Development vs Extremism: Xaxa Committee report

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Click Here To download The recommendation of the Report

What was purpose of Xaxa Committee?

  1. 2005: UPA had setup Sachar Committee to Muslim community’s socio-economic-educational status.
  2. 2013: On the similar pattern, UPA-II setup Committee under Virginius Xaxa. He was a member of NAC (National advisory council).
  3. To study the socio-economic, health and educational status of tribals.
  4. To suggest policy initiatives and interventions for tribal-upliftment.
  5. 2014: Gave report.
Virginius Xaxa Committee on tribals

Major recommendations of Xaxa Committee

Land acquisition: Problems found:

  1. Government notifies rural areas as urban areas to keep them out of PESA coverage.
  2. The PPP (Public private partnership) model, is simply a backdoor method of tribal land alienation.
  3. Government agencies acquire land for “public purpose” but later transfer it to private companies at throwaway prices.
  4. Government
    has signed such MoUs with companies, Government officials became
    “dealers and negotiators” of tribal land. “Neutrality of the State” is
    forgotten.
  5. In scheduled areas, tribal’s land cannot be
    transferred to non-tribals. YET Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI)
    sometimes hastens project-files which directly /indirectly violate this
    provision.
  6. Development projects lead to influx of outsiders to
    tribal areas, thus harm tribal interests by money landing activities and
    pollution.

Land Acquisition: Suggestions given

  1. Prevent all kinds of tribal land alienation
  2. Gram Sabha’s consent compulsory for any type of land acquisition. Even if the government wants land for its own use.
  3. If anyone obtains Gram Sabha’s consent fraudulently = impose penalties and cancel such projects.
  4. Empower
    Gram sabhas to restore alienated land back to original owner, even
    while case is pending in court. This will discourage non-tribal buyers
    from committing frauds.
  5. Earlier Vijay Kelkal Committee suggested
    that unused Government land should be sold off/leased off to get more
    money and reduce fiscal deficit. Xaxa asks Government to use such land
    for tribal-resettlement.
  6. Promote small sized water-harvesting structures instead for large dams.
  7. Impose penalties on officials, if delayed implementation of Forest Rights Act or PESA.

Mining in tribal areas

  1. After mines are exhausted, return the land back to original owner. Amend the Coal-Bearing Areas Act, 1957 to implement this.
  2. In Andhra Pradesh, tribal-cooperative societies are can do mining activities. Other states need to adopt same model.
  3. In Scheduled Areas, only permit tribals to exploit mineral resources.
  4. Future policy makers should learn lessons from Niyamagiri episode.

Linkage with Extremism

  1. There is no legal basis for terming anything a “Naxal offence”.
  2. Yet many tribals are arrested for protesting against developmental projects.
  3. Thus, laws are used as tools of tribal oppression.
  4. Appoint a judicial commission to investigate such “naxal cases” registered against tribals and their (non-tribal) supporters.
  5. Avoid making Salwa Judum like policies to combat left wing extremism.

Epilogue: Modi
unlikely to implement any of this, because he wants to give rapid push
to highways, mining and industrial corridors, while Xaxa suggesting
tough norms for land acquisition. Nonetheless, provides sufficient
fodder for Mains GS.

Appendix: Tribal insurgency

just some fodder points based on a book review in thehindu
Under British rule:

  • The British passed Forest Acts (1878, 1927) banned -shifting cultivation, foraging, grazing and hunting in Indian jungles.
  • British
    kept the tribal areas under their direct administration through
    Governors and kept ‘their’ forest almost intact until they left India.
  • This negatively affected the livelihoods of tribes- leading to rebellions.
  • The
    British branded their protests as ‘savage attacks’, and usedextreme
    violence to impose ‘Colonial-civilisation’ on these “savages”.
  • Konds of Odisha- they spill blood to worship their deity under “Meriah” rite. But British branded it as “human sacrifice”.

Under Free India:

  • Since 1980s, Central and Eastern India became the perfect guerrilla terrain for the Naxalites.
  • This
    region is home to a large tribal population. The Maoist movement spread
    in these tribal belts because they Promised to end their historical
    marginalisation; and managed to build intimacy with local people,
    overriding differences of caste or tribe.
  • UPA Government took away nearly 1.2 lakh ht. of forest land and gave it to MNCs for mining and power projects.
  • Tribal
    made to work in the most dangerous parts of mines and steel plants, for
    petty wages. Thus, even the new ‘civilised’ Indian are keeping them as
    ‘primitive’ as possible.

Appendix 2: Constitutional & Legal protection

Constitutional protection to ST: List not exhaustive

Article How tribals protected?
15/4 State can make special provisions for advancement of SEBC, SC and ST.
19/5 As
such citizen can freely move, reside and aquire property in any part of
India. BUT State can impose restrictions to protect the ST. Example-
forbidding non-tribals from purchasing land from tribal.
23 Human trafficking prohibited.
29 Linguistic minority has right to conserve its language and culture. Many ST communities are also linguistic minorities.
164 Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and JHK need to appoint a minister for tribal welfare.
330, 332 Reservation for SC-ST in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha.
334 Above reservation valid only for ten years.
335 Reservation for SC-ST in Government jobs.
338A National commission for ST, appointed by President.
339/1 after
10 years from Constitution, President shall appoint a Commission to
prepare report on Scheduled areas and ST. So far two commissions setup
UN Dhebar (1961) and Dilip Singh Bhuria (2002)
371 Special provisions for 11 states. Including tribal-protection in Gujarat, Maharashtra, NE etc.
Schedule How tribals protected?
5th Tribal areas in nine states. Governors given special powers.
6th Autonomous district councils in AMTM = Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram

Legal protection to ST: Just brief overview

Law How tribals protected?
1996
  • PESA or Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act
  • State Government have to give certain political, administrative and financial powers to local governments in tribal areas.
  • 50% seats reserved for tribals.
  • All chairpersons must be tribals (@gram, tehsil, district level bodies).
2006
  • Forest rights act
  • Tribals given “land ownership”, if they can prove they/their ancestors have been tilling the land beyond x years.
  • Gram Sabha/ community rights over forest, forest produce, IPR on traditional medicine etc.

Mock Questions for Mains

Answer following in 200 words each:

  1. “The
    problem of tribal land alienation and its linkages with extremism, can
    be best solved with Implementation of Xaxa Committee report.” Expand on
    the assertion made.
  2. Discuss the Constitutional provisions for protection and development of Tribal areas in India.
  3. Mention
    any three tribal areas in India. What’re the main components of
    Government’s tribal development program? (UPSC asked this in 1988.)
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