Development, Displacement and Tribals

    Tribals in India are generally called ‘adivasi’ meaning autochthones or descendants of early inhabitants before arrival of Indo-Aryan people. Many ‘adivasi’ groups have been differently categorized as scheduled castes of primitive type. They share homeland with the tribal people. Similarly many ‘adivasi’ have developed their economy and life style to achieve higher social and political status.

    Indian Constitution encourages socio-economic development of ‘adivasis’ and incorporated many groups in protected schedules. As such people are not aquatinted with literature and law of the land, the clever advanced neighboring people have implemented various safeguard measures regarding land alienation, deprivation and other types of exploitation. Their own elected members of reserved category represent the ‘adivasi’ people in the high democratic bodies. Inspite of all such precautionary measures, we come across exploitation of tribal people in various spheres of life. The most pathetic type is the eviction from homeland.

    The social scientists opine that more powerful advanced people hounded the ‘adivasi’ people out of their homeland in historic past. They once reigned over the Indian plains and being threatened, they took refuge in the hilly forest region, leaving better cultivable land to the mighty races. So long agriculture was main source of national economy, the hilly regions were spared from expansion of technology-based civilization. But modern India now require minerals ores, coal hydro-electricity and irrigation water. The tribals, who do not use them for daily life, inhabit the ore enriched areas. So national policy – makers approved plans to utilize the hidden underground resources of tribal inhabited areas.

    Poor people have no say in running their country. Their elected representatives want to side with development-seekers for luminous future. In this way many tribal habitations have been engulfed by giant industries leading to urbanization. Many tribal leaders could make fortune but the illiterate victims consumed the compensation amount to become land less shanty dwellers in the cities.

    It has been observed that, the government first acquires the tribal land with an approved rate (a very meager amount but alluring to cash-starved adivasi) and sell out (or lease out) to private companies at much higher rate. The evicted people are promised many facilities in future. It is not unusual to find that industries are never built, promised projects never begin, yet the evicted people are not returned their homeland. Residential houses and villages are not mere cluster up huts. The people have their sentiments and emotions associated with their home village. In own villages, they live with supernatural and ancestral sprits. These uprooted people never get emotional satisfaction in resettled colonies with improved arrangement.

    The famous Naxalbari movement in 1967 was a movement by tribals which gave a distinct character to the movement and became a type to be emulated at other places of the country; the activities in such type of movement are called Naxalites. Their growth in number and increased presence have become a matter of grave concern for the government as becomes evident form various media reports.

    In Orissa, there have been quite some protest movements, most of whom are the poor sections of local people, against unjust way of eviction from ancestral land. These are with specific demands. Such movements have caused wanton display of fire power by government causing loss of life. Wrongly the protestors are branded as anti-industrial.

    We are confronted with the question as to whether industrial development for the greater cause be stopped? Many suggestions are forthcoming in respect of the rehabilitation of the tribal loosing their homeland for the purpose of industries. One such suggestion is found to have been made by UNDP which includes prescriptions of full hazard free compensation for land cost, allocations of village sites with approval of the adivasis, allocation of 5% equity share in the company as permanent source of earning and 5% of profit money for local area development. But it is a reality that nothing of the sort is happening. On the contrary, happens, Kalinga Nagar like incidents that occurred on 2nd January 2006 where many lives of twelve tribals and one policeman are lost in the scuffle between the protesting tribals and police.

    The Kalinga Nagar like situation should not occur if government wishes sincerely, then a rethinking should begin on development, displacement and adivasis taken together. The addiction for development should not numb the government to feel the tribal plights.