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Wednesday 24 March 2010

Problems of Indian Tribes and measures from Government of India

Problems of Indian Tribes and measures from the Government of India

Over the last 20 – 25 years, the international tribal community has been incessantly trying to draw the attention of the world’s leading power blocks to save them from perennial miseries. Currently there are about 300 million indigenous people in 70 countries (Beteille 1998). They have come together to seek help from the UN to put an end to their poverty as well as to social discrimination against them. In response, the UN has taken some decisive steps. Among these is a series of programmes under the ‘Declairation of the International Decade of World’s Indigenous People’, aimed at strengthening international cooperation on redressal of crises in the areas of humanrights, environment, development, education and health. The World Health organisation (WHO) has emphasised that indigenous people have higher rates of infant mortality, lower life expectancy and more cases of chronic illness than the non-indigenous populations in their home countries. It is argued that the indigenous people are among the poorest of the poor. They suffer from extreme discrimination and lead a life of misery and destitution. The development discourse, therefore, needs to concentrate on finding an effective strategy to mitigate these crises.

Following is a presentation of some major problems which present day tribal people faces. It should be remembered that problems which Indian tribes face can be sectorally divided as Problems of Poverty, Health Problems and social problems like lack of education, however, it is more pertinent to look at each categories in to greater details by carefully taking into account the nuances of a problem.

Problems with land alienation

Land as a prime resource has been a source of problem in tribal life because of two related reasons, first, Dependency, i.e. tribal dependency on land and second, improper planning from government agencies.

Tribal people in India can be classified on the basis of their economic pursuits in the following way:

1. Foragers

2. Pastoral

3. handicraft makers

4. Agriculturists

5. Shifting hill cultivators

6. labourers

7. Business pursuits

All of these occupations involve direct or indirect dependency on land.

Land rights and alienation:

Land rights and changes in rules go unnoticed. Tribal are unaware or are made unaware about the rules which governs India’s land rights.

  • The Tribals do not have access to land records, not even the Record of Rights. This lends them to a higher probability of getting exploited, by the non-tribals and in some cases by the local officials. Wherever lands are given yet the pattas are not given, or pattas handed over yet the land is not shown.
  • There is a discrepancy in demarcation of Scheduled Areas. In some places it is village wise and in some places it is area wise. There should be a clear village-wise demarcation of the Scheduled Area to avoid ambiguities and exploitation of tribal lands.
  • There are many tribal villages with populations more than 50 percent and contiguous to the existing scheduled areas. Yet they are not declared as scheduled areas. In West Godavari district in the K. R. Puram ITDA area provides striking example for such ambiguities.
  • Some of the tribal villages surrounding the Scheduled Areas are administratively called the Tribal Sub-Plan Areas, where land alienation is high and has numerous pending cases. Land restoration and issuing title deeds to tribals as per Land Transfer Regulation (LTR) Act should be implemented immediately in all these areas. This issue has to be immediately addressed, since only land situated in those villages that fall within the Scheduled Areas enjoy the protection under the LTR Act 1/70 in Andhra Pradesh.
  • When taluks were divided into mandals in AP in 1986, some of the scheduled villages got included in the plain area mandals. Land alienation is very serious problem in these areas and the administration is not implementing the LTR Act here, as these areas are a fraction of the total area of mandals. The mandals and Scheduled Areas should be co-terminus.
  • The Agency Revenue Divisional Officers serve as judicial magistrates and conduct agency courts in the Scheduled Areas. They are not knowledgeable of judicial matters and LTR, as they are posted from the Revenue Department. Because of their inexperience, numerous land alienation cases are pending in such courts. Some such SDCs are given charge of more than one district, or have to deal with both plain areas and scheduled areas, causing all sorts of logistical and experiential problems. They need to be trained in their LTR and judicial roles effectively.
  • The revenue authorities (SDCs) are not restoring lands back to tribals even after High Court issued orders. The implementation of the LTR Act seems to be restricted to small non-tribal land holdings, while the big landlords with huge tracts of tribal land remain unaffected.
  • At the local level some of the land disputes could be solved and tribals' rights could be settled by the SDC taking the assistance of the traditional leadership in the villages who have knowledge of the actual ownership of the lands and who have customary modes of dispute resolution. Oral testimonies could be accepted for settlement of rights where written revenue records are not available or are distorted by mischief. Such a provision exists in the Agency Rules of 1870. This system could be adopted both for settlement of rights on revenue and forestlands.
  • The need to recognize traditional legal systems to deal with civil cases and related matters would strengthen the legal framework in Scheduled Areas and would be harmonious with the spirit of PESA.
  • Some lands in the Scheduled Areas are under the Endowments department, like in Bhadrachalam. These lands are being taken over by non-tribals; while the tribals have no access to their ancestral lands. In fact, The Endowments department has plans to auction such lands to private bidders. These developments are in contravention of the Fifth Schedule and the LTR Act and therefore such moves should be withdrawn forthwith.
  • Non-tribals are using Court stay orders, and even acknowledgements from the High Court to halt the restoration of lands in LTR cases. Steps need to be taken to ensure that stay orders do not stall the restoration process. One possibility would be to enshrine the LTR Act under the IX Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Non-tribals are taking possession of lands in Scheduled Areas by marrying tribal women. Most often, the tribal women, who are legal owners of lands and yields, become concubines and are denied all enjoyment over such rights by the non-tribal men. The children of a non-tribal father should not be given tribal status as most of the tribal groups in the country follow a patriarchal system of identity and ownership over property. It was felt that this system should be followed in the tribal area as well in order to prevent land alienation. Section 3(1) of LTR Act should be accordingly amended prohibiting transfer of land to children of tribal women married to non-tribal men.
  • Land alienation within tribes is a serious problem in some areas. For example, the recognition of the Lambadas as a Scheduled Tribe in 1977 in Andhra Pradesh, who do not have this status in other states, has led to large-scale migration of this tribe into AP. The Sugali population was 1,32,464 in 1971; by 1981 the Sugali and Lambada populations together became 11,58,342, a 774 percent increase. By 1991, they were16,41,897 in population. They have largely spread in the districts of Adilabad, Khammam, Warangal, Mahaboobnagar, Kurnool, Nalgonda and Prakasam, while scattered in other districts to a lesser extent. They have taken over the lands of the local tribes like the Gonds, Chenchus, Koyas, Kolams, etc. The Chenchus have been worst affected by this migration. This conflict is serious where lesser assertive tribes, like the Chenchus, have lost lands to the Lambadas. Such land alienation should be arrested. A special protection should be provided for the local tribes by a process of categorization of tribes both for the purpose of preventing land alienation from lesser-developed tribes, and for a more equal distribution of reservations and other constitutional provisions.

Collected from: http://www.arsap.org/land.html


Throughout the history of Indian Civilization tribal people have increasingly loose their land because of state’s encroachment, and also lack of understanding between tribal mode of relationship and outsiders’ interests.

Tribal people’s mode of land ownership is quite different from the rest. With cross cultural research three kinds of land ownership is noted –

1. Community based ownership

2. Clan based ownership

3. Family based ownership

As commons are difficult to manage, tribal people have frequently been denied from their rights over land.

The first phase of alienation began with the state formation and incorporation of tribal territory by Medieval rulers. Scholar like Singh (1987) and Dasgupta (1991) have depicted cases from India where Kings actually to earn more resources from the land taken from no agriculturalist tribal people and distributed to caste people. In tripura for example, it is argued that Kings invited outsiders as tribal people were not ready to cultivate, in consequence, they became marginalised.

The second phase of land alienation starts with colonial rule of banning shifting cultivation and promote specific kinds of cultivation by outsiders within tribal territories. Their compulsion lead to a situation where tribals purchased seeds and other components from local money lenders in loan which ultimately displaced them from their lands due to chronic indebtedness.

The third phase of alienation resulted in direct displacement of tribal people from their homeland because of large project constructions and outsiders interventions.

Land Alienation as a Concept :-

As per Marx, in a Capitalist society an alienated man lives in an alienated nature and he performs estranged labour and the product of his labour becomes alien to him. Alienation as a concept is used by many social scientists in India, merely as a sociological phenomenon. Since land alienation is the crux of the depeasantization of the tribals, the concept assumes utmost importance in the analysis of tribal rights as a part of human rights discourse. The problem of land alienation is a much deeply connected phenomenon with full of contradictions related to the existing socio-economic order. The separation of land from the tribal communities can be understood in a more scientific way with the assistance of the theoretical formulations of the concept of alienation.

Alienation was defined by Hegel and was used by Marx to describe and criticise a social condition in which man far from being the active initiation of the social world seemed more a passive object of determinate external processes. Marx says, alienation is fundamentally a particular relation of property, involving involuntary surrender to autagonistic 'other'. Alienation is inherent in exploitative relations of production and its nature varies with that of exploitation. Hence alienation's manifestations also differs among societies based on slavery, serfdom and capitalism etc. Thus the concept of alienation may be interpreted to understand a specific problem of the tribals where land becomes the primordial source of exploitation and results in the creation of a society where exploitative production relations exit.

Forms of alienation:

The first and foremost is the manipulation of land records. The unsatisfactory state of land records contributed a lot to the problem of land alienation. The tribals were never legally recognized as owners of the lands which they cultivated.

The second form of land alienation is reported to have taken place due to 'benami' transfers. The report of the study team of the Union Home Ministry (May 1975) pointed out that large scale transfers of ownership of the Adivasis' lands are being allowed to go out of hands through illegal and benami transactions, collusive civil proceedings etc., in which land remains to be in the names of the original owners who are reduced to the level of share croppers.

Another form of land alienation is related to the leasing or mortgaging of the land. To raise loans for various needs the tribals have to give their land as mortgage to the local moneylenders or to the rich farmers.

Encroachment is another form of dispossessing the tribals of their lands and this is done by the new entrants in all the places where there were no proper land records. Bribing the local Patwari for manipulating the date of settlement of land disputes, ante-dating etc., are resorted to claim the tribal lands.

Concubinage or marital alliance is another form to circumvent the law and grab tribal lands at no cost at all.

Fictitious adoption of the non-tribals by the tribal families is also another method to snatch the lands of the tribals.

Also the slackness in the implementation of the restrictive provisions encourages the non-tribals to occupy the tribal lands. Lands alienation which takes place in various ways has assumed alarming proportion threatening the right to life of the tribal population. Though the problem lies elsewhere, it is being unfortunately always interpreted as the handiwork of certain individuals like the moneylender, traders, land lords, etc, without understanding the class connection of these individuals. The unsystematic land records of the pre-colonial and colonial periods was followed by the present State. There was collection of 'taxes - (a strange phenomenon for the natives and it was the beginning process of alienation) in the tribal areas.

In the name of protecting the interest of the tribals stringent laws were enacted by the government but the non-tribals found the loopholes to their advantage. This double edged nature of State policy in one of the facets of the existing contradictions in the Indian Tribal Society. The process of land alienation is not an accidental one, but it has arisen because of the concerted efforts of the antagonistic class interest that are operating in the tribal areas. This is not just migration of the non-tribals into tribal areas rather there is a history behind this migration and the State has supported the migrant non-tribals to the settle down in the tribal lands.

However, being the natural owners of forests and its adjoining lands the tribals are being deprived of their rights to own them. They have been relegated from their earlier 'self-reliant' status to a 'dependent' one. Coupled with the exploitation by the non-tribals, the State legislations also proved detrimental to their interests. Therefore to understand the root causes of the land alienation process of the tribal communities its relationship with the changes in the socio-economic structures have to be understood properly.

Taken from: http://www.dhdi.free.fr/recherches/environnement/articles/rout.htm

Protests and voices:

At least three types of protests are found from the tribals –

a) Complete silence of the tribal: partly because of their shock and partly because of their underlying philosophy and belief on the welfare nature of the states there are instances of silence from tribals. Kol tribes of Mirzapur is an example.

b) Violent protest: There are instances, for example in kerala, where gruesome outcome happened as the state had to shot down 16 tribal people.

c) Third agent protest: Protest often involves voluntary agencies. For example in Andhra Pradesh SHAKTI is struggling against non tribal intruders and to combat situation at large.

Policy intervention:

Strong tribal movements and protests have resulted is Supreme Court’s decision of forming 6th schedule and 5th schedule to protect tribal people from outsider’s exploitation.

Forest policy and alienation

Analysis of forest policies show historically forest has been seen as a commodity. It was a view primarily related to colonial administrators. In post colonial period forest is continued to be viewed as a commodity but there was substantive concern for forest protection. This protection initiative ultimately resulted in forest protection at the expense of tribal rights.

Forest dependency:

Indian tribes have historical connection with forest. They are functionally and emotionally attached to the forest. Functionally they collect Food, Fuel and Fodder three most vital ingredient of their daily life. These three was designated as Minor Forest Produce as its commercial value is lesser than timbers – hence the Major Forest Produce. However, with change in forest policy these vital items of forest are now redesignated as Non Timber Forest Produce.

Colonial forest policy and alienation:

Colonial administrators found Indian forests as commodity as a result several forest acts gradually denied tribal’s access to forest land. The forst act 1855 first time put restriction on the exploitation of forest by tribal people. Subsequently acts of 1878, 1898, 1927, 1935 have systematically reduced tribal’s access to and command over forest. While tribes gradually loose their access increasing commercial exploitation increased.

Post colonial forest acts:

After independence, the nature of the acts remained largely the same until 2006. When the demands of modern industries situated outside the tribal areas led to the commercial. exploitation of forests. These became then an important source of revenue in the state, and to regulate the extraction of timber and other produce large forest areas were designated as "reserved" and put under the control of a government department. Tribal communities dwelling in enclaves inside the forest were either evicted or denied access to the forest produce on which they had depended for many necessities. Thus arose a conflict between the traditional tribal ownership and the state's claim to the entire forest wealth. Numerous revolts, one of which will be described later in this chapter, were the direct result of the denial of the local tribals' right in the forests which they had always considered their communal property. While they were forbidden to take even enough wood to build their huts or fashion their ploughs, they saw contractors from the lowlands felling hundreds of trees and carting them off, usually with the help of labour brought in from outside. Where tribals were allowed access to some of the forest produce, such as grass or dead wood for fuel, this was considered a "concession" liable to be withdrawn at any time. The traditional de facto ownership of tribal communities was now replaced by the de jure ownership of the state, which ultimately led to the exploitation of forest resources with total disregard for the needs of the tribal economy. In recent years many projects have been started which change the character of forests in such a manner that they serve exclusively commercial interests and no longer benefit the original forest dwellers. The natural mixed forests, which provided the tribesmen with the raw materials for many of their household implements, cane and bamboo for baskets, and such items of food as mangoes, tamarinds, jack fruits, mahua corollae , and edible berries, are being replaced by plantations of teak, eucalyptus, and various coniferous trees.

An extreme example of such a commercialization of forests at the expense of the local tribal population is a project in Madhya Pradesh where Rs 46,000,000 are to be spent on converting 8,000 hectares of forest in the Bastar Hills to pine forests to feed the paper pulp industry.

In a recent symposium on "Forests, Tribals and Development," Dr. B. D. Sharma, who is Tribal Development Commissioner, Government of Madhya Pradesh, stated the position very clearly when he said:

“As the ownership of the State gets consolidated and formalised and the decision making recedes farther away from the field, the special relationship of the tribals with the forest is not appreciated. Their rights are viewed as a 'burden' on the forests, and an impediment in their scientific and economic exploitation. . . . Since the forest produce is treated as nature's gift, the State stakes its full claim over it. At the best, the tribal may be allowed a reasonable wage for the labour which he may put in for the collection of minor forest produce or extractionf major produce. Thus, the de-facto and conventional command of the tribal over resources is completely denied in this perception and he is reduced to the status of merely a casual wage-earner.”

Dr. B. D. Sharma included in his exposition a detailed plan for a reconciliation of the interests of tribal communities and forestry development, largely by the economic involvement of tribals in the management and utilisation of forest resources. He summarises the basic principles of this plan as follows:

“It is clear that the development of the people and development of the forests, as two co-equal goals, are fully consistent. Certain basic needs of the local community must provide the solid foundation for rational utilisation of forest resources. The socio-economic conditions of tribal communities must be accepted as an important boundary condition for determining the level of technology and intensity of operations in an area. . . . The plan for tribal development must take the forest resources as the base on which tribal economy can progress with greatest confidence. . . . Planning without participation of the people and their active involvement cannot be expected to be realistic. The tribal should become a co-sharer in the new wealth created in these areas and should become an active participant in their management.”

Taken from - http://www.escholarship.org/editions/view?docId=ft8r29p2r8&chunk.id=d0e1668&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e1668&brand=eschol

The national forest policy in 1952 clkearly stated the national interest which much plausibly involved commercialisation. Forest policy of 1978, goes even further to classify forest into – reserve forest, protected forest and village forest which was based on Indian Forest Act of 1927 that totally curtailed tribal’s access even further.

However, throughout these phases tribal people protested frequently it resulted in killing of tribal people. For example in 2003 about 16 people were killed in Muthunga forest in Kerala as a result of their conflict with state machineries. However, in 2006 India reasserted tribal’s access and rights over forest land on which they have depended for centuries. This act is viewed by many as undoing the “historic injustice” to the forest dwellers with an emphasis on –

Empowerment of local government

Addressing the livelihood securities of the people.

Addressing conservation and ecosystems management from participatory perspective exemplified by Joint Forest Management.

Development Induced Displacement

Infrastructural development projects carried out by states, often with the assistance of the international community, frequently result in the displacement of peoples from homes that stand in the way of dams, highways, or other large-scale construction projects. New standards are emerging for states to address the displacement consequences of development.

World Bank estimates that only in post 1990s the construction of 300 high dams displaced four million people each year, urban projects have displaced 6 million people each year world wide each year.

Ongoing industrialisation, electrification and urbanisation processes are likely to increase, rather than reduce, the number of programmes causing involuntary population displacement. Causes or categories of development-induced displacement include the following: water supply (dams, reservoirs, irrigation); urban infrastructure; transportation (roads, highway, canals); energy (mining, power plants, oil exploration and extraction, pipelines); agriculture expansion; parks and forest reserves; and population redistribution schemes.

Situation in India:

Despite of the abandonment of many high cost projects during 1950s and 1960s which displaced about 40 – 50 percent of the tribal people from their homeland, many of these projects are in the process of restarting. In 1994 the government of India admitted that 10 million people displaced by dams, mines, deforestation and other development projects were still ‘awaiting rehabilitation’, a figure regarded as very conservative by most independent researchers. In China the government has admitted that 7 million development-induced IDPs lived in ‘extreme poverty’ in 1989 (International River Network 1998). Estimates suggest that in Andhra Pradesh 27% of the tribal people are displaced. Orissa has a displacement of 22% of her tribal communities. Similar situation prevails in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Kerala.


It has been left to NGOs, the media and academics to probe the government- inflicted human rights abuses related to development-induced displacement and to highlight the plight of millions of IDPs forced off their land. If, as we have seen, the Guiding Principles and binding international human rights law (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) prohibit forced displacement (conflict– or developmentinduced) not justified by overriding public interest, however, due to political or unknown reasons the UN bodies are at complete silence. In India some famous example of such people’s movement include Narmada Bachao Andolan, and KoelKaro Hydro Electric Power Project where protest resulted in death of 9 and additionally 22 people were injured on 2nd February 2001.

Impact Assessment:

Michael Cernea, a sociologist, who has researched development-induced displacement and resettlement for the World Bank, points out that being forcibly ousted from one's land and habitat carries with it the risk of becoming poorer than before displacement, since a significant portion of people displaced do not receive compensation for their lost assets, and effective assistance to re-establish themselves productively. Cernea (1999) has identified eight interlinked potential risks intrinsic to displacement.

  1. Landlessness: Expropriation of land removes the main foundation upon which people's productive systems, commercial activities, and livelihoods are constructed.
  2. Joblessness: The risk of losing wage employment is very high both in urban and rural displacements for those employed in enterprises, services or agriculture. Yet creating new jobs is difficult and requires substantial investment.
  3. Homelessness. Loss of shelter tends to be only temporary for many people being resettled; but, for some, homelessness or a worsening in their housing standards remains a lingering condition. In a broader cultural sense, loss of a family's individual home and the loss of a group's cultural space tend to result in alienation and status deprivation.
  4. Marginalisation. Marginalisation occurs when families lose economic power and spiral on a “downward mobility” path. Many individuals cannot use their earlier-acquired skills at the new location; human capital is lost or rendered inactive or obsolete. Economic marginalisation is often accompanied by social and psychological marginalisation.
  5. Food Insecurity. Forced uprooting increases the risk that people will fall into temporary or chronic undernourishment, defined as calorie-protein intake levels below the minimum necessary for normal growth and work.
  6. Increased Morbidity and Mortality. Displacement-induced social stress and psychological trauma, the use of unsafe water supply and improvised sewage systems, increase vulnerability to epidemics and chronic diarrhoea, dysentery, or particularly parasitic and vector-borne diseases such as malaria and schistosomiasis.
  7. Loss of Access to Common Property. For poor people, loss of access to the common property assets that belonged to relocated communities (pastures, forest lands, water bodies, burial grounds, quarries and so on) result in significant deterioration in income and livelihood levels.
  8. Social Disintegration. Displacement causes a profound unravelling of existing patterns of social organisation. This unravelling occurs at many levels. When people are forcibly moved, production systems, life-sustaining informal networks, trade linkages, etc are dismantled.

Rehabilitation resettlement:

Indian land acquisition act being non participatory promotes a top-down process which coupled with lack of political will from the ministry of rehabilitation. Even UN bodies are quite reluctant to take initiative for proper rehabilitation and resettlement. Even today the guideline is restricted to affirmation of a few basic rights –

· Right to participation of local people in decision making.

· Rights to life and livelihood

· Rights of vulnerable groups

· Rights to remedy

However with this passive attitude the mitigation of the problem of displacement largely depends on activists and pressure of civil society themselves.


Landlessness has been arguably the major cause of indebtedness among the agriculturist tribals in India. In India 58% of the tribal people Below Poverty Line with a high concentration in states like Andhra, Rajastan, UP, Bihar, Orissa and West Bengal. The land alienation with its long history has natural consequence of indebtedness, which further lead to dispossession of tribal land. The poverty, land alienation indebtedness and landlessness is working a cyclical way.

Economically indebtedness is an outcome of a) deficit family income and b) social compulsions. Since ethnographic study has shows the self contained tribal life among the hunters and gatherers and their lack of concept of loan and interest, it is reasonable to believe that indebtedness is an outcome of interaction between non tribal and tribal people. The tribal’s lack of education and understanding of loan and interests have provided the incentives to the non tribals to systematically exploit them.

Clearly for mitigating the issue one or more of the following measures can be taken –

1. prevention

2. protection’

3. promotion of micro credit facilities through formal and favourable terms

The immediate steps can be the following

a) spread of banking

b) focus on poverty alleviation

c) entrepreneurship

d) debt relief legislation

e) legal aid

f) awareness and education

Bonded labour

Slavery convention (1926) and International Labour Organisation (ILO) (1930) argue forced labour, bonded labour is to be defined on the basis of labour and services extracted from a person as a penalty where the person has not involved voluntarily. United Nations sees bonded labour as a special kind of forced labour (1956). However in India bonded labour is characteristically more complex.

Features in India:

Several features of bonded labour in India is typical in its character and the degree of acceptance level.

  • Creditor – debtor relationship which can spill over to other members of the family
  • It has an infinite duration
  • Adverse contract more frequently illegal
  • Not purely economic terms. After entry the relationship is often subjected to multiple asymmetries and reified relationship.
  • The relationship often has a customery backup which reinforces the bondage.

Causes of bonded labour:

Though systematic study of the causes and consequences has not been done, studies suggest three major reasons –

· Link between caste, social structure and bondage

· Traditional feudal social relations and bonded labour

However, among tribal India, the causes demands multisectoral analysis.

  1. Agricultural sector:
    • Land alienation.
    • Denial of access to Common Property Resources.
    • Socio-economic dominance of certain groups
    • Changing labour requirement with capitalist investment.
    • Social rituals, illness and substantive absence of cash resulted in indebtedness and bondage (e.g. Kol Tribal bondage in Mirzapur district of Southern UP).
  2. Brick Kilns:

· Employment through middlemen who are paid from wages of the labourers.

· Part of the payment is made on weekly basis and bulk payment is made on end of the month and season as a result labourers become bonded.

  1. Stone queries, crushers and miners:

· Small scale and localised quarrying and mining invite labourers from nomadic tribes and rural poor. They are irregularly paid and are made bonded without proper work place protection. Instances are reported from Hariyana, UP, MP, Rajastan, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

  1. Power looms and hand looms:

Especially reported from Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The bondage is formed on the basis of capital and material investment by outsiders.


India has a strong and substantivistic bonded labour abolition act of 1976. It recognises a) overlap between forced and bonded labour, b) contract labour and interstate migration issues, c) embeddedness within social customs. However, since states showed reluctance and it is challenging to identify bonded labours supreme court have tasked National Human Rights Commission for monitoring the implementation of the act.

Issues related to health

Tribal people from their basic ways of living remote places and shyness of mixing with community at large frequently are worst sufferers of health hazards. Leprosy, skin disease, tuber culosis, anaemia and diarrhoea are very common among them. The health hazards related to pregnancy and malnutrition are faced by more than 90 percent of the tribal.

Poverty disease nexus:

The percapita health expenditure among tribal is higher than regular population. Many Scholars have focussed on health and poverty as maintaining a strong interrelationship where the nexus is found to work as a double edged sword.

Figure 1 disease poverty nexus

Maxwell’s vulnerability model (1999) goes on far to argue that poverty determines the choice making capabilities of the people no matter whatever inputs are gived.

Infrastructure facilities:

The available health infrastructure, i.e. number of health care centres, professionals and distance is considered to be determinants of the quality of health care facilities available. However, many recent studies have shown that sometimes even if health care facilities are available tribal tend to depend on their traditional system (Kumar 1974). The World Health Report (2000) therefore have stressed on the importance of health delivery in health outcomes, also stressing on the awareness generation about hygene and available health infrastructure. Case (2002) emphasised more on the role of indirect intervention where removal of chronic poverty and a culture change was thought to be the prime factor for improvement of health and hygene.

Policy regarding service delivery:

At the time of independence the government system of health care was wholly urban centred. The rural areas depended on traditional faith healers and voluntary agencies especially those of missionaries. The health survey development committee headed by Bhore (1946) has argued that the importance of making health service facilities available at micro level with more emphasis on tribals.

However, India since 1952 is following a pyramidal structure of health service delivery. It has primary health centres and subcentres at the local level and hospitals at district level. Since 1970s the multi sectoral and intertwined nature of issues is well understood. As a result the health issues are dealt by clubbing them together with nutrition, sanitation, family planning, health education, awareness generation etc. The village community health workers chosen by village people it now follows a decentralised agenda.


Traditionally tribal communities have undergone drastic changes due to large scale migration, encroachment by outsiders and increasing vulnerability of the resources on which they have traditionally depended. Though many measures like scheduling of tribal areas, creasing land transfer and recognition of the rights over resources is encouraged by the Government of India. Yet, tribal are facing problems of land alienation, displacement, indebtedness and bonded labour. Many of the problems are rooted from their increasing attachment with dominant culture and lack of basic competence in education. As Walter Fernandes (2005) argues that their attachment with the dominant culture though changed their expenditure but never empowered them truly from within.

The existential need:

Neheru advocated for adopting a non-isolation strategy for tribal but failed to build capacity for tribal to cope with challenges put forth by modern culture. The capacity building initiatives quite clearly must involve a high emphasis on the education sector, i.e. education for tribals to gain the power and self reliance and to cope with and transform their material reality. The unversalisation of primary education in India since 1950 is emphasised but yet remained underperformed.

National Policy of Education (NPE) in 1986 and 1992 have therefore stressed on –

1. Making provisions for primary education by formal and non formal techniques

2. Retention of all children and increase enrolment rate.

3. Provisions of quality.

In recent decade a number of incentives are provided, e.g. Sarba Siksha Mission in 2003 – providing elementary education to all children in the age group of 6 – 14 by the year 2010. Mid day meal scheme 2001, which gives a mid day meal to school going children that dramatically increased the enrolment rate.

However, in 9th plan special provision including pre and post matric scholarship and hostel facilities are initiated exclusively for tribals.


Housing facilities being most fundamental requirement of human survival and a question of identity requires special attention. In India in 1996, 28% of the tribals were without houses (Economic Survey 1998). The situation is even more dreadful while trials are displaced and/or affected by development projects or natural calamities.


For the first 25 years of independence, the problem of rural housing did not receive special attention from the government excepting the rehabilitation of 5 lacks refugees till around 1960s. and part of Community Development Programme in 1957, which resulted only in formation of 67000 houses.

However, major initiative was started in 1980s when the construction of houses becomes major activities of the Employment Guarantee Programme which began in 1983. The major scheme which provided an integrated approach on rural housing started in 1985 launched under rural Landless Employment Guarantee Programme (RLFGP), which further gets integrated to Jwahar Rojgar Yojna (JRY) in 1989. This scheme is known as Indira Awas Yojna which targets –

· Below Poverty Level people in rural areas belonging to SCs and STs.

· Freed bonded labourers

· BPL who are general castes.

· Widow and single women

· SC/ST victims of atrocity or natural calamities

· Physically handicapped.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Functionalism: the basic anthropological idea

I HAVE TRIED TO FIX THE CONTENT OF THIS POST BUT FAILED TO DO SO. Inconvenience regretted. Copy the text and then paste it in a word spread to get the text. SORRY AGAIN. SUMAN

MALINOWSKI AND RADCLIFFE-BROWN: a comparative analysis of their functionalism
Definition (what is functionalism):
 1. An ethnographic methodology distinctive of cultural anthropology. 
 2. A historical school of anthropology (also known as British school).
 3. A school of sociology, which attempted to integrate sociology, psychology, and anthropology. 
 4. A philosophy of social sciences in the Anglo-American philosophical tradition.
Underlying functionalist theory is the fundamental metaphor of the living organism, its several parts and organs, grouped and organized into a system, the function of the various parts and organs being to sustain the organism, to keep its essential processes going and enable it to reproduce. 
Similarly, members of a society can be thought of as cells, its institutions its organs, whose function is to sustain the life of the collective entity, despite the frequent death of cells and the production of new ones. Functionalist analyses examine the social significance of phenomena, that is, the purpose they serve a particular society in maintaining the whole (Jarvie 1973). It is one of the oldest and still dominant theoretical paradigm in many other social sciences. This perspective was built on twin emphasis: # application of the scientific method to the objective social world. ## the use of an analogy between the individual organism and society.
  Functionalists with the emphasis on the scientific method to the objective social world as “Objectively real”, “physical” as observable with such techniques as social surveys and interviews.
FUNCTIONALISM IN BRIEF:Its legacies are now an everyday anthropological common source.# It asks how a particular institution/belief is interrelated to others, and to what extent #it contributes to the persistence of the system as whole.  So, it focuses on theINTERCONNECTEDNESS         between different institutional and discursive parts of society.##Doesn't look at evolution or history, but at what people do 'here and now' and describes the meaning of activities.##Even the strangest practices are rational in their own terms once the context and social function of them is properly discerned.##Informed by Durkheim who stated that the social could not be reduced to the motives of individuals and exerts pressure on them through collective representations.##Sustains a tension between [1] commitment to context (holism) and problem oriented comparison, and [2] focus on beliefs, motives and meanings [out of which came interpretative anthropology], and the impossibility to reduce social facts to  ind. needs, cognition and desire [structuralism ]
Best known for: Its fieldwork was its crucial discovery and key contribution. Functionalism emerged as a sharp methodological break with the facile and de-contextualised comparisons of evolutionary anthropology and grand narratives illustrating the progress of reason (Frazer).##Required a comparative method: looking at what institutions/beliefs mean for people in a socially interconnected way [e.g.how myth regulates and codifies behavior].##Commitment to sociologically contextualised comparisons and refusal to allow theoretical Categories of the West to pass as unexamined universal parameters.
Two versions
functionalism was the name Adopted by Bronislaw Malinowski, A. R. Radcliffe-Brown, and their students. With Radcliffe-Brown, Malinowski pushed for a paradigm shift in British anthropology, a change from the speculative, historical to the ahistorical study of social institutions. This theoretical shift gave rise to functionalism and established fieldwork as the constitutive experience of social anthropology (Kuper 1973, Young 1991). 
  Two versions of functionalism developed between 1910 and 1930: biocultural (or psychological) functionalism, the approach advocated by Malinowski, and structural- functionalism, the approach advanced by Radcliffe-Brown. 
Biographies in brief 
Radcliffe-Brown(1881-1955) :                                                                                                           Born 1881 # Educated at Cambridge #Fieldwork 1906 - 1908, Andaman Islands#Influenced by Durkheim--rewrote his thesis#Published The Andaman Islanders in 1922#1910 - 1912  Western Australia#1916 - 1919  Tonga, then South Africa and Australia#University of Chicago, 1931.        B. Malinowski (1884 - 1942):                                                                                                          Polish, intellectual, aristocratic family#Doctorate in math & physics 1908, age 24#Inspired by Frazer's Golden Bough#1910 London School of Economics#Ph.D. with C.G. Seligman (Torres Straits expedition)#1913, The Family Among Australian Aborigines#Age 30, 2 doctorates, a book--no fieldwork#1915 - 1918  Trobriand Islands.

A. R. Radcliffe-Brown: Radcliffe-Brown focused attention on social structure. He suggested that a society is a system of relationships maintaining itself through cybernetic feedback, while institutions are orderly sets of relationships whose function is to maintain the society as a system. Radcliffe-Brown, following Auguste Comte, believed that the social constituted a separate "level" of reality distinct from those of biological forms and inorganic matter. Furthermore, he believed that explanations of social phenomena had to be constructed within the social level. He believed that individuals were replaceable, transient occupants of social roles. Unlike Malinowski's emphasis on individuals, Radcliffe-Brown considered individuals irrelevant (Goldschmidt 1996:510).
Bronislaw Malinowski: Malinowski suggested that individuals have physiological needs and that social institutions develop to meet these needs. There are also culturally derived needs and four basic "instrumental needs" (economics, social control, education, and political organization), that require institutional devices. Each institution has personnel, a charter, a set of norms or rules, activities, material apparatus (technology), and a function. Malinowski believed that uniform psychological responses are correlates of physiological needs. He argued that satisfaction of these needs transformed the cultural instrumental activity into an acquired drive through psychological reinforcement (Goldschmidt 1996:510; Voget 1996:573).


Both Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown averse to “speculative history”. It was an attempt to move away from the evolutionism and diffusionism that dominated British anthropology at the turn of the century(lesser 1935, langness 1987). There was a shift in focus from the speculatively historical or diachronic study to of customs and cultural traits as “survivals” to the ahistorical synchronic study of social “institutions” within bounded, functioning, societies (young 1991:445).
Radcliffe- Brown argued that “in the primitive societies that are studied by social anthropology there are no historical records. We have no knowledge of the development of social institutions among Australian aborigines for example. Anthropologista thinking of their studies as a kind of historical study, fall back on conjecture and imagination and invent “psudo historical” Or “psudo causal” explanations. We have had, for example innumerable and sometime conflicting Pseudo historical accounts of the origin and the development of the totemic institutions of the Australian aborigines. The view taken here is that such speculations are not mere useless but are worse than useless. This does not in any way imply the rejection of historical explanations but quite the contrary.
For malinowski history of a particular custom not useful. He argued that myths reflect present more than past (justify present). Anoter important thing for him is function--What a custom does. And another vital thing is that he contend that“Primitives” act rationally.
Both Malinowski and Radcliffe-brown shares interests and ideas developed by the positivistic methodologies especially the approaches suggested by Emile Durkheim. In 1895, Emile Durkheim's Rules of Sociological Method, argued that the function of a Social Institution is the correspondence between it and the needs of the social organism. 
Durkheim defined, and devised very many analytical concepts that was borrowed and viewed by these theorists. He defined Social structure as the network of existing relations between individuals. Function for Durkheim  fulfills a need (bio & cultural) and humans have to organize to fulfill that function.(structural functional?).In order to provide for individual needs humans have to organise, so there are integrative functions for certain institutions which ensure that the society is able to fulfill individual needs.                                                                                                         Radcliffe-Brown  drawing influence from Durkheim sets his goal of investigation as Compare social structure cross-culturally. He investigated what principles account for different structures which in turn Leads to function which is to investigate How do structures maintain society? For him Function is the role of structure in social continuity. He stated that Social system (society) has a functional unity:All parts work together well enough to maintain society.
Malinowski  on the other hand does have this analogy implicitly by reference to the context [which requires certain institutions and functions, and how things are related functionally], but his is a more individualistic and utilitarian functionalism. Sees the basic function of culture and society as being the satisfaction of human needs (both material and spiritual) and suggests that individuals have physiological needs, and that social institutions develop to meet these needs. His interest is not limited to rules and norms but extended to individual responses to them. Thus, he makes a distinction between belief, words and action. 
Further differences between these two great functional theorists is in their approaches to the subject matter of social anthropology.
Radcliffe-Brown argued that Social Anthropology should be a sub-discipline of comparative sociology. His approach was to search for general laws of society (nomothetic). He was of the opinion that the investigation must incorporate cross-cultural regularities between structure and function that relevant to all cases. Radcliffe-Brown’s concepts of Social unity, harmony, consistency is very much aligned to Durkheim's solidarity.
For Radcliffe-Brown society takes precedence over economic, ideological (cultural) facts. Social systems are rational, logical (even “primitive” ones). He contended that Society is only an abstraction (organismic analogy).
For Radcliffe-Brown spects of society can't be studied in isolation. He furthered his argument about the concept of structural functional analysis that when society is healthy, all functions well. Social structures however, are NOT abstractions they can be observed and include all interpersonal relations
Malinowski however,   suggested to forget the abstract idea of overall social structure. His functionalism was to look for function in down-to-earth terms: Culture. He contend that people faced with fundamental problems of living, there fore it is more important and relevant to look at what people do to meet these basic human needs. He posed a greater interest on individuals and for him individuals are conscious of self-interested, not automatons. For Malinwoski Customs are rational, or they would disappear, and they are rational as they serve a function. 
In points
Structural functionalism
Structural functions                                                                          
Bio-psycho-social needs
Theory of society                                                                             
Theory of culture
Society as a whole
Individual needs
Abstraction of society
Real people & behavior
Society takes precedence
Ecology, psychology
                                                               Ecology, psychology
Radcliffe-Brown focused on social structure and saw anthropology as a global, cross-cultural comparative sociology, closely modeled upon natural sciences. He argued that social structure was the essential framework for social analysis. He suggested that a society is a system of relationships maintaining itself through cybernetic feedback, while institutions are orderly sets of relationships whose function is to maintain the society as a system. Following Comte, he believed that the social constituted a separate "level" of reality distinct from those of biological forms and inorganic matter. Furthermore, he believed that explanations of social phenomena had to be constructed within the social level. He believed that individuals were replaceable, transient occupants of social roles. Unlike Malinowski's emphasis on individuals, Radcliffe-Brown considered individuals irrelevant (Goldschmidt 1996:510).
Malinwoski was quite different,  for him Sees the basic function of culture and society as being the satisfaction of human needs (both material and spiritual) and suggests that individuals have physiological needs, and that social institutions develop to meet these needs. His interest is not limited to rules and norms but extended to individual responses to them. Thus, he makes a distinction between belief, words and action. He sees myth as bridging gap of uncertainty and legitimating magic. In describing the KULA,he sets his position vs. the utilitarian man (therefore contradicting his theory). He demonstrates: the sophistication and realism of the natives, difference in the exchange system, priority of social and cultural context to understanding any form of life and brings to forefront key political relations of hierarchy, honorific standing and social recognition. Unlike Durkheim's individual, Malinowski's was calculated and not robotic, weighting the options available to him within his culture. 
Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski formulated distinct versions of functionalism, yet the emphasis on the differences between them obscures their fundamental similarities and complementarity. Both viewed society as structured into a working unity in which the parts accommodate one another in a way that maintains the whole. Thus, the function of a custom or institution is the contribution it makes to the maintenance of the entire system of which it is a part. On the whole, sociocultural systems function to provide their members with adaptations to environmental circumstances and to connect them in a network of stable social relationships. This is not to say that functionalists failed to recognize internal social conflict or other forms of disequilibrium. However, they did believe that societies strongly tend to maintain their stability and internal cohesion as if societies had homeostatic qualities (Broce 1973:38-39). Malinowski made his greatest contribution as an ethnographer (studied around 30 societies);    his work became a canon for continual reanalysis. He emphasized the importance of studying social behavior and social relations in their concrete cultural contexts. His ethnographies became new textual models with their realist style that unpacked the “native point of view” and involved the reader in an experience of “being there”. He considered it crucial to consider the observable differences between norms and action, that is, between what people say they do and what they actually do. It was his methodological argument that he devised as “participant Observation”.  His detailed descriptions of Trobriand social life and thought are among the most comprehensive in world ethnography and his Argonauts of the Western Pacific is one of the most widely read works of anthropology. Malinowski's enduring conceptual contributions lay in the areas of kinship and marriage (e.g., the concept of "sociological paternity"); in magic, ritual language and myth (e.g., the idea of "myth as social charter"); and in economic anthropology (notably the concept of "reciprocity") (Young 1991:445). He envisaged a method of collecting data as vernacular in a community.
CONCLUSIONS:  both Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski made the paradigm shift in anthropology from Speculatively historical to ahistorical study. Both of them had a great fieldwork background. Their differences lies in their mutual exclusive backdrop of ideas. Both of them contended the natural science methodology and contended that social is a separate domain, but Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown have approached the society and individual with great deal of differences. Both settled on the centrality of comparative sociology.