Remember the people who would come home and sharpen your kitchen knife using a treadle wheel? Seen the tightrope walkers, the monkey-bearers, the bear-masters in roadside shows?

Entire communities in such dying professions were devastated as new laws failed to create alternative means of livelihood. Classified as Nomadic and Denotified tribes (NTs/DTs), these communities remain excluded from official lists and estimates, thus risking their exclusion from the unique identification (UID) project, Balkrishna Renke, ex-chairman, National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes, told journalists here on Thursday.

“They have no territorial rights. If you ask them to prove that they are Indians, they won't be able to. They have no ration cards, no BPL cards, and their names are not included in voting lists. Which is why they are likely to be excluded from UID as well,” he said.

Mr. Renke demanded that the Union government make public the Renke Commission report on nomadic and denotified tribes, to initiate a public discourse.

He said he had submitted the report in July 2, 2008, to the Centre, which is guarded on making the contents of the report public. “Our basic demand is that let there be a full discussion,” he said.

At a UN Round Table Conference, between September 22 and 28, the international body would discuss issues of “indigenous people,” having recognised it as a separate category, he said.

He sought a survey to assess the backwardness of the communities. A particular community could be categorised as Denotified Tribe, Scheduled Caste and Other Backward Class depending on its geographical location. In M.P., such differences are seen from taluka to taluka, he said.

Keywords: UID project


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