Every mainstream Indian have at least one document who can serve proof of his identity and address. It may be your ration card, voter identity card, driving license or high-profile passport. These documents are your key to gain entry to any place, get reservation in train, open bank accounts, secure phone connection, and even to claim compensation in case of misfortune like accident or death.
We may have multiple identities, true and false identities as government always claim about false ration cards.
We are fortunate enough that we have some proof of our existence. This is not easy to get a proof of existence and address. In this article published in Economic Times, Shri Janmejaya Sinha of Chairman (Asia-Pacific), the Boston Consulting Group claimed for an Indian; the toughest thing to prove is his or her identity. I also have my own bitter experience, when I got my voter identity card after 7 years of my hard work in New Delhi. Once, we got these documents, we have no concern for those who has no documentary proof of identity. We generate all concerns about terrorist and all things under sky even though we know, anyone, who have some money, may get these documents over the counter.
What if, you have no paper science birth? What if, you have no education? What if you have no address? What if you have no money to pay for “over the counter services”? What if you are honest, uneducated, poor, homeless person? In a very land, where your forefathers may have been living centuries before Aryans came into existence, you are simply non – existent Indian.
This land, which likes any other land on earth was a forest and tribal live peacefully with nature for thousands years until “cultured humans” started displacing them. With time, we pillaged their natural habitats, their livelihood, their culture and their much valued innocence. Now, these tribal has no identity and no address at their very own land. After robbing everything, cultured humanity branded them “born criminals”.
The Criminal Tribes Act, 1871 enacted by Government of British India. Under this Act, millions of ethnic Indian peoples were declared criminal without any evidence, without any justice only because of their birth. This Act was repealed after independence in 1949. However, the brand “born criminal” is still alive in public and police psyche. There are about 300 Nomadic tribes and about 200 de-notified tribes in India. These tribes has 11 crore in population with all their non – existence. This is more than 8 percent of Indian population. No, no, I am not talking about Schedule Tribes. Nomadic, semi – nomadic and de – notified tribes are a subset of schedule tribes. These tribes received all benefits including much criticised reservation, only and only on government papers, not in reality.
They have no identity, and no address. Who care?
In Indian caste system, consciously or unconsciously forced all tribes to choose their own way of livelihood. Tribes, due to their proximity with nature had some particular knowledge and skill. As simple market logic, they have to supply their products and services to thousands of villages and towns across regions. They earn respect in Indian society but colonial powers had no respects to groups who have proximity with nature. They have killed nature loving groups across globe in last thousands year and developed hate towards them. This was reflected with use of term “Tribe” of these groups to reflect colonial notion of primitiveness and backwardness.
Indian nomads are known as a group of communities who travel from place to place for their livelihood. They have lost their livelihood because of drastic changes in transport, industries, production, entertainment, and distribution systems. Pastoral nomads in India are distinguished from other nomads in India in that they breed animals and this distinguishes them from other groups that which make a living by combining with other itinerant professions such as blacksmithing by Gadia Lohar, or selling salt by the Lambadi. Peripatetic nomads are groups of nomads who are peddlers, itinerant minstrels, dancers and dramatists.
In present market world, we understand personalized services but not personalized understanding without uttering any word. These nomadic tribes served our forefathers for centuries in all walks of life without any market preposition but on personal relation, brotherhood and arms length family ties.
These days we have all short of entertainment just a click of mouse or remote control. Earlier, most of entertainment was duty of these tribes who were master of their skills. These skills range from folk song (Bakho), Snake charming, fortune telling (Bangali, not Bengali) acrobat (Bazigar and Kalabaz), Tabla – maestro (Dharhi), Mirasi (Musician), Nat (Dancers), among others. Now, modern society turned blind eye towards these communities for alternate entertainment. They were earlier master of their skill learnt from generation to generation, without any formal education. They had no permanent settlement, due to nature of their job, hence had no permanent address. If they had some skill development programmes and formal education, they may have bright future. Alas!! They have no alternative employment, no home, no identity, and no address. Who care?
They have various skills, but need skill development. They are social, society should accept them. They have vast traditional knowledge; modern researcher should give them proper credit for this traditional knowledge. They have best relationship with nature and environment; developed cultures should respect this relationship.
These days, Indian Parliament is discussing corporate social responsibility law under the Companies Bill, 2012. The bill has already been passed from Lok Sabha. The Schedule VII of the Bill lists ten activities which may be undertaken by corporate as their responsibility. Out of these ten; nomadic, semi – nomadic and de – notified tribes has urgent need for first eight activities. These activities are:
i. eradicating extreme hunger and poverty;
ii. promotion of education;
iii. promoting gender equality and empowering women;
iv. reducing child mortality and improving maternal health;
v. combating human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, malaria and other diseases;
vi. ensuring environmental sustainability;
vii. employment enhancing vocational skills; and
viii. social business projects.
Before anything else, these nomadic, semi – nomadic and de – notified tribes need:
- Social identity for community,
- Rights as citizens,
- Education as right,
- Health and sanitations,
- To have a shelter and access to livelihood.
Establishment of their identity as Indian citizen and their residence proof are foremost. Indian law always talk about permanent resident, which is not a practical concept for any person with transferable job including these tribes.
Recently, Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012. Ms. Mittal Patel of Vicharata Samuday Samarthan Manch (in her presentation there, put forward case of these tribes: