearch.org/justice-dnts.html
Date Visited: 13 October 2022

An unfortunate legacy
The colonial category of “criminal tribes” may have been “denotified” but many communities remain unclassified

History has a way of leaving unfortunate legacies. “If the Local Government has reason to believe that any tribe, gang or class of persons is addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences, it may report the case to the Governor General in Council, and may request his permission to declare such tribe, gang or class to be a criminal tribe.” Hence, a register for Criminal Tribes, not to forget eunuchs. I quoted from the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) of 1871, though there was a consolidated Criminal Tribes Act of 1924. […]

A quote from a 2016 Report of the NCDNT [National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes] sums it up:
After Independence, the erstwhile aborigines were classified as scheduled tribes, the untouchables were classified as scheduled castes and others included in the backward classes. Although, many of the denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes are spread among SC/ST/OBC, many are still not classified anywhere and have no access to socio-economic benefits, whether education, health, housing or otherwise… Except a few states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, etc, some of these communities figure in various classifications in the states such as Backward Tribe (Puducherry), Most Backward Classes (Tamil Nadu), Extremely Backward Classes (Bihar), “original settlers” in Arunachal Pradesh, Primitive Tribes (Jharkhand/ Odisha), Hill Tribes (Assam) etc. In some states they are called “tribal settlers”. In some states they are called “hidden tribes” etc… There are many anomalies in terms of identification of these communities, from state to state. Many people also do not know what is denotified tribe and which authority is looking after their grievances. Recently, this Commission made a recommendation to the Government of India to write to all state governments to form a district-level Grievances Redressal Committee under the District Collector to hear the grievances of these communities/groups/tribes.”

These communities/tribes account for nearly 10 per cent of community’s population as has been mentioned in some writings and there are nearly 820 communities and tribes in India, although some of the community leaders assess that their number would be more with 198 denotified tribes and nearly 1,500 nomadic tribes and their population may be even more than 10 per cent.”

This is partly a positive affirmation/ reservation issue. But if you go through the annexures in the 2016 NCDNT report, some communities want to be recognised as SCs, STs or OBCs. But there are also those who want recognition as DNTs/NTs.

The writer is member, Niti Aayog. Views are personal

Source: “An unfortunate legacy” by Bibek Debroy (Indian Express, January 5, 2017)
Address: https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/crime-criminal-act-racial-discrimination-non-bailable-offence-criminal-tribes-act-an-unfortunate-legacy-4459258/
Date Visited: 12 October 2020

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“In 1871, the British passed the ‘Criminal Tribes Act.’ It notified about 150 tribes around India as criminal, giving the police wide powers to arrest them and monitor their movements. The effect of this law was simple: just being born into one of those 150 tribes made you a criminal.” – Dilip D’Souza in “Vicious cycle” | Read the full article in the Adivasi Special issue (The Hindu) >>

“These groups were formally ‘de-notified’ in 1952 by the Indian government, but event today they continue to carry the stigma of being ‘born criminals’.” – “Justice for the DNTs” (Bhasha Trust)” | Learn more >>

“More than 10 crore [100 million] Indians from 1,400 communities belong to Denotified, Nomadic, Semi-nomadic (SEED) Tribes.” – Ab­hi­nay Lak­sh­man in “Denotified, nomadic, semi-nomadic tribes: 402 SEED registrations so far online, none approved yet” (The Hindu, 29 August 2022) | Learn more >>

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