Tryst with the Tribes
I was a panelist today for Pravir Krishna’s book launch of “Tryst with the Tribes” at the Tribes India lawns by the Union Minister for Tribal Development Shri Arjun Munda. This is a book in which the author, an IAS officer of the 1986 batch of MP cadre, who has done stellar work in the field of ensuring economic sustenance for the tribes as Collector Sarguja, later Collector Bastar and then later as Managing Director TRIFED, has described his journey in the civil service with a special focus on tribal development.
The formal launch was preceded by a vibrant panel discussion in which several former Secretaries GOI and private experts participated in the august presence of the Tribal Union Minister and his two deputy Ministers.
In the panel discussion, I raised the following key issues about better tribal development:
- Funds meant for scheduled tribes often lapse or are diverted to other programs such that they do not directly get the benefit that should accrue to them in a focused manner. In this context, there is need for a Scheduled Tribes Development Fund. This should be a non-lapsable fund such that it is used exclusively for the welfare and development of STs in directly beneficial schemes and programs. We should ensure non-diversion of funds meant for Scheduled Tribes to generic or area-based schemes
- We should recommend effective implementation of the Forest Rights Act. Accordingly, we should ensure its effective implementation. Those rejected cases where formal meetings were not duly held at the Gram Sabha level as per Section 6 of the FRA should be revisited
- Recommend the implementation of model features of PESA Act, especially in the context of Minor Forest Produce and giving powers to Gram Sabhas to collect, dispose of collections of MFP
- Recommend that Land for Land should be a prerequisite of all compensation packages when a scheduled tribe is being displaced from his land, especially in the case of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribes or PVTGs
- The role of the Gram Sabha as defined under the Constitution to be necessarily given full recognition. Wherever it is mentioned that a Gram Sabha should be consulted, it is not enough to undertake a casual involvement of the Gram Sabha, but to necessarily obtain their concurrence to a proposal
This book is an easy read as the author is also a pleasant reconteur. For understanding the less-aspirational world of the tribes of India, this is a must read for all development administrators