1st Five Year Plan
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Introduction || APPENDIX (CH-4) || APPENDIX (CH-9) || ANNEXURE (CH-12) || APPENDIX (CH-14) || APPENDIX (CH-24) || APPENDIX (CH-29) || Conclusion
1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 || 6 || 7 || 8 || 9 || 10 || 11 || 12 || 13 || 14 || 15 || 16 || 17 || 18 || 19 || 20 || 21 || 22 || 23 || 24 || 25 || 26 || 27 || 28 || 29 || 30 || 31 || 32 || 33 || 34 || 35 || 36 || 37 || 38 || 39

Chapter 37:


The evolution of the social structure during centuries of feudalism in regions which were not then developed by communications led to the existence of large communities which suffered handicaps and disabilities imposed by other economically and culturally dominant groups. The chief amongst the underprivileged or specially handicapped groups are the Harijans, i.e., the scheduled castes, the tribal population, groups which were hitherto known as criminal tribes, and other groups who can be considered to constitute the weaker section of the population and who are socially, economically, and educationally backward.

2. The term ' backward class ' is difficult to define. Backwardness is expressed in lack of adequate opportunity for group and individual self-development, especially in economic life and in matters of health, housing and education. It is measured in terms of low levels of income, the extent of illiteracy, and the low standard of life demonstrated by living conditions.

3. The present population of the 779 scheduled castes in India is 498-37 lakhs*. This figure does not include backward groups which are not mentioned in the schedule. Such groups are known as " other backward classes " and their population, according to the Ministry of Education Scholarship Board, was 546 lakhs in 1951. Article 340 of the Constitution has empowered the President to appoint a Commission to determine the conditions of backward groups not included in the schedule of castes who could be considered to be socially, economically and educationally backward. This Commission, known as the Backward Class Commission, will shortly be appointed, and one of its functions wiH be to prepare a schedule of other backward classes for the approval of the President.

4. The country has now passed the stage of discussing the problem of the origin or sanctity of the institution of untouchability. That the stigma of untouchability should be totally and unreservedly eradicated has now been accepted by the whole country. According to Article 17 of Part III of the Constitution " untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden ". But untouchability, being an age-old institution, has taken roots in the. psychology and social structure of certain communities. Its eradication is incomplete so long as it receives a mental recognition and persists indirectly in some form in the social structure. A fourfold programme is, therefore, necessary, viz., (i) removal of untouchability by law; (2) removal by persuasive and educative processes through social education ; (3) the practice of democratic behaviour in social and recreational life ; and (4) opportunities afforded by the State and private agencies for self-development and expression and for the betterment of health, education, economic life, and living conditions. Improved living conditions, education, and participation in a society with extensive economic interdependence and facilities for communication, movement, and contact, will in due course of time lead to a total integration of these groups with the rest of the country.

5. Welfare services for scheduled castes are included in the special programme for the welfare of the backward classes. Education is the most urgent need of these communities, and extensive measures for increasing educational facilities have been taken by the State. In some of the Part A and B States these concess^ns extend right up to the university stage. Emphasis is placed in almost all cases on vocational or technical training. The concessions usually take the form of free tuition, stipends, scholarships, provision of books, stationery and other equipment. In certain cases the aid extends to clothing and mid-day meals. The opening of primary schools in areas where scheduled castes live in large numbers and the running of hostels for their benefit in district towns and educational centres are the other two usual activities. For vocational training there are peripatetic parties of instructors in Bombay and West Bengal and also the established technical and vocational training centres of the Bakshi-ke-Talab in Uttar Pradesh. The trainees, who are almost always stipend holders, also receive loans and subsidies to enable them to settle down in their respective trades. A total amount of about Rs. 3 crores has been pro vided'in'the'Five Year Plans of the State Governments for the education of the 'backward classes'.

6. For those residing in rural areas there is a provision for the allotment of waste land. This is usually accompanied by the grant of a taccavi loan for the purchase of agricultural implements and bullocks.

7. A certain percentage of Government positions are reserved for all scheduled caste candidates, and in almost all these cases the standards of age, qualifications or experience are also relaxed. A minimum number of vacancies are reserved for them ; there is, however, no bar to their recruitment and employment in larger numbers.

8. The State Governments have provided a sum of Rs. 10 crores for the benefit of scheduled castes during the period of the Plan. The Central Government have also provided a further sum of Rs. 4 crores for expenditure during the remaining period of the Plan. The general aim is to follow intensive programmes rather than to dissipate the limited resources on loosely conducted activities over a wide area. Provision is made for the more liberal disbursement of money under^different heads to institutions working in this field, and an effort is being made to improve efficiency by channelling expenditure through effective and well-supervised organisations. Since most of the Harijans live in isolated colonies, they offer good scope for the organisation of community centres. Measures for achieving the welfare of the scheduled castes are circumscribed by the amount of available resources. The pace of improvement is, however, being accelerated, and still more progress is expected as larger resources are devoted to this work.

'9. The chief voluntary agency for the welfare of Harijans is the Harijan Sevak Sangh It has 35 State branches and 325 district committees. Its activities are directed towards the all-sided welfare of Harijan communities.


10. The tribal population in India is accepted to be the oldest population of the land. The communities have lived for centuries in the forest and hilly regions, and at present they are found in a wide central belt beginning with the Aravalli Hills in the West and extending into parts of Bombay State, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal and Assam. There are tribes in the north in the southern ranges of the Himalayas, and also in the south in the western Ghats and eastern Ghats and in the Vindhya and Satpura mountains.

11. The schedule of the tribes entitled to the special rights conferred on scheduled tribe's by the Constitution was issued by the President in March 1950. The population of the 245 tribes included in this schedule was in 1950 178-75 lakhs, which is 7-8 per cent of the entire population*.

12. Heretofore the problems of the tribal people have been approached from different angles according to the interests of the persons dealing with them. Amongst these have been anthropologists, administrators, missionaries, social workers and politicians. There developed one school of thought which held that the tribal population should be permitted to live in isolation from other more organised groups, without even the interference of the political administration. There may be a good deal of justification for such a policy of non-interference; but it is not easily practicable when tribal life has been influenced by social forces from without, and tribal communities have reached a certain degree of acculturisation accompanied by the penetration of communications into the tribal areas and of social services for the betterment of their lives.

13. The conditions are now generally such that there has to be a positive policy of assisting the tribal people to develop their natural resources and to evolve a productive economic life wherein they will enjoy the fruits of their labour and will not be exploited by more organised economic forces from outside. So far as their religious and social life is concerned, it is not desirable to bring about changes except at the initiative of the tribal people themselves and with their willing consent. It is accepted that there are many healthy features of tribal life, which should be not only retained but developed. The qualities of their dialects, and the rich content of their arts and crafts also need to be appreciated and preserved.

14. Article 275 of the Constitution requires that a special financial grant should be provided for programmes for the social and economic welfare of the tribal population living in scheduled areas. Under this Article the Central Government have made a provision of Rs. 12 crores for the period of the Plan, but detailed schemes have not yet been fully worked out. The various States have provided another Rs. n crores for the development of tribal areas. Their programmes include schemes for the building of roads, the improvement of water supply, the provision of irrigation, the development of agriculture, animal husbandry and cottage industries, and for increased educational and medical facilities.

15. The North East Frontier Agency is populated by a large section of the tribal population and their economic and cultural development has to be brought in line with the progress made in the rest of the country. A sum of Rs. 3 crores has been provided for the physical, economic and social development of this area and its tribal inhabitants and a Five Year Plan has been drawn up.


16. Communications—The problems of different tribes may vary in different regions ;but priority has to be given to the maximum development of their economic life. Most of the tribal areas have been neglected so far as roads and communications are concerned. The importance of communications has now been recognised and a sum of over Rs. 2 crores is provided in the State Plans for developing the roads in the tribal areas. This amount is separate from the road grants available from the Central and the State Governments. Great care has to be taken however to see that communications are not prematurely developed so as to permit economic exploitation by outside and more advanced communities.

17. Water supply—Tribal areas are mostly hilly and rocky and, therefore, there is a considerable shortage of water. In areas which are covered by thick jungles, the water becomes at times unfit for drinking and for cultivation owing to the accumulation of decayed leaves. Special efforts are therefore being directed towards the construction of wells and the improvement of irrigation facilities.

18. Forest economy—Tribal economy in the past was able to develop or exploit the physical region without control or hindrance. Later on, there was in many parts of the country an intensive and yet unsystematic exploitation of the physical region inhabited by the tribes, with very little consideration for their economic welfare. It is desirable that tribal communities should be made the primary agents for the care and development of the forests and the exploitation of forest resources. Forest schools should be started 10 bring the young tribals up to love, care for, and work systematically for the enrichment of the forests which will mean in turn the betterment of their own lives.

19. Agriculture—The nature of agricultural development in tribal regions will vary according to the prevailing agricultural practices, the type of soil, and the forces that promote agricultural initiative. Though adequate facts and statistics are not available, land in the tribal areas consists generally of poor, rocky and barren soils on which in most cases only coarse cereals, pulses and roots are cultivated. The problem of land ownership has become increasingly difficult during the last few decades. Many tribal groups became landowning communities, but in times of famine and economic difficulty, their lands passed to absentee landlords. The problem of land restoration and distribution is linked up with the larger problem of land reform affecting all agriculturists, but the tribal population could be induced and assisted to move to large uncultivated areas which are suited to their modes of living.

20. The tribal communities in hilly regions have long been accustomed to the system of shifting cultivation. Though in parts of the ountry they have already adopted more settled methods of agriculture and have taken to terrace cultivation using the normal village implements, there are areas where the system of shifting cultivation still prevails. The introduction of improved methods of agriculture has to be attempted after a study of local conditions and with due regard for the level of understanding of the tribal communities concerned.

21. People in the tribal areas are illiterate, but in spite of this and the many other difficulties in the way of the co-operative movement, a large number of co-operatives worked by social workers on behalf of the tribals have come into existence in several States. Co-operative activities should be developed in a planned manner throughout the tribal areas so that their benefits may not only be reaped by the cultivator but also by other sections of the people. Various States have created new organisations to help the agriculturists in the tribal areas. The Grain Banks or Beej Kosh in Bombay, the Grain Golas in Bihar and other States help the people with seeds and with the storage of crops so as to build up food resources, and also give guidance for the improvement of agriculture.

22. The community development projects will now be able to accelerate the speed of agricultural development in the tribal areas. The following areas which have been selected for community development include tribal communities :

Assam {Cachar District) . . • . . One development block. (Darrang District) ..... One development block. {Tribal Areas in Assam) . . . • Two development blocks. Bihar {Santal Pargana District) .... One development block. Orissa {Kala Handi District) .... One development block. Madhya Pradesh (Bastar District) . . . One development block. Tripura (Nutan Haveli) . . . One development block.

23. Arts and Crafts—Tribal communities are invariably accustomed to more than one type of economic activity. Their free life, initiative, dexterity and desire for basic goods for domestic, religious and social life lead them to exploit the resources of their environment, and thus they are the creators of a large number of interesting crafts, which are practised not so much to supplement their income as to supply them with some of the necessities of life. They are not, however, yet fully conscious of the richness of their environments and they require to be helped to exploit commercially the clay, stone, animal, bird, insect and plant life of the forests, using their skills in organised co-operatives and exporting their products to the markets of the land.

24. The physical environment stimulates arts and skills which are peculiar to the culture of each tribal community. Their principal form of artistic expression is dancing which has become the inspiration of professional dancers in rural and urban areas. The cultural life of the tribes should not be interfered with ; on the contrary they should be given encouragement and opportunity to develop their tribal cultures.

25. Health and hygiene—The deficiency of health services in the rural areas is well known, and the tribal areas, which are lacking in communications and where the population is scattered over vast distances, have hardly been provided with any medical assistance up till now. Some of the diseases prevalent in tribal areas are malaria, yaws, scabies, venereal diseases, small-pox, leprosy, tuberculosis, trachoma, glaucoma, and elephantiasis. Unhygienic conditions, malnutrition, bad water, lack of protection against the climate, and in some cases harmful social customs and practices are among the causes of the widespread prevalence of disease.

26. Throughout most of the tribal areas the belief in possession' and in the demoniacal causation of disease still prevails. But a patient programme of health education, with the assistance of mobile dispensaries, and the gradual introduction of regular medical services will introduce to the people the advantages of scientific methods in dealing with problems of health and disease.

27. There is a need for comprehensive health surveys in selected areas covering diet, beliefs and health practices, the etiology, prognosis and incidence of various diseases, and herbal medicines and other tribal ways of healing. -It may be advantageous to develop such of the medicines and healing practices as are found to have some scientific basis or therapeutic value.

28. Education—Article 46 of the Constitution requires that special attention should be given to the education of the children of scheduled tribes. It will, however, have to be conceded that the usual formal system of education is not likely to prove suitable to the tribal communities. It is desirable that the Commissioner of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the Department of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in the various States should deal with the problem of the education of tribal children for some time before the Departments of Education take over the management of institutions in tribal areas. Students in tribal areas will receive a primary-cww-basic education for eight years and basic education will receive the main attention of the Department of Scheduled Castes and Tribes during the next five years. The programme of basic schools will have to be adjusted to the needs of forest, pastoral and agricultural communities of a very simple type.

29. The problem of which language should be the medium of instruction in tribal areas has already received consideration not only in the Planning Commission, but by the various agencies which are working for tribal welfare. It is generally accepted that the medium of instruction in the basic schools should be the mother tongue of the child. The regional language will be introduced at the beginning of the upper primary level, and this will be the State language.

30. State programmes of tribal education include the creation of residential education ashrams, vocational and technical training schools, and hostels for tribal students.

31. Leadership and personnel—It is desirable that there should be provision for special courses on tribal welfare, including field work experience, in the training institute of the Indian Administrative Service, as well as in such schools of social work as can afford it. There is also a need to train community organisers and other types of social workers from amongst the educated youth of the tribal communities.


32. The criminal tribes are made up of a few pastoral communities which could not adjust themselves to the economy of settled life , small sections of forest tribes which broke away from larger tribes because they could not adjust themselves to economies resulting from the forest and land policies of successive governments; and certain groups which were tempera-mentally and psychologically unable to adjust themselves to a law-and-order society and found it profitable to take advantage of concentrated properties in settled economies rather than to earn their livelihood by productive labour.

33. These nomadic communities preferred to continue their nomadic habits in urban areas where they would not find themselves bound by the need of working on land or by the laws governing the possession of land. Many of them developed peculiar concepts of property and practiced anti-social activities. But not all the persons in these communities were criminal and unwilling to adopt normal vocations and occupations. Many members of these communities have shown an inclination to become small traders and shopkeepers, and they possess skills which can be used to develop various crafts. With some persuasion they can, if given aid, become agriculturists.

34. On the whole most of these communities have now settled down and only small sections of them follow their old predatory habits. There may be some groups who sometimes take to anti-social activities due to economic conditions or the opportunities offered by their environment. Certain groups still prefer to move from place to place, improvising shelter and finding ways of living without having to settle down in any particular area. The last estimate of persons belonging to criminal tribes gave their number as 2,268,348 and there were 198 tribes enumerated as "criminal".

35. The Indian Constitution has accepted the principle that no man can be considered guilty unless he is proved to be so in a court of law. Accordingly the Criminal Tribes Acts have been repealed and with effect from 30th August 1952 have ceased to be in force in any of the States. With the repeal of these Acts the problem of the criminal tribes has to be dealt with according to new programmes and policies. The original objective was to safeguard the interest of the larger society, and -this was done without much consideration for basic principles of jurisprudence. Even if criminality was a fact, adequate efforts were not made to rehabilitate the individual and the group and to adjust the community economically to the environment. The new policy will be to treat all such communities as backward classes. Special efforts will be made by the States to rehabilitate the communities economically. Individual acts of criminality will be dealt with according to the ordinary law.

36. There are two major solutions to the problem of such groups. The first is to achieve their economic rehabilitation ; and the second is to apply to the children of these communities a well thought out scheme of education which will gradually wean them from their present practices. The members of these communities possess vitality, energy, resourcefulness and skill. Rather than paying attention to their known evil habits and weaknesses, it should be possible to concentrate on the positive qualities disposing them to engage themselves in creative activities in which there is the element of adventure, romance and achievement. It has been difficult to find economic opportunities for them outside the ordinary spheres of agriculture and handicrafts, but certain selected crafts have been found capable of engaging their interest and skill. The experiment should be made of settling these communities in new areas which need to be developed, and where they will be put under leadership which is able to understand their temperament and problems. A suitable method of dealing with criminal tribes settlements, wherever they exist, would be to convert them into Community Centres under a trained Community Director.

37. It is likely that some members of groups previously styled criminal tribes may still prove to be uncontrollable and be responsible for anti-social acts. In such circumstances the Probation of Habitual Offenders Act should be applied to them in selected areas. Under its provisions it should be possible to intern them within their homes and to release them on licence after a defined period not exceeding three years or help them to settle peacefully in an area and occupations suitable to them.

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