COMMON CAUSE || Vol. XXXVI No. 3 || July-September, 2017

A Weapon of the Weak and the Marginalised

“Poverty in the land of plenty”, wrote Minoo Masani way back in 1953 in his book Our India. Masani rightly
recognises the paradox of our nation — the land with abundant natural resources has been the home for the
poor and the most deprived. The tribal areas in particular have been victims of this paradox despite the fact
that the Constitution laid down various provisions for the betterment of the tribal population. For instance,
Article 342, by providing that the President’s power to ‘notify communities as Scheduled Tribes’ (STs),
unconditionally recognises the fact that the ST communities are the ones which have suffered the worst
dispossession. The STs are guaranteed various forms of reservations by Articles 320, 332 and 334 of the
Constitution. PESA , 1996 provides tribal communities Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act
powers with regards to natural resource management and self-governance. Yet the widespread non-implementation of these provisions has created stark inequalities leading to poverty and deprivation of India’s tribal communities. Read more