Tribal Development in India


The Contemporary Debate

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Among India’s ‘people at the periphery’ are its tribals. Development planning in India has attempted to foster their social and economic empowerment by focusing on food security, health, education, employment and income generation. Fifty years of such planning has, however, failed to narrow the gap between the tribals and the rest of the population, and has instead actually reinforced the unequal exchange between the two.

The thirteen seminal essays in this volume investigate the failure of the welfare model of development as applied to tribal India, and the consequent efforts by tribes to better their lot by seeking political autonomy and/or the restoration of traditional rights to natural resources—namely, water, forest and land. The book contains case studies of little-known movements such as Dalitism in Jharkhand and the Kamatpur movement in Bengal. Providing a compact yet comprehensive account of the tribal experience of development in India, the contributors examine all the major issues affecting India’s tribal population, including:

  • The search for political autonomy;
  • The struggle against land alienation;
  • Rights to resources and decision-making;
  • The decline in traditional occupations;
  • Environment, ecology and sustainability;
  • Displacement caused by large infrastructure projects;
  • The impact of development schemes on gender relations; and
  • Globalization and the shift from isolation to integration.

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Govind Chandra Rath

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