Government constitutes High Level Committee to study status of the Indian tribal communities

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Government has constituted a High Level Committee (HLC) to study, report and prepare a “position paper” on the present socioeconomic, health and educational status of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and suggest measures to improve them. The committee will be headed by Prof. Virginius Xaxa as Chairman and will have 6 members - Ms. Sunila Basant, Dr. Joseph Bara, Dr. Usha Ramanathan , Dr. K.K. Misra and Dr. Abhay Bang. Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs will be the Member Secretary to the committee.

WHY the need for such an committee :  Scheduled Tribes (STs) have been granted special status in the Constitution of India and the government is ordained to continuously work for their overall development through policies, programs and legislative interventions. Therefore HLC has been constituted to create conducive conditions, suggest policy initiatives as well as effective outcome-oriented measures to improve development indicators and strengthen public service delivery to STs and other tribal populations.

  • The committee will function under Ministry of Tribal Affairs
  • mandated to finalise and present its report within 9 months from the date of its notification.

Some Other Government committees on “tribal and related issues” :

  • Bhuria Committee, 1994 (extension of provisions of Part XI of the Constitution to the Scheduled Areas; PESA act)
  • Mungekar Committee, 2012 (Standing Committee on Inter-Sectoral Issues relating to Tribal Development regarding Standards of Administration and Governance in the Scheduled Areas)

Constitutional Provisions for Scheduled Tribes :

  • Article 15(4): state can make special provision for their advancement (can’t be challenged in Courts)
  • Article 19(5) : creates exceptions for tribal areas under “ Fundamental right of free movement and residence (to protect encroachment and their fragile habitat)
  • Article 164 : provides for a separate Tribal Ministry in the states of MP, Chattisgarh,Orissa and Jharkhand (having substantial tribal population)
  • Articles 330, 332 and 334 : pertaining to reservation in legislative bodies
  • Article 335 : claims of SC/ST members shall be considered while making appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or State
  • Article 338 : Special officer (appointed by the President)
    338 A : National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
  • Article 339 (1) : provision for the appointment of a Commission to report on the administration of Scheduled areas and the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes
  • Article 371(A, B, C) : special measures and provisions in the state of Maharashtra and Gujarat (371), Nagaland (371 A), Assam (371 B) and Manipur (371 C)
  • Provisions in the 5th and 6th Schedule to the Constitution
  • Besides these specific provisions there are other Constitutional Provisions which in their liberal interpretation help Tribal’s cause eg. Provisions regarding outlawing Untouchability, Minority rights, human trafficking etc.
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