ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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De-notified and Nomadic Tribes

A Perspective

Burdened still by labels and notions that have been the DNTs lot since the colonial period, there needs to be concerted efforts aimed towards their rehabilitation. While such efforts have to be many-pronged to tackle issues of gender bias, chronic underdevelopment and illiteracy, the onus lies on governments at the centre and state to take the initiative for lasting and truly effective change.

The de-notified and nomadic tribes (DNTs) are an integral part of the Indian society.1 Though ethnographic studies have been conducted on some of them, it is only recently that they are finding some mention in academic and popular discourses. However, attention is focused mostly on the issue of violation of human rights. This is justifiable considering the frequent infringement of their rights but other vital concerns also need to be attended to. The DNTs are not just a neglected section but a complex one as well. Their problems are not only grounded in contemporary reality, but also deeply rooted in history. They have suffered injustices at the hands of both polity and society but the same are not sufficiently redressed. What is lacking is a comprehensive perspective, which will enable activists, researchers, policy-makers and community leaders to take appropriate action. The present paper makes an attempt in this direction. Though the analysis is applicable to the whole Indian situation, references are drawn mainly from Maharashtra. This is because the state of Maharashtra, being at the confluence of the north and the south, houses a large number of nomadic and de-notified communities who have originated from both the directions. The state has also nurtured a dynamic social movement of the DNTs. It therefore provides an ideal backdrop against which a perspective could be developed.

Before setting out to develop a perspective, it would be useful to note some of the broad characteristics of these communities. This is based after Bokil (1999).

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