The government is planning to set up a National Institute of Tribal Affairs to provide policy input at the national level on tribal matters.
Even though there are 18 state level tribal research institutes partly funded by the Centre, a national level institute is yet to be set up. Two of the tribal research institutes - Himachal Pradesh and Andamans were set up just ast year.
According to Secretary Tribal Affairs Meena Gupta the national level institute will undertake research on tribal issues and issues concerning tribals.
It would also co ordinate and synergise the TRIs spread all over the country. Whereas a lot of anthropological, ethnological research was carried out at the state level by the TRIs , National Institute of Tribal Affairs is being envisaged as an permanent autonomous organization consisting of experts to provide inputs on academic and policy matters on tribal issues at the national level to help in policy formulation,she said. The Institute would conduct studies on matters of national importance, she added.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is organizing the first ever meeting of Tribal Affairs Ministers on Feb.13 in the capital preceded by a meeting of Tribal Secretaries on February 12. Ms Gupta said the two day meet will discuss the work done by the Ministry and its future plans.
She said they have sought the Budget of Tribal Affairs pegged at Rs.1656 crore in 2006-07 to be enhanced to Rs. 2416 in the Budget 2007-08. She that the Forest Rights Bill has already become an Act and Rules will be framed in the next three months. The Ministry is also going to finalise the Tribal Policy which is to be ready by early April.
The Ministry is also working on development of Forest Villages populated by labourers who were brought in for development work by the government. On an average we are spending Rs.15 lakh per village, she added. It had also been decided that TRIFED (Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd)will no more do procurement of minor forest produce and market these products but only develop marketing strategy and market tribal handicrafts and other products.
She said besides the regular state channelising agencies distributing loans for income generating activities to Scheduled Tribes at low interest rate it had also been decided to bring in banks and Selp Help Groups (SHG) for disbursement of loans.
An Advasi Bhavan is also on the anvil to showcase tribal arts and culture, she added.