The Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP), a key government intervention strategy to deal with issues facing about 700 tribal communities across the country, has been questioned by the women and child development (WCD) minister, 39 years after it was launched.
"We need to now review the efficacy of the TSP as a tool for the development of women and children. It does not specifically take into account the concerns of women and children," Krisha Tirath, minister, WCD, said in New Delhi during a two day meet on 'Scheduled Tribe Women and Children: Issues and Challenges for Development'.
"With the scaling up of many national programmes such as ICDS, MNREGA, etc, it is for us to debate whether we should continue with TSP in its current form." "The focus should shift more to ensuring the reach of these programmes in tribal areas and more importantly to ensure their benefits to tribal women and children."
The recommendations coming out during the deliberations at the conference will be incorporated in the approach paper for the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.
TSP provides for a budget component, of 8% for central ministries/departments and in proportion to tribal population, in states to be spent on programmes and schemes for the tribal populace.
The government needs to secure livelihood of tribals whose land is acquired for development projects, as displacement is leading to loss of occupation and often exposing their womenfolk to "exploitation and trafficking", Tirath said.
The minister also pitched for tribal-sensitive forest laws and policies that recognize the importance of minor forest produce like 'mahua' and 'tendu' leaves.
Concern was expressed at the trend of gender imbalance being witnessed in some tribal areas, which traditionally do not look upon a girl child with disfavour. "We have sought data on which are the areas where this has been witnessed and what are the causes. We need to know reasons and then we can combat it," Tirath added.
Tribal communities constitute over 84 million or 8.2% of India's total population. They are among the most vulnerable sections lagging behind in most socio-economic indicators like poverty, illiteracy, access to developmental facilities, health facilities, etc.