UPSC MAINS 2020: NCST recommends ‘tribal area’ status for Ladakh

Topic : NCST recommends ‘tribal area’ status for Ladakh

Topic in Syllabus: General Studies Paper 2: Indian Polity

Context:

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) recommend that Ladakh should be declared a tribal area under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

Need

The total tribal population in Ladakh region is more than 97 %. This tribal population includes Balti, Beda, Bot, Boto, Brokpa, Drokpa, Dard, Shin, Changpa, Garra, Mon and Purigpa tribe

As per NCST, inclusion of Ladakh in 6th schedule will help

  • Democratic devolution of powers
  • Promote distinct culture of the region
  • Protect agrarian rights including rights on land and
  • Enhance transfer of funds for speedy development of the region.

NCST also said that the autonomous district councils of erstwhile Union Territory of Mizoram had helped in mitigating the genuine aspirations of people.

About 6th schedule

The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India allows for the formation of Autonomous District Councils to administer regions which have been given autonomy within their respective states (i.e., Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram).

Features of 6th Schedule

  • The tribal areas in the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram have been constituted as autonomous districts. But, they do not fall outside the executive authority of the state concerned.
  • The governor is empowered to organise and re-organise the autonomous districts. Thus, he can increase or decrease their areas or change their names or define their boundaries.
  • If there are different tribes in an autonomous district, the governor can divide the district into several autonomous regions.
  • Each autonomous district has a district council consisting of 30 members, of whom four are nominated by the governor and the remaining 26 are elected on the basis of adult franchise.
  • The elected members hold office for a term of five years (unless the council is dissolved earlier) and nominated members hold office during the pleasure of the governor.
  • Each autonomous region also has a separate regional council.
  • The district and regional councils administer the areas under their jurisdiction.
  • They can make laws on certain specified matters like land, forests, inheritance of property, marriage and divorce, social customs and so on. But all such laws require the assent of the governor.
  • The district and regional councils within their territorial jurisdictions can constitute village councils or courts for trial of suits.
  • The district and regional councils are empowered to assess and collect land revenue and to impose certain specified taxes.
  • The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
  • The governor can appoint a commission to examine on any matter relating to the administration of the autonomous districts or regions.
  • He may dissolve a district or regional council on the recommendation of the commission.

Background

  • Under the Govt. of India Act, 1935, the hill areas of Assam were divided into two categories-Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas.
  • The Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) the Naga Hills and the North Cachar Hills were under the excluded areas, over which the provincial ministry had no jurisdiction.
  • The Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the Garo Hills, and the Mikir Hills were partially excluded areas. These districts had five representatives in the Assam Legislative Assembly.
  • Briefly, these areas were administered by the state government subject to the special powers of the Governor.
  • The 1935 Constitution did not give local self-government or political autonomy to the hill tribes of the excluded and partially excluded areas to manage their local affairs according to their own genius and ability.
  • In order to ensure their participation in decision making and safeguarding tribal interests, the Government of India appointed a Sub-Committee of the Constituent Assembly – the North-East Frontier (Assam) Tribal and Excluded Areas Committee – under the Chairmanship of Gopinath Bardoloi, Chief Minister of Assam.
  • The Bardoloi Committee’s recommended for a simple set-up (District Councils) of the tribal areas, which were incorporated into the Article 244 (2) of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Bardoloi Committee also made provision for Regional Council for the tribes other than the main tribe.
  • This scheme sought to build up autonomous administration (District Councils and the Regional Council) in the hill areas of Assam so that the tribal people could preserve their traditional way of life, and safeguard their customs, and cultures.
  • The Committee also recommended the abolition of the excluded and the partially excluded areas and representation of the hills districts in the legislative Assembly.

About 125th amendment bill

  • The Bill amends provisions related to the Finance Commission and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • It increases the financial and executive powers of the 10 Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of the north-eastern region.
  • The amendments provide for elected village municipal councils, ensuring democracy at the grassroot level.
  • The Finance Commission will be mandated to recommend devolution of financial resources to them.
  • The Autonomous Councils now depend on grants from Central ministries and the State government for specific projects.
  • At least one-third of the seats will be reserved for women in the village and municipal councils in the Sixth Schedule areas of Assam, Mizoram and Tripura after the amendment is approved.

About National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

  • It is a constitutional bodyestablished with a view to provide safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes.
  • It aims to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests.

Composition of the commission

  • The Commission consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and three other members.
  • They are appointed by the President by warrant.
  • Their conditions of service and tenure of office are also determined by the president. The commission presents an annual report to the president.

Functions of the commission

  • To investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes.
  • To inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes.
  • To participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.
  • To present to the President reports upon the working of those safeguards.
  • To make in such reports recommendations as to the measures that should be taken by the Union or any State for the effective implementation of those safeguards and other measures for the protection, welfare and socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes.

 

Sample Question:

 How does tribal area status help the Ladakh region? Discuss