Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to put a tribal woman at the top of India’s constitutional framework is not just a symbolic gesture. It reflects a paradigm shift in the Government’s approach to tribal development and welfare.
“Those who were in power for a long time in the country never took interest in the development of tribal areas as it requires hard work. We do it not to win elections but to improve the quality of people’s lives,” PM Modi said, while celebrating India’s first Janjatiya Gaurav Divas (Tribals Golry Day) on November 15 last year.
He opened a Birsa Munda Museum in Ranchi on the occasion in memory of the legendry tribal leader and freedom fighter to mark the occasion and later participated in a mega event in Bhopal the state capital Madhya Pradesh, where they account for over 21 per cent of the population.
In the year 2013-14, only Rs 21,000 crore was spent on tribal sub-plan of the Central Government. After Modi came to power, this has increased to Rs. 86 crore last fiscal — a fourfold increase. Besides the schemes specifically meant for them, India’s tribal population has also been a major beneficiary of Prime Minister Modi’s other flagship schemes.
Clean drinking water has reached more than 1.25 crore tribal families under the Har Ghar Nal Yojana. Not only this, more than 82 lakh Ayushman cards have been issued. The houses of 38 lakh tribals have been constructed in the country.
More than three crore tribal farmers have also got the benefit of PM Samman Nidhi given to farmers. Eklavya Model Schools, which were only 278 in the year 2013-14, have increased to 1418. The annual expense per student was also only Rs 42,000, which has now become Rs 1,09,000. The expenditure on education has increased from Rs 1,000 crore to Rs 2,500 crore.
At the instance of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the National Tribal Research Institute has been launched in New Delhi to act as a think-tank for the Government in policy formulation and execution. There are many tribal research Institutes in the country, but there was no national link connecting many diversities of tribal society.
While ensuring time-bound and corruption-free implementation of various tribal development and welfare schemes, Prime Minister Modi is equally conscious of preserving that heritage and their contribution to nation building.
Apart from Birsa Munda Museum in Ranchi, nine other tribal freedom fighter museums are being set up in the states of Andhra Pradesh (Lambasingi), Chhattisgarh (Raipur), Goa (Ponda), Gujarat (Rajpipla), Kerala (Kozhikode), Madhya Pradesh (Chhindwara), Manipur (Taminglong), Mizoram (Kelsey) and Telangana (Hyderabad), and are at different stages of completion.
While stepping up the development process in the Naxal-affected areas, which are primarily confined to the tribal belt, the Government has successfully adopted a zero-tolerance approach to the Maoist menace that had been festering in India since 1974. The situation had deteriorate much during the previous regimes that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had described the Maoists as the single-most dangerous internal security threat to the country.
During the last eight years, the Modi Government has put the Maoists on the backfoot and alienated them from the mainstream tribal people. . The steadfast implementation of the ‘National Policy and Action Plan to address Left-wing Extremism (LWE) – 2015′ has resulted in a consistent decline in violence. The incidents of violence have reduced by 77 per cent from an all-time high of 2,258 in 2009 to 509 in 2021.
The Public Policy Research Centre (PPRC) in a report — ‘AatmaVishwas se AatmaNirbharta: Defending India’s Might’— has claimed that nearly 1,651 Maoists have surrendered and joined the mainstream during 2019-21.