Jal Jangal Jamin Jiv.... Adivasitva

Tribal Entrepreneurship - S M Sarkunde, Comm. Tribal Development, Maharashtra

Tribal are existed in varies small ethnic groups since long despite it forms 9 percent population of India. Some are trailing for survival and some  on the verge of extinct.  Their weakness lies in their social exclusion due to geographical seclusion , distinct life style, poor food habits, special dialect, tradition and custom have made them different from the main stream of society. Till yesterday, they were dependent on miner forest produce, fishing, hunting and honey collection for their source of livelihood. To some extent they were engaged in shifting cultivation and used to harvest grain, cereals, pulses etc. Thus, today also they are subjected to  subsistence economy. Their peaceful life style got interrupted by Aryan foreign culture ,advent of foreign invasion, introduction of numerous forest legislation like Indian Forest Act, 1927, The Protection of Wild Life Act, 1972, the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and various land laws. These laws pre and post independent era brought limitation on their way of life,  forced them to leave their place of habitation, given up their traditional livelihood pursuit, mutilated their cultural fabric and thus they came into contact with so called civilized  society by taking recourse to savage deeds.. Their assimilation with main stream society made them not only dependent for their daily bread but also for cultural ethos. The nature lover tribal now compelled to embrace laballed religion like Hinduis, muslim, Buddhism, Christianity etc and  thus they  started to loose their cultural identity. The erstwhile  nature worshiper tribal turned idol worshiper giving up worshiping totem.  The free tribal life style turned into bonded labor in mine, on farm and now a days on construction site. Still their habitation remained in the lap of nature. However, for source of livelihood he became dependent on the land lord, mine mafia, builder, orchard owner etc. His seasonal cultivation for the period of three months of a year forced him to leave his hamlet for  in search of daily bread keeping children and better half behind at home and toiled for months together to bring them up. Some time he moved along with children and wife leaving old parent behind at home completely at nobody's mercy. Thus he strives to keep body and soul together. This has endangered his life style. He felt short of assured nutritious food which he used to get from forest in the form of flesh by hunting, fishing, by collection of wild fruits and vegetables etc , resulted in his malnaurishment followed by death of his children. Still the tribal are subjected by this vicious circle. This resulted in high mortality rate of infant and mother . Tribal's children began to go to school due to introduction of elementary school education by Govt despite he faced inhibition with foreign medium of instruction. His dialect not being recognized as medium of instruction in the school made him handicapped from linguistic point of view. The schooling of the tribal children endangered owing to the seasonal migration of tribal parent for in  search of livelihood. Forceful migration from hamlet made their life wretched and miserable subjected to various vagaries of malady due to lack of basic amenities. Thus his whole life rotated around the source of livelihood into perpetual uncertainty.
       During the post independence era tribal are taken care of by enacting various welfare legislation on the floor of Indian parliament and state legislature pursuant to the provision of Indian constitution. The Govt has now a days went to the extent of carving out independent tribal welfare Dept with allocation of separate budgetary provision with liberty to make expenditure on the desired priority sectors. Still tribal's economy has not gone beyond the hand to mouth level despite various welfare scheme introduced by Govt when the whole nation has been on galloping speed of vibrant economic development with recording of staggering GDP and dreaming of becoming one of the leading world economic powers, demonstrating rupees one lakh twenty five thousand per capita income when tribal region stuck to the abysmal low of rupees forty six thousand and around. Building of road, railway, airport, dock and all such infrastructure, electricity generation has given boost to the industrial production and thus richer become rich. Tribal, all the time remained source of cheap labor to toil in the flourishing industries, high tech agriculture farm, extracting mineral site. The land being the lone assured source of  income  grabbed by land mafia on large scale, rendered tribal impoverished despite land reform laws intervened. Naïve tribal subjected to the atrocities when attempted to resist, discouraged him to lodge police case and denied to record it if attempted to do so. He left the usual place of habitation due to security constraint and thus  tribal diaspora taken place. Tribal in small ethnic group embraced prevalent faith, assimilated within dominant cultural stream and thus lost its own identity.
           The tribal, all the time haunted by threat perception remained soft target for all kinds of exploitation made him cowardice, marginal in thinking, lacked in receptivity, left him devoid of any ambition so that he may not at all flourish in entrepreneurship. Govt boasted for introducing host of welfare schemes but due to lack of receptivity the benefit of schemes are not being reaped by tribal. He is blamed for that without going to the root cause. As to sectoral development, there seems ostentatious impact but individual benefit. Tribal are not properly trained in cooperative  and self help group movement despite the world still relies on and resort to for common development. Therefore, tribal, all the time toiled alone and remained marginal, poor and soft target for exploitation. Bank never spontaneously come forward and encouraged tribal for securing credit for setting up micro, small and medium enterprises despite prevalent Govt policy and ambitious scheme  of credit plan with nine percent constitutional reservation for tribal. The shy tribal never frequented bank for securing loan and latter also never relied on him for repayment and thus declined to advance loan to willing tribal on the excuse of in viable project. This banker's negative attitude pushed tribal into financial exclusion. The so called enterprises started by exemplary tribal are generally  gone failure  for want of forward- backward linkages, necessary hand holding, incentives, reservation expected to be given by state given the MSSIDC, MIDC industrial policy, textile policy etc. Thus, the tribal are always deprived of his legitimate loaf of bread when he witnessed the all round prosperity of others around him. He, with loss of hope turns pessimist. His economic weakness make him politically unaware, pragmatically gullible and thus vulnerable to the worst of the worse situation.
       As to the banking and credit policy, the tribal are treated as untouchable. Till date , all tribal are not with opened bank accounts despite there is clarion call for financial inclusion.  No bank finance barring few to the extent of crop loan is accessible to him, resulted in to approach private money lender, drowned him deep in the indebtedness. The bankers in the concerned Dist are supposed to advance loan as per annual credit plan prepared by Dist collector with assistance of lead banker of the Dist concerned and accordingly agriculture, non agriculture and industrial sectors are to be financed with ensuring SC/ST
reservation but it is not followed and naïve tribal representative never questioned this negative attitude of banker and district executive left bad impact on the economic development of the tribal. Thus tribal are deprived of accrual benefit of various policies say, industrial , textile , cluster development scheme of MSME and host of such policies.
       There are humongous of welfare schemes meant to benefit the tribal from state and central Govt. However, for want of proper convergence the grant of targeted benefit does not leave desirable impact. For example, the beneficiary of land allottee is not considered for grant of irrigation well, electric motor pump,  irrigation pipe as a cluster but distributed in isolation. The tribal being small and marginal land holder benefited by one of the schemes in cluster is not in a position to supplement on his own and ultimately it results in total failure gives him impetus to dispose off the scheme proceeds and state is blamed for that.
       As to start up of any production, process or marketing activity, tribal are blamed as  incompatible, lacking in enterprise, resoluteness and desired skill, instead of giving full hearted support, hand holding, encouragement, reservation, linkages backward and forward etc. Under such circumstance, missing linkages and not tribal is responsible for going failure of any enterprises he ventured. The tribal, going desperate, give up the ventured project, go bankrupt and completely gets trapped into the snare of indebtedness.
       Constitutional provision of  reservation in employment and politics has mesmerized the tribal during these post independent days. Neo elite tribal
taken plunge  into the politics, represented in the parliament and state legislature and general  tribal masses accepted it as ideal way of life, ignoring the availability of meager opportunities, just impossibility for many. Reservation in employment mobilized him to get educated, to some extent secured employment in the lower rung position, ignoring minimal opportunities there, engaged in war of attrition for non inclusion of psudo tribal in the schedule list pragmatically intended to do so by shrewd elements with skewed mind, compromising with vested interest against constitutional scheme of reservation for real tribal groups. The tribal are deliberately streamlined to think so and thus major segment of indian population is kept aloof from main stream active participation is loss to the nation.
       Tribal are  closely associated with  forest and land  and so engaged now a days with agricultural activities. Therefore, they needs to be trained in this sector only on priority basis so as to leave the remarkable impact. Poor farming pursued by them is quite amenable to be improved keeping abreast with hi tech agriculture practices with introduction of playhouse, shed net for high protein vegetable, floriculture. With rendering financial assistance and forward backward linkages wherever necessary.   Accordingly, he is need of necessary exposure with arrangement of some visit domestic and foreign. So it should have been done with high yielding variety grain, pulses and cereals, oil seeds etc. Forest Right Act, 2006 enacted by Indian parliament with a view to undo historical injustice made with tribal has opened new vista before tribal to appropriate the benefit of miner forest produce. Based on this, the new avenues of host of opportunities are quite visible given the post recognition forest right hand holding. Forest is treasure trove of naturally grown medicinal  properties naturally sprouted,grown silvicultured and clandestinely passed by market baron and traders on collection through tribal for sneaking into international market is loss to Govt revenue in addition to the real loss of tribal capable of making him owner. Intervention by making tribal empowerment, giving sufficient hand holding, formulating conducive policy is a must to appropriate the benefit of miner forest produce. Same is the case with bamboo,tendu leaves, mahua flower, gum etc.
       The next priority sector close to the tribal is animal husbandry, poultry, diary, fishery, sericulture and other such allied agriculture pursuits. This has tremendous scope in the rampant mushrooming urbanization growth. Traditionally, tribal is closely associated with these activities. He could be conveniently molded,  provided he receives necessary hand holding to rise up from the traditional to high tech pursuit. Tribal, now a days are victim of       malnaurishment.  It could be wiped out given that line Depts of the state work on mission mode and with full dedication giving fillip into the existing developed fissure in the system, engagement of capable consultant for empowerment until end product comes out.
       Textile is the next sector which could be identified and correlated with tribal's fortune making. Tribal may be engaged in right from ginning to garment making industries since the cotton is produced in tribal belt. Why national textile ministry schemes and programs, state textile policy is not proving magnet for attracting tribal towards this sector is thing of worry, may be due to policy fissure existing therein, needs necessary fillip. Cooperative and self help group movement has not been imbibed on tribal when whole world has immense faith.
       All the time tribal has recorded encouraging fifty percent  worker's participation, seems to have engaged in nation building, but, in the context of menial, cheap labor only, needs to be done justice by making various policy interventions taking his shyness into consideration. Otherwise, one day the simmering unrest  amongst tribal is likely to  burst , at no cost should happen to keep this nation integrated with rock like solidarity.

                       S M Sarkunde
       Commissioner Tribal Development
                Maharshtra State, Nashik

Find us on Facebook