Skip to main content

Does Gujarat government believe tribals are not Hindus? A recent official order seeks to say exactly this

By Our Representative
If you are a Hindu, you are not a tribal, or vice versa. This is the gist of a recent order, issued by the Gujarat government, which “denotified” the Rathvas as a tribe “ostensibly because their school records show them to be Hindus”. The little-known fact has failed to attract any attention beyond the tribal belt of newly-formed Chhota Udepur district of South Gujarat, says a recent report in a top research journal (click HERE) by Arjun Rathva, a tribal activist, in association with two Central University of Gujarat scholars – Dhananjan Ray and N Rajaram.
The scholars say, “What makes the move ominous is that the Chhota Udepur region inhabited by the Rathvas is mineral-rich and laws that protect adivasi rights come in the way of corporate exploitation of these resources. The order could also set a precedent to threaten adivasis elsewhere who protest against the loot of natural resources in their areas.”
The order, say the scholars, has led to some consternation in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat, where tribals constitute 15% of its population. According to them, “This move is bound not only to hamper the constitutional protection extended to the various adivasi groups across India, but also to pave the way for further displacement and exploitation of natural resources in Chhota Udepur… The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution categorically specifies the role of the state in respect of the scheduled areas and scheduled tribes (STs).” The governors of nine states listed under it “regulate land transfer, allotment and business activities in the scheduled areas”.
These states include Gujarat, and specific talukas of such districts like Valsad, the Dangs, Surat, Bharuch, undivided Panchmahal, undivided Vadodara, and undivided Sabarkantha come under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA) 1996, which empowers adivasis “through gram sabhas to manage natural resources at the village level”, the scholars say.
The order of October 2013, which cancelled the status of 11 government employees who are from the Rathva community, is based a government resolution (GR) of 2010, which says that Rathvas cannot be called tribal because they are registered as Hindus. The Gujarat government also cancelled the jobs offered to 25 persons from the community after due completion of the selection process.
At present, the Rathvas can contest elections to all seats reserved for adivasis ranging from that for sarpanch, to membership of taluka, district panchayats, assembly and Parliament. “It is possible that the order will abolish this right. This order gives the state government further powers to denotify adivasi groups that take part in resistance struggles against corporate loot through undemocratic processes”, the scholars say.
According to the scholars, the state government’s justification for the order is, “the Rathvas categorically stated their religion as Hindu in the school registers. The argument is that the Rathvas cannot be Hindu if they are adivasis. This argument can be extended to other adivasis in Gujarat who declare themselves as Hindu in the school records. By implication, adivasis are not or cannot be Hindu. The official letter further states that the information given in the school records is sufficient proof to declare the Rathvas as non-adivasis.”
The scholars point out, “In Gujarat, as elsewhere, adivasis do describe themselves as Hindus. Moreover, following Independence the state government described the Rathvas as Rathva (Hindu) in its documents and in educational records through schools and this has been an unwritten norm. There is hardly any evidence to suggest that the adivasis asked the state to describe them as Rathva (Hindu). Besides, in the period soon after Independence the adivasis showed a literacy rate of 0.5% thus making it clear that they had hardly any say regarding the nomenclature to describe them.”
Currently, Rathvas form a sizeable group. As per records of 2001 Census, quoted by the scholars, the Rathvas constitute the fifth largest group of STs in Gujarat, comprising 7.2% of the total ST population. “The Gujarat government has gone ahead and taken a decision that will significantly affect the fate of seven lakh adivasis”, the scholars say, adding, “This leads us to arrive at the following conclusions: (a) the state government’s action is not transparent; (b) the sudden denotification without authentic evidence will invariably lead to corporate loot of the mineral-rich Chhota Udepur region.”
“According to one description”, the scholars say, “Chhota Udepur encompasses “a rich forest area of 75,704 hectares, 5.39 lakh tonnes of dolomite, 52,000 tonnes of fluorite, 90.77 lakh tonnes of sand, 4,000 tonnes of granite”. They believed, “The process of denotifying adivasis has begun with the Rathvas but eventually could lead to many other adivasi communities suffering the same fate.”
One of the scholars, Arjun Rathwa, told Counterview that while the Gujarat government has “suspended” the order following opposition to it in the tribal belt, the GR of 2010 on disqualifying the Rathvas remains in force. “Until this is cancelled, it is not possible to say that the state government is serious in its intention”, he said.

Comments

In madhya pradesh also all tribals are put in Hindu category in schools, population surveys and other forms. This should serve as a lesson to tribal cultural organisations to take up this demand seriously of making a column for tribal religion and also spread awareness amongst tribals to insist on not writing the religion as Hindu.
Unknown said…
भारत के सभी मुलनिवासीयोंने इस पर मनन / चिंतन करना अब आवश्क है ।
अगर वे हिंदु,ईसाई,मुस्लीम इ.हो तो मुलनिवासी
नही,और मुलनिवासीहो तो अन्य धर्मावलंबी नही हो सकते ,आपका अपना खुद का मुल धर्म है !
जय सेवा.....!
Anonymous said…
Jago mere adivasi bhaio usse pehle Kim ye log apna nemo Nissan mita de Marta dam tak apne adhikaro ke lie ladna padege mere bhaio

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Did Netaji turn blind eye to Japanese massacre while in Andaman during World War-II?

Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani museum off Chandigarh By Rajiv Shah  Did Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose ignore the massacre carried out by the Japanese army in Andaman and Nicobar islands during the Second World War? It would seem so, if one goes by the account of Mohinder Singh Dhillon, who authored a book in memory of his father, 'A Titan in the Andamans, Dr Diwan Singh Kalepani'. Dr Diwan Singh was tortured to death by the Japanese soldiers in the cellular jail in Andaman in 1944.

A golden goose, GoI bent on selling LIC 'for pittance' without consulting stakeholders

By Thomas Franco*  In spite of strong opposition from all sections of the society, the Finance Minister (FM) recently asked her Ministries to speed up Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Initial Public Offer (IPO). Does she realise that this can lead to collapse of the economy over a period of time because LIC is a golden goose which is giving golden eggs regularly to the economy, development projects and providing social security to the majority of the marginalised people of this country.

Modi's Gujarat 'ignores' India's biggest donor of Azad Hind Fauj, Dhoraji's Habib Sheth

By Dr Hari Desai* One surely feels happy that the statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is being installed near the India Gate in New Delhi. Every Indian and even Netaji’s 79-year-old daughter Prof Anita Bose Pfaff feels happy about the statue at the most important area of the capital. In an interview with an Indian TV, Anita, who is a German citizen, mentions that she thinks if not Netaji’s only Mahatma Gandhi’s statue should have been there. She may be aware that there existed a plan to install life-sized statue of the Father of the Nation at that place.  Even after differences with Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel which led Netaji to leave the Indian National Congress, Bose was the first person to call Mahtma Gandhi Father of the Nation on July 6,1944 in his Ragoon Radio broadcast, and sought Bapu’s blessings as the Supreme Commander of the Indian National Army (INA). Till 1968 there was statue of King George V at India Gate. It was removed and placed in the Coronation Park, New Del

Sweden-backed study: India won't achieve 2030 UN goals, officials can't recognise SDG

By Rajiv Shah  A Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC)-sponsored study, carried out by the advocacy group Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) India, seeking to analyse the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No 12, Responsible Consumption and Production (RCP), has regretted, it is "very unlikely" India will achieve any of the targets of SDG 12 by 2030 "unless some serious measures are taken by the government to reverse the present trend."

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Biodiversity bill 'undermines' tribal rights, ayurveda, India's federal structure

Counterview Desk  Demanding immediate and complete withdrawal of proposed Biodiversity Act Amendment Bill, 2021, a statement issued by the Coalition for Environmental Justice in India, consisting of tens of civil society organisations, activists and experts, has said that it is a “well calibrated and clear attempt to progressively undermine and destroy the sovereign rights and control that the people of India have over their biodiversity, bioresources and associated traditional knowledge.” Floated by the Bangaluru-based Environment Support Group, it adds, the proposed Act would undermine “a right that is particularly crucial for adivasis, Dalits, farmers, fishers, vaids, hakims, nomadic and de-notified tribes, and such other natural resource dependent peoples whose lives, livelihoods and socio-economic wellbeing are intricately linked to nature.” Text : The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has proposed comprehensive amendments to the Biological D

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.

Is it time to celebrate India's 'improved' sex ratio? Reasons to question NFHS data

By Aditi Chaudhary*  The recently published National Family Health Survey (NFHS) factsheet brought cheers amongst the public and the government. With Child Sex ratio (number of females per 1000 males in the age group 0 - 6 years) and overall sex ratio (the total number of females per 1000 males), both showing an improvement, NFHS-5 (2019-21) got applauded by all around.

Blunting Constitution? 'Secular' parties using communalism to compete with BJP

By Prem Singh*  Most spheres of Indian politics have been tainted by communalism. Looking at the current political scene of the country, it seems that just as there is a consensus on neoliberalism among the political and intellectual elite of India, similarly a consensus has been made on communal politics or political communalism.