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The ‘Scheduled Castes' and ‘Scheduled Tribes' have been facing social and economic discrimination since Independence. They are educationally backward and neglected in every sphere due to lack of awareness among the groups. There are both government and non-government organizations that are working in the direction of their upliftment.
The initiatives of the state are:
1. Reservations of seats in education and employment- the Scheduled Castes and scheduled tribes have been given reserved seats in government services across all the services to ensure their representation.
2. Laws to prohibit discrimination- there have been different laws regarding the prohibition of discrimination against these excluded groups of society like the abolition of ‘untouchability’ by article number 17 of the Indian constitution.
3. Reservations of seats in state and central legislature- to ensure the representation of such vulnerable groups in politics, reservations have been provided in the two houses of the parliament also.
4. Prevention of atrocities act, 1989- the act was implemented throughout India to look into the matters relating to the discriminatory practices against the vulnerable groups specifying punishments for the same.
The initiatives of the non-state actors are:
State actors alone cannot bring about social change. Human beings are always capable of organizing and acting on their own. Such initiatives refer to the social reformers and movements and their struggle for the equal treatment of the so-called "lower castes and tribes".
1. The Dalits too have been increasingly active on political and cultural fronts.
2. Leaders such as Jotiba Phule, Periyar, B.R. Ambedkar and others to the contemporary political organizations such as Bahujan Samajwadi Party or Dalit Sangharsh Samiti have contributed to the noble cause.
3. Contributions by Dalits have also been made in the field of literature throwing light on the hardships faced by the community.
The “Jana” or “tribes” were believed to be the people of forest areas whose distinctive habitat in hill and forest areas shaped their economic, social and political attributes. These scheduled tribes along with the scheduled castes in India are given special status in the Indian constitution. They face the following problems today:
1. In India, today, baring the northeastern states there are no areas of the country that are inhabited exclusively by the tribal people. There are only areas of tribal concentration.
2. Their economic and social conditions are usually much worse than those of non-tribal in the areas where tribal population is concentrated.
3. For the government projects, these people are removed from their own habitat and not guaranteed anything worth in return.
4. Tribal identity has got mixed with Hindu society and culture, therefore, boundaries between tribe and castes have become porous hence losing their specific identities.
5. Due to their dispersed population, these people are deprived of the advantages of any social and economic scheme by the government as the government is not able to collect proper data.
The tribes would continue to face these problems unless and until there is an effective control action over the over-utilization of the resources that belong to adivasis. Such agencies should be promoted that are in true sense devoted to the upliftment of tribes.
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