[Kurukshetra September Summary] Tribal Development Strategies – Explained, pointwise

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Development of tribes of India has remained a central theme in India’s development plans and strategies right since the Independence. However, challenges still exist today for India’s Scheduled Tribes (STs) due to their traditional lifestyles, remoteness of habitations, dispersed population, and frequent displacement. STs constitute 8.6% (10.45 crore) of the total population of India (Census, 2011). Around 92% of the ST population lives in rural areas. While the proportion of the ST population to the total population has marked an increasing trend from 6.9% in 1961 to 8.6% in 2011, the socio-economic progress of ST people vis-à-vis the rest of the population in the country remained skewed on various development parameters. Various provisions have have ben provided in the Constitution to safeguard the interests of tribals. Governments have framed several policies and launched many programmes for Tribal Development, which have yielded mixed results.

Constitutional Safeguards

The creators and founding fathers of the Indian Constitution recognised the special needs of the STs and put in place certain special safeguards, which are enshrined in the Fundamental Rights, DPSP, and other special provisions laid out in the Constitution. These safeguards have been provided to ensure social and economic justice as well as to protect these communities from any other potential exploitation. These provisions lay down the basis of ensuring an equitable tribal development in India.



Provisions in Brief
114Equality before the law or the equal protection of laws.
215Government not to discriminate against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.
315(4)States can make any special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens including STs.
416(4)Reservation of appointments or posts by States.
538State to strive to promote the welfare of its people by securing and protecting a social order.
646State to promote educational and economic interests of all the weaker sections including STs.
7164(1)States with a large proportion of ST population (Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha) shall have a Minister-in-charge of tribal welfare.
8275(1)Grants-in-aid from consolidated funds of India for promoting the welfare of the STs and for raising the level of administration of the scheduled areas.
9330, 332 and 335Reservations of seats for ST in the Lok Sabha, the State legislative assemblies and services.
10340State to appoint a Commission to investigate the conditions of the socially and educationally backward classes.
11342State to specify tribes or tribal communities as STs.
12275(1)Grants from the Consolidated Fund of India each year to be released for promoting the welfare of the STs.
135th SchedulePrescriptions outlined for the administration of Scheduled Areas and the setting up of Tribal Advisory Councils for monitoring and advising the matters relating to welfare of the tribal community and tribal development [Article 244(1)]
146th ScheduleAdministration of Scheduled areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram by designating certain areas as Autonomous Districts and Autonomous Regions and also by constituting District Councils [Article 244(2)],
1573rd and 74th Amendments, Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled ares Act 1996)Major shift towards empowering and enabling the scheduled tribes to look after their own interest and welfare through their own initiative. PESA provides a constitutional, legal and policy framework to ensure sustainable autonomous tribal governance.
Plans and Programmes for Tribal Development

The policy makers and planners accorded utmost priority to the welfare and development of ST from the beginning of the First Five-Year Plan (1951-56). The Plan laid down the principle for suitably designing such programmes that could adequately cater to the needs of all the underprivileged. Special provisions were initiated towards securing effective and intensified developmental drives for the all-round development of STs. At the end of the First Plan, the Government recognised the need for a concrete, integrated developmental planning to improve the socio-economic conditions of STs in the country.

In the Second Plan (1956- 61), the Government grouped development programmes in Scheduled areas under four heads: (a) Communications; (b) Education and culture; (c) Development of tribal economy, and (d) Health, housing and water supply. An emphasis was laid on economic development, with the focus on reducing economic inequalities in society. The development programmes for ST were planned, based on respect and understanding of their culture and traditions and economic problems. In 1961, the Government opened 43 Special Multi-purpose Tribal Blocks, later termed as Tribal Development Blocks (TDBs).

The Third Plan (1961-66) continued the earlier plans and policies for tribal development. The Fourth Plan (1969-74) vowed to realise a rapid rise in the standard of living of the people, ensuring equality and social justice to all. Six pilot projects in Andra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha were set up in 1971-72.

The Fifth Plan (1974-78) launched the Tribal Sub-plan (TSP) envisaging the percolation of direct benefits of development initiatives to the STs. The TSP aimed at the promotion of development activities to raise the level of living standards of STs. It also envisaged the protection of interest of the ST through legal and administrative support. The TSP also stipulated to ensure accountability and transparency, along with the flow of funds from other developmental sectors for ST, which was proportionate to the population.

The Sixth Plan (1980-85) sought to ensure a higher degree of devolution of funds and earmarked poverty alleviation programme for at least 50% of ST families to cross the poverty line. Infrastructural facilities in Scheduled areas were expanded to support tribal development.

Seventh Plan (1985-90), the emphasis was on the economic development of STs by creating two national-level institutions viz. (a) Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation (TRIFED) in 1987 as an apex body for State Tribal Development Cooperative Corporations; (b) National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation, which was later bifurcated into two separate corporations – one for SCs and other for STs. The existing NSTFDC started operating in April 2001. NSTFDC has tried to provide remunerative prices for the forest and agriculture produce of STs, and has made provisions for credit support for employment generation.

The Eighth Plan (1992-97) focused on eliminating the exploitation of ST and paid attention to their special problems of suppression of rights, land alienation, non-payment of minimum wages and restrictions on the right to collect minor forest produce, etc. The Ninth Plan (1997-2002) envisaged the creation of an enabling environment conducive for STs to exercise their rights freely, enjoy their privileges and lead a life at par with the rest of the society.

The Tenth Plan (2002-07) focused on tackling the unresolved issues in tribal development and problems faced by the tribal society on a time-bound basis. The Eleventh (2007-12) and Twelfth Plan (2012-17) consolidated the welfare measures and offered directions to the States to design proper and appropriate developmental activities specifically relevant for the development of STs.

The Annual Plans thereafter through NITI Aayog of Government of India take care of development needs of STs in States. The Aayog, from time-to-time, issues guidelines for implementing Tribal Sub-Plans by Central Ministries/Departments. Central Ministries/ Departments have been mandated by NITI Aayog to earmark funds in the range of 4.3 to 17.5%of their total Scheme allocation every year for tribal development.

Socio-economic Status of STs
Livelihood Development

The erstwhile Planning Commission adopted the Tendulkar Methodology to estimate poverty incidence in India based on the survey results conducted by National Sample Survey Office (NSSO). As per these estimates, ST People living below the poverty line in 2011-12 were 45.3% and 24.1% in the rural and urban areas, respectively.

Proportion of STs under Poverty line Tribal Development UPSC

Source: Kurukshetra 

Unemployment Rate of STs UPSC

Source: Kurukshetra 

Literacy and Education

The literacy rates (Census 2011) of the total population and ST population for all age groups in 2011 were 73.0% and 59.0% respectively . The youth literacy gaps between ST and all categories were recorded at 5.1 percentage points whereas for males and females the gaps were 7.1 and 14.7 percentage points, respectively. Such widening gaps between the literacy rates of the general population and ST indicate that the literacy drives of the Government are yet to benefit all citizens of the country equitably. In the case of STs, the dropout rates show a declining trend for primary, upper-primary.

Literacy Rates of STs Tribal Development

Source: Kurukshetra 

School Dropout Rate of ST Students

Source: Kurukshetra 

Providing education is key to equitable tribal development. To address the issues of literacy and drop-outs from formal education and lower enrolment ratios, ST students have been accorded special incentives through the provision of free textbooks, uniforms, and free education in schools. Residential schools have been built exclusively for the ST students, and the cost of boarding and lodging is borne by the Government. A special focus has also laid on ST students under District Primary Education Programme, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, Mid- day Meals Scheme, and Navodaya Vidyalaya. While the construction of girls’ hostels was started during the Third Plan period, a separate scheme for the construction of hostels for Scheduled Tribe boys was launched in 1989-90. Tribal schools have been established in TSP areas from 1990-91 onwards.

The Government has also been providing quality education to the ST students by utilising a part of funds under Article 275(1) of the Constitution of India for setting up 280 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) in 20 States from Class VI to Class XIl. This initiative was launched during 1997-98 with an objective to enable ST students to avail the facility of reservation in higher and professional education courses as well as in/higher level jobs in the government and various public sector undertakings. This programme was revamped on September 12, 2019.

Entrepreneurship and Skill Development

Under Skill India Mission, the Ministry of Skill Development (MSDE) has been delivering short-term skills through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) Scheme, National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), Stand-up India program, and long-term skills through Craftsman Training Scheme (CTS) and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) to the youth belonging to all section of the society including tribal community.

All of the above tribal development schemes have the mandatory provision of utilisation of funds for tribals through Scheduled Tribes (ST) component. While resources are not an issue, the prime concern is how to encourage the participation of youth, employable ST in various vocations by mapping their needs and aspirations.


Plans and Programmes of the government have continuously facilitated the socio-economic development of ST population. However, the achievement is skewed across States. The poverty gap between ST and all populations living below poverty line shows that ST are more backward economically. Most of the ST who are living under poverty line are landless agricultural labourers having minimal or no access to productive assets.

The Government has identified the problems and designed the ways and means to overcome the problems through various social, economic, and political initiatives. There is a need to popularise a tribal-specific participatory self-governance system where the STs will choose their own destiny by managing their own resources and empowering themselves in the tribal-participative and tribal-managed tribal development process. Extra efforts could be made to enhance skill and knowledge base of the ST youth through the provision of need-based training and skill upgradation. Since a majority of the tribal community is dependent on minor forest produce and low-productive agriculture, efforts need to be made to make them more productive. Cooperation, Coordination, and Convergence are required for the effective implementation of scheme dedicated to the upliftment of STs.

Syllabus: GS II, Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes.

Source: Kurukshetra September 2022

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