In an attempt to restore tribal pride, the government will remember all the great tribal heroes who have sacrificed their lives and contributed to nation-building, said Arjun Munda, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs.
In an exclusive interview to OE/IANS, Munda said: "Tribals never compromised on their basic principles - 'Jal, Zameen and Jungle' (Water, Land and Forest) and many heroes sacrificed their lives for the country and community. The government has decided to remember all tribal heroes who have sacrificed their lives and contributed to the nation-building and community."
Munda said that Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) will be opened in every block in 2022-23.
EMRS is opened in blocks in every block with more than 50 percent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons.
"The ministry is working on filling the infrastructural gaps in all the aspirational districts to empower tribal communities," he said.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What will be the focus area of the Ministry for this year?
A. This year we are celebrating 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' and the Ministry is preparing a blueprint for the future for the next 25 years, the year 2047 when the country will celebrate 100 years of independence. Our emphasis is that tribal areas and tribal people will progress and we have a fixed target to achieve this by 2047 when the country will celebrate the centenary year of our Independence.
We have initiated several developmental works for the tribal people and region and they are progressing well.
Q. Would you elaborate on the Ministry's plan for the progress of tribal areas and people by 2047?
A. As I said that several developmental works for the tribal people and region are already going on and we are ensuring that it must progress at a good pace. Among the ongoing work, the government is currently focusing on two parameters -- education and health. The government is also working on the economic growth of tribal people.
The Ministry is working on filling the infrastructural gaps in all the aspirational districts to empower tribal communities.
On the education front, Eklavya Model Residential Schools will be opened at all blocks in 2022-23. Construction works are going at a good pace and the government will ensure the earliest completion of these schools. We plan to ensure a national level of quality management in these schools at par with any other schools so that after completing class 12 students from EMRS, students can get admission at the best institutions of the country. The government will also try to send students overseas for higher education. In the future, tribal communities must be known as 'Knowledge Society'.
On the health front, the government is working on reducing the mortality rate, which also includes the infant mortality rate. For this, the government is creating health infrastructure. In some areas, tribals are faced with 'genetic health issues' which pass on from one generation to another. The government is working to get rid of this. We took a pledge to get rid of genetic health issues by 2047.
Q. What are plans for the economic empowerment of tribal communities?
A. While taking care of health and education, the government is also taking care of their immediate concern of employment opportunities. We are ensuring their economic growth by developing entrepreneurship while protecting their ethnicity.
Our 'TRIFED' is working in this direction by ensuring the right market to their products maintaining ethnicity. TRIFED is doing great work with the help of Self Help Groups (SHGs) in tribal areas.
It is also in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to connect people living in rural and forest areas with the economy.
Natural farming is the expertise of tribal people and we are also promoting this by providing training and helping them to market their products.
The National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) is providing loans at low interest to support entrepreneurship. We are also helping the tribal entrepreneurs in assessing risk management to reduce any possibility of loss.
The government is empowering tribes by restoring their pride.
Q. What do you mean by tribal pride?
A. Whoever ruled the country, tribal people never compromised on their basic principles - Jal, Zameen and Jungle and many heroes sacrificed their lives for the country and community. The government has decided to remember all tribal heroes who have sacrificed their lives and contributed to nation-building and community.
The government will make museums to remember the contributions of tribal heroes including unknown ones. We are also planning to connect routes related to tribal heroes.
Q. How many museums on tribal heroes will be made?
A. The government has decided to build museums remembering tribal heroes in every state. Work is on in 10 states. The museums will be tributes to our heroes but will help us learn about our ancestors who sacrificed their lives for the country and community.
Q. What is your opinion on the Union government declaring November 15 as 'Janjatiya Gaurav Divas'?
A. It is a historic decision after the independence of the country. Understanding the importance of tribal areas, people, and pride, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has announced the Janjatiya Gaurav Divas. It will be celebrated as 'pride day' every year on November 15 on the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda. Will inspire people to learn about his fight and how Bhagwan Birsa Munda became 'Dharti Abba' while fighting for land.