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‘Adivasi officers in Adivasi areas’ ‘Nehruvian Panchsheel’ for Adivasis [1952]

Stan Swamy

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‘Nehruvian Panchsheel’ is a proclamation of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru who had a special concern for Adivasi People. When it comes to the administration of Adivasi areas, he wanted that “Tribal teams should be trained to undertake administration and development without too many outsiders being inducted.”

Adivasi community in India constitute 8% (approx. 10 crore in number). The economic exploitation, social discrimination and cultural marginalisation of the Adivasis is nearly complete. One-third of their land has already been taken. Hundreds of MoUs have been signed between the govt and industrialists without taking the land-owners into confidence and in violation of constitutional, legal and judicial provisions. And when they refuse to give their land, they are beaten up, arrested and even killed.

Jawaharlal Nehru was convinced that some special protection should be provided to them as part of govt’s policy, formulated what has come to be known as Nehruvian Panchsheel (1952) for the Adivasi People. They are:

1. Tribals should be allowed to develop according to their own genius.
2. Tribals’ rights in land and forest should be respected 
3. Tribal teams should be trained to undertake administration and development without too many outsiders being inducted.
4. Tribal development should be undertaken without disturbing tribal social and cultural institutions 
5. The index of tribal development should be the quality of their life and not the money spent

But unfortunately these policy measures spelt out by the first PM of the country has been thrown to the winds during all these seven decades of independence. No one even speaks of it these days.

Reasons why non-Adivasi officers (civil & police) should not be placed in Adivasi-dominant areas:
1) Most non-Adivasi officers do not appreciate the fact that unjust, illegal alienation of Adivasi land and natural resources and consequent large scale displacement of the indigenous peoples is the real problem. In this matter, the Supreme Court has observed “If tribals’ land is being sold illegally, then they (tribals) will turn into Naxalites…” [ SC observation on , March 25 2014 on a PIL on illegal transfer of tribal land] . Several of non-tribal officers even look down upon the Adivasi people and fail to perform their professional duties toward them. 
2) Most non-Adivasi officers cannot understand or appreciate Adivasi culture. Traditional Adivasi culture is characterized by (1) collective ownership of the means of production, (2) community as the point of identity of its members, (3) sense of equality among all the members of the community, (4) spirit of co-operation with each other, (5) consensus decision making on all matters pertaining to the community, (6) protect and nurture nature even while using it, The non-Adivasi officers from outside have come to Jharkhand with very different and opposing set of values. Their life is guided by (1) private ownership, (2) personal individual identity, (3) unequal class / caste affiliation, (4) competition in all spheres of life, (5) majority / minority is their basis of decision making, (6) exploit nature and all its resources for personal benefit with scant regard to preserve & protect it. This value system beautifully conforms to our present capitalist society and thus has become the dominant ideology. The Adivasi culture, on the other hand, is looked upon as a thing of the past and no more relevant in our capitalist economic, social order. 
3) Most non-Adivasi officers never bother to learn the tribal language before assuming their responsibility. This has particular pertinence to those officers who have to deal directly with rural tribal people and especially rural tribal women who know only their tribal language. It is the most alienating situation where the officer speaks to a rural tribal woman in Hindi which the woman does not understand, and when the tribal woman answers the officer in her tribal language which the officer does not understand. How can the officer fulfil his responsibility towards a people with whom he cannot even communicate orally or in writing. And yet this has been the reality and continues to be so. The ultimate sufferers are the Adivasi people. A very uunjust situation indeed.

All these debilitating factors could have been avoided if only the Nehruvian Panchsheel for the Adivasi people had been adhered to. In terms of law and order, if Adivasi officers are placed in Adivasi areas, the state repression of Adivasi people will reduce considerably. Even now it is not too late. It calls for a strong will power on the part of the govt in terms of justice towards the Adivasi people of India.

(Writer’s view)

न्यूज विंग एंड्रॉएड ऐप डाउनलोड करने के लिए आप यहां क्लिक कर सकते हैं. आप हमें फ़ेसबुक और ट्विटर पेज लाइक कर फॉलो भी कर सकते हैं

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