Move to change ‘cumbersome’ procedure for inclusion on ST list is put on hold

Source: The post is based on the article “Move to change ‘cumbersome’ procedure for inclusion on ST list is put on hold” published in The Hindu on 23rd November.

What is the News?

The Union government has put on hold a proposal to change the procedure for adding new communities as Scheduled Tribes(STs) which has been in the pipeline for more than eight years. Instead, it will continue with the existing longer procedure.

What is the current procedure for adding communities to the ST list?

Under the current procedure, each proposal for the inclusion of a community as an ST has to originate from the relevant State government and is sent to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, which sends it to the office of the Registrar General of India(RGI). 

Once approved by the office of the RGI, it is sent to the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and only after its approval is sent to the Cabinet.

What are the problems with the current procedure?

The Government of India constituted a Task Force on Scheduling of Tribes in 2014 headed by the then Tribal Affairs Secretary, Hrusikesh Panda. The task said that:

Firstly, the present procedure “defeats the Constitutional agenda for affirmative action and inclusion” and is “cumbersome” and “time-consuming”. 

Secondly, the current procedure is preventing at least 40 communities from being listed as ST. For instance, several tribes pronounced or spelt their community’s name in different ways; some communities were split when new States were created leaving them as ST in one State and not in the other, and some tribes people were forcibly taken as indentured labour to other States where they were left out of the ST list.

What has the government decided now?

The Government of India has decided to put on hold a proposal to change the procedure for adding new communities as Scheduled Tribes(STs). Instead, it will continue with the existing longer procedure.

The government justified its decision by saying that the current procedure was followed for decades and was scientific and most practical. 

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