Department of Political Science, School of Social Science at the University of Hyderabad (UoH) organized a two- day National Seminar on Democracy, Development and Tribes in India: Reality and Rhetoric on 12th & 13th August, 2013. The seminar was sponsored by ICSSR & UoH.

A detailed report on the seminar is given below.

There were a total number of 102 abstracts received of which 66 abstracts were selected and there were 52 papers presenters in 13 sessions. Almost all parts of the country were represented on this overarching theme of tribal development.


The inaugural session was presided UoH Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ramkrishna Ramaswamy and Prof. Kunhaman from TISS was the Chief Guest. Prof. Jacob George, former Head of Political Science department at UoH was the keynote speaker who focused on issues revolving around inherent contradictions of the developmental concerns of tribals in the backdrop of democracy.

In the session, Democracy, development and Resistance chaired by Prof. Sudhakar Rao, the presenters highlighted concerns, concepts and issues related to democracy, development and resistance in regard to the tribals and with relevant case studies. The session talked about how development has come to be a bad omen for displaced tribals. With displacement, several tribes were uprooted with the onslaught of development. We talked about the case study of Indira Sagar Project in Andhra Pradesh with special emphasis on development projects, displacement and tribal livelihood issues. Livelihoods of tribals were severely affected as argued by projects of development and the resultant displacement overdrive. There was a valuable insight into risks, rights, alternatives, policy and practices followed by Development-Induced Displacement and Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Indigenous Communities in India. There was another paper that drew a perspective from census survey in studying mining and displacement in South Odisha.

Issues of Governance session was chaired by Dr. M N Rajesh. This session talked about issues, concerns and themes related to governance. PESA, Tribal development and idea of commons and related issues were discussed. The struggles and politics of the exclusion in understanding de-notified tribes in India were examined. Democracy and Development as in Fifth Scheduled areas was debated.

Next, the session Tribal voice in Contemporary Democracy was chaired by Prof R Vijay. In the era of globalization, seldom the voice of the tribes are suppressed and marginalized. So in this regard, we started with looking at the case of Scheduled tribes in North Coastal Andhra Pradesh whose voices and struggles have been excluded and marginalized. The paper contests the inclusive development. Next paper attempts to question where democracy in India lies and look at its withering away and its effect on tribal resistance.

We then moved on to the session chaired by Dr. Laksmi Narayana that discussed Livelihood issues and concerns. An empirical study on Chenchus of Andhra Pradesh was looked to draw our attention to their livelihood security through land distribution. Next paper talked about migration from village to city in Bangalore and how it affects livelihood, creates displacement and calls for rehabilitation. Another paper dealt incisively with the trends in cropping pattern and its impact on the tribal households in the scheduled areas taking the case study of three scheduled areas villages in the West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

We then discussed the need to understand the socio cultural issues of tribals. This session was chaired by Prof. Manjari Katju. There was first a paper that looked at the struggles of Adivasi towards habitation and how it has been affected by the forces of globalization and accumulation. Another paper examined at the storage practices of tribal community of Warangal district Andhra Pradesh. There was also a paper that drew a critique on Yerukula reformation in Andhra Pradesh.

In Public Policy and tribal Development chaired by Shri Chandra Sekhar Rao, the presenters discussed arena of tribal development and public policy interventions. The first paper talked in general sense the Adivasis from the public policy perspective in India. The next paper evaluated the implementation of MGNREGA and its effect on tribes taking the case study of Nupada district in Odisha.  There was a presentation on the embedded identity and politics that is played out in ST reservation in Asssam. In the last paper of this session, ST as the beneficiaries of BPL in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha was examined.

The Session Social Movement, Ethnic issues and Conflict was chaired by Dr G Ajay.  The role of social movements, ethnic issues and conflict resulted thereof was discussed. There is a deep seated conflict between tribes and forest department in scheduled areas. This was bought out by a case study of recently declared Kawal tiger reserve in Adilalabad district, Andhra Pradesh. Similarly, tribal-caste conflict was bought out in another paper taking the case study of Kandhamal district in Odisha. Another vital paper was the analysis of Gujjar agitation for tribal status in Rajasthan that examined contentions, agitations, resistance and state interventions therewith. There was another case study paper of Niyamgiri Movement in Odisha that examined tribal development and resistance that followed. Another paper took the cast studies of Manipur that discussed Meitiei resistance and response of the State.

In this Session, Tribal ecology and Environmental issues, chaired by Prof Sudhakar Reddy, a paper was presented on environmental approaches to tribal development. The environmental aspect is significant given the harmony that exists between tribal and nature.

The issues of the tribal women and children were chaired by Prof. Dr. Phanindra Goyari. Gender inequalities and development issues were examined with the study of Toda, Niligiri Hills from an anthropological perspective. The Lamabada community was next case study that examined the status of girl child in south Telengana region in Andhra Pradesh.

The session, Politics of Development was chaired by G Krishna Reddy. A paper on the concept of Development and its effect on tribes on AP was examined and discussed. The role of NYKS on tribal youth development was discussed through the case study of  Koraput district of Odisha. Approaches to development were examined and the role of civil society organization in tribal development was discussed. The Myth of development and tribals in Odisha was examined in a macro view.

In Development, Displacement and resistance chaired by Prof. Sudharashanam , the question of human rights was raised through the study of posco project in odisha in the context of development and displacement. The land alienation of tribals in Andhra Pradesh and tribal land alienation in general sense was examined and debated. The case study of Gadchiroli, a potential zone of development induced displacement was looked into.

The last session on education status of scheduled tribes chaired by Dr. Nagaraju talked the need for empowerment of tribals. The paper on the impact of multilingual education in the education of tribal children stressed the nature of multilingual character and its usage for tribals. A case study of Lambadi tribe in AP was examined to understand the educational status of scheduled tribes. Another paper talked about need to bring about awareness of human rights among the tribal and non-tribal secondary students. This comparative study calls for empowering and enhancing the rights of tribals. Lastly, the achievement and challenges of secondary education of scheduled tribes in Manipur was discussed.

The Valedictory session was chaired by Prof. E Haribabu, Pro Vice-Chancellor, UoH. The Chief Guest was popular Social Activist Shri Gaddar. Prof. G Haragopal, former Dean, School of Social Sciences at UoH was the Guest of Honour.

All the session was open for discussions, debates, interjections and clarifications.

Dr. Ramdas Rupavath, faculty in the department of Political Science was the coordinator for the seminar.

By Shri M Ramulu, Ph.D. Scholar in Political Science