Report of the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Assam) Sub-CommitteeSeptember 1947
The Sub-Committee on Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas was one of the five sub-committees appointed by the larger Advisory Committee on 27 February 1947. Chaired by A.V. Thakkar, it included six other members including Jaipal Singh and Jagjivan Ram.
The term ‘Excluded Areas’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ originated in the Government of India Act 1935. These were regions which had a significant population of Scheduled Tribe communities, and for that reason were considered to require special administrative provisions.
Accordingly, the Sub-Committee submitted its recommendations for these special provisions in two Reports, split according to regions. This Report dealt with the Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas in Bihar, United Provinces and East Punjab.
The Committee recognised the need for measures which would take into account not just the economic, but also political and psychological effects of said measures. Accordingly, it recommended measures such as the appointment of Advisory Committees and regulation of land transfer to outsiders, among others.
The Advisory Committee accepted these suggestions, which were incorporated in the Draft Constitution 1948 under the 5th Schedule.
1. This is our final report written after our visit to Bihar and the United Provinces. It relates to the partially excluded areas of these Provinces and the excluded areas of the Punjab in respect of all of which the recommendations contained in our interim report were provisional. Certain general recommendations have also been added.
2. With reference to Bihar we confirm the constitutional proposals already made by us in toto.
We consider it necessary in addition to refer to certain matters connected with the administration of this, the largest compact block of territory comprising any excluded area in India, which came to our notice during our tour. To begin with, the Christian section of the tribals, though small in number, is educationally and economically far in advance of the non-Christian tribals. The demand for education among the non-Christians is said to be negligible and this presumably is the result of their economic backwardness which makes it necessary that children should assist their parents in earning their livelihood. There are however allegations that the Christian teachers and educational officials encourage only Christian children, and as a good number of the schools are run by Christian missions, the non-Christians lack facilities for education. The Christians again appear to be much better organized and vocal and they are found to take prominent part in local and political organizations. The other striking feature of this area is the feeling common among educated tribals and shared by non-tribals in considerable measure that Chota Nagpur has little share in the administration commensurate with its area, population and industrial importance and is being neglected by the Government which is made up of elements interested mostly in the rest of Bihar. Certain non-aboriginal witnesses have expressed their views of the neglect of Chota Nagpur in no uncertain terms and suggested that the ameliorative measures claimed by the Government are purely defensive action prompted by the separation movement. Even when the Government is supposed to be resident at Ranchi, it is given as concrete proof of their lack of interest that they are mostly absent on tour in areas other than Chota Nagpur in which they are interested. Dr. Sinha has also stated that the present Government has yet to do something “to capture the imagination of the people” and that under the present practice “the Hon’ble Ministers stay for a very short period at Ranchi-at their own will and convenience and do not usually visit so much the aboriginal areas as they do those of the other three divisions of Bihar”. We have referred to these statements not because we are in agreement with them or with a view to adjudicating on them but purely as indicative of the local atmosphere. Dr. Sinha has referred to the absence of the aboriginal element in the Ministry and has recommended reconstitution.
The extreme expression of the discontent prevalent in Chota Nagpur is the separatist movement which demands the formation of a new Province of Jharkhand out of the partially excluded area. This movement is sponsored at present by the Adibasi Mahasabha containing a very large advanced or Christian element but in Singhbhum and in the Santhal Parganas also, a good proportion of non-Christians seem to have been affected by it. To borrow Dr. Sinha’s words it is “capturing the imagination” of the tribals. Unmistakably also the movement is gaining sympathy among the non-aboriginals; and even if it be partly due to mere local ambition, the virtual exclusion of tribal elements from the Cabinet has undoubtedly contributed much to it. We have already held in our interim report that the question of the formation of a separate Province is not for us to tackle but we would invite the attention of the Provincial and Central Governments to the separation movement, which seems to be gaining strength, as a symptom of the discontent which is simmering in varying intensity among all sections of the Chota Nagpur population. At the same time we have noticed that the Cabinet of the Bihar Government and such an eminent public man as Dr. S. Sinha oppose the separation movement on the grounds very well shown in the brochure of Dr. Sinha. We have also received a number of telegrams from these areas saying that they thoroughly disapprove of the separatist movement.
We are inclined to the view which seems to be shared by Dr. Sinha also, that there should be adequate association of the people of the partially excluded areas, particularly the tribals, in the different branches of the administration including the Cabinet and that there can be neither satisfaction nor adequate progress until it is done. In short, the problem of administration in this tract must be dealt with not only by economic and educational improvements but also by remedies which recognize its political and psychological aspects; and we would lay the maximum emphasis on the urgency of action in both these directions.
3. As regards the partially excluded areas of the United Provinces viz. the Jaunsar-Bawar Pargana in the Dehra Dun District and the area comprising the Dudhi Tahsil and part of the Robertsganj Tahsil of the Mirzapur District, we find that both of these comparatively small areas are suffering from serious neglect. Although a committee was set up as early as 1939 to enquire into the administration of the Jaunsar-Bawar Pargana and a report was submitted by it in 1941, it is a matter for regret that no action has yet been possible although the report was ultimately made only by the official members of the committee. We understand that another committee has been appointed recently this year to go into the matter by the Provincial Government and hope that speedy action will be taken on its report. The main matters which require attention in this area are as follows:
(1) the fixation and collection of land revenue and distribution of “rights timber” through the agency of the Sayanas as well as the position of the Sayana in the village panchayat which gives rise to a great deal of oppression.
(2) survey and resettlement of the area and removal of restrictions on the possession of land and reclamation of waste land by Koltas (local depressed castes of Hindus).
(3) the elimination of social evils like polyandry and venereal disease.
In the partially excluded area of the Mirzapur District which is inhabited by a majority of tribals we find that the administration is of a pretty primitive character. The figures given in the U.P. Government’s factual memorandum for the Dudhi Government Estate which are shown below indicate that the revenue from it is not utilized to the extent of even two-fifths of the administration of the area:
|Total||6,95,229||2,61,277 i.e., 37 percent of the income|
We would draw particular attention to the statement of witnesses that a very large percentage of the population of this area is suffering from venereal disease. In the Dudhi Estate the U. P. Government have themselves noted that there is a passage of land from the hands of the aboriginals to the non-aboriginals. It would appear that the rules of the Dudhi Estate are ineffective in preventing this since land can be surrendered to the Supurdar who reallots the same to another person, most probably a non-aboriginal. Such a transfer unfortunately does not require the approval of the S. D. O. or the Collector. It does not appear that suitable steps have been taken to put a stop to this. Among other complaints are the working of the monopoly given to Messrs Gladstone Wyllie and Co., Ltd., for the collection and sale of lac which is terminable in the year 1952. The working of this monopoly under which only about one-seventh, or if we allow for overhead and working charges, not more than one-fourth, of the price realized by the company for the sale of the lac is obtained by the aboriginal cultivator tends to keep the aboriginal in a miserable condition. It does not appear to us that the Government have any comprehensive or fully considered programme for this area as yet.
The population of this tract is very small (3 per cent) in comparison with the total population of the United Provinces. We would not on that account recommend for its future administration the proposals which we have recommended for some of the backward tracts of other Provinces, but we are equally definite that special provisions for its development are essential, as without them it is certain that due attention will not be paid to its needs. Similarly although the inhabitants of the Jaunsar-Bawar Area, as pointed out in our interim report, are not tribals by race and we do not recommend inclusion in the schedule of our Interim Report, special provisions are necessary for this area also. We recommend therefore constitutional provisions for both of these tracts as follows:
(1) there should be an advisory committee consisting of tribals or backward people to the extent of not less than two-thirds of its membership to advise the Government on the development of the area;
(2) the estimated revenue and expenditure (including development schemes) pertaining to the area should be shown separately in the provincial budget;
(3) although general administration of the type in force in other districts may be applied to the tract, the trial of petty civil and criminal cases should be permissible under special regulations;
(4) there should be provision in the Constitution prohibiting the transfer of land from aboriginals to non-aboriginals except with the sanction of an authorized officer;
(5) the powers of Supurdars in the Dudhi area of Mirzapur District to allot waste lands and accept surrender of land should be withdrawn and in Jaunsar-Bawar the system of Sayanas should be abolished and the Sayanas replaced by Government employees;
(6) the U. P. Government should report to the Central Government annually or as may be required by the Central Government regarding the administration of this area and abide by its directive;
(7) there shall be one seat reserved in the Provincial Assembly for a tribal from the area of the Mirzapur District which is now partially excluded.
4. East Punjab: The disturbed conditions in the East Punjab have prevented the appearance of witnesses from Spiti and Lahaul before us and it is equally not possible for us to visit the area. It is unlikely that settled conditions will prevail in the Punjab before the passes are blocked and we do not propose therefore to postpone our recommendations which will now be based on the factual memorandum sent by the Provincial Government.
We consider that constitutional provisions should be made as follows:
(a) An Advisory Committee of which at least two-thirds shall be local residents shall be set up to advise the Provincial Government regarding the administration of Lahaul and Spiti.
(b) The Provincial Government may declare any law passed by the Federal or Provincial Legislature as not applicable to the tracts or applicable with specified modifications.
(c) The Provincial Government may make special regulations for the administration of criminal and civil law and the protection of rights of local Tibetan inhabitants in land.
(d) The Provincial Government shall report to the Central Government annually or as may be required by the Central Government regarding the administration of this area and abide by its directive.
(e) We confirm the recommendation made in paragraph 9 of the Interim Report that there should be a representative for Lahaul and Spiti in the Provincial Legislature.
5. A Central Department: After surveying the position in all the Provinces, we have been forced to the conclusion that unless there is a separate department of the Federal Government prescribed by statute to supervise and watch the development of the Scheduled Areas and the tribals in the different Provinces and to furnish such advice and guidance as may be needed, the pace of progress of the tribes will not be sufficiently swift. The Central Government have already recognized the need for a Directorate of Anthropological Survey and we recommend that provision for a Central Department of Tribal Welfare should be made in the Constitution.
6. Recruitment to Armed Forces: We are also of the view that special attention should be paid to the recruitment of the tribes to the armed forces of India. The tribes people can in our opinion furnish valuable material for this purpose as experience in the last war goes to show.
7. Village and Tribal Headmen: During the course of our enquiry many complaints of oppression and mishandling of the tribes people by the hereditary chiefs or heads of villages like the Mustadars Bissois and Paros and Muthadars of South Orissa, the Parganaits and Pradhans of the Santhal Parganas and the Mankis and Mundas of Singhbhum have reached us. We are of the view that a general review of the powers and functions of such village or tribal heads should be undertaken by Provincial Governments with a view to removing the grievances of the tribal villagers, the abolition of powers which are exercised in an oppressive manner and the general reform of these ancient systems.
8. Non-official welfare organizations: We recommend that the Provincial Governments should utilize the services of approved non-official organizations which are at present doing welfare work in the Provinces for the tribals or which may hereafter come into existence by giving them grants-in-aid with a view to supplementing the volume of development work.
9. Officials to learn tribal languages: We have found that officials posted to aboriginal areas rarely know the local language. This obviously does not conduce to satisfactory administration and we are of the view that it should be made compulsory for officials posted to the aboriginal areas to obtain a working knowledge of the language within a reasonable period. Proficiency in these languages or dialects should be encouraged by the grant of suitable awards.