The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs in furtherance of its commitment and with a view to creating conditions that are conducive for the development of tribal communities, has decided to constitute a High Level Committee (HLC) to prepare a position paper on the present socioeconomic, health and educational status of STs and suggest a way forward, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) asserted on Saturday.
In keeping with the special status accorded to Scheduled Tribes (STs) in the Constitution of India, the government has affirmed its commitment to improving their socioeconomic status and has taken initiatives that encompass policy, programmatic and legislative interventions, the PMO stated.
It said that the HLC shall suggest policy initiatives as well as effective outcome-oriented measures to improve development indicators and strengthen public service delivery to STs and other tribal populations.
The High Level Committee (HLC) will comprise of Virginius Xaxa as the Chairman and Secretary, M/o Tribal Affairs as the Member Secretary.
Moreover the HLC members will include Usha Ramanathan, Joseph Bara, K.K. Misra, Abhay Bang and Sunila Basant.
The PMO noted that the HLC will prepare a report on the overall socioeconomic, health and educational status of the tribal communities of India. The HLC will finalise and present its report within nine months from the date of this notification.
More specifically, the HLC will obtain relevant information from departments/agencies of the Central and State Governments and also conduct an intensive survey of the literature to identify published data, articles and research on relative social, economic, health and educational status of Scheduled Tribes in India at the State, regional and district levels, to address, inter alia, the following questions:-
(i) In which States, Regions, Districts and Blocks do tribal communities of India mostly live? What changes have been visible in the wake of involuntary displacement and enforced migration?
(ii) What is the geographical pattern of their economic activity, i.e. what do they mostly do for a living in various States, Regions and Districts? In view of rapid urbanization of the country and consequent shrinking of their original habitats, what are the newer avenues of employment and livelihood available to them?
(iii) What is their asset base and income levels relative to other groups across various States and Regions? Have there been changes in the patterns of ownership and productivity of immovable assets of STs? What role does public policy and the legal framework play in facilitating/inhibiting such changes?
(iv) What is the level of their socio-economic development in terms of relevant indicators such as literacy rate, dropout rate, MMR, IMR etc.? How does this compare with other communities in various States and the causes of disparity, if any?
(v) What is their relative share of public and private sector employment? Does it vary across States and what is the pattern of such variation? Is the share in employment in proportion to their population in various States? If not, what are the reasons for their under-representation? What are the steps taken by States/UTs for capacity building and improving employability of Scheduled Tribes? Does this take into account their cultural diversity?
(vi) Do the tribal communities have adequate access to education and health services, municipal infrastructure, bank credit, and other services provided by Government/ public sector entities? How does this compare to access enjoyed by other communities in various States? What is the level of social infrastructure (schools, health centers, ICDS centres etc.) located in areas of tribal concentration in comparison to the general level of such infrastructure in various States? What are the causes of disparity, if any?
(vii) Are there adequate systems and structures for implementation of protective legislations such as the Prevention of Atrocities Act, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, Forest Rights Act and Food Security Ordinance, etc. ? What steps are needed for more effective implementation of these legislations?
The PMO also stated that the HLC will consolidate, collate and analyze the above information/literature to identify areas of intervention by government to address relevant issues relating to the socioeconomic, health and educational status of the tribal communities.
It said that the HLC will be provided all possible assistance by all Ministries/ Departments and other bodies under the government to ensure timely collection of data and information to facilitate their task.
"All pertinent reports available with the Government on tribal and related issues including the reports of Bhuria Committee, Mungekar Committee and of the National Commission of Scheduled Tribes will be made available to HLC," PMO said.
"All existing data (including RGI and NSSO data) and data collected by above mentioned Committees will also be made available to HLC," it added.
The HLC will be located under the aegis of Ministry of Tribal Affairs and will be covered within the definition and explanation of High Level Committees as given in Cabinet Secretariat O.M. No.l/16/1/2000-Cab, dated April 15, 2002.