Patterns of Social Inequality and Exclusion

Patterns of Social Inequality and Exclusion

Question

Who are the Scheduled Tribes?

Answer

The scheduled tribes have been specified by Presidential Orders issued under the provisions of Article 341 and 342 of the Constitution. The Constitution of India does not define the scheduled tribes. They have been specified by the Presidential orders issued in consultation with the governors of the respective states. The development of the scheduled tribes is new being looked after by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs which was created on 13 october, 1999. As per 2001 census, there is 8.43 crores population of STs viz 8.2% of total population of India. The term Scheduled Tribes is defined in Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India as—“Such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be scheduled tribes for the purposes of this Constitution". The procedure for recognition of STs is enshrined in Article 342. The criteria generally adopted for specification of a community as a scheduled tribe are— (a) Primitive Traits (b) Distinctive culture (c) Shyness of contact with public at large (d) Geographical isolation. These are well established in the 1931's census, Kalelkar Committee report of 1955, Lokur Committee of 1965 and in Chanda Committee of 1969 CE.There are 600 tribes as notified under Article 342 of the Constitution of India spread over different states and UTs of the country. It is worth noting that no community has been specified as a schduled tribe in relation to the states of Haryana and Punjab and the UTs of Chandigarh, Delhi and Pondicherry.

The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 of the Constitution identifies the North Kachar Hills, the Karbi-Anglong, the Bodo Land Territorial area districts in Assam, the Khasi Hills, the Jaintia Hills, The Garo Hills districts in Meghalaya, Tripura Tribal Areas district in Tripura and the Chakma, the Mara and the Lai districts in Mizoram as autonomous districts in tribal areas. District councils/regional councils look after administration of these areas. These are elected bodies and have powers of legislation, administration of justice apart from executive, developmental and financial responsibilities.

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