Cry of the dispossessed most
The World Indigenous Peoples\' Day is observed on August 9 every year. As usual, the tribal cause is recited in a ritualistic manner. But, commemoration of this day should give us an opportunity to probe the pathetic plight of the Adivasis, despite such an economic progress.
The World Indigenous Peoples' Day is observed on August 9 every year. As usual, the tribal cause is recited in a ritualistic manner. But, commemoration of this day should give us an opportunity to probe the pathetic plight of the Adivasis, despite such an economic progress.
The unresolved land question is at the root of the tribal problem. Adivasis are the most displaced in any of the development projects. The innocent tribals are dispossessed of Jal (water), Jangal (forest) and Jameen (land) that sustain their living for centuries. The constitutional and legal protection fails to curb the unabated tribal land alienation. The half-hearted implementation of Forest Rights Act is adding insult to the injury.
The claims of millions of tribals for land pattas are wrongly rejected. Meanwhile, the threat of eviction looms large over the tribal hamlets. The so-called Vana Samrakshana Samithis could neither protect the forests nor the tribals. The Adivasi access to forest is undermined in the name of conservation.
But, since times immemorial, the traditional forest dweller coexisted with the forest. Only the Modern Man plundered the green cover. The widening gulf between the hills and the plains tribals is resulting in exclusion of the Adivasis from the welfare State.
Education and health still elude a large chunk of Adivasi population. The fact that there is not a single super specialty hospital exclusively for these impoverished masses in either Telangana or Andhra Pradesh vindicates this.
Even primary health centers are defunct at many places, thus resulting in higher levels of morbidity and mortality among the tribals. Many tribal communities suffer from rare disorders like Sickle Cell Anaemia. Besides, common ailments like diarrhoea, cerebral malaria, etc. are proving to be fatal in tribal areas. Absence of safe drinking water compounds the problem.
In the name of development, the tribal habitat is fragmented. The tribal culture is getting disintegrated. The skill set demands of modern economy are making tribals unemployable thus depriving them of their livelihood. The tribal agriculture is denied proper irrigation and other support measures.
The tribal produce does not get remunerative prices. Often they are subjected to harassment in the hands of forest establishment. The tribals are the victims of the police-Maoists cross fire. The PESA which gives the right to gram sabhas to decide on projects in their areas which are under the Fifth Schedule remains largely unimplemented.
Huge sections of vulnerable tribal groups remain excluded from special food security schemes like the Antyodaya. Adivasis constitute most marginalised and dispossessed of our people. As the legendary writer Mahasweta Devi puts it, the tribals turn into itinerant labour or pavement dwellers in cities.
There has been no independence for these dispossessed people, still deprived of their most basic rights. The Constitution of India protects Adivasis. But, the law and the administration have driven them to the margins. The modern civilisation will be unworthy of its values if it does not pay heed to the cry of these indigenous communities.