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State of Denotified Tribes

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April 06, 2022

Why in news?

A standing committee of Parliament has criticised the functioning of the development programme for de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes.

Who are denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes?

It has been estimated that South Asia has the world’s largest nomadic population. In India, roughly 10% of the population is denotified and nomadic.

  • Denotified tribes (DNTs) are communities that were notified as being ‘born criminal’ during the British regime under a series of laws starting with the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871.
  • They were denotified in 1952 when independent India repealed this act but the Habitual Offenders Act, 1952, kicked in soon after.
  • Nomadic and semi-nomadic communities are defined as those who move from one place to another rather than living at one place all the time.
  • A National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) was was first set up in 2003 and later reconstituted in 2005.
  • It was headed by Balkrishna Sidram Renke and estimated their population at around 10.74 crore based on Census 2001.
  • A new Commission which was constituted in 2014 to prepare a state-wise list submitted its report in 2018 identifying 1,262 communities as de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic.

What is the standing committee report about?

  • The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment tabled its 31st report in Parliament.
  • The Committee noted that the Department could not spend even a single rupee in 2021-22 on the Scheme for economic empowerment of DNT communities.
  • The budgetary allocation has been reduced to Rs 28 crore for 2022-23 against the budgetary allocation of Rs 50 crore for 2021-22.
  • It also noted that the department has already delayed in formulation of the Scheme for welfare of denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities.
  • The Committee has found that the department has not been able to take any decision in placing these communities in SC, ST and BC categories till date.

What is DWBDNC?

  • The 2014 commission that submitted report in 2018 had recommended the setting of up a permanent commission for these communities.
  • However, the government set up the Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DWBDNC) under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.
  • It was set under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the purpose of implementing welfare programmes.
  • The DWBDNC was constituted in 2019 under the chairmanship of Bhiku Ramji Idate.
  • Also, a committee has been set up by the NITI Aayog to complete the process of identification of the DNCs.
  • Ethnographic studies of DNCs are being conducted by the Anthropological Survey of India.

What is the history of deprivation faced by these communities?

  • Many commissions and committees have referred to the problems of these communities. These include
    • Criminal Tribes Inquiry Committee, 1947
    • Ananthasayanam Ayyangar Committee, 1949
    • Kaka Kalelkar Commission, 1953
    • B N Lokur’s Advisory Committee, 1965
    • B P Mandal Commission , 1980
    • National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (( chairmanship of Justice M N Venkatachaliah), 2002
  • Problems faced
    • Marginalization  from  social  and  economic  mainstream
    • Low human development  index  and  high  relative  deprivation  index
    • Large  deprivation  from  the  gains  of  planned  development
    • Lack  of  empowerment
    • Carriers of social stigma
  • This is partly because these communities are largely politically quiet that they do not place their demands concretely before the government.
  • They lack vocal leadership and also lack the patronage of a national leader.

What welfare measures were taken by the government?

  • Dr. Ambedkar Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship for DNTs- This centrally sponsored scheme was launched in 2014-15 for the welfare of those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC.
  • The income ceiling for eligibility is Rs 2 lakh per annum.
  • Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of construction of hostels- This centrally sponsored scheme was launched in 2014-15 to provide hostel facilities to those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC to enable them to pursue higher education.
  • The income ceiling for eligibility is Rs 2 lakh per annum.
  • The Central Government provides a maximum of 500 seats per annum throughout the country.
  • Assistance to voluntary organization working for the welfare of OBCs- From 2017-18, this scheme has been extended for DNTs and EBCs as Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Skill Development of OBCs/ DNTs/ EBCs.
  • Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNT Communities (SEED)- It has four components
    • To provide coaching of good quality for DNT candidates to enable them to appear in competitive examinations
    • To provide health insurance to them
    • To facilitate livelihood initiative at community level
    • To provide financial assistance for construction of houses



  1. https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/state-of-denotified-tribes-house-panel-development-programme-7854312/
  2. https://vikaspedia.in/social-welfare/scheduled-tribes-welfare/denotified-nomadic-and-semi-nomadic-communities
  3. https://ruralindiaonline.org/bn/library/resource/national-commission-for-denotified-nomadic-and-semi-nomadic-tribes-report---volume-i/


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