JK Tribal Affairs Minister says ‘fate of tribal communities can be changed by education’ 

FPK Photo/Afshan Rashid

JK Tribal Affairs Minister participates in International Conference on ‘Inclusive Tribal Congregation sharing experience of India and Africa’

New Delhi: Minister for Food, Civil Supplies, Consumer Affairs and Tribal Affairs, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali has said that there is a very low literacy rate among tribal communities in whole world and only by way of providing education, their ‘fate can be changed’.

The Minister was presenting his ‘paper’ in the International Conference on “Inclusive Tribal Congregation sharing experience of India and Africa” which was attended by leaders and diplomats all over the globe.

Speaking during the Conference at New Delhi which was organized by Forum for SC ST OBC Legislators and Parliamentarians in collaboration with Department of African Studies, University of Delhi, Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali said that only education can bring desired changes and every tribal community must focus on educating their wards so that to compete with mainstream.

He appreciated the role of World Organizations, Government of India and Government of Jammu & Kashmir for focused attention on tribal issues.

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The Conference was attended by Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retd) VK Singh, Minister of State in PMO, Dr Jatinder Singh besides T Woldemariam, Dean Diplomatic Corps and Ambassador Eretia, Barka Luvanda High Commission of Tanzania, Pious Dunishki High Commissioner Nambia, Mossi Nymale Rossette Ambassor of Congo, Ahmed Shoiab Second Secretary Political Arab Republic of Egypt, Manuel M Kuende, Secretary the Republic of Angolo, Major General Cris Aze Retd High Commission of Nigeria, Member Parliament of Uganda. The Working National President of Forum for SC ST OBC Legislators and Parliamentarians of India was also present.

Zulfkar Ali presented his view point over the tribal relationship between India and Africa. He said that India is a country of diverse culture, religion, caste, languages which differ from area to area. “India is a Mini World”, he said adding that as per census 2011, the total Tribal Population of the country is 104 Million i.e. 8.6% and the Tribals are mostly concentrated in the Himalyas from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pardesh, Uttar Pardesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern Region, Odisha, Madhya Pardesh, Andhra Pardesh, Assam and smaller number in other areas.

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Throwing light on the tribal’s in India, Zulfkar said that 573 communities have been recognised by the Government as Schedule Tribe and they are eligible to take certain concession and benefits.

He said that social foundation of India has mainly three components – tribal settlements, villages and towns and it is difficult to draw sharp distinction amongst them because they share some common characteristics. He added that one thing appears to be true that the tribes have been exploited economically and socially by the non tribals living in tribal area. He said that there are tribes who have remained outside the schedule list of constitution and they are backward particularly in the fields of education and economy and have been exploited by the dominant sections of Indian society such as landlords, money-lenders and industrialists who have grabbed their lands by various means.

Calling upon conducting more research on the tribal’s, Zulfkar said that Tribal’s in India have always been the source of study for Sociologists and Anthropologists but they have been treated differently by different scholars depending upon their individual background, experience and interest. “There has always been difference of opinion regarding suitable model for the integration of the tribal’s to the mainstream of Indian life” he said, giving example of Census 1931 in which it was forcefully stick to the point that the tribal’s were distinct from non-tribal’s as far as religion is concerned.

Regarding model of tribal development, Zulfkar said that transformation springs from its historical experience and the constitution. He added that other countries have addressed themselves to the problem of national integration and it would be useful in India to go through the experiments made by African countries and United States in this regard.

Calling upon the world community to preserve tribal cultural heritage, Zulfkar said that integration must be sharply differentiated from assimilation which means complete loss of cultural identity for the weaker groups. He said that each Tribal group must be able to uphold its cultural heritage with dignity and sense of achievement.

About African tribes, Zulfkar said that Africa is a very large and unique continent with many tribes and diverse ethnic peoples and each are having their own culture, language, customs and history. He said that tribes and ethnic groups in Africa range from stone-age cultures to modern 21st Century people, all living next to each other in this amazing continent.

Zulfkar said that Africans and Indians are not the strangers to each other, there are at least 20,000 of an African-origin ethnic tribe who have been living in India for centuries, he added.

Stressing on provision of education for the tribal people, Zulfkar said that the recruitment of qualified teachers and determination of the appropriate language of instruction also remain troublesome in bringing positive results. He said there is a need to have focused attention on the subject so that they can be made fully dependent on their own.

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