Tribals, who until recently were not exposed to the outside world, are now splurging on alcohol and have a craze for mobile phones.
The majority of the Adivasi population have followed the 'more income-more spending' policy, by shelling out an average of `150 to `200 for consuming alcohol per day. Almost every tribal household now has a mobile phone. This was revealed in a survey conducted in 80 hadis by interacting with 2,000 youths in Mysore and Ramangara districts. It was done by DEED (Development through Education, Nisarga and Samrudhi), a NGO.
The survey was funded by the TDH organisation, and was carried out in Hunsur and H D Kote in Mysore district and Ramanagara and Kanakapura taluks. The survey covered the Soliga and Erruliga tribes. The four page questionnaire with 20 questions covers areas like poverty elevation, development of future perspective of Adivasi children and forest rights.
The study was carried out for four years by project managers, 16 field coordinators, teachers and village heads. It evaluated the enforcement of the Tribal Forest Act 2006, exploitative agriculture migration, early childhood care, agriculture practices, income, holding gram sabhas, and the quality of education among other issues, in these tribal hamlets.
The survey has revealed that 25 per cent of tribal youth are into lavish spending and 50 per cent of tribal men spend Rs 150 to Rs 200 on alcohol per day. Tribal women are addicted to chewing tobacco, and few have admitted to consuming alcohol, which has led to higher spending on healthcare.
Ten per cent of households own television sets. Tribal youths have a craze for jeans, mobile phones and shoes. The mortality rate has come down in tribals. But, women who chew tobacco and consume alcohol are finding it difficult to have normal deliveries during pregnancy.
Earned Rs 18.47 crore in Four Years
The tribal families below the poverty line on 4,054 acres forest land and 2,476 acres of revenue land that took up farming to grow food grains, commercial crops and horticulture crops have earned Rs 18.47 crore in four years. This includes collection of minor forest produce worth Rs 7.47 crore, food grains worth Rs 3.74 crore, ginger and cotton worth Rs 1.33 crore and vegetables worth Rs 44 lakh. This has increased the income level in 80 per cent of the families. Around 80 per cent of these tribal families are above the poverty line now.
Rs 1.45 crore for Education
The focus on education has increased among tribals. Around 3,228 tribal students go to government schools and 1,200 children are in pre schools, among the specially privileged tribal groups (primitive tribes) . This has made them utilise Rs 36.75 lakh in scholarships, Rs 1.45 crore towards mid-day meals and Rs 59.47 lakh on books.
Research project coordinator Srikanth said tribals are ready to utilise the provisions of the Forest Rights Act and get other benefits through welfare schemes, but the initiative is pending from the government's side.
He said a detailed survey report will be presented to the government which would stress on the need of land rights, quality education and political reservation for tribals.
The conducting of traditional gram sabhas has made many tribals submit pleas under Form 7, claiming rights over forest land and seeking a certificate from the assistant commissioner. They have also claimed their rights over minor forest produce under the Forest Rights Act 2006. Out of 5,219 applications in Mysore and Ramangara district, only 800 applications were accepted, and the rest were rejected against provisions of the Forest Rights Act.