UPSC Notes: Economic Empowerment Of STs (Scheduled Tribes)

Scheduled Tribes (STs) are a group of tribes or tribal communities that are so defined under the Constitution of India. They are a traditionally disadvantaged group and the constitution guarantees them some privileges and benefits so that they can come out of their backward situation. STs make up 8% of the Indian population. They are deemed STs based on certain characteristics such as:

  1. Primitive traits
  2. Geographical isolation
  3. Distinct culture
  4. Shy of contact with outside communities
  5. Economically backward

In this article, we discuss some schemes and provisions under the government of India for economic empowerment of the scheduled tribes.

Central Government schemes for scheduled tribes

The central government has initiated various schemes for the economic, social, educational, health and overall development of the ST communities. Some of the schemes are described below.

Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana

  • Launched in 1999, this scheme covers all aspects of self-employment such as organisation into self-help groups, credit, training, technology, marketing and infrastructure.
  • The primary objective of the scheme is to provide sustainable income to the rural poor. It is envisaged to bring in all rural poor families under some micro-enterprise.
  • The funding is shared between the centre and the states in the ratio 75:25.

Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)

  • Implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development
  • It aims at enhancing livelihood security of families/households by giving a minimum of 100 days of guaranteed wage employment in one financial year to every household whose adult members volunteer to carry out unskilled manual labour.
  • Primary objective of MGNREGA: augmenting wage employment
  • Auxiliary objective of MGNREGA: bettering natural resource management through jobs that address causes of chronic poverty like drought, deforestation and soil erosion and so promote sustainable development.
  • SC and ST households make up 20 percent of MGNREGA participants.

MGNREGA is an immensely powerful scheme for facilitating inclusive growth in rural India. The scheme offers livelihood security, social protection and democratic empowerment.

Coaching scheme for banking/secretarial services

The government provides job-oriented coaching and allied services for banking/secretarial services such as typing, stenography, secretarial work, etc. for OBC, ST and SC students.

Military training for SC/ST/OBCs

Military training is given for boys and girls for 3 weeks in winter and 4 weeks in summer at the Bhonsala Military School in Nasik.

Upgradation of merit of SC/ST

Special coaching is given in residential schools to students belonging to these categories for removing deficiencies and as remedial coaching so as to enable them to appear for competitive exams for entry into professional medical or engineering courses.

Tribal Sub Plan (TSP)

These are tools for the speedy inclusion and socio-economic development of STs. They form a part of the annual plan of a state or UT.

Flow of credit to STs

  • Weightage is to be given to ST and SC communities while planning at the block levels. Credit planning should be done favouring these communities.
  • While deciding on loan proposals of these communities, the banks should treat them with utmost sympathy and consideration.
  • While banks ‘adopt’ villages for intensive lending, care must be taken to ensure that such adopted villages have a substantial population of these communities.

Entrepreneurship Development Programmes

  • Entrepreneurship Development Programmes are being conducted by the Small Industries Service Institutes (SISIs) exclusively for weaker sections of society. People belonging to STs are given motivation and training to equip them to set up small scale industries.
  • The Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) offers consultancy services in managerial, technical, economic and other fields. For SC and ST entrepreneurs, a 50% concession of charges/fees is applicable.
  • The Rural Artisans Programme also conducts promotional schemes and training programmes for rural SC and ST artisans to improve their technology and tools, upgrade skills and knowledge and help them set up trades.

This article discussed some of the prominent economic empowerment schemes run by the Indian government for Scheduled Tribes in India. This is a very relevant topic for UPSC as it comes under social issues, polity, economy, anthropology, sociology, and indeed, is a multidisciplinary subject. It is important to keep reading newspaper articles and editorials on this subject as it can be asked directly or indirectly in the IAS exam. Candidates should also prepare points for the essay paper on this topic, as it is a potential topic. Since there is a plethora of information on this subject, candidates should keep a note of all the points and material they have on this subject neatly classified.

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