Scheduled tribes refer to those communities that go through social, educational, and economic backwardness that has been in existence for many years. They are vulnerable to the practice of untouchability and discrimination due to a lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation. They need special schemes to safeguard their interests and promote their socio-economic development. Such communities were considered to be Scheduled Tribes as per the provisions in Clause 1 of Article 341 of the Constitution.
Some steps taken by the government to eradicate the discrimination toward scheduled tribes are as follows:
- Article 17 abolishes Untouchability.
- Article 46 seeks the State ‘to promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.”
- Article 335 states that “the claims of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall be taken into consideration, consistently with the maintenance of efficiency of administration, in the making of appointments to services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or a State.”
- Article 15(4) recommends special approaches for their advancement.
- Article 16(4A) speaks of “reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favor of SCs/STs, which are not adequately represented in the services under the State”.
- Article 338 provides for a National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- Article 330 and Article 332 of the Constitution provide reservation seats for Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People and the legislative assemblies of the States.
Some educational and welfare schemes introduced by the government of India for scheduled tribes are as follows:
Students belonging to scheduled castes receive various scholarships at different levels of education such as pre-matric, post-matric, national fellowship, national overseas scholarship, free coaching, and more.
Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955)
The Act was enacted to prohibit untouchability and provides punishment to anyone who treats scheduled castes as untouchables.
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
This Act offers financial assistance to the states or union territories to provide relief to victims of atrocities, generate awareness, and more.
Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for ST Students
This Central Scheme was introduced to offer fellowship to Scheduled Tribe students. It enables them to pursue higher studies such as M.Phil and Ph.D. The scheme was introduced in the year 2005-06.
Establishment of Ashram Schools in Tribal Sub-Plan Areas
The main aim of this scheme is to facilitate residential schools for Scheduled Tribes including PGs in an environment that supports learning. It seeks to increase the literacy rate among the tribal students. The scheme was implemented in 1990-91 and has been revised w.e.f. the financial year 2008-09.
Various other schemes have been developed by the Indian government to protect the scheduled tribes and minorities across the country. Discrimination against these groups has reduced to a huge extent after the implementation of these schemes.