What are the Rights of Scheduled Tribes? – National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

“The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that certain communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of age-old practice of untouchability and certain others on account of this primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation, and who need special consideration for safeguarding their interests and for their accelerated socio-economic development. These communities were notified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per provisions contained in Clause 1 of Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution respectively.” – National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
(Date Visited: 21 August 2022)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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Who are Scheduled Tribes?
The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that certain communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness on account of the primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation. The Constitution of India in Article 366 (25) prescribe that the Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 of the Constitution to be Scheduled Tribes.

What are the Rights of Scheduled Tribes?
The Constitution of India seeks to secure for all its citizens, among other things, social and economic justice, equality of status and opportunity and assures the dignity of the individual.  All Rights available to the Citizens of India, enshrined in the Constitution or any law of the land or any order of the Government are equally available to the Scheduled Tribes also.

Are there any privileges or special rights for Scheduled Tribes?Scheduled Tribes being backward and isolated from the rest of the population are not able to exercise their rights. In order to empower them to be able to exercise their rights special provisions have been made in the Constitution. Framers of the Constitution took note of this fact and incorporated enabling provisions in the Constitution in the form of reservation and measures to be taken to empower them to be able to avail the opportunities. Some people call these provisions as privileges for the Scheduled Tribes but these are only the enabling provisions so that Scheduled Tribes can avail the opportunities and exercise their rights and safeguards.

Source: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
Address: http://www.ncst.gov.in/content/frequently-asked-questions
Date Visited: 2 July 2019

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Adivasi [adibasi] – which is derived from Sanskrit – is applied to the dark-skinned or Austro-Asiatic indigenous groups of India (usually those from Eastern India). It is a commonly-used term in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. It is also used by the local Mongoloid tribes of North Eastern India for the migrant workers who were brought in as indentured labourers to work in tea plantations during the colonial period. ‘Tribal’ is a very broad term in the English language, as we all know, and includes all the different indigenous groups of India.” – Dr. Ivy Hansdak (email dated 27 March 2020) | “Who are Scheduled Tribes?” (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes) | Demographic Status of Scheduled Tribe Population of India (Census figures 2011) | Classifications in different states >>

“Tribal groups (adivasis) in India have often been excluded, marginalized and oppressed by ‘mainstream’ society. In many ways this exclusion, marginalization and oppression is fostered by the way in which ‘mainstream’ society looks at the adivasis – as exotic, dangerous, or ‘primitive’ others.” – Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence and Voice | Classifications in different states >>

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 quoted in “Members of De-Notified Tribes Picked Up to Cover Up Shoddy Investigations” | Learn more >>

“Since the Indian Constitution uses the term ‘Scheduled Tribes’ or ‘tribals’ to refer to indigenous communities in India and the colloquial reference used by several indigenous communities themselves is ‘adivasis’ these two terms shall be used interchangeably.” – Rebecca S . David in “An analysis of the impact of the Forest Rights Act (2006) in three states of India” (MPhil University of Cambridge, UK, 2014), p. 1 | Learn more | Classifications in different states >>

“Adivasis are not a homogeneous group; there are over 200 distinct peoples speaking more than 100 languages, and varying greatly in ethnicity and culture.” – Source: World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – India | Learn more | Classifications in different states >>

  • The National Human Right Commission (NHRC) describes “crimes like rape, molestation, torture, fake encounter in police custody as manifestations of a systemic failure to protect human rights”;
  • It reports that “rights of the people were violated or negligence was shown by a public servant in the prevention of such violations”; NHRC concludes:
  • “Atrocities against vulnerable sections of society – women, children, disabled and the elderly – are often compounded when they belong to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes”; and therefore demands:
  • India must ratify the International Convention against Torture.

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Search tips: in the search field seen here, type the name of any tribal (Adivasi) community, region, state or language; add keywords of special interest (childhood, language, sacred grove, tribal education, women); consider rights to which Scheduled Tribes are entitled (FRA Forest Rights Act, protection from illegal mining, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, right to education, Universal Declaration of Human Rights); specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, health, nutrition and malnutrition, rural poverty)

For a list of websites included in a single search, click here. To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find publishing details for Shodhganga’s PhD search results, click here >>

Note: for official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region, e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

“We shall first have to give up this hubris of considering tribes backward. Every tribe has a rich and living cultural tradition and we must respect them.”

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on India’s Constitutional obligation to respect their cultural traditions
Gandhiji at Prayer Time, Parnakuti, Poona (1944) by Chittaprosad, the great advocate of the rights of workers and revolutionary artists. | Learn more in “Gandhi, Secularism, and Cultural Democracy” by Vinay Lal >>
Gandhian social movement | Constitution >>

“Air is free to all but if it is polluted it harms our health… Next comes water… From now on we must take up the effort to secure water. Councillors are servants of the people and we have a right to question them.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi, Ahmedabad address on 1 January 1918; quoted by his grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in “On another New Year’s Day: Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘khorak’ a 100 years ago” (The Hindu, 1 January 2018)

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