Tribal-dominated Jharkhand is set to become the second state in India to have a dedicated university for tribal students on the lines of India’s first Indira Gandhi Tribal University in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh.
Chief minister Raghubar Das, while tabling his third budget for Jharkhand on Monday, said that the state government has sought the centre’s nod in setting up a central tribal university in Jharkhand.
According to the 2011 census, tribals form 26.2% of the state’s 3.29 crore population. The move is significant for the BJP-ruled state as the opposition had recently succeeded in polarising the state’s tribal populace after the government brought a bill to amend the century old land ceiling acts—Chottanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act-- that allows government to acquire agricultural tribal land for carrying out development work like building roads, bridges and schools. Tribals considered the two acts custodians of their rights and opposed any changes.
“We have sought the centre’s permission in setting up a dedicated central tribal university in Jharkhand which will help tribal students pursue their dreams and prosper,” Das said during the 2017-2018 budget in Ranchi.
The university will primarily focus on development and growth of tribal students but will be open for all, sources from the government said.
Even though tribals form a major chunk of the state’s population, the community has failed to witness quintessential growth in the interiors. The literacy rate for scheduled tribes in Jharkhand was put at 40.7 % in the 2001 census. A majority of tribal youths here stay in the hinterland and are faced against a growing nexus of human trafficking and left wing extremism which has affected 21 of 24 districts here.
“Setting up a tribal university has been a long pending demand of tribal activists and educationists here. This is a welcome move, which will not only spread knowledge about the tribal traditions but also uplift the tribal population,” said GR Gonjhu, former head of the tribal and regional language department under Ranchi University.
However, political experts see the government’s move as an effort to retain the fast fading tribal support for the BJP here after a series of protests against the land law amendments and land acquisition for industrial works. At least seven protestors died in police firing this year while agitating against land acquisition and land law amendments.
“The opposition has been painting the BJP anti-tribal. So, this move may help to some extent in retaining the tribal support the party was losing,” said political analyst VP Sharan.