1. Indigenous people
2. Indigenous rights
3. Protection under law for Indigenous Group
4. Rights of Indigenous People in India
Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First peoples, First nations, Aboriginal peoples, Native peoples, Indigenous natives, or Autochthonous peoples (these terms are often capitalized when referring to specific indigenous peoples as ethnic groups, nations, and the members of these groups), are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original peoples.
• India is home to about 700 tribal groups with a population of 104 million, as per 2011 census. These indigenous people constitute the second largest tribal population in the world after Africa. As industries encroached upon their lands, many communities were displaced and some continued to wage a struggle to either protect their homes or demand a fair compensation.
• By taking away forest lands for industries and plantation forestry instead of preserving natural species that provide livelihood to these people, the government was depriving them of the basic means of livelihood.
• The battle for Niyamgiri may be won by Odisha’s Dongria Kondhs and the Baiga tribe of Madhya Pradesh may have become the first indigenous people to get habitat rights in India after a century-long struggle, but these developments don’t dwarf the challenge that lies in promotion and protection of indigenous people’s rights.
• Recognising their rights to forest areas and forest management practices is critical to understand their struggle for survival. Loss of forest cover, mining and the expansion of hybrid crops remain direct threats to food security of these people who count on forest resources and wild food. There’s a need for scientific discourse on the impact of climate change on species that grow in the wild and are used by indigenous people living close to forests.
• As legal loopholes, poor enforcement of existing safeguards, bureaucratic apathy and corporate neglect of human rights try to further isolate these indigenous people and muffle their voices, it is time we had a look at the encouraging and disturbing developments that took place over the last few years.
• Battle over oil, coal and forests. As India debates how to allocate natural resources, the north-eastern states face a peculiar challenge: communities want recognition of their ownership over coal, forests and oil, the three “nationalised” resources.
• These tribal communities have traditionally controlled vast tracts of land and its resources, such as forests and coal, through well-established community institutions. They are now eager to exercise their ownership over oil. The Centre has for long protected their autonomy through various Constitutional provisions. The state governments have acknowledged this. But as the value of natural resources touch an all-time high, the governments turn their eyes to the largely untapped region, perhaps the most resource-rich landscape in the country. The hydrocarbon reserves in Nagaland may increase India’s on-shore oil and natural gas production potential by 75 per cent. The coal reserves in Meghalaya are worth 10 times the state’s GDP. In Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, 60 per cent and 30 per cent of forests are with communities . As the Centre tightens its control over oil, coal and forests, states try to wrest control from it by citing special Constitutional provisions and community rights. With industries on board, the states are also exploiting legal loopholes to hoard benefits from these resources. Communities now find themselves in a quandary. While tribal communities in Nagaland and Meghalaya are protesting and approaching courts to protect their rights over oil and coal, those in Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh are struggling to retain control over their forests.
Protection under law for Indigenous Groups
• The Constitution of India seeks to protect tribal interests, especially their autonomy and rights over their land. It provides a comprehensive scheme with directions to protect the indigenous groups from exploitation and to secure their rights over their land. Most of the indigenous groups in India are collectively referred to as Scheduled Tribes and are guaranteed a right to self-determination under the Indian Constitution.
• According to the 2011 census, Scheduled Tribes in India constitute close to 8.6% of India’s population. Many members of the Scheduled Tribes in India are directly dependent on forests for their subsistence. After years of struggle, discrimination and torment, the Government of India codified the primary rights of forest dwelling tribes by way of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act in 2006 (Forest Rights Act).
• The Scheduled Tribes in India have been amongst the most marginalised and deprived population. To protect and conserve the land rights of Scheduled Tribes in India, numerous rights have been vested in them by way of this new law.
Rights of Indigenous People in India:
A various debates took place in Geneva and India that whether Scheduled Tribes of India whether included under the term of Indigenous people or not. A symposium was organised at New Delhi by the The Indian Council of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples (ICITP), which was formed in 1987 and affiliated to the World Council of Indigenous Peoples on the topic who are indigenous people. In the symposium ICITP agrees that Scheduled Tribes of India are part of the term indigenous people. In India, 461 ethnic groups are recognised as Scheduled Tribes and they are India’s indigenous people. It is not defined in the Constitution of India as to which person belong to Scheduled tribes and which are those which belongs to Scheduled Caste but Article 341 and A342 empowers the president to make a list of those caste and tribes after consultation with the governor of the respective state India has several constitutional laws which recognise indigenous people and their rights are as follows:
• Protection of Economic and Political Rights: To protect the economic rights of the indigenous people we have Article 244 which deals with the administration of Scheduled Area and Tribal Area. Article 275 also empowers parliament to make special grants given to the state which undertakes the scheme of development for the purpose of promoting the welfare of Scheduled Tribes. To protect the political rights of the Tribal we have Article 244, A330, A334, A371 and A164 (1). A164 (1) which empowers the state to establish the special ministry for the scheduled tribes in the state like Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. We also have Fifth and Sixth Schedule which ensures proper control and administration of Scheduled Tribes and their areas.
• National Commission for Scheduled Tribe: This commission was formed through Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. It comprises of Vice-Chairperson and three full-time Members (including one female Member). The term of all the Members of the Commission is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The duty of this commission is to inquire into complaints with respect to deprivation of their rights and also to safeguard them. They also monitor all their matter under constitution or any other law. The commission also takes part in advising in the development of ST’s and also to evaluate their development progress.
• Various Acts for their protection: Scheduled Caste’s and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1985 and 1995 is to protect them from any discrimination and from any kinds of torture. The Scheduled Tribe’s Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976 is to protect them from bonded labour and other practices where less money is given to them for their work. We also have Forest Conservation Act, 1980 to protect and conserve the tress as these tribes are dependent on them.
• Supreme Court and High Court case: In the case of M C Valsala vs. State of Kerala a rule was strike down by the Supreme Court The rule states that if any children goes for inter caste marriage and if any of the parent belong to SC or ST category can claim for any reservation benefits but for that they need to show that the person is handicapped and disadvantaged on being born as member of SC/ST family. In the case of State of Madras vs. Champakam Dorirajan a government order was held null and void so as to help the backward classes. Along with this a clause 4 was also added in the Article 15 so that state can make special provision for the advancement of socially and educationally backward classes.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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