As the entire nation was discussing the Hathras horror where a 19-year-old was allegedly gangraped that later resulted in her death, over the weekend, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat advocated that RSS office bearers and volunteers work for the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes (DNT).
Though Bhagwat made no reference or remote suggestion to the incident, the renewed thrust of the BJP’s ideological mentor on the nomadic tribes coupled with a political situation where a BJP state government is made to look anti-Dalit, the focus is back on the Dada Idate Commission report which gave recommendations for the upliftment of the tribes amid speculation of giving it a fresh look.
While Bhagwat was told that a great deal of work has been done by the Rajasthan unit of the RSS for the DNT community in Jaipur and other parts of Rajasthan, the RSS supremo urged the Sangh’s office bearers and volunteers alike to focus on further helping the denotified tribes.
Cow welfare, social harmony, strengthening families were other wishes of Bhagwat in Jaipur that finds regular mention in his RSS lectures. But stressing on nomadics was significant, almost signalling to the government on what to do next. Also, given many nomadic tribes are from SC, ST or OBC communities, it may serve a political purpose too.
According to the Dada Idate Commission report, Haryana had the largest number of DNT and Uttar Pradesh the largest number of nomadic tribes that were not included in any list. With the new political reality of Uttar Pradesh, as sought to be portrayed by the opposition, a relook at the commission’s recommendations makes political sense.
One of the crucial recommendations of the Dada Idate Commission has been to create a sub quota in reservations for those DNT and NT tribes who are either scheduled caste, scheduled tribe or OBC so that they are not ‘crowded out’. It has also asked for adequate political representation from the community.
“This commission recommends that at least one member of the DNT/NT communities should be nominated by the President to the Rajya Sabha. Similarly, at least one member of these communities should be nominated by the Governor to the Legislative Assemblies/Councils of the states where they have a significant presence,” said the commission. It also asked for similar representation down to the mandal level.
These were no doubt bold suggestions that needed a decision at the political level to be implemented, say government officials. Among other suggestions were a single certificate like SC-DNT instead of two, focus on their literacy, health, land and housing which were recommended by the commission.
Most of them are yet to be implemented. While BJP’s President of ST Morcha, Samir Oraon, tried to delink Bhagwat’s statements and efforts to help these tribes, he told IANS, “We are serious about the matter. When asked about ‘sub category’ in reservation, he raised a “technical problem” of them not being permanent residents of one place. But he added, “Regardless of that, efforts are being made on how to bring a sense of permanence to their lives, how their quality of life is bettered and how their kids are taught.”
However, the biggest and first recommendation of the Idate Commission was partially implemented but not to great success. It wanted a permanent “Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities should be made permanent with a prominent leader of the communities as Chairperson, one IAS officer of the rank of Secretary/Additional Secretary to the Government of India as Secretary and with two subject experts (one eminent anthropologist and one eminent sociologist/Professional Social Worker) as members.
But the government formed one for just 3 years and citing “conflict with mandate of existing commissions” like SC, ST and OBC Commissions, in February last year, it had announced plans for a Development and Welfare Board under the Social Justice Ministry.
Now, many are seeing chances of re-examination of most of the other recommendations, after Bhagwat turned the focus back on the community. Also, it will be a politically sensible move for the ruling BJP amid the opposition’s allegations of the saffron party being anti-Dalit.