CHENNAI: Nearly 70 years after independence, India’s Adivasi’s, or the Scheduled Tribes, continue to be dispossessed and exploited, opines noted historian, Ramachandra Guha.
Delivering the 36th Jayprakash Narayan Memorial Lecture, organised by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, on Wednesday, Guha said that Adivasis, who now constitute roughly 8 per cent of the Indian population have gained less and lost more, during these many years of economic growth and advancement.
“Though Jawaharlal Nehru, while moving the objectives resolution of the Constitution, promised adequate protection for minorities and backward communities, the Scheduled Tribes continue to be the most deprived and denied of all communities. They fail to receive any of the State-sponsored social services,” he said.
While admitting that both the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes are neglected communities and require affirmative action, Guha stressed the condition of the latter is more dire.
He argued that, unlike the Scheduled Castes or the Dalits, the Adivasis remain “invisible in the political process”, as they lack a prominent All-India leader like an Ambedkar, who espoused the cause of Dalits. Further they are constrained by being a minority community in all States, as compared to Dalits who form an important vote-bank in more than 350 Lok Sabha constituencies.
As far as Maoists are concerned, Guha, while admitting they fill space vacated by the State, pointed out “they are not the liberators of tribals. Through efficient police action and sharing fruits of development, the democratic State can fight Maoists. Instead we are promoting vigilantism (namely Salwa Judum) and forcibly take away tribal lands on the pretext of development,” Guha added.