Why in news?
The Union Cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the addition of four tribes to the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST), including those from Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh.
- Demands for the inclusion of the communities had been pending for decades.
- The Cabinet also approved a proposal to bring the Gond community, residing in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, under the ST list from the Scheduled Caste list. This includes the five subcategories of the Gond community: Dhuria, Nayak, Ojha, Pathari and Rajgond.
- The Cabinet approved ‘Betta-Kuruba’ as a synonym for the Kadu Kuruba tribe In Karnataka.
- In Chhattisgarh, the Cabinet approved synonyms for tribes like the Bharia (variations added include Bhumia and Bhuyian), Gadhwa (Gadwa), Dhanwar (Dhanawar, Dhanuwar), Nagesia (Nagasia, Kisan), and Pondh (Pond).
The tribes that were included:
- The Hatti tribe in the Trans-Giri area of Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh, the Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran hill tribes of Tamil Nadu, and the Binjhia tribe in Chhattisgarh, which was listed as ST in Jharkhand and Odisha but not in Chhattisgarh, were the communities added to the list.
Scheduled Tribes (ST)
- 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 President may, with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a state, after consultation with the Governor there of by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall, for the purposes of this constitution, is deemed to be scheduled tribes in relation to that state or Union Territory, as the case may be.
- Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled tribes specified in a notification issued under clause(1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid, a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
The essential characteristics of these communities are:
- Primitive Traits
- Geographical isolation
- Distinct culture
- Shy of contact with community at large
- Economically backward
The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)
It was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely- (i) the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), and (ii) the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) w.e.f. 19 February, 2004.
The term of office of Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and each member is three years from the date of assumption of charge. The Chairperson has been given the rank of Union Cabinet Minister, and the Vice-Chairperson that of a Minister of State and other Members have the ranks of a Secretary to the Government of India.