Reduce the trust deficit between the administration and the tribals in India’s “rurban” country: Former Minister for Rural Development

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International Day of the World’s Indigenous People (9 August) >>

The central pillars of the New Urban Agenda, which provide guidance on issues such as urban planning and design and the legal frameworks needed to produce positive outcomes of urbanization, also offer an opportunity to respond to the needs of migrants, displaced and refugees in urban areas. Accordingly, the Issue Summary section of this paper discusses the enabling national legal and policy frameworks required to address the vulnerabilities and injustices facing these populations; the need for integrating migration concerns into development planning; and ways forward to bridge humanitarian and development concerns.

Source: “Cities and Migration”, UN-Habitat
Date Visited: 22 August 2023

Most Indian cities—of which 59 have populations of over a million people—lack adequate housing, sanitation, clean water, health care, education, public transport, trees and shade. According to the UN, in 2020 roughly half of India’s urban households lived in slums. This is a huge problem. India’s cities accommodate about 700m people, or half the population, a share that is rapidly increasing as people flood in from rural areas, seeking refuge from poverty in sweltering fields and the added opportunities that cities provide.

India’s urban centres generate 60% of its gdp. By 2036, according to an official estimate, 73% of Indian population growth will take place in urban areas. Workers in big cities command a wage premium of 122% over those in the countryside. Just 5% of Indian city-dwellers are “multidimensionally poor” (ie, very), compared with 19% of people in rural areas.

Source: “Dirty old towns”, The Economist (EU), 19 Aug 2023
Date Visited: 22 August 2023

A Conversation With Jairam Ramesh


Jairam Ramesh became India’s new [now former] Minister for Rural Development in July [2011], after a tumultuous stint as the Minister of Environment and Forests. The rural development ministry’s massive $20 billion annual budget is the central government’s largest, after defense.

Minister Ramesh spoke to India Ink about his plans to counter the Naxalites, what Gandhi would have thought of the village today, and how he hopes to make the ministry work more efficiently. […]

Q. There is so much ground to cover in this new job. What’s the most important thing you want to get done in the next three years, or before you are moved somewhere else? […]

A. We plan to use rural development programs relating to roads, employment, housing, water supply and land to reduce the trust deficit between the administration and the tribals.

Q. What is the government of India’s thinking on the future of the village? As we’re seeing rapid urbanization why does so much money continue to be poured into the rural areas?

A. Broadly there have been two mindsets on village India. One is the Gandhian mindset which sees the village as an independent self-sufficient republic. The other one looks upon a village as an interdependent component, that recognizes that migration would take place.

The Gandhian view of villages was, I would say, as much a political perspective as it was economic. To say Gandhi would look at villages today the same way as he looked at villages 100 years ago is to do no justice to Gandhi, who had an extraordinarily flexible mind, a pragmatic mind.

We are spending so much on villages is because 70 percent of our population lives in rural areas. That is where agriculture is, where the base of India’s economic prosperity comes from.

We recognize that migration in inevitable. India is rapidly urbanizing. I feel that it is fast becoming neither rural or urban, but a “rurban” country.

Urbanization is not only inevitable but desirable. The cost of providing infrastructure in urban areas is lower, it means the weakening of caste barriers, greater social mobility, more opportunity for gender equality.

Yet rural India is very much a reality, a demographic reality. The rapid urbanization that we are talking about is confined to a few states. We are a rural economy which is urbanizing, we are not an urbanized economy with a rural hinterland.

And politically, of course, most of the electorate lives in rural areas. […]

You asked me about the big challenges – I should have said the first and most immediate challenge was to bring forward a new land acquisition law, to replace this 117-year-old-act, which balances out interests of land seekers with land owners and users. That bill is now in Parliament. […]

Source: A Conversation With Jairam Ramesh, New York Times, November 18, 2011
Address :
Date Visited: 28 November 2020

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

“The British established mode of forest governance imposed restrictions on local forest-dwelling communities. In 1860, the Company withdrew all access rights for using the forests (food, fuel, medicine and selling forest products) since the forests and forest-dwelling communities provided refuge to the rebels during the Sepoy Mutiny.” – Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation >>

“Tribal population was spread all over India and most of them occupied wild tracts, hilly and forested areas, away from more civilized centers. In 1880 their population was estimated at about seventy million. They had existed for centuries with their own social traditions and beliefs and subsisted on natural resources. They had preserved their near isolation and way of life until the British administration and policies made inroads into their territories.” – Subha Johari in Tribal Dissatisfaction Under Colonial Economy of 19th Century >>

“Tribal communities have proven that they are the best guardians of the forest and die-hard conservationists”: Illegal mining destroys the life and culture of the conservators of forests >>

“Even though they are responsible for protecting the largest part of the global forest heritage […] a third of indigenous and community lands in 64 countries are under threat due to the lack of land tenure rights.” – Pressenza Rio de Janerio in “Indigenous people are heading to CoP26: ‘There is no solution to the climate crisis, without us’” (Down To Earth, 1 November 2021) >>

Usage in legal and historical records

“Two main streams within Indian anthropology influenced the literary and visual representations of tribes by mainstream writers, artists and film-makers.” – Dr. Ivy Hansdak clarifies how they are associated with “assimilationist” and “isolationist” positions or policies >>

In Marginalised but not Defeated, Tarun Kanti Bose (a seasoned public interest journalist) “documents the hard and difficult struggle to implement the Forest Rights Act, how the oppressed adivasis have united into forest unions, how they are now entering into new thresholds of protracted struggles and victories in a non-violent manner.” | Learn more: >>

“Tribal men and women mix freely, but with respect for each other [but] caste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.” – Guest Column in India Today >>

Learn more about colonial policies, the Forest Rights Act, its importance for ecology, biodiversity, ethnobotany and nutrition, and about the usage of Adivasi (Adibasi) communities in different states of India: in legal and historical records, in textbooks, scholarly papers and the media >>

Reports in the Indian press | List of periodicals included in this search >>

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Add keywords of special interest (health, nutrition endangered language, illegal mining, sacred grove); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA); and the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “women’s rights”, or “children’s right to education”.

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