Difficult for tribals to be iconic figures in Indian politics, says UoM professo

Professor of Political Science at the University of Mysore (UoM) Muzaffar Assadi, on Friday, said, the tribal people in the country had many challenges to be iconic figures in Indian politics. Today’s politics need strong support of finance, market and political affiliations.

Addressing the gathering at a two-day national seminar, ‘Participation of Scheduled Tribes in Indian Politics: Problems and Prospects’, organised by Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute, here, he said that tribals were deprived of education and their economic status was low.

“The present politics need marketing and economic powers, which tribal people lack. Around 60 per cent of the people are poor and all tribal people come under below 1,500 calories category. Eight-five per cent of natural resources are available in the region, where tribal communities exist. But, in the name of development, the resources and livelihood of tribal people are being taken away.
Between 1941 and 1991, millions of tribals were displaced from their original habitats in the name of development,” Assadi added.

In India, there are nearly 700 categories of tribals with their own culture and tradition and it is not that easy to cover all of them for the development activity.

The Land Acquisition Bill should be withdrawn and reworked. The primitive tribes should be identified and allowed to enter the large corporate market. The Central government has provided seven per cent political reservation for tribal people, but, the State governments have no uniformity in reservation and many States have not provided even one per cent reservation.

Karnataka has provided three per cent reservation while Goa has no political reservation for tribal people, he said. Assadi said, even though there are a few tribal people representatives, they are not able to bring in any transformation even at the Gram Panchayat level due to certain issues.

Karnataka ST Commission has been demanding internal reservation and Scheduled Areas for tribal people. At present, Karnataka has no Scheduled Area for tribal communities, he said.

There are more militant groups in the Northeast compared to Jammu and Kashmir. The tribal people formed groups because they were identified as distinct by other community people. Even they are demanding separate States, the professor added.

Highlighting about the rights of tribes and their beliefs, he said, tribal people rights were not recognised before 2005. God Jagannatha at Puri in Odisha, was the god of tribal people but, the temple has been appropriated by upper caste people, he pointed out.

Nagpur is political centre

The land of tribal people is now the political centre of the country. Mahatma Gandhi Sevagram Ashram is located in Nagpur, it is the place where B R Ambedkar converted to Buddhism and Rasht-riya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) is headquartered, said Assadi.

Goa State SC/ST Commission Chairman Anant Shirvoikar, Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute Director T T Basavanagouda and Karnataka Maharshi Valmiki Schedule Tribe Development Corporation MD K N Gangadhar were present.

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