BHUBANESWAR: The Special Development Councils (SDCs), launched by the State Government in nine districts, aims at preserving identity of even the smallest of the tribal groups of Odisha.Though the State is home to 62 tribes, most of these are not a homogeneous entity as the tribes vary in population, geographical location and are defined by unique cultural identity.
In such a demographic scenario, correct representation of the smaller tribes whose number is sometimes less than even 1000 becomes doubtful in an elected democracy set up. This is where the SDC is likely to play a major role.
“The underlying principle behind the SDC is each tribe, howsoever small, will have representation in these bodies. The councils will work towards preserving their culture identity and give them representation,” said a senior State Government officer.
The funds would be directed towards protection of tribal language and dialects, development of sacred groves and burial sites, promotion of tribal sports, preservation of culture, music and dance.While the State Government has earmarked `175 crore for SDCs, the councils will get complete autonomy in planning their activities. The financial support will be above and beyond the schemes already implemented in these areas under government programmes.
“This is for the first time that such a unique intervention has been made by a government in the country and in keeping with principles laid down in the Constitution which grants cultural and educational rights to every citizen,” said the officer. Even as the initiative will safeguard the multiplicity of culture and identity of every tribal group, it would work towards their preservation for posterity.
Formation of SDC is seen as a path-breaking decision which is consistent with the State Government’s initiatives to preserve uniqueness of tribal identities because most programmes focus on livelihood, infrastructure, health and education.