[Answered] Discuss the role of policy interventions in addressing the representation of tribal communities in India, with a focus on the recommendations of the First Backward Classes Commission and the Lokur Commission regarding the Scheduled Tribes in Manipur.

Introduction: Give a brief context to the situation

Body: Role of policy interventions in addressing representation of tribal communities.

Conclusion: Way forward

The suggestion that the Union government could review the Scheduled Tribes’ status of Kukis and include Meiteis in the list has drawn strong reactions from the Kuki-Zomi organizations in the state, prompting the CM of the state to form a special committee that will look into the issue. The Lokur Committee (1965) was set up to look into criteria for defining Schedule Tribes. The Committee recommended 5 criteria for identification, namely, primitive traits, distinct culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness. The First Backward Classes Commission 1955 under the chairmanship of Kaka Kelkar was set up to identify SC, ST, and OBC at the national level.

Role of Policy Interventions in Tribal Representation

  • Constitutional Recognition: The Indian Constitution recognizes Scheduled Tribes (STs) and grants them special provisions, including reserved seats in legislatures and educational institutions, affirmative action in government jobs, and protection of their land rights. These provisions aim to provide equal opportunities and a political voice.
  • Tribal Sub-Plan Scheme: Introduced in the 1970s, this scheme allocates a percentage of the national plan budget to tribal development. While it has led to investments in tribal areas, criticisms like inadequate allocation, bureaucratic hurdles, and lack of community involvement hinder its effectiveness.
  • Panchayati Raj Extension Act (1996): This act extended the Panchayati Raj system to tribal areas, reserving seats for STs in village and district councils. This aimed to decentralize power and give tribes a greater say in local governance. However, challenges like lack of awareness, funds, and capacity building make its implementation uneven.

Challenges and Limitations of Policy Interventions:

  • Top-down approach: Many policies lack meaningful tribal participation in decision-making and often fail to address the specific needs and aspirations of diverse tribal communities.
  • Inadequate implementation: Corruption, bureaucratic delays, and lack of awareness about entitlements limit the reach and impact of policies.
  • Internal divisions: Tribal communities are not homogenous, and different tribes within Manipur may have competing interests, further hindering collective representation.
  • Socio-economic factors: Poverty, illiteracy, and limited access to resources continue to disadvantage tribal communities in political participation.

Way forward

  • Bottom-up participatory processes: Policies should actively involve tribal communities in planning, implementation, and monitoring.
  • Capacity building: Empowering tribal communities through education, training, and awareness programs is crucial for effective participation.
  • Context-specific policies: Recognizing the diversity of tribal communities and tailoring policies to their specific needs and contexts is essential.
  • Strengthening accountability and enforcement: Robust mechanisms to ensure transparent implementation and address grievances are necessary.


The recommendations of the BC Commission and Lokur Commission serve as important starting points for Manipur, but their true impact will depend on the state’s commitment to participatory, inclusive, and accountable governance.

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