Tribes in News

Who are Denotified Tribes (DNTs)?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Renke Commission, Idate Commission

Mains level: Undoing the historic injustice to DNTs

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

Who are de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes?

  • These are communities who are the most vulnerable and deprived.
  • 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 mostly belong to the medieval period Banjaras.
  • 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.

What is the history of deprivation faced by these communities?

  • This has a long history, first during colonial rule, and then in independent India.
  • These communities are largely politically ‘quiet’ — they do not place their demands concretely before the government for they lack vocal leadership and also lack the patronage of a national leader.
  • Many commissions and committees constituted since Independence have referred to the problems of these communities. These include the:
  1. Criminal Tribes Inquiry Committee, 1947 constituted in the United Provinces (now Uttar Pradesh)
  2. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar Committee in 1949 (it was based on the report of this committee the Criminal Tribes Act was repealed)
  3. Kaka Kalelkar Commission (also called first OBC Commission) constituted in 1953
  4. In 1965, an Advisory Committee constituted for revision of the SC and ST list under the chairmanship of B N Lokur referred to denotified tribes
  5. The B P Mandal Commission constituted in 1980 also made some recommendations on the issue

Policy measures for DNTs

  • A National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) was constituted in 2006 by the then government.
  • It was headed by Balkrishna Sidram Renke and submitted its report in June 2008.
  • It said that it is an irony that these tribes somehow escaped the attention of our Constitution makers and thus got deprived of the Constitutional support unlike SCs and STs.
  • The Renke commission estimated their population at around 10.74 crore based on Census 2001.
  • A new Commission constituted in February 2014 to prepare a state-wise list, which submitted its report on January 8, 2018, identified 1,262 communities as de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic.
  • Much recently, the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment launched the Scheme for Economic Empowerment of De-notified, Nomadic, and Semi Nomadic Communities (SEED).

Why in news now?

  • While a number of these tribes are categorised under SC, ST and OBC, many are not.
  • The standing committee report in Parliament has cited a statement by the Secretary, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, that 269 DNT communities are not covered under any reserved categories.
  • These communities are frequently left out because they are less visible and difficult to reach.

What is DWBDNC, and what is its role?

  • The DWBDNC stands for the Scheme for welfare of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic communities (DWBDNC).
  • The commission report submitted in 2018 had recommended the setting of up a permanent commission for these communities.
  • But since most DNTs are covered under SC, ST or OBC, the government felt setting up a permanent commission, which would deal with redress of grievances.
  • The government therefore set up the DWBDNCs under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

The Idate Commission

  • The DWBDNC was constituted on February 21, 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 de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities (DNCs).
  • Ethnographic studies of DNCs are being conducted by the Anthropological Survey of India, with a budget of Rs 2.26 crore sanctioned.
  • On March 30, 2022 the DoPT issued an advertisement for the recruitment of consultants in the DWBDNC.


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