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January 25, 2014 vol xlix no 4 EPW Economic & Political Weekly
The Future of Tribals
in Telangana State
T Prabhakara Reddy
This response to A Separate
Telangana: Promises and Prospects
for Tribal People by R Ramdas
(20 July 2013) looks at the Andhra
Pradesh governments initiatives
for tribals, as well as their future
in the new state to be, Telangana.
his is with reference to a note A
Separate Telangana: Promises and
Prospects for Tribal People by
R Ramdas (EPW, 20 July 2013). I would
like to spell out the following aspects.
While agreeing with Ramdas that the
tribals are experiencing land and social
alienation, it is worth mentioning the
governments initiatives like the promo-
tion of education and employment and
other benets through the Integrated
Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) and
other programmes, which are exclusively
created for the welfare of the tribals.
Despite the achievements made so far,
constituting around 7% (as per Census
2011) of the total population of Andhra
Pradesh (AP), 35 communities ofcially
designated as scheduled tribes (STs) are
the most underprivileged sections of the
society when compared to other social
groups in the state (Satavahana Devel-
opment Society 2012).
It was argued in a recent study that
the intensity of poverty is much more
serious among tribals than among the
scheduled castes (SCs), and they are
twice as much alienated. According to
the 66th round of the National Sample
Survey Ofce (NSSO 2010), a majority of
STs received job cards and availed em-
ployment under the Mahatma Gandhi
National Rural Employment Guarantee
Scheme (MGNREGS) compared to all other
social groups. It was also reported that
the work participation rate, for males
and females, according to usual status by
STs is the highest compared to all other
social groups. As regards their educa-
tion, the percentage of ST students who
completed 10th and 12th class is 27%
and 14%, respectively. It shows that they
are lagging behind educationally and
economically in society. About 40% of ST
households do not have any household
goods, while 55% do not have bank
accounts, although they are working
under the MGNREGS.
Therefore, it is important to mention
that the Smart Card Initiative of the
AP government on an experimental basis
is striving towards total nancial inclu-
sion wherein the job card holders are
issued these cards. As a result, the margin-
alised sections, especially tribals, are
given smart cards, which are in turn
used not only for banking transactions,
but they are receiving wage payments
under the MGNREGS, as well as pensions
and scholarships.
In fact, a majority of tribals lack basic
necessities and live in pitiable conditions,
with an exception of one or two tribal
communities that are relatively well off
and performing better. Although there
has been considerable increase in the
fund allocation for tribal areas, most of
the tribals were not able to draw the
benets due to large-scale corruption
among ofcials and improper implement-
ation of tribal development schemes.
Besides, a majority of tribal areas lack
proper communication and infrastruc-
ture facilities.
Therefore, any attempt by the govern-
ment that tries to enhance their socio-
economic condition has to focus prima-
rily on primitive tribes and the poorest of
the poor among the STs, with awareness
generation and the peoples parti cipation
approach, and take into account their
needs, feelings and aspirations while the
development process is taken up.
Land Alienation
It is a fact that land alienation continues
unabated in tribal areas in different
forms despite the fact that there is an
adequate number of Acts in existence
(Reddy 1989). The number of litigations
that are pending and the acres of land
involved in cases reveal that the incidence
of land alienation in AP is substantial.
The Ministry of Rural Development of
the Government of India in its 2007-08
Annual Report states
Reports received from various States, indicate
that 5.06 lakh cases of tribal land alienation
have been registered, covering 9.02 lakh acres
of land, of which 2.25 lakh cases have been
disposed off in favour of tribals covering a
total area of 5.00 lakh acres. 1.99 lakh cases
covering an area of 4.11 lakh acres have been
rejected by the Courts on various grounds
(MoRD 2008).
T Prabhakara Reddy ( is
an independent researcher at the Satavahana
Development Society, Hyderabad.
Economic & Political Weekly EPW January 25, 2014 vol xlix no 4
Despite stringent provisions under the
Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Areas Land
Transfer Regulation, 1959 (APSALTR) to
protect the lands of the tribals in the
Scheduled Areas, the tribals are facing
land alienation. In fact, the extent of
the problem is such that, at present, non-
tribals hold as much as 48% of the land
in the Scheduled Areas of the state. Since
the APSALTR came into effect in 1959,
72,001 cases of land alienation have
been led, involving 3,21,685 acres of
land in the state. Further, the tribals are
losing the legal battle to recover their
lands. Of the 72,001 cases registered un-
der the APSALTR, 70,183 cases were dis-
posed off and 33,319 cases (47.5%) were
decided against the tribals, involving
1,62,989 acres of land. As of January
2007, about 300 cases were pending in
the AP High Court involving about 2,500
acres of land under the APSALTR, 1959.
However, it appears from the above
data that the tribals are losing their land
in legal disputes, and, therefore, there is
a need to prevent the land transfers by
implementing the existing laws in letter
and spirit, and provide legal help to the
tribals to protect their interests in restor-
ing their land. Nevertheless, it has been
established that the sheer lack of educa-
tion and awareness among tribals is the
root cause for the exploitation of tribals
by non-tribals and upper castes.
Status of Tribals
As regards their status, by and large, a
sizeable number of tribals (47%) are
groaning under poverty and their living
standard is minimal, except the Lam-
badas who relatively enjoyed the lions
share of benets from state assistance.
Besides, the fact that a majority of primi-
tive tribes such as Bodo Gadaba, Gutob
Gadaba, Bondo Poraja, Khond Poroja,
Parangiperja, Chenchu, Dongaria Khond,
Kuttiya Khond, Kolam, Kondareddi, Konda
Savara, and Thoti did not get benets
under united AP (Reddy and Kumar
2010) is a classic example to argue that the
new and smaller state is going to address
their issues in a focused manner as the
administration comes closer to them.
For instance, the tribals in Jharkhand
state are enjoying the benets of develop-
ment in terms of government programmes
and schemes, a result of having a sepa-
rate state, which they never experienced
under united Bihar. Hence, there is an
argument that there is a growing need
felt among tribals for creation of a sep-
arate state, in which tribals would
benet based on their population propor-
tion and socio-economic backwardness.
Against this background, it is impor-
tant to mention that the initiative of the
AP government, i e, the SC, ST Sub-Plan
with an allocation of Rs 21,000 crore
(GoAP 2013) that has been introduced
recently, if implemented properly, would
benet the tribals immensely.
The Future of Tribals
The lives of tribals in a new state would
denitely be better than what it is
today, as governance would improve in
any small state. There is a group of
people who are working on it, as to how
to mainstream the tribals in a new state
towards development, working towards
a blueprint that would emphasise social
inclusion and benet the tribals ulti-
mately. Further, the people in the fore-
front of the movement for a separate
Telangana have agreed to continuing the
Sub-Plan approach and designing a new
policy of autonomous councils for the
welfare of STs in the new state.
In fact, the movement for a separate
Telangana has seen their active partici-
pation and one can easily make out their
presence. There are tribal leaders who
have been actively involved in the sepa-
rate Telangana movement, and are in the
forefront ghting for a cause. Hence, it is
unimportant to have doubts about their
development and welfare in a smaller
state, which, in fact, is going to be carved
out for ensuring their social inclusion.
The Road Map
At the outset, it would be a high priority
for the new state, i e, Telangana, to push
for the formation of autonomous councils
for tribals with a view to ensuring self-
rule and self-sufciency in terms of their
livelihoods, and the provision of special
funds to these areas for development.
Further, the reconstruction of the vil-
lage economy will focus on natural re-
source management, more importantly,
rejuvenating the tanks, water bodies,
water harvesting structures, encouraging
the practice of cultivating organic farm-
ing and growing different millets and
crops, promoting occupations of crafts-
men and opportunities for labourers in
the vicinity, protecting the forests, streams
and rivers, and, thus, nally building
livelihood blocks through indigenous
methods so that sustainable livelihood
development is achieved among the tribal
community in the new state.
Secondly, achieving inclusive growth
by ensuring social inclusion and provid-
ing better administration at their door-
step is quite possible in a smaller state as
there would be close interaction between
the tribals and the government. Finally,
mainstreaming of tribals in the develop-
ment process by earmarking some fund-
ing in all the line departments budgets,
implementation of different programmes
in a focused manner and ensuring their
participation in fullest form will be the
rst priority in the new state of Telangana.
As a result, the tribals in the new state
will have better recognition and a better
place in the development trajectory, while
protecting their culture, customs and
promoting their socio-economic status
in a mission-mode approach.
GoAP (2013): SC, ST Sub Plan, 2013-14, Govern-
ment of Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad.
MoRD (2008): Annual Report, 2007-08, Ministry
of Rural Development, Government of India,
New Delhi.
NSSO (2010): Report of 66th Round, 2009-10,
National Sample Survey Ofce, Government of
India, New Delhi.
Reddy, T Prabhakar (1989): Tribal Land Aliena-
tion in Andhra Pradesh, Economic & Political
Weekly, 24(28): 1571-73.
Reddy, M Gopinath and K Anil Kumar (2010):
Political Economy of Tribal Development: A
Case Study of Andhra Pradesh, February,
Working Paper No 85, Centre for Economic and
Social Studies, Hyderabad.
Satavahana Development Society (2012): Socio-
Economic Status of STs and SCs in Andhra
Pradesh: A Policy Report, Satavahana Deve-
lopment Society, Hyderabad.
available at
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