By Arjun Munda
In the last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the forefront of a transformative initiative aimed at uplifting vulnerable tribal groups and reshaping the future of India. This initiative, known as PM JANMAN, goes beyond being just a scheme, as it embodies a sentiment of inclusivity and empowerment for the country’s tribal population.
Historically marginalized, tribal communities in India have often been neglected by successive governments. While efforts were initiated during the tenure of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the establishment of a separate tribal ministry, it is under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership that these efforts have not only been sustained but have seen a clear-cut acceleration. The focus is on ensuring increased political representation and social protection for tribal societies, with a vision centred on ensuring justice, equality and fundamental rights to every individual, especially those in the remotest corners of the country.
The ground-breaking move came with the launch of the ‘Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adivasi Nyay Maha Abhiyan’ (PM JANMAN) on Jan Jatiya Gaurav Diwas at the birthplace of Bhagwan Birsa Munda on 15th November, 2023. This initiative allocates Rs. 24 thousand crores for the upliftment of 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) across 23,000 villages in 18 states and the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The PVTGs, residing in remote and inaccessible forest areas, have seen decades of marginalization. During the launch of PM- JANMAN, Prime Minister Modi emphasized a shift from working in silos and envisioned the Mission to adopt a “Government as a whole” approach. Showcasing the Prime Minister’s profound sensitivity towards tribal communities, the PM JANMAN focusses on integrating and converging 11 interventions from 9 Ministries for ensuring benefits of various Government welfare schemes at the grassroots level.
To ensure the success of PM JANMAN, a detailed action plan was finalized at a brainstorming Manthan Shivir in New Delhi’s Bharat Mandapam. An Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign along within camps for enrolment of beneficiaries under PM-JANMAN and other schemes, was also launched on 25th December, 2023, on ‘Good Governance Day,’ the birth anniversary of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This campaign targets PVTG dominated districts, to engender development amongst tribal communities.
In first three weeks of the drive itself, more than 8000 camps were organized in PVTG habitations across 100 districts, facilitating an outreach of services, and enabling deprived individuals to access various schemes. These include Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojna, Aadhar Card, Kisan Credit Card (KCC), PM Jan Dhan Yojana, PM Matru Vandana Yojna, Community Certificate, and more.
Projects worth Rs. 4700 crores have been sanctioned by various Ministries in a short period of 2 months. The Ministry of Rural Development has sanctioned pucca houses to 1 lakh beneficiaries and 1200 km of roads in more than 400 PVTG dominated bastions. Other initiatives by different ministries include sanction of hostels, Anganwadis, Mobile Medical Units, Multipurpose Centers, Vandhan Kendras, and electricity projects, showcasing the government’s commitment to a speedy and decisive approach for tribal welfare. 100 hostels by the Ministry of Education, 916 Anganwadis by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, 100 Mobile Medical Units by the Health Ministry, 450 Multipurpose Centers and 405 Van Dhan Kendras by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, electricity projects for more than 70000 houses in more than 6500 hamlets by the Ministry of Power have been approved in the first round. Under Jal Jeevan Mission, the work of providing tap water to every household is also going on at a fast pace.
In a transformative alliance aimed at uplifting tribal communities, TRIFED has forged a strategic partnership with ITC, a prominent Indian conglomerate with expertise spanning Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), Agri Business, Paperboards & Packaging. This collaboration signifies Government of India’s commitment to not only bolster the economic prosperity of tribal groups but also to expand the market reach of their products, both domestically and globally.
The joint initiative is poised to launch a pioneering pilot project in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Meghalaya, and Jharkhand, targeting 60 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras. These centers will play a pivotal role in enabling local tribal communities, including Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG), to enhance the value of products like turmeric, thereby securing improved remuneration.
TRIFED, with its extensive involvement in Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, is set to facilitate the aggregation of over 15,000 tribals for the procurement of raw organic turmeric. TRIFED will spearhead funding for organic certification and e-commerce endeavours, while ITC will seamlessly integrate the organic turmeric as a sub-brand within its established customer network.
In another initiative to promote better livelihood opportunities, TRIFED is dispatching a consignment of 10-15 PVTG products to Indian Embassies in Hungary, Ghana, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Nepal, Austria, Vietnam, Mauritius, Poland, Lusaka, UAE, and Seychelles. The products, accompanied by QR codes, will be showcased in these Indian embassies and missions abroad, creating a marketing platform at national and international levels. Upon scanning the QR codes, customers will be directed to TRIFED’s dedicated export portal, www.tribesindia.org. This initiative not only promotes PVTG craftsmanship but also encourages orders through Indian Missions abroad. TRIFED’s endeavour not only fosters economic empowerment but also establishes a global presence for the unique products crafted by these tribal communities. The fusion of tradition and innovation is set to captivate international audiences and contribute to the broader vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.
An initiative to revive 1000 springs in the tribal areas of 100 Districts with the aim to provide access to safe and adequate water where the PVTGs are located is being undertaken, wherein awareness generation, skilling of tribal youth as para-hydrologists, inventivization of springs existing in the areas would be undertaken by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and its partners. Convergence with the Ministry of Jal Shakti and State Government shall be the hallmark of the initiative.
In a historic move to integrate tribals into the mainstream, President of India, Smt. Droupadi Murmu felicitated guests from 75 PVTG communities at Rashtrapati Bhavan on 22nd June, 2023. This event not only acknowledged the unique challenges faced by PVTGs but also demonstrated a commitment to creating a platform where their concerns will be heard and acted upon.
The PM JANMAN Abhiyan, Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas celebrations, Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra, President’s invitation to 75 PVTG members at Rashtrapati Bhavan, and extensive interaction with them and finally, the launch of the PM-JANMAN present a comprehensive picture of the commitment and sensitivity of the Government towards the tribal and other marginalised sections of the country.
As the nation embraces this new change, one is reminded of what Prime Minister Modi said, “Our journey is long, but our resolve is firm. Together we are moving towards a future where no community will be left behind, and every Indian will be an equal partner in the progress of the nation.”
Author Arjun Munda is Union Minister of Tribal Affairs & Agriculture and Farmers Welfare