People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 05

January 30, 2011


Adivasi Manch Submits Memo to

Finance Minister on Tribal Allocations



A delegation of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch met the finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on January 19, 2011 and gave him a memorandum regarding the urgent requirements on budgetary allocations for adivasis in the forthcoming budget. The delegation members were Bajuban Riyan (chairman and MP), Upen Kisku, (joint convenor), Brinda Karat (MP) Prem Pargi and Vijoo Krishnan. The finance minister mentioned that this was the first time he was meeting a delegation on adivasi demands for budgetary allocations.


The delegation pointed out that there was a shockingly poor record of allocations which was not in accordance with the Tribal Sub-Plan guidelines of 8.4 per cent of the total plan allocations for adivasi communities based on the proportion of adivasis in the total population. The shortfall on this account was as much as 20,000 crore rupees in the last two years.

In this context the decision of the government to allocate a meager 25 crores for so-called Maoist affected districts makes a mockery of the reality of the deprivations faced by adivasis in the measurement of basic social indicators such as access to health, education and housing. Does it mean that Maoist presence is a precondition for extra allocations? This is an absurd proposition. The delegation strongly demanded increased adequate allocations for all areas where adivasis live. They specifically raised the issue of food security and demanded that pending the acceptance of demand for universalisation of public distribution system all tribals should be included in BPL lists.

The finance minister asked for details about the demand raised for a special debt waiver scheme for adivasis because they had not benefited from the present design of the debt waiver scheme. He said it might be because adivasis do not have land titles for various reasons. The delegation stressed that the needs of adivasi farmers have to be viewed in the real context of their lives such as dependence on private money lenders because banks refuse loans, lack of infrastructural support for agriculture in tribal areas, no proper minimum support price for minor forest produce etc. These are the reasons why a special package designed for adivasi needs including allocations for MSP for minor forest produce is required.

Adivasi students have meager stipends of just 520 rupees a month and 240 rupees a month for residential and day students respectively and demanded an increase. It requested special concessions to encourage ST women’s self-help groups by lowering the interest rate to 2 per cent.

The finance minister heard each of the demands and asked for some clarifications. He said he would consider the demands raised by the delegation.


The following is the text of the memorandum submitted to the finance minister on 2011-2012 budget:


On behalf of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch which is working among tribal communities in 14 states we present the following memorandum to you regarding budgetary allocations for the welfare of adivasi communities. Our general request is that the budget should have a vision to translate the basic constitutional guarantees for equality through adequate allocations to universalise the rights to food, health, education, housing and work. While we stand for the equal rights of all working people to national resources, we do believe that some specific measures are required to address the issues of those who have been historically marginalised and oppressed such as adivasi communities.



In your budget speech 2010-11 you had stated “Government concentrates on supporting and delivering services to the disadvantaged sections of society.’ (Para 12) Since admittedly adivasi communities are among the most disadvantaged the request at the outset is for a higher allocation for development of adivasi areas and in the separate schemes for adivasis. One of the basic vehicles being used by government is the tribal sub-plan (TSP) for Scheduled Tribes for fund allocations in accordance with the proportion of adivasi population in the total population which according to the 2001 census is 8.4 per cent. In fact there is at present an undercounting of the adivasi population. However it is disturbing that the earmarked plan allocation for TSP as a proportion of total plan allocation of the union government is far below the norm of even 8 per cent as shown in the table below. In two budgets there was a shortfall of over 27,000 crores in the TSP allocations. We request you to increase the TSP in proportion to the ST population of at least 10 per cent. We also request you to ensure separate data of expenditures for STs in all ministries and departments so as to enable better monitoring of the TSP.


Plan Allocation Earmarked for STs from the Union Budget


2004-05 RE

2005-06 RE

2006-07 RE

2007-08 RE

2008-09 RE

2009-10 RE

2010-11 BE

A. Total Plan Allocation earmarked for STs

(in Rs. crore)








B. Total Plan Allocation of Union Govt.  (excluding Central Assistance to State & UT Plans)

(in Rs. crore)








A as % of B








Source: Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (2010) Response to Union Budget





We are aware that the government is in the process of drafting a food security legislation. However the high malnutrition among ST communities requires urgent action to ensure food security. The Supreme Court has also made special recommendations for the full coverage of ST communities in the food security net. However the present criteria for identification of BPL households virtually exclude those who are land owners. Since a large number of ST communities do own land they are under-represented in the BPL list, even though their landholdings are marginal and unproductive. This is despite the fact that STs have very poor nutritional status, with 60 per cent having BMI less than 18.5, and 68.5 per cent of ST women suffering from anemia. Till such time that the PDS is universalised, as an urgent interim measure, we would request you to increase food subsidy to include all STs in the BPL list. This would help them access not only food but other services.





 The vast majority of adivasi farmers whose debt is mainly linked to private loans in the informal sector have not been able to benefit from the present design of the debt waiver scheme of the central government. Yet according to a variety of studies, there are hardly any farming adivasi families, which are not in debt. This is primarily because of lack of rural credit through public sector banks for adivasi farmers. For example a study of the Impact Assessment of Agriculture Intervention in Tribal Areas in Madhya Pradesh, a state which has the largest adivasi population in the country, pinpointed lack of rural credit and debt as one of the main causes of economic deprivation.


At the same time the crop insurance designs do not include specific needs of adivasi farmers who require specific insurance for specific type of plants such as medicinal plants, herbs etc, which are high risk but which can increase livelihoods provided risk cover is ensured.


We request you to widen the ambit of the debt waiver scheme to include debt from private moneylenders specifically for adivasis (and dalit) farmers in the forthcoming budget as a one-time waiver scheme.


In over 80 per cent of adivasi areas, the agriculture is rain-fed often in dry-land conditions. The allocations for minor irrigation and dryland agriculture in adivasi areas should be increased substantially. We also request you to include a special crop insurance scheme to cover plants and grains grown by adivasis.




 At present MSP for minor forest produce is fixed by state governments through state run cooperatives or corporations or public sector enterprises. The central government has the responsibility to provide funds to the state corporations. At present because of lack of funds and poor planning in most states it is found that adivasis are not getting advantage of the best possible remunerative price for the minor forest produce. A more proactive policy on behalf of the central government is required. Firstly the allocations from the centre for state level corporations/cooperatives should be increased with a specific condition that it be used for increasing MSP for MFP. We would request you to consider setting up a new mechanism such as a central monitoring authority for MFP. As in the case of other crops, if central government can provide funds for MFP it will make a direct impact on enhancing adivasi livelihoods particularly the earnings of adivasi women who are the main collectors of MFP.




Under the forest rights act, land titles have been given to adivasis. It is urgently required to start development works with the benefits available under MGREGA on this land. For this, it may be required that a special component for STs be allocated in the budget for MGREGA on forest land occupied by adivasis which we request you to do.




The central government has several schemes to address the disproportionate burden of illiteracy among adivasi communities. However with the thrust for universal right to education, a larger number of students are expected to attend school which would require a much higher allocation of scholarship funds. At the same time the amount given for post matric scholarship funds is meagre. For day scholars it is just 240 rupees and for residential students it is 520 rupees. It is also noted that the number of scholarships for day scholars is increasing while those for residential students is decreasing. You will appreciate that this does injustice to adivasi students. We would request you to increase the scholarship amount.


Furthermore, in areas where settlements are dispersed and remote, the availability of residential schools is essential since commuting daily is a problem for many children and an important factor in dropping out. Therefore, infrastructure of this kind has to be built and a special package for this scheme would be a welcome initiative in this budget.




The continuing backlog in employment against ST quotas is often attributed to lack of eligible candidates. While this opinion may not reflect the entire picture, the fact is that adivasi youth do require access to training centers. If special allocations for the setting up of more ITIs and other such centers in adivasi areas are made, it would give a big boost to employment potential of tribal youth. This is an urgent requirement which would require adequate funds.




While there is a general improvement in the mobilisation of women in SHGs, the process involving adivasi women is much slower mainly because of lack of support systems and high bank rates. We request you to give all ST women’s SHGs a subsidised bank interest rate of 2 per cent which may be specified for a period of time. This will encourage the formation of groups which in turn will help adivasi livelihoods.


We request you to consider the above issues for inclusion in budgetary allocations to bring justice to adivasi communities.