A Parliamentary Standing Committee has expressed its displeasure at the Central Government’s delay in categorising Denotified and Nomadic Tribes as Dalits, Tribals or Backwards.


About the Denotified Nomadic Tribes

  • DNTs are the tribes which were notified as criminal tribes under Criminal Tribes Act, 1871, by the British colonial government. Under this Act, millions of nomadic and semi-nomadic communities were declared criminals and put under continuous surveillance.
  • After decades of facing horrors of this racial Act, they were denotified by the Government of independent India on August 31, 1952. Every year this day is celebrated as Vimukti Diwas or Liberation Day by DNTs across the country.
  • After denotification in 1952, some of these communities were included in Scheduled Tribe (ST), Scheduled Caste (SC) and Other Backward Caste lists because they come from diverse social backgrounds.
  • The DNTs are a heterogenous group engaged in various occupations such as transport, key-making, salt trading, entertaining — acrobats, dancers, snake charmers, jugglers — and pastoralists.


Difference between Nomadic, Semi-nomadic and DNTs

  • The nomadic tribes maintain constant geographical mobility while semi-nomads are those who are on the move but return to fixed habitations once a year, mainly for occupational reasons.
  • All nomadic tribes are not DNTs, but all DNTs are nomadic tribes.
  • There are nearly 1,500 nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes and 198 denotified tribes, comprising 15 crore Indians, according to the Renke Commission (2008). These tribes remain socially and economically marginalised even now, depriving many of them of basic human rights.


Renke and Idate Commissions

  • The Government constituted these two commissions for DNTs in 2005 and 2015 to identify these communities and prepare state-wise lists of different castes of DNTs.
  • Renke Commission – The Renke Commission, which submitted its report in 2008, highlighted that 50 per cent of DNTs lacked any kind of documents and 98 per cent were landless. The report brought to light various challenges that the communities faced, especially with regard to access to caste certificates, health care and school enrolment.
  • Idate Commission, 2018 – As with the Renke Commission, the report of this commission revealed that nothing changed in a decade — with most DNT communities still deeply impoverished.