Tribals has been paid on education in their

Tribals in India are a very heterogeneous community. There are more than 400 tribal
communities as per 1971 census, some like Negis and Meenas well assimilated in mainstream,
others like tribes of North eastern states still retaining original cultural identities.
During British period, they were grossly isolates at times and were exploited on the other by
merchants, administrators, forest officials, money-lenders and so on. They primarily depended
on forests which were alienated from them. Their unique culture also came under threat from
outsiders like missionaries. In most cases, they were alienated from their lands as well. Their
anger was also vented out in form of many uprisings during colonial period. Colonial rule left
them in gross suspicion and insecure and their ‘integration’ into Indian nation became a
challenge as India had already witnessed the ill effects of policies of ‘isolation’ and ‘assimilation’
in past. So, Nehru and other leaders saw a middle path in form of integrative approach and said
‘tribal areas have to progress and have to progress in their own way’. Tribals had to be
developed economically, socially and politically, but as per their own genius. Their forest and
land rights have to be acknowledged. Their language and culture has to be preserved.
Provisions were also made in the constitution itself. Article 46 called for their educational and
economic development without injustice and exploitation. Similarly, special provisions were
made for tribal areas and governors were given additional responsibility. State and central laws
have to be modified to be applicable in these areas. Right to Property and Right to free travel
and residence were curtailed in these areas. Seats were reserved in legislatures for them.
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes was also setup. Tribal Advisory Councils were setup in
areas with tribal population.
However, execution of above ideas remained far from satisfaction and tribals lagged behind in
the developmental race and tribal areas are still exploited by the money-lenders, forest officials,
merchants and traders, forest contractors and land grabbers. Their ignorance of law has also
made them even more vulnerable. Their educational performance have remained very low and
little attention has been paid on education in their own language despite constitutional
directives. As a result of this, there have been many protest movements, violent actions and
vociferous demands for their development in post-independence period. Antagonism of tribals
towards non-tribals is another grave development. In many areas tribals have been
outnumbered by the outsiders and it has further fuelled their anger.
Manipur was a Monarchy at the time of Independence, however it signed the Instrument of
Accession on the conditions that its autonomy will be maintained. But people wanted self rule and as a result Maharaja of Manipur ordered elections of assembly in 1948. These were the first
election in India after independence and Congress came to power. After elections, the state
became a constitutional monarchy. In the Legislative Assembly of Manipur there were sharp
differences over the question of merger of Manipur with India. While the state Congress wanted
the merger, other political parties were opposed to this. The Government of India succeeded in
pressurising the Maharaja into signing a Merger Agreement in September 1949, without
consulting the popularly elected Legislative Assembly of Manipur. This caused a lot of anger and
resentment in Manipur, the repercussions of which are still being felt.
Tribals of North East were subjected to high degree of isolation during British rule and as a result
of it, they were able to preserve their unique identities, little land was owned by outsiders, they
remained in majority in the areas they resided, but all this at the cost of their
underdevelopment. This area also remained politically isolated as well and was hence
untouched by ideas of nationalism and a common unifying bond. Special needs of North east
tribes were addressed through provisions of 6th Schedule which is applicable only to tribes of
North East. It provided for ‘tribal autonomous districts’ and ‘regional councils’ which could work
independently and perform some of legislative and judicial functions as well. However,
problems arose in tribal areas for their threat perception and integration issues. Hill tribals had
little cultural affinity with those in plains of Assam and Bengal and they were apprehensive that
people from plains will intrude into their areas and will ultimately take control over resources an
cultural identities. Political leadership also failed to perceive this development and it aggravated
over time and in mid 1950s, a demand for separate hill state arose in Assam to which
government didn’t pay any serious attention. When Assamese was made the sole official
language ignoring other tribal languages in 1961, protest voices got further louder and it
culminated into first creation of Meghalaya state within state Assam in 1969 and later a full
state in 1972. UTs of Manipur and Tripura were also granted statehood.
Though transition to statehood of Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh was
smooth, it was not so in case of Nagaland and Mizoram. Naga areas were totally isolated during
British rule and after Independence, government of India sought to integrate them, but they
opposed in favor of a separate independent state under leadership of A Phizo and British
officers and missionaries support. In 1955, a violent campaign was launched by Nagas and they
declared independence from Assam and India. To this government of India responded with a
firm foot and sent army and prolonged negotiations were also pursued along with. After army
intervention, rebellions back was broken and more moderate leader Dr Imkongliba accepted the
offer of separate Naga state which came into existence in 1963. Declaration of separate state
led to decline of insurgency which saw sporadic outbursts with Chinese, East Pakistani and
Burmese support. Army also gained some unpopularity due to some unpleasant incidents.
A few years later, similar situation developed in autonomous district of Mizo in Assam. They
were relatively settled with the idea of being part of India, but inadequate measures during
1959 famine and later declaration of Assamese as official language stoked the secessionist
tendencies and Mizo National Front (MNF) was formed with Laldenga as its leader and tacit support from China and East Pakistan. It declared independence in 1966 and launched violent
insurgency which was met by tough stance of Indian army. Ladenga and others fled into East
Pakistan and Mizoram was given status of a UT in 1973. In 1986, when MNF and Laldenga
surrendered, government also softened its stance and invited them into mainstream
announcing full statehood to Mizoram with Laldenga as its first chief minister in 1987.
Case of Jharkhand was different. It also had 1/3rd tribal population and Jharkhand area was
generally poor and exploited despite presence of mineral resources. Early leaders like Jaipal
mobilized support in 1950s with tribal identity as a rallying point, but soon realized that larger
population was non-tribal and hence the idea didn’t work. In 1970s Jharkhand Mukti Morcha led
by Shibu Soren redefined the strategy and took both the tribals and non-tribals together
claiming that north Bihar and other outsiders have led to their exploitation and
underdevelopment. The struggle went through various ups and downs before Jharkhand got full
statehood in 2000.