De-Notified Tribes in India


IMG_20120301_091048A few days back, we had a meeting to discuss about the Educational Status of De-Notified Tribes in India. Actually the survey was conducted in 6 states (Delhi, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal) of India. That is the first time I heard about DNTs.. I’ve heard of nomads but then not in detail or the real facts.. 

– De-Notified Tribes History

The Nomadic and De-notified tribes constitute about a few million all over India. There were around 191 de-notified communities in which only 164 communities were listed. 100 years back when the colonial government decided to categorize nomads, traders, disbanded groups and other settled group, there a different perspective of taxation was introduced. So far, the people were paying taxation based on the production and now it was changed to area of land. Those who own a land should be paying tax as per the area and amount fixed by the government. Only that time, those who don’t land and nomads became suspects in the eyes of government. Since they were not paying any tax they were seen as criminals by the government.

In 1871, an act was passed, in which all these people were labeled as criminals by birth – “Criminal Tribes Act 1871”. Though these criminal tribes were properly de-notified in 1952 after India’s Independence, they were classified as “Habitual Offenders” in 1959. But still the disgrace calling them as criminals still follows. 

– De-notified tribes status 

They have no address, no landholdings, no citizenship documents – in fact, no identity proof of the usual sort available to other citizens. Their children remain out of school and the women struggle for dignity. We can find that the high school droprate is among them (80%) due to their nomadic nature even the enrollment is minimal. Children were forced in to their family’s profession like preparing country made liquor, snake charming, monkey training, roof thatching or acrobating or religious performing etc., 

One main issue faced by this community is that the continuing stigma of criminality attached to them, which has made them vulnerable to frequent police harassments merely on the grounds of suspicion. 

They contribute in a major way for our country’s GDP with their livestock/ agri but government often attempts to marginalize them and never gives them their basic rights. 

Their livelihoods are seriously threatened and many of them fall prey to child labour and trafficking..

Another issue faced by this community is Identity.. Since they had no permanent address or land, they can be seen dwelling in temporary shelters or tents on vacant lands. With no proof of residence or property ownership certificates, they were not in a position to avail ration cards and had not been included in the BPL (below the poverty line) list and any other government schemes. 

There are hardly any protection for the girls/ women of these communities. We have all the measures to protect our property, goods, all non living assets, but no relevance to the dignity of these women. The basic human rights were always/ frequently violated with these community people and they were still suspected for the crimes.

It is really easy to point the statistics and status of the community but in reality the factors that are pushing them to be in this state should be eradicated..

They should get back their voices and struggles which have been excluded and marginalized in this era of globalization…

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