Skip to main content

Unequal growth, regional imbalance adversely affect Gujarat tribal population

By Rajiv Shah 
The study of tribes is generally a domain of social anthropologists and sociologists. In a rare attempt, a group of social scientists, many of them economists, mainly Gujarat-based, have come together to publish a book on how economic development has affected tribals in the state. 
The new book, “Tribal Development in Western India”, edited by Amita Shah and Jharna Pathak (Routledge, 2014), not only reinforces the existing view that the tribal population of Gujarat, as elsewhere in the country, lags behind its non-tribal counterpart, especially in human development index (HDI), as found reflected in their poor health and educational indices. The book simultaneously suggests that, despite the hype around projects like Van Kalyan Yojna (VKY), announced by the state government to alleviate the Gujarat tribals’ plight during the 11th Five-Year-Plan (2007-12), they remain victims of unequal distribution of basic infrastructural facilities, on one hand, and low wages (leading to their higher levels of poverty), at their place of stay, on the other.
Despite lack of access to latest data, which the 11 social scientists, mainly economists, cite in their papers as the chief constraint for analyzing the situation as of today (a few of the scholars have used 2001 Census of India data, which are 13 years old), they mention how inequalities visi-a-vis other sections of population have bog tribals today, like earlier. Amita Shah and Sujitha OG in their paper, “Poverty and Livelihood among Tribals” point towards how “sustained high level of poverty among tribal communities, despite fast economic growth, has posed the most difficult challenge to contemporary discourse on development in the state… The incidence of poverty among tribal communities is both severe and multidimensional.”
The scholars say, “A quick glance at the official poverty estimates in Gujarat indicates that the state has made major strides towards poverty reduction from about 31 per cent in during 1983 to 17 per cent during 2004-05. However, the tribal communities have been largely bypassed in this process of poverty reduction. As per the latest official estimates, slightly more than one third of the tribal population (34.3 per cent) in rural Gujarat is poor.” The scholars express particular concern over the fact that the incidence of poverty has lately increased – it was 31.1 per cent in 1993-94, went down to 29.1 per cent in 1999-2000, and again increased to 34.3 per cent in 2004-05.
A similar conclusion has been reached in her paper by Indira Hirway (“Employment and Income Generation among the Tribal Population: Some Critical Issues”), where the scholar says that as many as 11 states “have lower incidence of poverty than that of Gujarat.” The latest National Sample Survey (NSS) report, “Household Consumer Expenditure across Socio-Economic Groups” (October 2012) confirms Hirway’s suggestion. The report suggests that monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE) among tribals in rural Gujarat is Rs 879, lower than 12 major states out of 20. Punjab tribals’ MPCE, which suggests spending power of a population, is the highest with Rs 1,512, followed by Haryana Rs 1,401, Himachal Pradesh Rs 1,370, J&K 1,223, Kerala Rs 1,208, Assam Rs 1,032, Andhra Pradesh Rs 999, Tamil Nadu Rs 989, Maharashtra Rs 961 and Karnataka Rs 901. 
The following chart illustrates the exact position:
While none of the social scientists use the latest Census of India 2011 household data or the India Human Development Report 2011, which are in public space for quite some time, Amita Shah and Jharna Pathak in their introductory remarks suggest how recent efforts on the part of the Gujarat government towards tribal amelioration have remained well below expectations. While Gujarat accounts for 15 per cent of tribal population, the state government’s increase in expenditure from six per cent of the budget during the 10th Five Year Plan to nine per cent during the 11th Plan, they say, still lags “behind the stipulated norm.” They add, the rise in expenditure is subject to a caveat – the expenditure is “likely to include all expenses incurred by the line departments in the designated tribal areas. This may not necessarily imply direct spending for the tribal beneficiaries.”
In his preface, written in September 2012, sociologist Ghanshyam Shah points towards how VKY, Gujarat government’s flagship programme for the tribal regions, is “basically a list of activities and schemes selected in an ad-hoc manner.” He adds, “It does not have a sound policy framework that links the resources of the region with development, and the development of the region with the local people. The fact that tribal areas have a specific potential growth in the future has not received enough importance in this general strategy, which mainly focuses on economic growth.” In his view, the VKY, instead of “preserving the improving natural resources in the tribal regions”, seeks to facilitate the “exploitation of the region’s resources by profit-driven corporate sector players.”
Indira Hirway in her paper studies the issue in greater detail, saying, “VKY has not paid adequate attention to the relationship between the tribal population and forests. It has in some ways ignored the fact that under the Scheduled Tribals and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (which began being implemented in 2008), 84,000 tribal households are entitled to get forest land.” Through VKY, while “footloose industries” will have a place in the future growth of the region, the drivers of growth should have been “natural resources of the region.” Hirway criticizes VKY for its “dependence on corporate sector, including MNCs” for skill development. This may help maximize corporate profits, but “at the cost of the tribal economy” and “sustainable growth.”
Hirway also suggests how infrastructure has been oddly distributed in Gujarat. Thus, “the large dams, with their network of canals, serve mainly non-tribal regions”, she says, adding, there is simultaneously no effort to “promote irrigation in the tribal region.” In fact, “as against 32 per cent of area irrigated in the state, 30 per cent of the tribal talukas have less than 5 per cent cultivated area under irrigation and 45 per cent of the talukas have less than 15 per cent area under irrigation.” Only, “three talukas have more than 30 per cent area under irrigation.” This “inadequate irrigation is reflected in the frequency of droughts in the tribal region”, she comments, adding, “It is quite ironical that in spite of the high average annual rainfall (800mm to 2,000mm) in the tribal region, half of the tribal talukas are under the drought prone area programme or desert development programme.”
Lack of water has adversely affected government schemes related with dairy development in the region, suggests Rudra Narayan Mishra (“Dairy Farming for Landless Tribal Households”). Basing on a primary survey in Tapi, Sabarkantha, Surat, Navsari and Valsad, Mishra finds that animal feed and green fodder, coupled with scarcity of water, are the main reasons why tribal farmers get a “low milk yield” from the cattle they own. In Sabarkantha 25.5 per cent tribal farmers cite this as the main reason for low milk yield, in Tapi 34.3 per cent, in Surat 63 per cent, and in Navsari and Valsad a high 77.3 per cent. The scholar comments, “Though the beneficiaries in Surat are mainly from Mandvi taluka, which has a river flowing through the middle and has a dam on it, they still face shortage of fodder because the beneficiaries mostly belong to the Kotwalia tribe, who has no land of their won to grow green fodder.”
Jharna Pathak in her paper, “Agroforestry in Tribal Areas” suggests how scarcity of water has led to “groundwater depletion” in the tribal areas. “The growth rate of areas irrigated by tubewells is particularly high (13 per cent) among tribal areas as compared to a moderate rate of four per cent among the non-tribal areas”, she says, adding, “Within tribal areas, the growth rate of irrigated area, especially through tubewells, is significantly higher than compared to other sources… This suggests that tribal areas, of late, have started catching up with non-tribal areas in terms of exploiting deeper aquifers.” This, she suggests, may be “prompted by compelling conditions of competitive withdrawal of groundwater in the heartland of tribal dominated areas…”

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Anti-poor stand': Even British wouldn't reduce Railways' sleeper and general coaches

By Anandi Pandey, Sandeep Pandey*  Probably even the British, who introduced railways in India, would not have done what the Bhartiya Janata Party government is doing. The number of Sleeper and General class coaches in various trains are surreptitiously and ominously disappearing accompanied by a simultaneous increase in Air Conditioned coaches. In the characteristic style of BJP government there was no discussion or debate on this move by the Indian Railways either in the Parliament or outside of it. 

Why convert growing badminton popularity into an 'inclusive sports opportunity'

By Sudhansu R Das  Over the years badminton has become the second most popular game in the world after soccer.  Today, nearly 220 million people across the world play badminton.  The game has become very popular in urban India after India won medals in various international badminton tournaments.  One will come across a badminton court in every one kilometer radius of Hyderabad.  

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Faith leaders agree: All religious places should display ‘anti-child marriage’ messages

By Jitendra Parmar*  As many as 17 faith leaders, together for an interfaith dialogue on child marriage in New Delhi, unanimously have agreed that no faith allows or endorses child marriage. The faith leaders advocated that all religious places should display information on child marriage.

How embracing diversity enriched my life, brought profound sense of joy

By Mike Ghouse*  If you can shed the bias towards others, you'll love the connections with every human that God or his systems have created. This gives a sense of freedom and brings meaning and joy to life. Embracing and respecting how people dress, eat, and practice their beliefs becomes an enriching experience.

Ayurveda, Sidda, and knowledge: Three-day workshop begins in Pala town

By Rosamma Thomas*  Pala town in Kottayam district of Kerala is about 25 km from the district headquarters. St Thomas College in Pala is currently hosting a three-day workshop on knowledge systems, and gathered together are philosophers, sociologists, medical practitioners in homeopathy and Ayurveda, one of them from Nepal, and a few guests from Europe. The discussions on the first day focused on knowledge systems, power structures, and epistemic diversity. French researcher Jacquiline Descarpentries, who represents a unique cooperative of researchers, some of whom have no formal institutional affiliation, laid the ground, addressing the audience over the Internet.

Banned Maoist party protests in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, claims support across globe

By Harsh Thakor*  Despite being a banned and designated as terrorist organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act since 2009, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) is said to have successfully implemented a one-day bandh across Kolhan division in Jharkhand on July 10th, with repurcussions in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh. The bandh was called to protest against alleged police brutality in the Kolhan-Saranda region.

Hindutva economics? 12% decline in manufacturing enterprises, 22.5% fall in employment

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The messiah of Hindutva politics, Narendra Modi, assumed office as the Prime Minister of India on May 26, 2014. He pledged to transform the Indian economy and deliver a developed nation with prosperous citizens. However, despite Modi's continued tenure as the Prime Minister, his ambitious electoral promises seem increasingly elusive.