“The interests of the indigenous peoples must be part of the new development agenda in order for it to succeed… Together, let us recognize and celebrate the valuable and distinctive identities of indigenous peoples around the world. Let us work even harder to empower them and support their aspirations. “
~~ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
August 9, demarcated as International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples was proclaimed as such by UN General Assembly that set aside the day for the well being of the world’s indigenous peoples. The second decade of this special day celebrates the thematic aspiration “A Decade for Action and Dignity.” This year’s focus aims at “Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples”.
The first “World Conference on Indigenous Peoples” will be held on 22-23 September 2014. The meeting will be an opportunity to share perspectives and best practices on the realization of the rights of indigenous peoples, including pursuing the objectives of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The objective of this year’s theme will highlight the importance of implementing the rights of indigenous peoples through policies and programmes at both the national and international level.
HERD Foundation recognizes the importance of Article 366 (25) under Constitution of India, that defines our indigenous peoples as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342”. Article 342 prescribes the procedure for specification of a scheduled tribe that offers the oft-used criterion to identify such indigenous groups based on attributes like –
- Geographical isolation – tribes living in cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hills and forests.
- Backwardness – their livelihoods based on primitive agriculture, low-value closed economy with a low level of technology leading to poverty, and having low levels of literacy and health.
- Distinctive culture, language and religion – communities have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion.
- Shyness of contact – having a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people.
The Gond tribes settled in our parts comprise of the dominant tribal populations and they used to be largely concentrated in the hilly, forested tracts of the state. Gradually however our tribal people are being absorbed and are being included in urban mainstream population. There are said to be about 50 sub-groups of Gond tribes that inhabit much of the central parts of our country. They are known to be of Dravidian lineage linguistically and racially are said to belong to Proto-australoid stock.
The Gonds migrated in Central provinces from the south through Chanda and Bastar in 14th century where they established the Gond kingdom. The present city of Nagpur was founded at the beginning of the 18th century by the Gond Raja, Bakht Buland. They were warriors but are now tillers and animal grazers. They remain largely subjugated to low status and rural populations remain isolated.
The Ministry of Tribal Affairs set up in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment provides a focused approach on the integration of indigenous peoples of India with a view to develop their socio-economic positioning. The tribal departments are all working in a coordinated and planned manner to implement the overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for development of ST’s. The Ministry of Tribal Affairs remains the nodal Ministry for the welfare and activities for the development of indigenous peoples of India.