//Tribal literacy rate is far below : Hamid Ansari

Tribal literacy rate is far below : Hamid Ansari

Literacy Map of IndiaNew Delhi, Aug 27 :  Delivering inaugural address at the International Seminar on “Adivasi/ST Communities in India: Development and Change” organized by the Institute for Human Development here today, Indian Vice President M Hamid Ansari said that the literacy rate of the Schedule Tribes (STs) at 47.1 in the 2001 Census is far below the national literacy rate of 64.84. Tribal children suffer from high drop out rates and low female literacy. They also have high infant mortality rates and malnutrition as compared to other population groups.

“If there is any group of Indian people that has been shabbily treated it the ‘adivashis’ (tribals). They have been disgracefully treated, neglected for the last 6,000 years,” Ansari said.

“The reality is unpalatable and the data speaks for itself. Compared to other sections of our society, the tribal population has the lowest Human Development Index. The literacy rate of the STs at 47.1 in the 2001 Census is far below the national literacy rate of 64.84. Tribal children suffer from high drop out rates and low female literacy.

“They also have high infant mortality rates and malnutrition as compared to other population groups. They suffer from geographical and social exclusion, high poverty rates and lack of access to appropriate administrative and judicial mechanisms. Low level of infrastructural endowments and growing gap in infrastructure creation in tribal areas, as compared to the rest of India, has further diminished prospects for progress.

For the 85 million Scheduled Tribes in India, the struggle to retain their identities and seek empowerment through our Constitutional framework has not yielded commensurate outcomes.”

He expressed his concern that STs suffer from geographical and social exclusion, high poverty rates and lack of access to appropriate administrative and judicial mechanisms. Low level of infra-structural endowments and growing gap in infrastructure creation in tribal areas, as compared to the rest of India, has further diminished prospects for progress. For the 85 million Scheduled Tribes in India, the struggle to retain their identities and seek empowerment through our Constitutional framework has not yielded commensurate outcomes.

The Vice President opined that the Forest Rights Act of 2006 represents an important step in attempting to reverse the marginalisation of our tribal people. It gives legislative teeth to the Constitutional provisions for protection and development of Scheduled Tribes, provides them a level playing field and casts tribal rights in a new matrix based on community control and customary access. It acknowledges the immense hardship caused to the Scheduled Tribes due to insecurity of tenurial and access rights and forced relocation due to State development interventions.

“Over 80 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes population works in the primary sector, with 45 per cent of them being cultivators and 37 per cent being agricultural labourers. Land thus represents the most important source of livelihood, emotional attachment and social stability in tribal communities. It is critical for cultivation horticulture, forestry and animal husbandry. The Draft National Tribal Policy testifies to it and notes that “alienation of tribal land is the single most important cause of pauperization of tribals, rendering their vulnerable economic situation more precarious.”

Quick implementation of the provisions of this Act by various State Governments would go a long way in realising the vision of our Founding Fathers and ensuring that economic development and social progress is inclusive.