“Historical experiences of land encroachment, acquisition of forest land by the Government and tribal displacement”: Group inequality, development status & the position of women – Kerala

In the matter of poverty, group inequality is still a matter of concern for Kerala as we see in the following chapter: Absolute deprivation continues to be largely concentrated among the marginalised communities, such as the tribals (adivasi) and fishing community […] and the hiatus between the Scheduled Castes and non-Scheduled Castes is a distressing symptom of a still uncured aspect of horizontal inequality in the State. […]

[G]iven the historical experiences of land encroachment, acquisition of forest land by the Government and tribal displacement, the STs [Scheduled Tribes] remain vulnerable, the proportion of households with more than one hectare declining over time.

Source: Human Development Report 2005 Kerala, Government of Kerala (2006), pp. 57-61
URL: https://niti.gov.in/planningcommission.gov.in/docs/plans/stateplan/sdr_pdf/shdr_kerala05.pdf
Date visited: 10 March 2021

Photo: Report on Women’s Rights, p. 15

Equality of Opportunity in matters of Public Employment
Constitution Article 15

Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.—(1) The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. (2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them, be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with regard to— (a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or (b) the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public. (3) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children. 2 [(4) Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.]

Source: pp. 9 & 16, “Women’s Rights in India: An Analytical Study of The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and The Indian Constitution, Legislations, Schemes, Policies & Judgements 2021” by Research Division, National Human Rights Commission, India (www.nhrc.nic.in) | Learn more >>
URL: https://www.jorhatjudiciary.gov.in
Date Visited: 9 May 2023

“The contribution of [over 200,000] charities—which range from small concerns to vast India-wide networks—to development and the individual lives of millions of poor Indians is incalculable. Activist groups helped India gain independence in 1947 and have since helped restrain the state’s excesses and compensate for its weaknesses.” – Civil society in India >>

The development discourse, critiqued by scholars and peoples movements, continues to expand and encompass all aspects of Adivasi life. Studies show that the development projects exclude and alienate Adivasi communities in India and they describe the history of Adivasi development in India in terms of material deprivation and cultural marginalisation. While the socio-political and cultural exclusion is acknowledged as a universal feature of Adivasi life, the everyday experience of their exclusion differs among different Adivasi communities. This is reflected in their development status and the socio-economic stratification among them. Existing research attributes the differential development outcomes to certain historical advantages and disadvantages. By exploring the experiences of development of two different Adivasi communities in Wayanad in Kerala, this study attempts to understand the differential development outcomes, the processes of marginalisation and the reproduction of historical advantages and disadvantages. Two Adivasi communities with contrasting development status and historical features have been selected: the Paniyas with a history of slavery and landlessness and currently with a low educational and health status, and the Kurichias who were matrilineal and landed, with relatively better educational and health status.

Specific Objectives 1. To understand the Paniyas and Kurichias access to land, forest and other material resources. 2. To analyze how the two select Adivasi communities perceive and utilise development programmes for education, health and employment. 3. To understand and analyze the Adivasis perception of the idea of development vis-à-vis that of the state. 4. To analyze the Paniyas and Kurichias everyday experience of the development process and their individual and collective struggles. 5. To examine the position of women in the two communities and to analyze the consequences of development on gender relations.

Source: Abstract for PhD thesis by Leena Abraham “Perceptions and experiences of development: a study of two tribal communities in Wayanad district, Kerala” (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 2013)
URL: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in:8080/jspui/handle/10603/17821
Date visited: 23 March 2021

Kocharethi the Arya Woman
by Narayan >>
Literature | Storytelling >>

The slow erosion of cultural identity, the absence of agency for some sections of society, the increasing erasure of various communities from the supposed democratic space of citizenship, the questionable route ‘modernity’ and ‘development’ take, and the effects they have on men and, differently, on women are all woven into Narayan’s novel. Kocharethi calls upon us to ethically engage with it, to question our complicity in the systemic conditions that produce these lives, to reflect on our own reactions to the tale, to our expectations of the form and genre and to unlearn our frames of understanding. | Learn more >>

About 49 per cent tribal houses in the State do not have toilets. As many as 24,289 families do not hold ration cards. Hundreds of graduates and post graduates among the tribal communities are job less.

A survey conducted by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration in association with local bodies and the Scheduled Tribe Welfare Department reveals pathetic living conditions of the Scheduled Tribe Communities in the State.

There are 33 Scheduled Tribe communities in the State. Of the 40,1401-strong tribal population, ‘Panian’ community is the largest.

The total population of the five primitive tribal groups – Koraga, Kattunayakan, Cholanaikan, Kurumba and Kadar – is 26,273.

There 4614 landless tribal families in the State. More than 55 per cent live in dilapidated houses. In all, 39,850 houses do not have kitchen and 49 percent does not have toilets.

Half of the population deprived of pure drinking water and 1252 tribal hamlets are not electrified. More than 1300 tribal settlements face threat from wild animals.

The survey shows that there are 887 unwed mothers and 20,301 widows among ST women. Only 17 per cent of them are getting pension.

Many of the families do not have any access to medical care. Among them 4,036 are differently-abled and 2386 are mentally-challenged. The community has 40,323 chronic patients.

The literacy rate among the scheduled tribes is 72.77. Most of them used to drop out from schools at the primary level itself. Poverty and lack of access to educational institutions are the major reasons.

According to the survey, 77,680 people in the age group of 15-59 are unemployed. This includes 2112 graduates, 200 postgraduates and 2066 with professional qualifications.

Almost half the population of the community has taken loans, mostly from private institutions or individual money lenders.

The survey started in 2008 was completed in October 2011.

Source: “Census reveals poor status of tribal communities in the State”, The Hindu, 1 December 2011
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/kerala/article2678251.ece
Date Visited: Wed Mar 07 2012 18:12:12 GMT+0100 (CET)

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Uravu | Tribal education and customs in Wayanad >>
Photo © Ludwig Pesch
Wayanad song by Kanavu music group >>
See also

Biodiversity and development – Kerala

Childhood – Kerala | Childrens rights: UNICEF India | Safe search

Childrens rights: English or Malayalam (UNICEF India)

eBook | Background guide for education

Education and literacy | Right to education

eLearning | “National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other”: Droupadi Murmu – 15th President of India

Ethnobotany & ethnomedicine

Food distribution

Health and nutrition

Human development – Kerala

Kerala | State wise ST list (Scheduled Tribes)

Literature and bibliographies

Literature – fiction | Poetry


Recommendations by the Expert Committee on Tribal Health

Success stories

Tribal schools and educational projects – Kerala

Video – Kerala

Video | M.S. Swaminathan on Biodiversity and the sharing of resources

Video | Trailer to “Have you seen the arana?” – Kerala

Vulnerable tribal groups – Kerala


Women | Safe search | President Droupadi Murmu on women’s empowerment