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Anthropology and Public Policy


Anthropologists are long working on different aspects of policy. They have often witnessed the impact of policies on human life and culture. However, only relatively recently policy itself become an object and subject of anthropological enquiry.

Till 1990s most anthropological engagement with policy making was of an ‘applied’ and largely uncritical nature. The studies mostly were commissioned studies and consultancy researches that worked around the question “How can anthropology best serve policy makers in help solving policy problems?” (Cochrane, 1980; Wilner, 1980).

Applied anthropology and Policy anthropology: existing fissure

The assumption that anthropological knowledge is extremely helpful and relevant to policy makers and that anthropological knowledge should harness to service the needs of government (or industry/corporation/market) is quite an old notion. Even in the 1940s and 1950s Evans Pritchard (1951) had sought to promote applied anthropology as a kind of ‘managerial science of mankind’. In 1981 Raymond Firth along with other key figures of British Anthropology were advancing narrow definition of anthropology in terms of its perceived value for government or as now defined in terms of its relevance to the end-users.
However, it is important to note that in terms of its methodology and focus, the anthropology of policy is very different from applied anthropology. The difference comes from the question of utility and relevance that raises a wider debate over what exactly anthropologists seek to achieve by applying their knowledge or engaging with policy makers. Is it dialogue, influence over policy professionals, or a way for academics to shape the formation or implementation of public policy? Or is the goal to unpack policy as a cultural category and to analyse its uses in order to shed light on structures and processes that shape society? It is important to note Gregory Feldman (2007) should anthropology “follow the policy gaze, or seek to critique it”? Or can it do both? In recent years, anthropologists have increasingly shifted towards the latter position, i.e., developing analytical approaches that seek to problematise policy both as a concept or idea force and as a set of related practices (Shore and Wright 1997, Wedel et al. 2005). This is one of the areas which distinguishes anthropology of policy from applied anthropology. It also differentiates anthropology of policy from policy studies. The point of departure is that whereas most of the scholars see policy as something given and do not question its meaning or ontological status as a category, in anthropology of policy scholars see policy as itself a curious and problematic social and cultural construct that needs to unpacked and contextualised if its meanings are to be understood.

Why do we need anthropology of policy?

Anthropology of policy originates from the recognition that policy has become an increasingly central and dominant organising principle of contemporary society, perhaps even of modernity itself (Shore and Wright 1997). This is extremely relevant because of the fact that there are extremely complex ways in which policy as a concept work. Virtually every aspect of human life is now shaped by policies, whether these emanate from governments, public institutions or non-governmental organisations (NGO) and private sector bodies. Policies on international relations, trade, national security and public health to policies on building regulations, employment relations, taxation, education, citizenship rights and sexual conducts we are circled by regulatory policies that shapes us in more ways than we are aware about. Shore and Wright (1997) in their Anthropology of Policy: Critical Perspectives on Governance and Power put forward three arguments.
First policies are inherently anthropological phenomena and should be conceptualised as discursive formations through which larger-scale processes of social and historical change can be mapped. As they also noted, policies often occupy the same role as myth in traditional societies, providing ‘charters for action’, guide to behaviour and legimating narratives for leaders and would-be rulers.
Second, while policies can be conceptualised as a type of narrative or performance they are also political technologies that serve to create new categories of subjectivity, for example, citizens, taxpayers, criminals, immigrants, or pensioners. Insofar as they become internalised, policies also work as techniques of the self. As with most forms of powers, policies tend to disguises its mechanism of operation either by seeking to naturalise its arbitrariness or by concealing the particularism and hidden interests that often underlie its formulation.
Third, argument entailed the implications of a focus on policy for anthropological methods. If policies are instruments of power, they also provide instruments for analysing the operation of power.   
Therefore, in order to understand people’s life world it is important to have an anthropological understanding of policies. With an anthropological study of policy we can gain critical insight into the complex ways in which concepts, institutions and actors (policy assemblages) interact in different sites either to consolidate regimes of power/knowledge or to create new rationalities of governance.  
Furthermore with anthropological notions it is possible to provide a necessary corrections to rational choice models and unreflexive positivistic accounts that still dominate the way that policy processes are typically conceptualised among academics and policy professionals. More importantly policy provides anthropology with a lens to analyse wider political processes and systems of government.

Conventional policy studies and anthropological challenges:

Most academic research on policy premised on the idea of policy as a neat, hierarchical and seamless flow that follows a patterned pathway, also known as policy cycle (Figure 1).

Figure 1 the conventional policy cycle

This policy cycle model with its instrumental-rational assumptions is the received wisdom and starting point for most textbooks and continues to shape the way policy is taught in professional programmes.
The anthropology of policy brings much-needed perspectives to the influential field of public policy and the growing area of enquiry that falls under the broad heading of "policy studies." The problem with much of the latter is that it continues to operate within a positivistic paradigm that treats policy as a reified entity and an unanalyzed given, seldom questioning the conceptual or cultural bases of its own analytical assumptions. In other words, public policy is often thought of as an "assembly line" or "con veyor belt." But policy making and implementation hardly follow a linear process with a predetermined outcome. On the contrary, policy processes often encounter unforeseen variables, which are frequently combined in unforeseen ways and with unforeseen consequences. For example, as Wedel (2001,8-9) found in her study of Western assistance to eastern Europe, aid policies may appear more like a series of "chemical reactions" that begin with the donor's policies but are transformed by the agendas, interests, and interactions of the donor and recipient representatives at each stage of implementation and interface. Despite recent ethnographies illustrating the limitations of the rational choice model in "policy studies," anthropologists have yet to put forth a compelling, coherent critique of that model.
However in recent period spurred by dissatisfaction with the conventional positivistic approach which represents policy analysis as a kind of scientific endeavour, a number of scholars within political science and international relations have sought to develop alternative perspectives drawing on ethnography and other qualitative methods (Rhodes et al. 2007). In some instances, this ‘cultural turn in policy studies has been influenced by anthropology, particularly the work of Geertz, most notably in the development of Interpretative Policy Analysis (Yanow 1996, 2000). Others drawing on continental European philosophy have turned to linguistics, discourse analysis and rhetoric as a way of rethinking policy analysis (Fischer and Forester 1993, Fiscger 2003; Goittweis 2006; Peters and Pierre 2006; Yanow and Schwartz-Shea 2006).  These developments open up an important space for for dialogue between anthropology and more qualitatively oriented policy studies (ayanow 2011).
Anthropological approaches emphasise the contingency, fluidity and messiness of policy processes. They highlight that policies are not confined to texts; nor are they simply constraining, instrumental-rational rational forces imposed  from above by some authoritative entity, Rather policy is both productive and performative, a complex, creative process that produces new kinds of relationships, new spaces for exchange, and new kinds of subjectivity. But the process by which policies develop is often ambiguous and contested. What is anthropologically interesting about a particular policy is its genealogy and the contestations and negotiations involved in its formation. Anthropological accounts are also sensitive to the way people experience, interpret and engage with these policy processes and to what policies mean in different contexts. In Clifford Geertz’s term (1973) we take the analysis of policy to be ‘not an experimental science in search of a law, but an interpretive one in search of meaning.’ However, analysis of any policy requires more than thick descriptions; we also need to examine the contexts in which policies are embedded, the work they perform and their preconditions and gelealogies and their effects. Understanding why certain policies succeed or fail also entails knowing something about the way they are experienced and interpreted by people whose lives they effect.

The legacy of anthropology in policy:

Anthropologists of American, British, and other traditions have long recognized the intertwining of anthropological topics with policy. In the United States, for example, early debates among Franz Boas and other prominent anthropologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries over evolutionary theory went to the core of public policies dealing with race and gender (Stocking 1968; Smedley 1993). At issue was whether "race" and "gender" are biological or social and whether they are fixed or changing. Some anthropologists, such as Louis Henry Morgan and Edward Tylor, assumed in their comparative studies of kinship and other institutions that human cultures (often corresponding with nineteenth century Western notions of "biological races") developed through a series of evolutionary stages, from "savagery" to "civilization." Other scholars, such as Boas, challenged these assumptions. For example, Boas s studies of immigrants, conducted at the behest of the United States Immigration Commission, demonstrated that "race" is a changing, social construct and that physical differences between "races" are variable and depend on context.
Today, many anthropologists study contemporary global processes and how global, transnational entities interact with states, nations, and local groups. There are those who study militarism and national security policies in the United States (Lutz 2002, 2005), Europe (Feldman 2003), Latin America (Gill 2004), and the Middle East (Bornstein 2001). Others study donor politics, foreign and domestic aid (Wedel 2001), research funding (Brenneis 1999), and tensions between anthropologists and human rights lawyers and journalists (Merry 2003).
Nader (1974,1980) appealed to the discipline to "study up"?that is, to analyze powerful institutions and elites of complex societies?as an antidote to the traditional focus on poor, colonized, and marginalized peoples. "A reinvented anthropology," Nader wrote, "should study powerful institutions and bureaucratic organizations in the United States, for such institutions and their network systems affect our lives and also affect the lives of people that anthropologists have traditionally studied all around the world" (1974,292-93). Wolf (1974,261) similarly urged anthropologists to "spell out the processes of power which created the present-day cultural systems and the linkages between them." Other notable works heeding these calls include Marcus's (1992) study of dynastic-business families in late-twentieth-century America and Gusterson's (1996,1999) study of nuclear engineers in a weapons lab oratory at the end of the cold war. There are also those, like Marietta Baba (2000, 38-39), who argue anthropologists must begin studying professional institutions and organizations, such as medical, legal, industrial, and educational ones, which are "rapidly becoming the most powerful forces shaping the human condition now and the future.
While the "powerful institutions" about which Nader wrote are even more so today, anthropologists studying globalization and connected subjects have tended to focus on how global processes affect local communities. Appadurai's (1996) important treatment of globalization from the angle of actors who are profoundly affected by global processes is a case in point. Relatively little anthropological work has been done to explore how social organization and networks organize transnational players and policy processes, global elites, decision makers, and those who influence decisions. Two recent exceptions, however, are Catherine Lutz's (2005) and Lesley Gill's (2004) research on militarism. Lutz is currently conducting ethnographic research into the role of the U.S. military in the Asia-Pacific region and resulting responses to U.S. military bases by local and transnationally linked social movements. Her study includes interviews about military bases with local activists, base neighbors, and U.S. military and diplomatic personnel. Similarly, Gill's study of the School of Americas (SOA) included interviews of U.S. Army officers and the Latin Americanists who trained at the school, anti-SOA activists, and Andean coca-growing peasants who were often targeted by security forces during the "War on Drugs."

Anthropological issues:

The starting point of an anthropological approach to public policy is to examine the assumptions and framing of policy debates. Policies arise out of particular contexts and in many ways "encapsulate the entire history and culture of the society that generated them," as Shore and Wright (1997, 7) expressed it. While policies may be clothed in neutral language? their ostensible purpose merely to promote efficiency or effectiveness? they are fundamentally political. In fact, "a key feature of modern power, "Shore and Wright contended, is the "masking of the political under the cloak of neutrality" (pp. 8-9). The anthropology of policy takes public policy itself as an object of analysis, rather than as the unquestioned premise of a research agenda. Anthropology is well suited to explore the cultural and philosophical underpinnings of policy? its enabling discourses, mobilizing metaphors, and underlying ideologies and uses. Anthropologists can explain how taken-for-granted assumptions channel policy debates in certain directions, inform the dominant ways policy problems are identified, enable particular classifications of target groups, and legitimize certain policy solutions while marginalizing others.
Anthropology of policy is not simply concerned with representing local, indigenous, or marginalized "cultures" to policy makers, government agencies, or concerned NGOs. Its focus instead is simultaneously wider and narrower: wider insofar as its aim is to explore how the state (or to be more exact, those policy makers and professionals who are authorized to act in the state's name) relates to local populations; and narrower to the extent that its ethnographic focus tends to privilege the goal of understanding how state policies and government processes are experienced and interpreted by people at the local level, keeping in mind that anthropologists are recasting the "local" or the "community" to capture changing realities. Comaroff and Comaroff (1999, 294), for example, stressed that" 'Local ity' is not everywhere, nor for every purpose, the same thing; sometimes it is a family, sometimes a town, a nation, sometimes a flow or a field, sometimes a continent or even the world; often it lies at the point of articulation among two or more of these things." An anthropology of policy, however, is equally interested in understanding the cultures and worldviews of those policy professionals and decision makers who seek to implement and maintain their particular vision of the world through their policies and decisions. From an anthropological perspective, what happens in the executive boardroom, the cabinet meeting, or the shareholders' annual general meeting is no less important than that which occurs at the level of the factory floor or locality. Thus, an anthropological approach to the study of policy incorporates the full realm of processes and relations involved in the production of policy: from the policy makers and their strategic initiatives to the locals who invariably shape and mediate policy while translating and implementing it into action.

Methodological issues of anthropology of policy:

Shore and Wright (1997, 13) suggested, anthropologists are uniquely positioned "to understand the workings of multiple, intersect ing and conflicting power structures that are local but tied to non-local systems." An anthropological approach attempts to uncover the constellations of actors, activities, and influences that shape policy decisions and their implementation, effects, and how they play out. Anthropology therefore gives particular emphasis to the idea that the study of policy decisions and their implementation must be situated in an empirical or ethnographic context: They cannot be adequately mapped using variables whose values and correlations are prespecified by an abstract model.

Reconstructing the field:

Studying policy requires rethinking an anthropological pillar?the discipline's traditional concept of "the field"?as a single and (relatively) geographically bounded place (Gupta and Ferguson 1997,37). Today, "the field" often consists of loosely connected actors with varying degrees of institutional leverage located in multiple "sites" that are not always even geographically fixed. With the post-cold war world s increased delegation of authority by states and international organizations to private organizations, companies, and actors, the architects and agents of a policy may be elusive, varied, and diffused. Policies are no longer formulated primarily by governments, but additionally by a plethora of supranational entities, businesses, NGOs, private actors, or some combination of these. Anthropology offers a social organizational approach that illuminates the structures and processes that ground, order, and give direction to policies. An ethnographer explores how individuals, organizations, and institutions are interconnected and asks how policy discourses help to sustain those connections even if the actors involved are never in face-to-face (or even direct) contact. "Studying through" (Reinhold 1994, 477-79; Shore and Wright 1997), the process of following the source of a policy? its discourses, prescriptions, and programs? through to those affected by the policies does just that. For example, Shore and Wright (1999,2000) have used this approach to examine the cultural consequences and implications of British government reforms of higher education since the 1980s. Similarly, Wedel (2001) has studied "through" the interactions of donors and recipients to explore the social organization linking the overlapping arenas of activity navigated by actors.

Social network analysis:

Social network analysis, which unites both theory and method, can help illuminate sites of articulation and interaction and thereby provide a snapshot of the workings of transnational policy processes. Network analysis, which focuses on social relations rather than the characteristics of actors, is powerful not only as a method but also as "an orienting idea," as Scott (1991, 37) proposed. By linking actors, network analysis can show how the local or regional level is connected with the national level or the local, regional, or national level with the international. Employing network analysis, an ethnographer can examine relationships between individuals, groups, and organizations and the changing, overlapping, and multiple roles that actors within them may play. Social analysts have linked network structures to collective processes. Dezalay and Garth (2002, 10), for example, showed that "tracing the careers of particular individuals makes it obvious ... that the world of foundations and that of human rights NGOs have always been very closely related; how through concrete networks and careers the World Bank inter acts with local situations; and how corporate law firms or advocacy organizations modeled on those in the United States are brought to new terrains." Such analysis can serve as a persuasive basis for explaining policy decisions. Wedels (2004) social network study of a core group of "neoconservatives," first published in The Washington Post, highlighted a dozen or so long-connected players, a "flex group," whose skill at maneuvering between government and private roles, at relaxing both the government's rules of accountability and businesses' codes of competition, and at conflating state and private interests, proved essential to the group's influence on American public policy. The group's "flex organizing" enabled it to play a pivotal role in shaping U.S. policy toward the Middle East and taking the United States to war in Iraq. Network analysis?and the social organizational framework that it implies?is a useful way to conceptualize the mixes of "state" and "private," of "macro" and "micro," of "local" or "national" and "global," of "top down" versus "bottom up," and of "centralized" versus "decentralized" that today configure many transnational policy processes. Anthropologists are thus well positioned to track the interactions between public policy and private interests and the mixing of state, nongovernmental, and business networks that is becoming increasingly prevalent around the globe.

Informants and case studies:

Anthropology takes as a given that much of its most useful information can only be obtained through trusted "informants." The "extended case method" (Van Velsen 1967, 145), in which the ethnographer follows interconnected actors around a particular series of events, lends itself to the study of ongoing policy processes. The actors' responses to the same questions (regarding, for example, their own and others' activities, perspectives, and networks) are then compared and assessed over time. Although actors involved in a particular "case" sometimes are located in different sites, they always are connected by the policy process and/or by actual social networks. However, in as many sites as possible, anthropologists strive to conduct participant observation or at least some long-term association with actors in their own territories (Agar 1996, 58). When this is impossible or impractical, however, they employ alternative methods. In "studying up," conducting interviews is often the only means of gathering firsthand information and gaining entre to difficult-to access "fields," such as individuals in powerful institutions. For example, it was only because the U.S. Army's School of Americas suffered from a moment of public vulnerability after pressures from human rights groups that Gill (2004) was providedan opportunity to interview graduates of the school. When interviews are the primary source of information from a particular site, cross-checking critical information and corroborating key points with multiple sources is crucial (Wedel 2003). Anthropologists employ additional methods as well. "Talking to and living with the members of a community," Gupta and Ferguson (1997, 37) reported, "are increasingly taking their place alongside reading newspapers, analyzing government documents, observing the activities of governing elites, and tracking the internal logic of transnational development agencies and corporations." 

This article is prepared by taking materials from

Shore, Cris (2012) Anthropology and Public Policy. In Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology. Thousand Oaks: Sage

Janine R. Wedel, Cris Shore, Gregory Feldman, Stacy Lathrop (2005). Toward an Anthropology of Public Policy. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, vol. 600, pp. 30 - 51

Anne Francis Okongwu and Joan P. Mencher (2000). THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF PUBLIC POLICY:
Shifting Terrains. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 29, pp. 107 - 124

Research with policy and practice: Applied aspects


Some of the anthropologists were interested in using their knowledge for practical purposes from the beginning. The branch of the discipline became known as ‘applied anthropology.’ From the 1930s onwards, many academic anthropologists collaborated – formally or informally – with professionals engaged in public administration, social work and agriculture. One of the main areas in which these ‘applied’ anthropologists have long been active is that of development. The relationship between anthropology and development has long been one fraught with difficulty, ever since Bronislaw Malinowski advocated a role for anthropologists as policy advisers to African colonial administrators and Evans-Pritchard urged them instead to do precisely the opposite and distance themselves from the tainted worlds of policy and ‘applied’ involvement (Grillo 2002).

Development: definition and context

Development refers to a process of change through which an increasing proportion of a nation's citizens are able to enjoy a higher material standard of living, healthier and longer lives, more education, and greater control and choice over how they live. Development is generally believed to rest on rising levels of labor productivity, which can be achieved through the application of science, technology, and more efficient forms of economic and managerial organization. Virtually all government leaders profess commitment to promoting development understood in this way. Leaders, policy makers, and academics disagree, however, about the relative importance of technical, economic, and political barriers to development and hence about priorities in achieving it.
‘Development’ in its modern sense first came to official prominence when it was used by United States President Truman in 1949 as part of the rationale for post-War reconstruction in ‘underdeveloped’ areas of the world, based on provision of international financial assistance and modern technology transfer. Development has subsequently been strongly associated primarily with economic growth. However, there has also been a growing recognition that while the well-being of an economy may form a precondition for development it is not a sufficient one, and that attention too has to be paid to issues such as income and asset redistribution to reduce inequality, support for human rights and social welfare, and the sustainable stewardship of environmental resources. The Human Development Index developed by the United Nations Development Programme at the start of the 1990s has attempted to address such concerns, at least in part, by combining gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, life expectancy and a measure of educational attainment.
Arturo Escobar argues that as a set of ideas and practices ‘development’ has historically functioned over the twentieth century as a mechanism for the colonial and neo-colonial domination of the south by the north.[i] The use of the term ‘development’ has historical predisposition. Some of the most important of these are shifting global relations after the World War – II, the decline of colonialism, the cold war, the need for capitalism to find new markets, and northern nations’ faith in science and technology (Escober, 1995). Those using the term and working within development institutions are therefore helping to reproduce neo-colonial power relations even while many believe themselves to be engaged in processes of empowerment or the redistribution of the world’s riches.

Theories of development:

Like any major fields of social sciences, development theory too was dominated by grand theories. However, like other grand theories none of the development related theories have stood up well to the onslaught of 1990s post modernism. Today, there is no single theoretical model which is commonly used to explain development, nor is there any one solution to the problems of underdevelopment. Indeed, contemporary understandings tend to draw from a variety of theoretical sources and suggest a variety of strategies.


Modernisation theory is a collection of perspectives which, while at their most intellectually influencial in the 1950s and 1960s , continue to dominate development practice today. As Norman Long puts it, modernisation visualises development in terms of progressive movement towards technologically more complex and integrated forms of modern society (Long and Long, 1992). The theoretical backdrop is essentially evolutionary in nature. Countries are envisaged as being at different stages of a linear path that leads ultimately to an industrialised, urban and ordered society. Much emphasis is put on rationality, in both economic and moral sense. The approach is rooted from 19th century theorists such as Morgan, Tylor and 20th century theorists like Durkheim, Simmel and more recently such theorists like Rostow (1960) where it is argued that the forms of growth already experienced in the north are taken as a model for the rest of the world.
Modernisation as both a theory and a set of strategies is open to criticism on virtually every front. Its assumption that all change inevitably follows the western model is both breathtakingly ethnocentric and empirically incorrect, a fact which anthropologists should have little difficulty in spotting. Indeed, anthropological research continuously shown that economic development comes in many shapes and forms, we cannot generalise about transitions from one type of society to another. While modernisation theorists argue that local cultures and peasant economies are resistant to change, several studies by Ahmed (1992), Long (1992), Mair (1984), Hill (1986) have found that these societies do change, and they do know better what is good for them, which calls for taking local understanding in development projects.
The most fundamental criticism of theories of modernisation, however, is that they fail to understand the real causes of underdevelopment and poverty. 

Dependency theory:

While modernistaion theory fails to understand the real causes of underdevelopment and poverty, one of the first groups to explain these issues in terms of political and historical structures was the Economic Commission of Latin America (ECLA). With the work of A. G. Frank (1969), the notions of dependency and underdevelopment gains immense importance. Drawing from Marxist concepts of capitalism as inherently exploitative, dependency theorists argue that development is a essentially unequalising process : while rich nations get richer, the rest inevitably get poorer. One model which i used to describe this process is that of the centre and periphery (Wallerstein, 1974). This represent north as the centre, or ‘core’ of capitalism, and the south as its periphery. Through imperial conquest, it is argued, peripheral economies were integrated into capitalism, but on n inherently unequal basis. Supplying the raw materials, which fed manyfacturing industries in the core, peripheral regions became dependent upon foreign markets and failed to develop their own manufacturing bases.
Dependency theory therefore, understands underdevelopment as embedded within particular political structures. I this view the improvement policies advocated by modernisation theory never work, for they do not tackle the root causes of the problem. Rather than development projects which ease the shor-term miseries of underdevelopment, or support the status quo, dependency theory suggests that the only solution possible is radical, structural change.
One of the main problems with dependency theory is that it tends to treat peripheral states and populations as passive, being blind to everything but their exploitation. While it is certainly important to analyse the structures which perpetuates underdevelopment, however, we must also recognise the ways in which individuals and societies strategise to maximise opportunities, how they resisit structures which subordinate them and, in some cases, how they successfully embrace capitalist development.

The age of post-modernity:

Intellectually, post-modernism involves he end of the dominance of uitary theories of progress and belief in scientific rationality. Objective truth has been replaced by emphasis on signs, images and the plurality of viewpoints: there is no single, objective account of reality, for everyone experiences things differently. Postmodernism is thus characterised by a multiplicity of voices.
In the abandonment of generalised and deterministic theory, there is an increasing tendency to focus upon specific groups and issues, e.g. women, the landless, the displaced, etc., a more reflecive attitude todards aid and development and a new stress upon ‘bottom up’, grassroots initiatives. These perspectives were already emerging in the 1970s, when stress upon basic needs rather than macro level policy aimed at industrialisation, was increasingly fashionable within aid circles. Instead of being radical, these strategies are inherently populist. As part of general trend which places people more directly on the developmental stage, they are closer to liberal ideologies of individualis,, self reliance and participation.

Development practices: a historical overview

With the increasing recognition of the importance of taking a more context specific approach of development approaches of development has been changed. For example, the world development report 2000/2001 points that “not only development and inequality are global issues, but also that measures undertaken since World War II have failed to deliver broad based development in many developing countries.
However, the present approach of development, inspired by the sentiment of postmodernism has gone through a number of stages.
Before 1950s:
The key issue was the likely political and economic trajectories of underdeveloped or developing countries then emerging from colonial rule. The approach of nation building through comparative politics and law was mostly emphasised. The result was the rapid development in institutions comparable across the globe.
 1950s and 1960s:
Modernisation theory, a specific way of thinking about development, gained credence with many Western governments, international financial institutions (IFIs) and analysts. It was based on an assumption that problems of poverty and human development would be solved by adequate investments in physical capital and infrastructure. However, despite the injection of huge quantities of foreign aid in many developing countries, many didnot see much in the way for development. It was increasingly recognised that internal policies and politics are responsible for the gap between expected result and actual outcome of the fund injections.
1970s and 1980s:
This era has seen a shift to a focus upon a ‘basic needs’ strategy. It was more relevant to ensure that all people have basic necessities, including clean water, primary health care and elementary education. In the 1980s the aim of building ‘human capital’ as supplanted by an ideologically-driven developmental shift linked to changes in the developmental thinking of the key aid-providers: western governments and IFIs, whose policies coalesced around the theory and practice of what were known as ‘structural adjustments programme’ (SAP).
This way of thinking reflected the intellectual dominance in the 1980s of neo-liberalism, an economic and political philosophy ideologically underpinning the pro-market ideology and monetarist ideas of contemporaneously influential governments. This concept advocates that developmentalluy, the state’s role should be downgraded and diminished – while that of private capitalists and entrepreneurs should be upgraded and augmented.
The 1990s to present:
The ideas of neo-liberal approach was at its zenith in 1989 – 1991 when cold war came to an end and the Eastern European communist bloc collapsed. However, neo-liberal strategy was criticised as it is argued that only government has the power to alter prevailing socio-economic realities through the application of appropriate policies and programmes and by constructing appropriate institutions. In other words, the market is not very good at allocating resources fairly; only governments can do that, and they need a range of appropriate institutions to accomplish their goals. But whether they are able to this or not is strongly linked to the varying amounts of pressure put on governments  by competing societal interests.
However, with repeated failure of the grand approaches to development, now more local and bottom up approach of development related decision making is preferred. The basic needs strategy is re-emphasised as United Nations declares Millennium Development Goals in septemer 2000. These are:
·         Eradicate extreme poverty or hunger
·         Achieve universal primary education
·         Promote gender equality and empower women
·         Improve maternal health
·         Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease.
·         Ensure environmental sustainability
·         Develop a global partnership for development.
Anthropologists with their methodological training of studying small communities through fieldwork are at better position to deal local problems locally at micro level. However the disciplinary debate for or against change and intervention makes it a difficult choice either to go for or go against the discipline’s application in promoting or engineering social change.

Anthropologists, social change and cultural relativism:

Early anthropologist were engaged in debating two major sets of theoretical issues which bore directly on on the practical application of anthropological knowledge. The first of these was the notion of change itself. Within anthropology, social change was initially debated between diffusionists, who see change as gradually spreading across cultures from a common point and evolutionists whose ideas rested on the assumption that all societies, if left alone, would evolve through broadly similar stages. With the growth of functionalism, anthropology began to concern itself more with the means through which societies maintained themselves than with the ways in which they changed. The tendency to study societies as if they were static remained strong in the period up to Second World War, but was challenged by anthropologists interested in what was termed ‘culture contact’ in the colonial territories. Gradually anthropological work began to take account of the historical context of communities and explanations of social and political change, in contrast to influential but ahistorical ethnographic monographs such as Evans-Pritchard’s The Nuer and Malinowski’s Argonauts of the Western Pacific.
Beattie (1964) finds a vintage point during this period as increasingly change came to be seen as inseparable from society itself, and the reisation and acceptance of this by anthropologists underpin a continuing relationship between anthropology and development.
A second obstacle towards the development of applied anthropology is the issue of cultural relativism. Relativism raised the problems of ethics. If culture is to be understood on its own terms as Ruth Benedict has convincingly done in her book patterns of culture, what business did members of one culture have telling those of another what to do? As Eric Wolf (1964) points applied anthropology itself by definition is a reaction against cultural relativism, since it does not regard the culture that is applying anthropology as the equal of the culture to which anthropology is to applied.
However, this debate is ongoing in anthropological academia between those who favour more open ended theoretical development through long-term field work and those who prefer seeing anthropology as a tool for social engineering.

Importance of anthropology in development: Anthropology of development

Anthropologists have long made practical contributions to planned change and policy. However, many have also studied development as a field of academic enquiry in itself. These studies have challenged the dominant development discourses, its key assumptions, representations, and paved for alternative ways for development. Major issues which call for an anthropology of development include:
  1. The social and cultural effects of economic change
  2. The social and cultural effects of development projects

The social and cultural effects of economic change

Although the study of economic change has not always been academically fashionable, individual anthropologists have long been grappling with it. There are several works anthropological in nature which focus on the social and cultural effects of economic change.
Rural to urban migration and detribalisation:
There are several anthropological studies in Africa focusing on the influence of urbanism over rural life. Wilson (1941, 1942) argues that while Central African society was normally in a state of equilibrium, destabilising changes in African society was brought by increasing influence of capitalist production within the region, and growing rural to urban migration. Richards (1939), Schapera (1947) focus on many villages which lost their male labour force, most migrants could not sent enough resource for their families, and there was a large scale ‘cultural decay.’ Murray (1981) focus on oscillating migration resulting in marital disharmony, in other words the capital accumulated at the urban core was at the expense of rural periphery.
Agriculture change: polarisation
Clifford Geertz (1963a) focus on the Indonesian agriculture change in Agriculture Involution. With a historical reference of Indonesian agriculture, Geertz shows that colonial policies encouraged the development of a partial cash economy in which peasant farmers were forced to pay taxes to support plantation production for export. In consequence, majority of farmers could not produce surplus.
Epstein (1962) in Economic Development and Social Change in South India and in 1973 South India: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow discusses the effects of the introduction of new irrigation techniques and the growing importance of cash cropping. In the village of Wangala, where farmers were increasingly producing for and profiting from local sugar refinery, the changes had not led to major social readjustment. The village continued to have limited link to outside economy and social structure remained unaltered. In contrast in the second village Dalena, which had remained a dry land enclave in the midst of an irrigated belt, male farmers were encouraged to move away from the relatively unprofitable agricultural pursuits and participate in other ways in the burgeoning economy which surrounded them. Some became traders, or worked in white-collar jobs in the local town. These multiple economic changes led to the breakdown of the hereditary political, social and ritual obligations, the changing status of local caste groups and the rise of new forms of hierarchy.
Capitalism and ‘world systems’:
With increasing integration among the worlds, researchers increasing focus on relationship of local communities and cultures to the global political economy. This can be linked to the growing dominance during the 1970s of theories of dependency, and especially to Wallerstein’s World Systems Theory (Wallerstein, 1974), as well as the use of Marxism in the 1970s and 1980s by some anthropologists, for example Bloch, 1983. The emphasis is now on the ways in which societies on the periphery had long been integrated into capitalism, and on the cultural expressions of economic and political dependency and/or resistance.
A classic attempt to fuse neo-Marxist political economy with anthropological perspectives is Eric Wolf’s (1982) Europe and people without history. This is an ambitious attempt to place the history of the world’s peoples within the context of global capitalism, showing how the history of capitalism has tied even the most apparently remote areas and social groups into the system.
Drawing more directly from Neo-Marxist theories of dependency, an important study by anthropologist working in Latin America is by Michael Taussig’s (1980) The devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America. This is an account of the cultural as well as economic integration of Columbian peasants and of Bolivian tin miners in the money economy and proletarian wage labour. The Columbian peasants who seasonally sell their labour to plantations present the plantation economy and profits made from it as tied to the capitalist system and thus to the devil. Plantations are conceptualised as quite separate from the peasants’ own land; in the former, profit making requires deals to be made with the devil, whereas in the latter it does not. In the Bolivian tin mines, workers worship Tio (the devil), who Taussig argues is a spiritual embodiment of capitalism and a way of mediating pre-capitalist beliefs with the introduction of wage labour and industrialisation.
Gender issues:
During 1970s a new generation of feminist minded anthropologists like Sachs (1975), Leacock (1972) started working on what became known as GAD (Gender and Development). Some feminist anthropologists focus on the restudy of the subjects of ethnographic classics from a feminist perspective. The feminisation of subsistence has been one of the major arguments of these anthropologists. Moore (1988) for example showed that:
  1. Since women have reproductive as well are productive duties they are less free to produce cash crops. Thus while men could experiment with new technologies and production for exchange, women must first and foremost produce the subsistence foods on which their household depend.
  2. Male labour migration leaves women behind to carry the burden of supporting the subsistence sector.

The social and cultural effects of development projects

One of the most common criticisms made by anthropologists of development planning is that it is done in a ‘top-down’ manner. Planning is done at a distant office, and hence, often the plan does not match the local requirements. Robert Chamber’s (1983) Rural Development: Putting the Last First is a seminal statement of this position and draws heavily upon the insights of anthropology. Chambers attacks the biased preconceptions of development planners, most of whom have only a very shaky uinderstanding of rural life in so-called developing societies (Chambers, 1983, 1993). The only solution as Chambers argues is to ‘put the poor first’ and, most importantly, enable them to participate in projects of their own design and appraisal.
Tony Barnett’s (1977) The Gezira Scheme: An Illusion of Development is a classic critique of top-down development. Gezira scheme was a massive project of developing irrigation facility for cotton production in Sudan. Despite of apparent well being of Sudanese people the project failed, stagnated, and became dependent. Barnett argues that the workers were not allowed to have more land or sell it. The Gezira board was paternalistic and authoritarian, based on British effort to control ‘black’ labourers. This meant that cultivators had few incentives to be innovative, and the entire cotton product was dependent on foreign markets.
Barbara Rogers (1980) in The Domestication of Women argues that Western development planners make a range of Western and thus patriarchal, assumptions about gender relations in developing countries. It is often assumed, for example that farmers are male, that women do not do heavy productive work and that nuclear families are the norm. Through andocentric and biased research such as the use of national accounting procedures and surveys which assume that men are household heads, women become invisible. Women are thus systematically discriminated against, not least because there is discrimination within the development agencies themselves. The answer Rogers argues, is not simply more projects for women, for these often produce a ‘new segregation’ in which women are simply trained in domestic science or given sewing machines for income generation. Instead, gender awareness must be build into planning procedures, a process which will necessarily involve reform of the development institutions involved.
Day (1981) in a work on irrigation projects in the Gambia shows that by assuming that men controlled land, labour and income, the projects failed to increase national rice production and increased women’s dependency on men. Within the farming system of Mandinka, crop production is traditionally dominated by collective production for household consumption (maruo), but also involves separate cultivation by men and women on land they are allocated by the household head in return for their maruo labour (Kamanyango). Crops from this land are the property of the male or female cultivators. However, under rice irrigation projects sponsored by Taiwan (1966 – 74), Taiwan (1973 – 76), and China (1975 – 79), only men were given Kamanyango rights to irrigated land. In other irrigated plots designated as maruo, men increasingly used women’s skilled collective labour, but were able to pay them low wages because of the lack of other income generating opportunities available to women. Women’s traditional rights were thus systematically undermined by the projects, a process which had started during the colonial period, when once more the reciprocal rights and duties of farming were undermined by policies which encouraged male farmers to produce cash crops and failed to recognise the central role of female producers.

Anthropology of Success and failure:

Closely related to anthropological critiques of top-down planning is the criticism that planners fail to acknowledge adequately the importance, and potential of local knowledge. Instead, projects often involve the assumption that western or urban knowledge is superior to the knowledge of the people to be developed. They are regarded as ignorant, although the anthropologists have repeatedly shown, they have their own areas of appropriate expertise. Development projects often fail because of the ignorance of planners rather than the ignorance of the beneficiaries. This might inolve a range of factors, such as local ecological conditions, the availability of particular resources, physical and climatic conditions and so on. Mamdani’s classic analysis of the failure of the Khanna study, an attempt to introduce birth control to the Indian village of Manupur, is a fascinating account of developmental to-downism and ignorance (Mamdani, 1972). Because of cultural and economic value of having as many children as possible, Mamdani argues that population programmes are unlikely to have much success in rural India. The programme planners in the Khanna study, however, assumed that villagers’ rejection of contraception was due to ‘ignorance’, thus completely ignoring the social and economic realities of the village. Similarly Abhijit V Banerjee and Easther Duflo (2011) report the rural Indian villagers’ sense of insecurity to be one of the reasons for bigger families. They argue the children in rural India is seen as investment for old age pension, i.e. the more you have children the more the chance that you will be taken care of in old age. Once again, anthropological methods and questions, rather than bureaucratic planning, reveal the true constraints on successful development.
Considering development as a discourse much in the manner Foucault argues in his Order of things (1970) that fields of knowledge, their classification and hierarchic presentation in different periods is socially, historically and politically constructed and are therefore neither objective nor neutral. Considering development as discourse raises important questions about the nature of developmental knowledge and its interface with other representations of reality. Anthropology can have an important role here; first, in demonstrating that there are many other ways of knowing, and second, in showing what happens when different knowledges meet. In another contribution to the growing postmodern anthropology of development, for example, the relationship between scientific and local knowledge within development practice is explored.

Anthropologists in development:

Anthropologists are now employed in growing numbers by development agencies, organisations and private consultancy firms. A discussion of applied anthropology does not therefore simply raise questions of what a professional anthropologist might do. The type of work which professional anthropologists are asked to undertake can vary considerably. They may include applied research to produce supporting data for planned interventions; contributions to the appraisal and evaluation planning of development projects; or attempting to build local participation into the project. Assignments can vary from a short consultancy job lasting a few weeks, to a placement on a project for several years as one of the full-time staff.  
Some of the important positions that anthropologists are occupying in development agencies are:
1.       Social Development Advisors (SDA).
2.       Consultants
3.       Research officers
4.       Counsellors
5.       Advocacy role
Apart from the strict routine duties of anthropologists in development agencies, they are increasingly becoming a mediator between the developers and those to be ‘developed.’ Anthropologists are trained sceptics: they tend to argue that situations and ideas are usually more complicated than is immediately apparent; they believe that no fact or detail is too trivial to be considered; they may prefer quality to quantity; they are rarely ready to offer conclusions or advice in terms of straightforward course of action.
Anthropologists are well equipped to monitor the process of project implementation, which in effect is the task of monitoring social change. To do this, a combination of national and expatriate anthropologists, with boith men and women involved, will be able to draw on their different skills and perspectives in order to present different, though mutually reinforcing, analyses of events.
Anthropologists are involved in project design, appraisal and evaluation by national and international NGOs and aid agencies. Since the second world war the notion of the project has become central to mainstream development activity, whether centred on large scale infrastructural work such as building of a dam or bridge or softer areas such as health or education provision. Projects tend to pass through a series of staged activities, often known as the project cycle.
By the 1960s and 1970s, the World Bank and United Nations were promoting what they termed “Integrated Rural Development”, in which conventional planning methods were cast aside in favour of a measure of community participation in setting needs and a more comprehensive approach to tackling problems on a number of sectoral fronts simultaneously.
In consequence, a number of anthropologists were employed in carrying out impact studies among the local community to whether or not prohect’s objectives have been met.
The appearance of what has been termed ‘advocacy anthropology’ by its practitioners (Miller 1995) has involved itself with the efforts of indigenous people to gain more control over their lives (Escober 1992).

 Anthropological methodologies in development:

The traditional methodology of social anthropology is what is known rather vauely as ‘participant observation’: that is, the principle of living within a community for a substantial period of time – ‘fieldwork’, which might be expected to take one or two years – and immersing oneself in the local culture, work, food and language, while remaining an unobtrusive as possible. Many of the earliest anthropologists recorded their observations in a field diary, taking copious notes on all aspects of life, to be written up later as a monograph or ethnographic text, and without necessarily having a sense of the particular research questions they wished to address until they were well into their period of study or even until after they had returned home.
The blandness of participant observation as a technical methodological term in the 1960s and 1970s was gradually addressed by the growing body of more defined data collection techniques which anthropologists began to use under the general category of participant observation: case study collection, questionnaire surveys, structured and semi-structured interviewing, even computer modelling and the supplementing of qualitative material with quantative data. Nevertheless, participant observation has retained its centrality to the work of many anthropologists, and anthropologists have in general retained their fondness of qualitative rather than quantitative data.
Applied anthropologists have drawn upon a number of key insights from wider anthropology in order to equip themselves for their work. In terms of research methodologies, the main change is that participant observation my normally now be undertaken within a tightly circumscribed time-frame, with a set of key questions replacing more open-ended blank notebook approach. Furthermore, the applied anthropologists knows that his or her findings will be appreciated far more if they can be presented concisely and made to include at least an element of quantification.

Use of participation:

Like many of the currently fashionable development buzz words, the precise meaning of participation is elusive. Adnan et al. (1992) argue that meanings of participation can be broken down into three broad categories:
  1. Participation is simply process in which information about a planned project is made available to the public. This may involve listening to people, more structured survey, or a formal dialogue regarding project options.
  2. Participation may include project-related activities rather than mere information flows. This might involve using labour from the community, or a longer-term commitment by local groups to maintain services or facilities or even to plan for their future use.
  3. There are people’s own initiatives. These fall outside the scope of the project agenda. They are therefore, some argue, the only true form of participation, for they are not imposed from the outside. If mobilisation comes from the poorer sections of the community, it also truly empowering.

Participatory Rural Appraisal:

The work of Robert Chambers has been extremely influential in this regard, in its attempts to counter excessively formalistic approaches to ‘data collection’ by development workers and professionals. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and its variants aim to enable rural people to plan and enact solutions to problems by analysing their own knowledge of local conditions, facilitated by outsiders. This approach (Chambers, 1992) has drawn upon insights borrowed from social anthropology such as:
  1. The idea of learning in the field as ‘flexible art rather than rigid science’
  2. The need to learn in the field, informally, through conversations and relaxed observation.
  3. The importance of the research’s attitudes, behaviour and rapport with local people.
  4. The emic/etic distinction, an anthropological concept drawn from linguistics, which contrasts the indigenous reality of social actors with the observer’s perception of that reality
  5. The validity and potential value of indigenous knowledge.
PRA therefore involves training researchers to go to villages and spend time talkling to groups of people ‘in situ’, encouraging them to express local problems and potential solutions in their own terms. Care is taken to represent as many different sets of interests as possible, and the focus in on mutual learning between researcher and informant.

Participatory research action:

It is aloose group of methodologies undertaken by agencies – such as NGOs – in areas of Asia and Africa. It assumes that the main objective of develkopm,ent is the fulfilment of the human urge for creative engagement, and does not therefore focus on poverty alleviation, ‘basic needs’ or structural change as the immediate goals to be tackled.
In practice, typically catalytic initiatives are brought about by educated outsiders, free of party and political allegiances, who encourage groups of people to get together to discuss the reason for their poverty and engage in their own social investigation. Group building follows, combined with discussion of prioritised actions which can be undertaken to address the principal causes of their poverty. External resources can be provided for support, but are not regarded as precondition for problem solving. The aim is to generate a ‘progressive action-reflection rhythm’ or ‘people’s praxis’.

Farming systems research:

Local knowledge is seen as often situated in practice and in real situations. The emergence of farming systems research in late 1970s reflects many of the concerns that concentrate on local solutions from local knowledge for local problems. FSR focuses on the small farm as a basic system for research and development and attempts to bring about the strong involvement of farmers themselves in every stage of the research and development process (Conway, 1986). The farmer’s decision making is treated as being rational rather than guided, as was often supposed, by ignorance or conservatism. The objective is to improve the relevance and appropriateness of research, and this includes the participation of social scientists alongside biological scientists. FSR is also emphatically holistic, treating decisions and procedures for on crop within the wider farming system and its economic, social and environmental components.

Aid agency/ aid industry/ donors:

Development aid or development cooperation (also development assistance, technical assistance, international aid, overseas aid, official development assistance (ODA), or foreign aid) is financial aid given by governments and other agencies to support the economic, environmental, social and political development of developing countries.
Donors today tend to give most aid to countries which they previously colonised: British give most aid to South Asia and Africa., while the Dutch are heavily involved in South East Asia, for example. Despite of several initial beginnings during colonial period, the real start of the amin processes of aid transfer is usually taken to be the end of the Second World War when major multilateral agencies were established. The IMF and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (later to become World Bank) were set up during the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, while the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) was created as a branch of United Nations in 1945. In contrast what became known as ‘bilateral aid’ which was a transfer from one government to another, ‘multilateral aid’ came to involve a number of different donor acting in combination, none of whom directly controls policy. However, from the outset of donors such as World Bank were heavily influenced by the US and tended to encourage centralised, democratic governments with a strong bias towards the free market (Robertson, 1984). Meanwhile, various bilateral agencies were also established by the wealthier nations. These are the governmental organisations such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), or British Overseas Development Administration (ODA), both of which are involved in project and programme aid with partner countries.

Further reading:
Gardner, K., and Lewis, D., (1996). Anthropology Development and Post-modern Challenge. London: Pluto Press.
Most of this note is taken from Gardner and Lewis's book. This is still the best book on development and anthropology so far I have seen.

 David Lewis. (2005). Anthropology and development; the uneasy relationship. London: LSE research online. Click here

O'Driscoll, E. (2009). Applying the 'uncomfortable science: the role of anthropology in development. Durham Anthropology Journal. click here

Raghabendra Chattopadhyay, Bhaskar Chakrabarti and Suman Nath. (2010). Village Forums or Development Councils: People’s participation in decision-making in rural West Bengal, India. Commonwealth journal of local governance. click here

[i] In this perspective development discourse is comparable to ‘orientalism’ – the term used by Edward Said (1978) to describe the West’s ideological control over the Eastern ‘others’ by representing them in particular ways.

NGOs in Development


Non-government organizations with their advantage of non-rigid, locality specific, felt need-based, beneficiary oriented and committed nature of service have established multitude of roles which can effect rural development (Bhaskar and Geethakutty 2001)[1]. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have become quite prominent in the field of international development in recent decades. But the term NGO encompasses a vast category of groups and organizations.

The World Bank, for example, defines NGOs as “private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development.” A World Bank Key Document, Working With NGOs, adds, “In wider usage, the term NGO can be applied to any non-profit organization which is independent from government. NGOs are typically value-based organizations which depend, in whole or in part, on charitable donations and voluntary service. Although the NGO sector has become increasingly professionalized over the last two decades, principles of altruism and voluntarism remain key defining characteristics.[2]

Different sources refer to these groups with different names, using NGOs, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Private Voluntary Organizations (PVOs), charities, non-profits charities/charitable organizations, third sector organizations and so on.

These terms encompass a wide variety of groups, ranging from corporate-funded think tanks, to community groups, grassroots activist groups, development and research organizations, advocacy groups, operational, emergency/humanitarian relief focused, and so on. While there may be distinctions in specific situations, this section deals with a high level look at these issues, and so these terms may be used interchangeably, and sometimes using NGOs as the umbrella term.

Since the 1970s, it has been noted how there are more non-governmental organizations than ever before trying to fill in the gaps that governments either will not, or cannot.

The above-mentioned World Bank document points out that “Since the mid-1970s, the NGO sector in both developed and developing countries have experienced exponential growth…. It is now estimated that over 15 percent of total overseas development aid is channeled through NGOs.” That is, roughly $8 billion dollars. Recognizing that statistics are notoriously incomplete, the World Bank adds that there are an estimated 6,000 to 30,000 national NGOs in developing countries alone, while the number of community-based organizations in the developing world number in the hundreds of thousands.

Such organizations must operate as a non-profit group. While in that respect, NGOs are meant to be politically independent, in reality it is a difficult task, because they must receive funding from their government, from other institutions, businesses and/or from private sources. All or some of these can have direct or indirect political weight on decisions and actions that NGOs make.

Professor of anthropology, Richard Robbins, in his book, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (Allyn and Bacon, 2002, Second Edition), suggests a few reasons why NGOs have become increasingly important in the past decade or so. Amongst them (from pp. 128 to 129):

1. The end of the Cold War made it easier for NGOs to operate

2. Communications advances, especially the Internet, have helped create new global communities and bonds between like-minded people across state boundaries

3. Increased resources, growing professionalism and more employment opportunities in NGOs

4. The media’s ability to inform more people about global problems leads to increased awareness where the public may demand that their governments take action of some kind.

5. Perhaps most important, Robbins suggests, is that some believe NGOs have developed as part of a larger, neoliberal economic and political agenda. Shifts in economic and political ideology have lent to increasing support of NGOs from governments and official aid agencies in response.

Role of NGOs:

As the limitations of state-sponsored, project based, top-down development became apparent, the 1980s and the 1990s saw increasing attention focused on private, professional development organizations and the voluntary sector by development agencies. This so-called third sector is now widely seen as containing potentially viable alternatives to conventional approaches to development and relief work.

At one level the changing level of support given to NGOs suggests a significant shift in development practice, for funds are increasingly being channeled to organizations on the outside of the ‘mainstream’ which often offer radical new approaches to how the work of development discourse is far from homogeneous or rigidly fixed. At the same time, however, some critics argue that rather than enabling NGOs to change the agenda, the increased funding of NGOs by Northern aid agencies has simply brought a potential threat to them under control.

It is seen that NGOs are able to allocate resources and services more efficiently and to reach people more effectively than state institutions (Paul 1991). NGOs themselves have claimed that their comparative advantage is derived from a stronger commitment and motivation, coupled with a better ability to form good- quality relationships with people, compared with government agencies. For example, Bebbington (1991) points out in the context of agriculture development work, NGOs are more willing to ask farmers what they think, to take their farming practices seriously, and consequently to orient technology adaptation and transfer towards real concerns. The origins, activities and performance of NGOs have varied dramatically between and within different country contexts, where particular state histories have permitted varying levels of ‘space’ within which NGOs can exist and work. In countries where a politically repressive regime has prevented local levels of organization, many NGOs have existed as radical, underground organizations, as in the case of the Philippines under President Ferdinand Marcos. Where the state has sought assistance with service delivery or project implementation, frequently with donor agency support, NGOs have often merged seamlessly with mainstream government structures. In communist Albania, the notion of a civil society with its arena for organization outside the state hardly existed at all and NGOs were unknown.

NGOs themselves are a diverse set of actors, with origins in both North and South. There are important differences in scale and between local, national and international spheres of activity. Some NGOs carry out their own project-based development activities, which can range from the direct provision of services (credit, agricultural inputs, health-care and education) to group formation and consciousness-raising, both of which aim to make people aware of new possibilities for self determined change. Others do not work directly with beneficiaries but instead fund, train or otherwise support partner organizations at the grassroots. There is also an increasing number of activist NGOs who see their work in terms of lobbying, information exchange or advocacy aimed at changing the wider policy environment. NGOs are becoming important not just in terms of their ability tow work directly with people, but also in terms of their potential contribution to the strengthening of civil society –democracy, legal rights and access to information (Clark 1990).

NGOs have claimed, with some justification, that they can work more closely with poor people than similar government agencies can (Edwards and HUlme, 1992; Bebbington and Farrington, 1993; Clark, 1990). Critics, however, have drawn attention to the prevalence of a number of NGO mythis and show, with some success, that these supposed advantages are in fact largely unsubstantiated (Tendler, 1982). Furthermore, there is a growing radical critique of NGOs which arues that, rather than promoting deep rooted change, they actually preserve the status que by setting up a system of patronage based on the flow of development assistance, which undermies and depoliticizes local grassroots organization (Hashemi, 1989; Arellano-Lopez and Petras 1994; Tvedt 1995).

In recent years as well, development and environmental NGOs for example, are learning that they can be more effective, and their work can have more positive effects, if they work with the actual communities and help them to empower themselves. Working at the grassroots level helps to provide assistance directly at the source. Often corrupt governments can intercept much assistance so this approach is sometimes favored. However, there is still much that needs improving. For example, a study commissioned by the Finnish foreign ministry and co-ordinated by researchers at Helsinki University to study issues of bilateral development suggested that there is an inequality in the relations between organizations of the North and the South. The study points to“inequalities despite the shift from the imperious paternalism in development aid practices during the 1990s” as described by Inter Press Service (IPS)[3].

NGOs and Anthropological approach:

Many NGOs working directly with the poor have taken what might be described as an ‘anthropological approach’ to their field activities. Rather than working from the top downwards, many of the more effective NGOs have evolved from local communities and draw their field staff from the areas where they are working. Unlike many governmental or donor projects, they spend time discussing local interests with different sections of the community in order to build up a picture of the dynamic relationships whicy exist among different groups and classes. A distinctive NGO organizational style has emerged: field staff are encouraged to spend time with local people and pass information about their needs and interests to the NGO in order to inform and shape future policy; in addition, less rigid boundaries are visible between junior and senior staff. This contrasts with the more rigid, directive roles usually taken by government in development activities, in which officials often subordinate development agendas to the more pressing demands of control and authority (Fowler 1990).

This responsiveness to local needs can go beyond mere service delivery. In agriculture, NGOs have sometimes been able to undertake client-oriented research which has been based on agendas set by local group members and to promote technologies which meet locally generated needs, especially among the low income sections of the population which are frequently passed over by formal government agricultural efforts. The use of local institutions and practices as the starting point has often proved fruitful basis for innovation.

Some NGO work also resembles the old dream of advocacy anthropology in which outsiders try to promote the rights of the communities with which they work either during local conflicts (e.g. with local elites) or in the wider state context (land rights or the legal rights of women). NGOs find that if they wish to influence the big picture, they cannot ignore what the government is doing. At the same time, government agencies increasingly see NGOs as a source of dynamism and innovation and are seeking to draw upon their services, either by forming partnerships or in less satisfactory cases by cooption.


Just as the role of anthropologists as development participants raises a number of uncomfortable questions, there are similar dilemmas to be faced by those who argue that NGOs constitute an all-purpose solution to the problems of development practice. How accountable are these NGOs in reality, and do they merely perform better than government agencies because they receive proportionately more resources for the task they undertake? Do NGOs simply reproduce patronage relations at the local level by becoming the new purveyors of state resources in the countryside? Are NGOs there fore weakening the state further and perpetuating the weakness by drawing scarce staff and other resources away from it? However, these questions have remained unanswered. Meanwhile the most interesting fact regarding NGOs is that many have radical origins and are engaging critically with the prevailing development discourse, occasionally influencing donor and government attitudes and practices along the way.

Useful Link:

Useful Book:
Gardner, K and Lewis, D. (1996). Anthropology Development and Post Modern Challenge. Pluto Press.

[1] Bhaskar, I and P.S. Geethakutty (2001) ROLE OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS IN RURAL DEVELOPMENT: A CASE STUDY, Journal of Tropical Agriculture 39: 52-54
[2] 'Working With NGOs', World Bank, 1995,http://www-wds.worldbank.org/servlet/WDS_IBank_Servlet?pcont=details&eid=000009265_3961219103437
[3] 'Development Charities talking, from the grassroots to the internet', Durham University, UK,http://www.geography.durham.ac.uk/grassroots/

Panchayat Reform: India.
Because of its size and its relatively ambitious efforts to decentralise government, India provides an important context for understanding the ways in which decentralisation can improve the performance and accountability of local government institutions. In 1993, the Government of India passed a series of constitutional reforms, designed to democratise and empower local political bodies – the Panchayats. The 73rd
Amendment to the Constitution formally recognised a third tier of government at the sub-State level, thereby creating the legal conditions for local self-rule – or Panchayati Raj.Since this time, the experience has been highly variable, ranging from ambitious attempts at Gram Swaraj (or village self-rule) in Madhya Pradesh to political recentralization in Karnataka.
A commitment to the reduction of poverty has been a defining characteristic of the Indian state, from the time of Independence to the present day. As Kohli (1987: 62) has argued, the Indian state that emerged after Independence was deeply committed to ‘industrialisation, economic growth and a modicum of income redistribution.’ In terms of poverty reduction, this involved an early attempt at improving agricultural productivity through the implementation of land reforms, agricultural cooperatives and local self-government (Harriss et al., 1992; Varshney, 1998).
From an early stage in this process, the reduction of poverty and the empowerment of poor and politically marginal groups in India have been strongly associated with at least some form of decentralisation (e.g. Drèze and Sen, 1996; Jha, 1999). Perhaps the most enduring image of decentralisation in India is Gandhi’s vision of village Swaraj, in which universal education, economic self-sufficiency and village democracy would take the place of caste, untouchability and other forms of rural exploitation. Although this vision has been hotly debated since (at least) the time of independence (see, especially, Ambedkar’s debates with Gandhi, cited in World Bank, 2000a: 5), Gandhi’s vision has had an enduring effect on the ways in which decentralisation has been argued and defended in Indian politics. Beyond the symbolic imagery of the independent ‘village republic,’ an important element of this relates to the idea that formal, constitutional changes in India’s administrative system can have a lasting impact on informal and unequal structures like caste, class and gender. (We shall return to this theme in due course.)
Perhaps the most important among these – particularly since independence – were the B. Metha Commission of 1957, the Asoka Metha Commission of 1978, and the G.V.K. Rao Committee of 1985. An enduring issue that features in all of these assessments is the notion that the Panchayats have been weakened or undermined on three fronts: (1) States that are unwilling to devolve substantive power; (2) a resistant bureaucracy and (3) the power of ‘local élites.’ Such realisations were instrumental in the drive to give the Panchayats constitutional status in the 73rd Amendment (Jha, 1999).
Milestones in Indian decentralisation
1882 The Resolution on Local Self-Government.
1907 The Royal Commission on Decentralisation.
1948 Constitutional debates between Gandhi and Ambedkar on Gram Swaraj, ‘self-rule’.
1957 Balwantrai Mehta Commission – an early attempt to implement the Panchayat structure at district and block (Samithi) levels.
1963 K. Santhanam Committee – recommended limited revenue raising powers for Panchayats and the establishment of State Panchayati Raj Finance Corporations.
1978 Asoka Mehta Committee – appointed to address the weaknesses of PRIs, concluded that a resistant bureaucracy, lack of political will, ambiguity about the role of PRIs, and élite capture had undermined previous attempts at decentralisation, recommending that the District serve as the
administrative unit in the PRI structure. Based on these recommendations, Karnataka, Andhra
Pradesh and West Bengal passed new legislation to strengthen PRIs.
1985 G.V.K. Rao Committee – appointed to address weaknesses of PRIs, recommended that the block development office (BDO) should assume broad powers for planning, implementing and monitoring rural development programmes.
1986 L.M. Singvhi Committee – recommended that local self-government should be constitutionally enshrined, and that the Gram Sabha (the village assembly) should be the base of decentralized democracy in India.
1993 The 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution – PRIs at district, block and village levels are granted Constitutional status. The Gram Sabha is recognised as a formal democratic body at the village level. The 74th Amendment, granting Constitutional status to municipal bodies, is passed soon after.
1996 The Adivasi Act – Powers of self-government are extended to tribal communities living in ‘Fifth Schedule’ areas.
The 73rd Amendment gives village, block and district level bodies a constitutional status under Indian law. The more important features of the Amendment are summarised in Box 3 (World Bank, 2000a: 7):
Box 3 The 73rd Amendment: major provisions
1. The establishment of a three-tier PRI structure, with elected bodies at village, block and district levels (States with populations less than 2 million are not required to introduce block-level Panchayats);
2. The recognition that the Gram Sabha constitutes a deliberative body at the village level;
3. Direct elections to five year terms for all members at all levels;
4. One-third of all seats are reserved for women; reservations for SCs and STs proportional to their populations;
5. Reservations for chairpersons of the Panchayats Sarpanches – following the same guidelines;
6. State legislatures may provide reservations for other backward groups;
7. A State Election Commission (SEC) will be created to supervise, organise and oversee Panchayat elections at all levels;
8. A State Finance Commission (SFC) will be established to review and revise the financial position of the Panchayats on five-year intervals, and to make recommendations to the State government about the distribution of Panchayat funds.
At the village level, the most important provisions relating to participation and accountability are those governing reservations and the Gram Sabha. Under the 73rd Amendment one-third of all seats must be reserved for women. Likewise, reservations for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) are made in proportion to their population. At the village level, the Gram Sabha, which constitutes all eligible voters within a Gram Panchayat area, is meant to serve as a principal mechanism for transparency and accountability. Among its principal functions are:
to review the annual statement of accounts;
to review reports of the preceding financial year;
to review and submit views on development programmes for the following year;
to participate in the identification of beneficiaries for some government schemes.
This last provision is particularly important because it confers substantive authority over an area that is particularly prone to misallocation and corruption.

a three tier structure of Panchayat

Scheduled Castes (SC) are communities accorded with special facilities provided by Indian constitution viewing their long history of being oppressed, excluded and denied from the mainstream Hindu population, and accorded with the most polluted occupations like manual scavenging and leather works.
Indian after independence has faced a lot of trouble in identifying and labeling population as SCs because of politico-economical reasons. The exact documentation has not been done as they show state wise as well as regional variation. The 2001 cebsus shows they constitute about 16 percent of India’s population.
Nature of their problems:
Traditionally SCs constitute a bulk of Indian population who had to lie outside the vernacular system and had no chance of entry to the upper caste through change processes described by M. N. Srinivas. This resulted in denial of access to resources, public service and decision making. The census shows that about 19 percent of them live n Urban centres and most of them are still engaged in inhuman and vulnerable profession. They have highest fertility and low level of literacy.
Constitutional provisions for protection and development of scheduled castes
The National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) classifies different safeguards in the following broadheads:
  1. Social Safeguards
  2. Economic Safeguards
  3. Educational & Cultural Safeguards
  4. Political Safeguards
  5. Service Safeguards
1. Social safeguards:
Articles 17, 23, 24 and 25(2)(b) of the Constitution enjoins the State to provide social safeguards to Scheduled Castes.
Article 17 relates to abolition of untouchability being practiced in society. The Parliament enacted the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989to tackle the problem of untouchability, which is being practiced against Scheduled Castes.
Article 23 prohibits traffic in human beings and 'begar' and other similar forms offorced labour and provides that any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. Although there is no specific mentions about the SCs in this Article but majority of the bonded labours comes from SCs. Thus, this Article has a special significance for them. The Parliament enacted Bonded Labour system (Abolition) Act, 1976 for identification, liberation and rehabilitation of bonded labourers.
Article 24 provides that no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. Even in this Article, there is no specific mention about the SCs but substantial portion of child labour engaged in hazardous employment belong to SCs.
Article 25(2)(b) provides that Hindu religious institutions of a public charactershall be opened to all classes and sections of Hindus. The term Hindu includes personsprofessing Sikh, Jain and Buddhist religion.
2. Economic Safeguards
Articles 23 24 and 46 form part of the economic safeguards for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The provisions of Articles 23 and 24 have already been discussed in earlier paragraphs.
Article 46 provides, "The States shall promote with special care the educationaland economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation."
3. Educational and cultural safeguards
Articles 15(4) empowers the State to make special provisions for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens and for SCs. This provision has enabled the State to reserve seats for SCs in educational institutions in general and professional courses etc.
4. Political safeguards
Reservation of seats for SCs/STs in the local bodies of the States/UTs, Legislative Assemblies of the State and in Parliament is in practice.
Article 243D assures the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in every Panchayat according to the proportion of population. Such seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in a Panchayat. No less than one third of reserved seats should be allotted to women.
Article 243T assures the reservation of seats in Municipality area. The rule is same.
Article 330 assures reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the House of the People. The allotment of seats is based on the number of the seats and proportion of SCs and STs in the state or Union Territories.
Article 332 assures reservation of seats in the state legislative assembly. The allotment of seats is based on the number of the seats and proportion of SCs and STs in the state or Union Territories.
6. Service safeguards:
The allotment of seats is based on the number of the seats and proportion of SCs and STs in the state or Union Territories. The effect of this amendment is that the SCs/STs promoted earlier than their counter-part in general category by virtue of reservation policy shall be senior to general category in the promoted scale/post.
Scheduled Tribes (ST) represent substantive indigenous minority population of India which are recognised by fifth schedule of Indian Constitution on the basis of their ‘primitive’ technology, relative geographical isolation, distinctive culture and relative shyness of contact with larger communities.
According to 2001 census they represent roughly 8 percent of Indian population mostly living in less accessible places of the country. Today they represent second largest landless population. The geographic distribution shows two concentric zone of their habitation. First, at the central belt of the mainland India, second, at the north eastern region.
Criteria for labeling:
Criteria for labeling a population as ST have been a source of debate. The labeling of a population as ST has political and electoral importance. Furthermore the criteria are themselves problematic. The criteria are primarily based on traits like language, social organisation, identity, economic and technological achievements, and cultural distinctiveness. However, these features also characterises other communities. Traits like language and identity are also volatile, since, many groups have lost their primary language and identity. The economic criteria like egalitarianism, reciprocity and self-sufficiency no longer holds to be true. Yet with these debates, Government of India is determined to provide special incentives to these special groups. At present with 698 ST groups of India represent world’s largest population of STs.
Nature of problems:
At a global level, the indigenous population faces two major problems identified by United Nations, a) Poverty and b) social discrimination. World Health Organisation focuses on the fact that these people suffer from higher rate of infant mortality, under and mal nutrition and lower life expectancy.
India’s affirmative measures:
India has taken a number of affirmative measures for the upliftment of tribal people. It is important to see initiatives taken by India in her several five years plans for the benefit of her weaker section.
Five year plans and development initiatives for Scheduled Tribes:
An analysis of five year plans show that the schemes under tribal development programmes have ranged from infrastructure building to empowerment. The schemes range from collective welfare to family and beneficiary oriented programmes. Though the thrust areas have undergone change from one plan to another, some of the important issues like providing food security and nutrition, improving health services and checking morbidity, and education have been given priority during all the planning periods.
The first plan (1956 -61) emphasised the equitable distribution of development inputs. It emphasises the importance of providing special provision for weaker section of Indian population.
The second plan (1956 – 61) emphasises on reducing economic inequalities between Tribals and others. It showed the sensitivity to their cultural and mental life. 43 multipurpose tribal blocks were set up. Later these blocks were termed as Tribal Development Blocks (TDB).
The third plan (1961 – 66) continued with the same principle of reducing economic and other inequalities. The number of TDB increased to 489, each of which covered 25000 people.
The fourth plan (1969 – 1974) focused on the rapid increase in the standard of Tribal people’s living. Six pilot projects were set up in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa for the benefit of tribals.
The fifth plan (1974 – 78) launched the concept of Tribal Sub Plans (TSP) which is aimed at providing direct development incentives additional to overall state and/or central budget. TSP took two strategies, first, promotion of development initiative to raise their standard of living and second, protection of tribal interest through legal and administrative support.
The sixth plan (1980 – 85) seen high degree of devolution of funds to help tribals crossing the poverty line.
Seventh plan (1985 – 90) showed substantial increase in the flow of funds for the development of STs through infrastructure facilities and enlargement of coverage. Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation (TRIFED) to provide credit and marketing facilities to the Tribals is set up. National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSFDC) is set for employment generation activities.
The eighth plan (1992 – 97) efforts to minimise the gap between levels of development between Tribals and Non tribals.
The ninth plan (1997 – 2002) emphasises the issues of empowerment. It recognises the importance of creating and environment where STs can lead a life of self reliance and dignity. It puts emphasis on three vital components, viz. i) Social Empowerment, ii) Economic Empowerment, iii) Social Justice.
The tenth plan and eleventh plan largely follow the same procedures with an emphasis on tackling unresolved issues. The eleventh plan has created a working group which will look into the empowerment issues.
Further Reading:
Beteille, A. (1998). The idea of indigenous people, Current Anthropology, Vol 39, No. 2, 187 – 91.
Bhatt, A. (1990). Poverty tribals and development: a rehabilitation approach. Delhi: Manohar Publications.
Rath, G. C. Eds. 2006. Tribal development in India: the contemporary debate. New Delhi: Sage
To bring all those who are considered the socially and economically backward on par with the rest of the society, it is a must that they should be assisted in all possible ways. Education which can accelerate amongst them the process not only of conscientisation but also of becoming economically independent should be made accessible to everybody. Government of India describes OBC as "socially and educationally backward classes", and government is enjoined to ensure their social and educational development.
Besides the SCs and STs, there exists a huge proportion of people who are identified as socially and educationally backward classes. Talk of implementing similar welfare measures to this section (OBC) has ignited resentment especially among the high castes. However, it is the constitutional obligation of the government under Articles 340(1). 340(2) and 16(4) to promote the welfare of the OBCs.
Steps taken:
Article 340(1) gives presidential power for appointing commission to label communities as OBCs.
Article 340(2) appointed commission will make needs assessment and take necessary actions.
Article 15(4) states are empowered to take any special initiative for betterment of the OBCs.
In 1953, first commission was constituted. They were responsible for determination of the criteria for the identification of OBCs, investigation of the conditions of these people, make suitable policies for their wellbeing.
The commission did the following:
1. They determined the criteria on the basis of: a) relative low caste position, b) relatively low educational status, c) inadequate representation in decision making bodies and economic participation.
2. The listed backward communities.
3. Recommended for a census based data on backwardness, treatment of women as backward, and reservation up to 70 percent of seats for backward groups.
In 1979, the Mandal Commission was set up, with similar task. They did the following:
1. Used social, educational and economic criteria.
2. Used social position, manual labour activities, early age at marriage, above state average women participation in labour activities as social criteria.
3. Used school attendance, drop out rate, below state matriculation rate as educational criteria.
4. Used possession of asset per family, kuchha house inhabitation, distance from source of drinking water, loaning behaviour at least 25 percent negatively higher than state average as economic criteria.
Ramiah (1992) noted the debate regarding OBC is far from resolved. It is important to note that with provisions for betterment of the social backward classes India’s nation building process would be benefited. With more participation of people from weaker section we can really think of a country having policy which benefits all. However, it is important to do periodic evaluation of the processes through which we visualise benefits for OBC people.
Further reading:
Ramiah, A. (1992). Identifying other backward classes. Economic and Political Weekly. June 6, 1203 – 1207.

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.
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.
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.”
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.