The criteria of the Lokur Committee for recognition of any community under the ST list

The criteria of the Lokur Committee for recognition of any community under the ST list

As per the recent procedure for Scheduled Tribes, the approval of the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) is mandatory for inclusion of any community in the ST list.

Norms set by Lokur committee-

The RGI’s office is following a set of criteria laid down by the Lokur Committee nearly 60 years ago to define any new community as a Scheduled Tribe.

The criteria laid down by the Lokur Committee for defining a community as a tribe are:

  • Signs of primitiveness, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, inhibition of contact with the wider community, and backwardness.

Government Task Force on Determining Tribes-

  • In February 2014, a government task force on demarcation of tribes constituted under the then tribal affairs secretary Hrishikesh Panda concluded that these criteria “may become irrelevant in view of the process of transition and acculturation”.
  • Furthermore, it was also noted that being a primitive trait to be included in the Primitive and Scheduled Tribe list actually seems to be a concept of self-superiority by outsiders. The Committee noted that what we consider primitive is not considered so by the tribals themselves.
  • It also pointed out problems with the geographic isolation criterion, arguing that as infrastructure continues to grow across the country, how can a community live in isolation?
  • The task force recommended changes in the criteria in May and based on this, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs prepared a draft cabinet note in June 2014 to change the criteria and procedure for determination of new communities as STs.
  • This was done within a month of the swearing in of the first cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Provisions related to Scheduled Tribes in India-

  • The Constitution of India does not define the criteria for recognition of Scheduled Tribes. According to the 1931 census, the Scheduled Tribes are recognized as “backward tribes” living in “excluded” and “partially excluded” areas.
  • The Government of India Act 1935 called for the inclusion of representatives of “backward tribes” in provincial assemblies for the first time.

Constitutional Provisions:

  • Article 366 (25): Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution;
  • Article 342(1): The President may with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a State, after consultation with the Governor thereof, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union territory, as the case may be
  • Fifth Schedule: It lays down provisions for the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in States other than those included in the Sixth Schedule.
  • Sixth Schedule: Deals with the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

Source – The Hindu

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