Path Towards Inclusive Growth
To ensure inclusive development, India should focus on improving the standard of living of nearly 25 thousand tribal communities living in the country, with special emphasis on the North eastern region as it houses a major chunk of India’s tribal population. If India is truly interested in taking the nation forward, then state of the art health facilities, sanitation, education and adequate opportunities for livelihoods should be made available to everyone. Concrete steps must be taken for the welfare of tribal communities without any further delay. India’s tribal population has been victim to urban-centric development. One can only expect that the Centre along with the state governments will take the necessary steps to bridge the present gap existing between mainland India and the tribal populace in rural areas by providing due attention to the neglected lands, it is the need of the hour. The degree of change that the development of tribal lands will bring to the nation can be judged from the triumphs of the North eastern region despite the apathy shown. According to the 2011 census, Mizoram’s tribal population is nearly 94.4 per cent, while Nagaland has 86.5 per cent tribal population. Apart from these two states, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Sikkim have 86.1, 68.8, 40.9 and 33.8 per cent tribal populations respectively. The percentage of tribal populations in the region may further increase if the Meiteis get the Scheduled Tribe status which the community is demanding. Apart from the Meiteis, the Tai Ahom, Matak, Moran, Chutia, Koch Rajbanshi and tea tribes are also demanding the same rights. In such a scenario, the copybook style of development or the traditional concept of development is not applicable to the region; rather a tribal specific developmental approach should be adopted to usher in a new era of change that celebrates and promotes tribal culture.
So identifying tribal areas where adequate development has not been achieved should be our first priority. Secondly, basic facilities such as health, education, communication and connectivity should be established. Thus far, in some areas non governmental agencies have been at the forefront of health and education initiatives with limited government help. The trend should be reversed to expedite the development process. A crucial part of tribal development should include a blanket ban enforced on acquiring tribal land on any pretext. The original inhabitants of the land should be given liberty to decide the best use of the land’s natural wealth for the community’s betterment. Unfortunately, there have been many instances where native tribes have been denied the right to their land and its natural wealth. Livelihoods are one of the most important aspects of human life, and native societies should not have to remain dependent on doles from outside parties. Ensuring the economic stability of tribal communities will not only ensure further economic growth but also resolve situations where there is resentment against apathy towards tribal people. The path to true growth is inclusivity of all of India’s people.