The process of inclusion or exclusion from the Scheduled Tribes list
- The Union Cabinet has recently approved a proposal to add several tribes to the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) in States such as Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh, so that they can avail of benefits meant for STs, including reservation.
Which communities have been added to the ST list?
- The communities approved for inclusion in the ST list are the Hatti tribe in the Trans-Giri area of Sirmour district in Himachal Pradesh, the hill tribes of Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran of Tamil Nadu, the Binjhia community in Chhattisgarh and the Gond community in certain districts of Uttar Pradesh.
- The Cabinet has approved the addition of several alternative names for already existing Scheduled Tribes in Chhattisgarh and Karnataka so that the difference in spellings and pronunciations do not result in members of these communities being left out of the benefits meant for them.
- Significantly, even as the Union Cabinet has decided to include these communities under the ST list, this is not the first time they have been categorised for benefits of reservation. Most of these communities had been either included in the list of Scheduled Castes (SC) or Most Backward Classes till now.
How is a community added or removed from SC, ST lists?
- The process begins at the level of a State or Union Territory, with the concerned government or administration seeking the addition or exclusion of a particular community from the SC or ST list.
- The final decision rests with the President’s office issuing a notification specifying the changes under powers vested in it from Articles 341 and 342.
- The inclusion or exclusion of any community in the Scheduled Tribes or Scheduled Castes list come into effect only after the President assents to a Bill that amends the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950, as is appropriate, after it is passed by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
- A State government may choose to recommend certain communities for addition or subtraction from the list of SCs/STs based on its discretion. This recommendation may come from studies it commissions like in the case of classifying the Hatti community in Himachal Pradesh.
- Following this, the proposal to include or remove any community from the Scheduled List is sent to the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs from the concerned State government.
- After this, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, through its own deliberations, examines the proposal, and sends it to the Registrar General of India (RGI). Once approved by the RGI, the proposal is sent to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes or National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, following which the proposal is sent back to the Union government, which after inter-ministerial deliberations, introduces it in the Cabinet for final approval.
What is the criteria to begin the process?
- To establish whether a community is a Scheduled Tribe, the government looks at several criteria, including its:
- ethnological traits,
- traditional characteristics,
- distinctive culture,
- geographical isolation and
How many Scheduled Tribes are there officially?
- According to the Scheduled Tribes in India as revealed in Census 2011, there are said to be 705 ethnic groups listed as Scheduled Tribes under Article 342.
- Over 10 crore Indians are notified as STs, of which 1.04 crore live in urban areas. The STs constitute 8.6% of the population and 11.3% of the rural population.
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