Left untouched by the Centre’s welfare juggernaut, the denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes (DNTs) that comprise about 10 per cent of the country’s population can finally look forward to education, health care and economic empowerment among other benefits.
The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is all set to seek the Cabinet’s approval for implementation of the recommendations that were made by the Balkrishna Renke Commission in 2008 and by the National Advisory Commission (NAC) in 2011.
The Renke Report, which has 76 recommendations, included designating the DNTs as a “scheduled group”, with a special quota of 10 per cent. Though it was circulated for inter-ministerial consultations, the issue remained relegated to the backburner.
A fresh set of recommendations by the NAC and a recent reminder has given the issue an impetus and the Ministry is hopeful of bridging the gaps in the implementation of welfare measures for the DNTs.
The Ministry has, however, sidestepped the issue of extending 10 per cent reservation on the grounds that it will violate the existing 50 per cent ceiling [for reservation] as mandated by the law and require a constitutional amendment.
According to a senior ministry official, there is a proposal to establish a separate National Commission for the denotified tribes for an initial period of two years, a separate division in the Ministry, constitution of corporations at the national level with an initial equity of Rs.200 crore and access to free education and scholarships.
“The National Commission for DNTs will be mandated to prepare a State-wise list of castes that belong to denotified and nomadic tribes, identify the castes, which have not been included in the list of SC/ST/OBCs, identify the DNT populated areas,” said the official.
The Ministry is also looking at utilising ‘Aadhar’ for identifying and reaching out to the DNTs. Once the nomadic communities are identified they will be able to benefit from the welfare schemes wherever they are.
These recommendations, that come ahead of the State Assembly elections in Karnataka, Delhi, Tripura, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Madhya Pradesh, are also an attempt by the Centre to woo the denotified tribes that have been deemed as one of the most neglected people in the country.
The Renke Commission had earlier pointed out that those DNTs who have been classified as SC/ST/OBCs have not been able to benefit from the reservation policy. As per the Renke Commission, roughly 10 per cent of the country’s population is denotified with 150 tribes, 500 nomadic communities.
In its 2008 report, the Commission had suggested recommendations across 14 broad categories, which incorporated special schemes for pastoral communities, reservation in government jobs and representation in Human Rights and Women’s Commission, BPL, ration and voter identity cards, housing and habitation and employment.