NEW DELHI: Minister for Foods and Tribal Affairs Chowdhary Zulfkar Ali on Thursdaysaid that there is a very low literacy rate among tribal communities in whole world and only by way of providing education, their fate can be changed.
This was stated by the Zulfkar while presenting his paper in the International Conference on “Inclusive Tribal Congregation sharing experience of India and Africa” which was attended by leaders and diplomats all over the globe.
Speaking during the conference at New Delhi which was organised by forum for SC ST OBC legislators and parliamentarians in collaboration with department of African Studies, University of Delhi, Zulfkar said that only education can bring desired changes and every tribal community must focus on educating their wards so that to compete with mainstream. He appreciated the role of World Organizations, Government of India and Government of Jammu & Kashmir for focused attention on tribal issues.
Zulfkar presented his view point over the tribal relationship between India and Africa. He said that India is a country of diverse culture, religion, caste, languages which differ from area to area. “India is a Mini World”, he said adding that as per census 2011, the total tribal population of the country is 104 Million i.e. 8.6% and the tribals are mostly concentrated in the Himalyas from Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pardesh, Uttar Pardesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern Region, Odisha, Madhya Pardesh, Andhra Pardesh, Assam and smaller number in other areas.
Throwing light on the tribal’s in India, Zulfkar said that 573 communities have been recognised by the government as schedule tribe and they are eligible to take certain concession and benefits.
Calling upon conducting more research on the tribal’s, Zulfkar said that Tribal’s in India have always been the source of study for Sociologists and Anthropologists but they have been treated differently by different scholars depending upon their individual background, experience and interest.
“There has always been difference of opinion regarding suitable model for the integration of the tribal’s to the mainstream of Indian life” he said, giving example of census 1931 in which it was forcefully stick to the point that the tribal’s were distinct from non-tribal’s as far as religion is concerned.
Calling upon the world community to preserve tribal cultural heritage, Zulfkar said that integration must be sharply differentiated from assimilation which means complete loss of cultural identity for the weaker groups. He said that each tribal group must be able to uphold its cultural heritage with dignity and sense of achievement.
About African tribes, he said that Africa is a very large and unique continent with many tribes and diverse ethnic peoples and each are having their own culture, language, customs and history. He said that tribes and ethnic groups in Africa range from stone-age cultures to modern 21st Century people, all living next to each other in this amazing continent.
He said that Africans and Indians are not the strangers to each other, there are at least 20,000 of an African-origin ethnic tribe who have been living in India for centuries, he added.
Stressing on provision of education for the tribal people, Zulfkar said that the recruitment of qualified teachers and determination of the appropriate language of instruction also remain troublesome in bringing positive results. He said there is a need to have focused attention on the subject so that they can be made fully dependent on their own.