The Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) has recently released the report on 'Status of Adivasi Livelihoods 2021'. The report was released in the presence of the Minister of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, Arjun Munda. The report majorly highlights the current challenges and scarcity that Adivasis are living with, which adversely impacts their lives.
An extensive survey has been conducted to know Adivasis status in the states of Jharkhand and Odisha. The data was collected through a household questionnaire survey in 4994 sampled households, a village survey across 254 villages, focused group discussions in 28 villages, and interviews of 40 Adivasi scholars and social workers.
The reach of development amenities and facilities in terms of the existence of all-weather roads, telephones, educational institutions, health infrastructure, etc., have been poorer in Adivasi villages compared to the non-Adivasi villages of the same geography. For instance, mobile connectivity was available for around 70% of Adivasi villages, compared to approximately 90% of non-Adivasi villages in both states.
During the release of the Survey at an event, Minister Munda said, "This report will be very crucial for policymakers and civil society organisations working closely with these communities for their betterment in the near future. Adivasis have been inhabiting the forest areas and living in close proximity to nature for generations. They have a lot of potentials, but it is important to have faith in their abilities and link them with the market systems without compromising their innate relationship with nature, including forest."
The average annual income for Adivasi households was estimated at INR 75,378 and INR 61,263 in Jharkhand and Odisha, respectively. However, crop diversity continued to be quite rich. Even under rainfed conditions, Adivasi households reported growing crops from a choice of 20 crops. However, 25 per cent of Adivasi and 19 per cent Non-Adivasi people in Jharkhand were severely food insecure. In Odisha, 12 per cent of Adivasi households and 16% of Non-Adivasi households were severely food insecure.
The Executive Director of PRADAN, Saroj Mahapatra, while talking to The Logical Indian, said, "The insights on how Adivasis think about their development, how their values and cultural ethos impact their livelihood choices may help the policymakers to formulate new policies and programmes. Similarly, the status of amenities and infrastructure and government programmes on the ground may help improve the existing development programmes. The major findings would also help funders in deciding their priorities. The existing knowledge systems of Adivasis and their development priorities need to be considered while designing the projects and programmes."
Adivasis Reaction On Schemes
On the positive side, from 2021-22, an amount of INR 78,256.31 crore was allocated as Scheduled Tribe Component (STC) funds (INR 7524.87 crore to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs alone), which showed an over 50 percent increase in the STC budget from the previous financial year, and over four-fold increase in 2014-15 allocation. In more recent years, the State Governments have launched specific programmes for developing the Adivasi people.
A little more than half of the respondents stated that they were not only satisfied with the Government schemes but also felt that life had become better in the year preceding the Survey.
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