Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 28]- 24 April

Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 28]- 24 April

Q. “Nehru favored the policy of integrating the tribal people in Indian society, of making them as integral part of the Indian nation even while maintaining their distinct identity and culture.” -Elaborate with special reference to Northeastern India. [20 Marks]



Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to integrate the tribal people in Indian society, of making them as integral part of the Indian nation even while maintaining their distinct identity and culture.

Nehru had to options in front of him related to approach towards tribals:

  1. First approach was the “Museum approach” which was to leave the tribal people alone, untouched by modern and outside influences of the world and let them stay as they were.
  2. The second approach was that of assimilating them completely into the Indian society leading to disappearance of tribal way of life in the name of their upliftment.

Nehru rejected both approaches:

  1. The first approach of treating the tribal people as museum specimens to be observed and written about, would result in improper integration of tribal into mainstream. Isolation was in any case impossible at this stage, for the process of penetration by the outside world had already gone too far and it was not possible or desirable to isolate them.
  2. The second approach of allowing them to be engulfed by the masses of Indian humanity or of their assimilation through the operation of normal outside forces was also wrong as it would lead to the loss of tribals’ social and cultural identity and of the many virtues they possessed. It would lead to unscrupulous people from outside taking possession of tribal lands and forests and interfere with the life of tribal people. This would upset their whole life and culture which had so much good in them.

Nehru’s approach:

  1. Instead of these two approaches, Nehru favoured the policy of integrating the tribal people in Indian society, of making them an integral part of the Indian nation, even while maintaining their distinct identity and culture. There were two basic parameters of the Nehruvian approach: ‘the tribal areas have to progress’ and ‘they have to progress in their own way ’.
  2. Progress did not mean an attempt merely to duplicate what we have got in other parts of India. Whatever was good in the rest of India would be adopted by them. Moreover, whatever changes were needed would be worked out by the tribals themselves.

To combine these two seemingly contradictory approaches. Nehru stood for economic and social development of the tribal people in multifarious ways, especially in the fields of communication, modern medical facilities, agriculture and education. In this regard, he laid down certain broad guidelines for government policy.

Jawaharlal Nehru laid down five basic principles which should guide the Government actions in dealing with Tribal People which is called Panch Sheel:

  1. The Tribal People should develop along the lines of their own genius and we should avoid imposing anything on them. We should try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts and culture. The non-tribals should not approach them with a superiority complex. Rather, the understanding should be that they had an equal contribution to make to the evolution of the common culture and social and political life of the country.
  2. Tribal rights in land and forests shall be respected and no outsider should be able to take possession of tribal lands.
  3. We should try to train and build up teams of their own people to do the work of administration and development. Some technical personnel from outside will, no doubt, be needed but we should avoid introducing too many outsiders into tribal territory and those outsider administrators should be carefully chosen. They should have a sympathetic and understanding approach and should not consider themselves superior to or apart from the tribal people.
  4. We should not over-administer their areas or overwhelm them with a multiplicity of schemes. We should rather work through, and not in rivalry to, their own social and cultural institutions.
  5. We should judge the results not by statistics or the amount of money spent but by the quality of the character that is involved.

Nehru’s policy was reflected in several provisions of the Constitution like Article 46 related to promotion of the educational and economic interests of the tribal people, special responsibility given to the governors to protect tribal interests, reservation of seats in the legislatures and positions in the administrative services for the Scheduled Tribes, the setting up of Tribal Advisory Councils etc.


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