Govt goes big on tribal welfare ahead of assembly elections | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Govt goes big on tribal welfare ahead of assembly elections

By, New Delhi
Feb 01, 2023 11:11 PM IST

The tribal population is a key constituency for political parties this year, with assembly elections scheduled to be held in nine states — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

Ahead of this year’s assembly polls in nine states with a substantial tribal vote bank, the central government announced the launch of a 15,000 crore development action plan to improve the socioeconomic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) over the next three years, and increased the budgetary allocation for the tribal affairs ministry to 12,414.95 crore, an almost 48% hike over the preceding fiscal.

In her Budget speech on Wednesday, the finance minister allocated <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>15,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission that will be made available in the next three years. (ANI)
In her Budget speech on Wednesday, the finance minister allocated 15,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission that will be made available in the next three years. (ANI)

The tribal population is a key constituency for political parties this year, with assembly elections scheduled to be held in nine states — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura.

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While Chattisgarh and Tripura have more than 30% tribal population, Meghalaya and Nagaland have over 85% of tribal population, and Mizoram constitutes 90% of tribal population.

The tribal affairs ministry was allocated 8,401.92 crore in the current financial year, which later came to 7,281 crore in the revised estimate.

In her Budget speech on Wednesday, the finance minister allocated 15,000 crore for the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission that will be made available in the next three years. The Pradhan Mantri PVTG Mission has been launched as part of “Reaching The Last Mile”, one of the seven “Saptarishi priorities” enlisted in the Budget.

Last year, 252 crore was allocated for the development of PVTGs. It was reduced to 124.79 crore in the revised estimate.

“To improve socioeconomic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission will be launched. This will saturate PVTG families and habitations with basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, road and.telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities,” the finance minister said.

The finance minister also announced recruitment of 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools over the next three years. The Eklavya Schools, which come under the ministry of tribal affairs, cater to around 350,000 tribal students in remote areas across the country.

The budget allocated for Eklavya Schools also increased substantially to 5,943 crore in 2023-24 from 2,000 crore in 2022-23.

Union tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda welcomed the announcements and termed it as the Budget of “Amrit Kaal”. “For the first time, a development mission for primitive tribes will be launched to improve the socioeconomic condition of tribal groups, so that the primitive tribes’ settlements can be equipped with basic facilities. 15,000 crore will be made available to implement the scheme in the next three years,” he said.

Sitharaman also announced that a mission to eliminate sickle cell anaemia by 2047 will be launched for affected tribal areas. “It will entail awareness creation, universal screening of 7 crore people in the age group of 0-40 years in affected tribal areas, and counselling through collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments,” she said.

The finance minister also announced the PM-VIKAS package for artisans and craftsmen, and said that it will greatly benefit Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes (OBCs), women and people belonging to the weaker sections.

“For centuries, traditional artisans and craftspeople, who work with their hands using tools, have brought renown for India. They are generally referred to as vishwakarma. The art and handicraft created by them represents the true spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). For the first time, a package of assistance for them has been conceptualised. The new scheme will enable them to improve the quality, scale and reach of their products, integrating them with the MSME value chain,” she said.

The scheme will not only include financial support but also access to advanced skill training, knowledge of modern digital techniques and efficient green technologies, brand promotion, linkage with local and global markets, digital payments, and social security, the finance minister added.

Congress leader P Chidambaram, however, brought up the cuts in the umbrella schemes for STs and SCs in revised estimates in the last Budget, and termed them as “shocking”. “The government is not spending what was promised on the key schemes…While the umbrella scheme for the welfare of SCs witnessed a cut from 8,710 crore to 7,722 crore, for STs, it has decreased from 4,111 crore to 3,874 crore…,” he said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Fareeha Iftikhar is a Special Correspondent with the national political bureau of the Hindustan Times. She tracks the education ministry, and covers the beat at the national level for the newspaper. She also writes on issues related to gender, human rights and different policy matters.

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