The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the addition of four tribes to the list of Scheduled Tribes.
Newly added tribes:
Himachal Pradesh: Hatti tribe
Tamil Nadu: Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran hill tribes
Chhattisgarh: Binjhia (They were listed as ST in Jharkhand and Odisha but not in Chhattisgarh)
Karnataka: Kadu Kuruba community
The process to include tribes in the ST list begins with the recommendation from the respective State governments.
The request is made to the Tribal Affairs Ministry, which reviews and sends them to the Registrar General of India for approval.
This is followed by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes’ approval before the list is sent to the Cabinet for a final decision.
Scheduled Tribes in India
The term 'Scheduled Tribes' first appeared in the Constitution of India. Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution".
Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.
The tribal population of the country, as per 2011 census, is 10.43 crore, constituting 8.6% of the total population.
89.97% of them live in rural areas and 10.03% in urban areas.
The decadal population growth of the tribal’s from Census 2001 to 2011 has been 23.66% against the 17.69% of the entire population.
The sex ratio for the overall population is 940 females per 1000 males and that of Scheduled Tribes 990 females per thousand males.
Broadly the STs inhabit two distinct geographical area – the Central India and the North- Eastern Area.
More than half of the Scheduled Tribe population is concentrated in Central India, i.e., Madhya Pradesh (14.69%), Chhattisgarh (7.5%), Jharkhand (8.29%), Andhra Pradesh (5.7%), Maharashtra (10.08%), Orissa (9.2%), Gujarat (8.55%) and Rajasthan (8.86%).
The other distinct area is the North East (Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh).
More than two-third of the ST population is concentrated only in the seven States of the country, viz. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.
There is no ST population in 3 States (Delhi NCR, Punjab and Haryana) and 2 UTs (Puducherry and Chandigarh), as no Scheduled Tribe is notified.
National Commission for STs
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (STs) is also a constitutional body in the sense that it is directly established by Article 338-A of the Constitution.
The Commission was established under Article 338 of the Constitution with the objective of monitoring all the safeguards provided for the SCs and STs under the Constitution or other laws.
It consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.
They are appointed by the President by warrant.
Their conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the President.
The Commission presents an annual report to the President.