May their tribes grow

May their tribes grow

The population of Konda Reddy tribe in Telangana is just 1,907 That of Thoti is 7,752 The situation of two other PVTGs Particularly Vulnerable Tribal...

Hyderabad: The population of Konda Reddy tribe in Telangana is just 1,907. That of Thoti is 7,752. The situation of two other PVTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) – Chenchu and Kolam - is also not encouraging with numbers dwindling. However, the numbers are not so alarming when it comes to other Scheduled Tribes like Lambadas, Gonds and Koyas.

The combined population of these four tribes is close to 90,000 which pales in comparison to the total population of Telangana that is over 3.5 crore, according to 2011 census. These tribes live in forests and interior areas in Adilabad, Asifabad, Nagarkurnool and Bhupallpally mostly. Women in reproductive stage (18-40 years of age), in all these four tribes, are just over 20,000.

Unless some concrete steps are taken there is every chance of these four PVTGs becoming extinct. Socio-economic factors and inborn genetic problems among women of these four tribes are not helping the cause either. Not eating nutritious food during pregnancy also resulted in a considerable high MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate) and IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) among women from these tribes.

Prof G Nagaraju from Sociology department, University of Hyderabad, emphasised on taking steps to protect identity, culture, languages of such tribes. He said the government should come up with new policies like allowing tribal students to stick to their native language even if they are studying in English medium.

“We see Lambadas, Erkulas and Gonds communicate in their mother tongue among themselves,” the professor said. "Among 700 tribal languages in the country, 200 are listed as endangered languages. It is time governments take steps to preserve and protect identity of tribes whose population is dwindling," he said.

Osmania University Professor Dr B Redya Naik says that India is multi-lingual, multi-culture, multi-ethnic country. It is important that all tribes, whose population is dwindling, should be given a helping hand by the government in whatever way possible. Their unique language, attire, customs and culture need to be preserved.

Both professors welcomed the government's fresh decision to modify rules in KCR Kits implementation for pregnant women of these four tribes. There would be no cap on extending this scheme for only two pregnancies as is the case usually.

Dr Christina Z Chongthu, commissioner, Tribal Welfare department, said that Project Officers in Utnoor got complaints from tribal women that KCR scheme was not extended to them because they had two children already. A request was made to health department to come to the rescue of women of these four tribes citing dwindling population figures, she added.

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