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6th April 2022 (7 Topics)

State of denotified tribes, and why House panel is critical about a programme for their development


A standing committee of Parliament has criticised the functioning of the development programme for de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes.


About The terms:

  • Denotified tribes are communities that were ‘notified’ as being ‘born criminal’ during the British regime under a series of laws starting with the Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) of 1871.
  • After India gained Independence, these tribes were ‘de-notified’ from the list of Criminal Tribes, and, hence, the term. 
  • The CTA was repealed and the Habitual Offenders Act (HOA) was enacted in various States. 
  • Currently, a variant of the HOA Model Bill as proposed by the Union Government stands enforced in 10 States across the country, having been enacted in many more. 
  • Nomadic and semi-nomadic communities are defined as those who move from one place to another rather than living at one place all the time.

Steps taken by Government: 

  • A National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) was constituted in 2006.
  • It was headed by Balkrishna Sidram Renke and submitted its report in June
  • The report stated that, “It is an irony that these tribes somehow escaped the attention of our Constitution makers and thus got deprived of the Constitutional support unlike Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.”
  • The Renke commission estimated their population at around 74 crore based on Census 2001.
  • A new Commission constituted in February 2014 to prepare a state-wise list, which submitted its report in January, 2018, identified 1,262 communities as de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic.
  • The government set up the Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DWBDNC) under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the purpose of implementing welfare programmes.
  • The DWBDNC was constituted in February, 2019 under the chairmanship of Bhiku Ramji Idate.
  • Also, a committee has been set up by the NITI Aayog to complete the process of identification of the de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities (DNCs).
  • Ethnographic studies of DNCs are being conducted by the Anthropological Survey of India, with a budget of Rs 2.26 crore sanctioned.

Standing committee report:

The Committee noted that:

  • At present 269 such Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities are specified and a survey is now in under process to place these castes in SC, ST and BC categories.
  • The Scheme for economic empowerment of DNT communities formulated to provide coaching, health insurance, facilitate livelihood and financial assistance for construction of homes for the members of DNT, with total outlays of Rs 200 crore for the period of five years from 2021-22 to 2025-26.
  • However, the DWBDNC could not spend even a single rupee in 2021-22.
  • The budgetary allocation has been reduced to Rs 28 crore for 2022-23 against the budgetary allocation of Rs 50 crore for 2021-22.
  • The DWBDNC has not been able to take any decision till date hence they would like the Department to take necessary action in this regard so that these castes are placed either under SCs, STs or BCs and avail benefits.

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