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Neglect of Tribals Unpardonable, Governors Should Act

In spite of all the prosperity seen in the various sectors, the plight of the tribal people in many of the states makes one feel really sad.
Hyderabad | 30th June 2017
The welfare of the tribals, who are found in almost all the states of the country, is one important area that is being neglected by both the Central and the state governments even 70 years after independence. In spite of all the prosperity seen in various sectors, the plight of the tribal people in many of the states makes one feel really sad.

The death of as many as 16 tribals in Chaparai village of East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh recently, purportedly due to drinking contaminated water from a stream, and medical tests conducted on 30 patients at the Rampachodavaram Government Hospital showing 24 of them as suffering from Malaria are only the latest incidents which reflect the state of affairs in the tribal villages.

A report brought out by the Telangana government's planning department a few months back mentioned that the undivided Adilabad district stood at the bottom of the human development index, and that poverty continued to haunt Adivasis in Adilabad and its neighbouring districts due to decades of neglect, though the situation in these districts in terms of education is not as bad.

Things are the same outside the Telugu states, too. The National Human Rights Commission said in January last that at least 16 tribal women were allegedly raped and physically assaulted by policemen in Bastar in November 2015. The Commission had conducted a spot investigation, taking cognizance of news reports of policemen raping women in five villages in Chattisgarh.

It may also be recalled that sociologist, social activist and author Nandini Sundar had pointed out that tribals were being treated "worse than animals" in Chattisgarh. She had also said that unconstitutional activities were taking place in Bastar, which is inhabited by tribal people.

The newspapers report the ill-treatment meted out to tribals, and the lack of development of tribals and tribal areas in different states, on a regular basis. However, neither the Centre nor the state governments are taking things seriously and acting to improve the lot of the tribal people. Following the Chaparai incident, the Andhra Pradesh government initiated some steps, but one may safely conclude that they are only temporary in nature, as were the steps taken by many states in the past whenever there were reports of neglect of tribals by the authorities.

The observations made by Deputy Director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati, and an expert on tribal studies, Virginius Xaxa, in Hyderabad only last week, that the Indian states' initiatives over the decades towards the integration of tribals into the mainstream do not amount to affirmative action, and that the Governors, who are the Constitutional custodians of the tribals and who are supposed to evaluate the laws from the tribal welfare perspective, had failed in discharging their responsibilities, are quite appropriate and timely. Even the Tribal Advisory Councils have remained ineffective, he rightly pointed out.

It may not be out of place to point out, taking into consideration the failure of the successive governments at the Centre and in the states, with particular reference to the Governors, in safeguarding the lot of the tribals, that it is high time that the powers that be took note of the plight of tribal people in the country and initiated measures right in earnest and with sincerity to ensure the welfare of the tribal people in the country.

The Centre may give a strict directive or warning to the Governors of the various states to discharge their responsibilities towards the tribal people with sincerity.
filed in:  Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tribal Welfare, Governor
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