Bageshree S.

Bangalore: The Karnataka State Backward Classes Commission has recommended the setting up of a separate commission to study and recommend measures for the welfare of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes in Karnataka, which are stated to be among the most marginalised communities in the State.

At a meeting held recently, the commission resolved to recommend to the State Government to set up a separate body on the lines of the National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes constituted in 2005. It also suggested that socio-educational and economic survey of the nomadic tribes be conducted to ascertain their living standards.

This recommendation gains significance as the 38 identified nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes in Karnataka —which are split under reservation categories of Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes — have rarely enjoyed the benefits due to them, with the numerically and socially strong castes within these groups cornering a major share.

“These tribes have historically remained invisible. We do not even have an estimate of the population of these communities because they have an itinerant lifestyle and generally live outside the mainstream,” Backward Classes Commission chairman C.S. Dwarakanath told The Hindu.

Dombi Dasa, Helava, Budaga Jangama, Durga Murgi, Ghesad, Kalandar, Darvesh and Karkarmandi are some of the nomadic tribes of Karnataka. Mr. Dwarakanath said that there were several inconsistencies even in their categorisation. “For example, Dombi Dasa and Chenna Dasa are the same communities known by two names. While the first is in Scheduled Caste category, the second is categorised under Backward Class list,” he said.

If the commission is set up on the lines of the national commission, it will have a mandate to study the economic interventions required for raising the living standards of denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes by asset creation and self-employment opportunities; to recommend measures to utilise the agencies set up for the economic development of SC/STs and OBCs for extending an economic development package to these groups; and to identify programmes required for their education, development and health.

“If a commission is set up, it will go a long way in giving an identity to these communities which have a scattered, microscopic presence in Karnataka,” he said.