India’s tribes living on the margin of society

Murali Krishnan

Although over 8% of India’s population belongs to a tribe, according to the latest census, tribal communities are increasingly being squeezed to the margins of society. “Despite more than two decades of impressive GDP growth, India’s growth has remained confined to enclaves of prosperity surrounded by vast hinterlands of deprivation,” an excerpt of the report reads.

India’s tribal communities suffer deficits in access to education, nutrition and clean drinking water, according to a “tribal development report” from the Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation (BRLF). The new report claims to be the first exhaustive study since 1947 of the living conditions experienced by tribal communities across the country.

The study combined data from government sources, case studies, archival research and interviews with tribal communities. Its authors say the report is intended to highlight issues faced by tribal people in order to spearhead changes in policy. “This voluminous report traces the historic neglect that tribes have suffered,” said Pramathesh Ambasta, founding member of SPS, an Indian NGO focusing on development issues. “The unique aspect is that it brings together many thematic areas concerning indigenous communities in one place,” Ambasta told DW….