Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch a new development mission aimed at particularly vulnerable tribal groups or PVTGs on November 15, officials said on Monday, providing details on programmes designed to provide amenities, road and telecom connectivity, and improved access to education, health care and nutrition to marginalised tribespeople.
The Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission will be launched on November 15, the birthday anniversary of tribal icon Birsa Munda and a day celebrated as the Jan Jaatiya Gaurav Divas to honour the contribution of freedom fighters who hailed from tribal communities.
According to officials aware of the details, the first-of-its-kind mission aimed at improving the socio-economic conditions of PVTGs is pegged at ₹24,000 crore and was announced during the annual budget 2023-24.
The mission — which will be launched days ahead of voting in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana and large swathes of Chhattisgarh — is also expected to bolster the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) outreach towards the tribal communities that are considered as an important electoral group in central Indian states.
The party has been trying to woo the tribal communities that make up for about 8.6% of the electorate in the country with social welfare schemes that offer targeted intervention such as programmes to eradicate sickle cell anaemia which is prevalent in the tribal dominated areas; educational institutions with residential facilities and economic avenues through the self-help groups.
In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly, 45 are reserved for scheduled tribes. In Rajasthan, this number stands at 25 in the 200-member assembly, and in Telangana, it is nine in the 119-member House.
Government data shows PVTGs number about 2.8 million and are spread across 22,544 villages in 18 states and Union territories. Most of these people inhabit inaccessible areas or remote regions with little or limited facilities such as roads, electricity, housing, drinking water, sanitation and livelihood opportunities.
“The mission will be implemented through convergence of 11 interventions of nine ministries. For instance, under PM Gram Sadak Yojana, PM Gram Awas Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission etc. Some scheme norms will be relaxed to cover these remote habitations,” said a government official, requesting anonymity.
The mission will additionally ensure the saturation of schemes such as the PM Jan Arogya Yojana, sickle cell disease elimination, TB elimination, immunisation programme, PM Poshan Abhiyan and the Jan Dhan Yojana, among others.
Referring to the new mission, SS Jodka, professor of sociology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said political parties attempting to woo tribal communities is par for the course, but the BJP is attempting to strike a balance between the consolidation of Hindu vote bank and creation of a new vote bank of beneficiaries or labharthis who may be outside the Hindu fold.
“The presence of RSS cadre on the ground makes the delivery of schemes more effective and personalised. Which in turn creates a bond between the beneficiaries and the party. Since these schemes are not mediated through states or local intermediaries, the beneficiaries identify with the party and its supremo,” he said. Hindustan Times