Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Govt seeks welfare plans to keep disadvantaged groups away from Naxalites

Tribal rejig to stop drift
- Govt seeks welfare plans to keep disadvantaged groups away from Naxalites
CITHARA PAUL

New Delhi, Dec. 1: The Centre is planning to revamp tribal welfare programmes to ensure that disadvantaged groups do not drift towards Naxalites because of lack of development.

The ministry of tribal affairs has invited expressions of interest-cum-proposals (EOPs) from NGOs and other agencies to design a plan to “improve and raise the level of tribal administration in scheduled areas’’ (SAs) — the official term for tribal zones. Similar proposals will be invited at the state level, too.

The notification calling for the proposals says “an in-depth situational analysis’’ of the administrative structure in the SAs, “covering all aspects of governance”, has to be done. Once this is over, a plan to upgrade and reorganise the welfare programmes will be devised.

The goal is to “facilitate the availability of best services and development inputs to the Scheduled Tribes within a defined time period’’, says the notification.

“We are reworking the tribal schemes to make them more people-friendly and effective. It is important to stop innocent tribals from falling into the trap laid by Naxalites who cash in on lack of development,” a ministry official said.

At present, nine states have such scheduled areas. These are Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The notification says a review will identify administrative procedures that are not benefiting tribals so they can be discarded. It seeks suggestions for better governance and grievance redress.

The goal of the welfare programmes should be to enable tribals to attain the same, if not higher, human development indices as in the developed areas of the country.

The efforts to counter Naxalites’ sway on tribals don’t end with the review of welfare plans. On the ministry’s table is a tribal exchange programme under which one group will visit another in a different area. The aim is “to cultivate the spirit of oneness’’.

“It is specifically aimed at knowledge-sharing and drawing lessons from the best practices and lifestyles (of groups) across states,’’ according to the guidelines for the exchange programme.

The official stressed that the programme was meant to blunt the rebel propaganda that “tribals are out of the development trajectory”. “We want the tribals to see for themselves the development in other areas through this programme,’’ he said.

The exchange programme will increase the awareness of tribals so they can better appreciate welfare and educational programmes and cultural and social practices across different states and groups.

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