The Central government is planning to grant ‘tribal’ status to the Trans-Giri region in Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. The proposal, if it cleared, will bestow Scheduled Tribe status on all the communities living in this designated area.
- According to the 2011 Census, the Scheduled Tribes account for 104 million representing 8.6% of the country’s population.
- The essential characteristics of these communities are — Primitive Traits; Geographical isolation; Distinct culture; Shy of contact with community at large; Economically backwards.
- Government of India set up Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
- As in the case of the Scheduled Castes, the Plan objective of empowering the tribals is being achieved through a three-pronged strategy of — Social empowerment, Economic empowerment & Social justice.
Constitutional provisions for tribals in the country –
- Educational & Cultural safeguards —
- Article 15(4) – Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (it includes STs);
- Article 29 – Protection of Interests of Minorities (it includes STs);
- Article 46 – The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation;
- Article 350A – Instruction in Mother Tongue
- Article 350B – Special officer for linguistic minorities;
- Social safeguards —
- Article 23 – Prohibition of traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar form of forced labour;
- Article 24 – Forbidding Child Labour.
- Economic safeguards —
- Article 244 – Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule;
- Article 275 – Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs&SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.
- Political safeguards —
- Article 330 – Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha;
- Article 332 – Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures;
- Article 334 – 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period.);
- Article 243D – Reservation of seats in Panchayats;
- Article 371 – Special provisions in respect of Maharashtra and Gujarat.
Article 342 of the Constitution –
- Under Article 342(1), the President may with respect to any State/Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities.
- The list of Scheduled Tribes is State/UT specific and a community declared as a Scheduled Tribe in a State need not be so in another State.
- Under Article 342(2), Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community.
About Hatti Community –
- The Hattis is a close-knit community who got their name from their tradition of selling homegrown vegetables, crops, meat and wool etc. at small markets called ‘haat’ in towns.
- The Hatti community, whose men generally don a distinctive white headgear during ceremonies, is cut off from Sirmaur by two rivers called Giri and Tons. Tons divides it from the Jaunsar Bawar region of Uttarakhand.
- Due to topographical disadvantages, the Hattis living in the Kamrau, Sangrah, and Shilliai areas lag behind in education and employment.