Adivasi impoverishment accelerates under NDA II

Written by Archana Prasad | Published on: December 8, 2015

As the juggernaut of the Modi Government’s unfettered Hindutva led corporate capitalism rolls, the adivasis of the country are feeling its intense impact. The adivasis form about 8.8% of India’s population and a large majority of the adivasi population is concentrated in the Central Indian region which has been a stronghold of the sangh parivar and the BJP. Even in states like Jharkhand and Odisha where the BJP has not been in government for many years, the grassroots presence of the sangh parivar in adivasi-dominated regions cannot be denied. Through long years of the work the sangh has established a base and also achieved limited success in the objective of polarizing adivasis along religious lines. The participation of the adivasis in the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Kandhamal riots of 2008 and the concerted campaign of the Bodo community against Assamese Muslims reflects the long term impact of the penetration of the sangh parivar in these regions.

But this is not the only impact of the BJP on adivasi societies. The natural alliance between the sangh organisations and main oppressors of adivasi people, i.e., the big traders and corporates has created an atmosphere of confrontation and perpetual conflict in the adivasi regions. The long-term and historical relative backwardness of these regions was used by the sangh parivar to establish its strong presence. The parivar used a combination of ideological indoctrination and constructive work to develop and expand its social base in order to build up an RSS and BJP cadre in these areas. However, the promises of integrated and equitable development that the BJP has been making to the adivasis have been broken and remain unfulfilled. Ever since the NDA II has come to power, the neo-liberal assault on adivasis has only intensified and expenditures on the welfare of backward classes have been slashed ever since the Modi government came to power. This trend and its impact needs to be understood if people are to be mobilised against the march of Hindutva amongst the adivasi people of Central and Eastern India.

Public expenditure on Dalit and Adivasi development cut
An analysis of the trends of the last four years shows that there has been a steady decline in the public expenditure for the welfare of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes. The budget figures show that in 2012-13 the public expenditure for the welfare of these classes was 3.06% of the total expenditure which went up to 3.48% in the next year i.e., 2013-14. This was also the last year of the UPA government and it is possible that the government tried to show that it was increasing the expenditure for the welfare of historically oppressed classes. However during the last two years, i.e. the first and second budgets of the present Modi led government, the public expenditure on the welfare of these classes decreased substantially to 2.98% of total expenditure in 2014-15 and to 2.88% in the budget estimates of 2015-16. As far as the tribal sub plan is concerned, the following picture emerges in the last three years. The tribal sub-plan is meant to allocate resources in proportion to the percentage of schedule tribes in the entire country, i.e. 8.8% of the total population. Yet the allocations show an abysmal picture with an allotment of 4.8% of the planned expenditure in 2013-14. This ratio has come further down under Modi’s regime to 4.3% of the planned expenditure in 2014-15 and 4.2% of the planned expenditure in 2015-16.

The main argument of the Modi government is that Central allocations have declined because it has transferred resources to the state governments in the name of “cooperative federalism. However the figures of state public expenditure show that the track record of BJP ruled governments  (especially in Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh where the BJP has been in been in power for more than a decade) is not very good. In each of the long-term BJP ruled states the expenditure on the welfare of scheduled tribes, castes and backward classes had been in a decline even before the Modi Government came into power in the center. This decline shows the lack of