Adivasi Policy Memorandum Submitted to the Chief Minister of Orissa




Recognising that ‘Adivasi communities have a historical continuity with a pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories’.

Recognising that ‘the Adivasi communities are distinct from other sections of society and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories and their ethnic identity, as the basis of continued existence as peoples, in accordance with our own cultural ethos, social institution and legal systems’.

Aware of the limited constitutional status provided to us as ‘Scheduled Tribes’ which excludes some worthy Adivasi groups.

Conscious that the majority of population regards the Adivasi Community as primitive and Government programme aims at integrating us with the majority society rather than emphasizing our distinctiveness and uniqueness.

Realising that even after 57 years of independence there is absence of a clear policy frame work for the Adivasis. Our economic base is systematically destroyed. Where there is lack of an enabling environment for those who are still able to follow the basis of a traditional way of life resulting in cultural extinction of many of the smaller Adivasi Communities.

Understanding that the Adivasis of Orissa, which account for 22.21% of the State population, exhibit great variety in languages, cultural customs and practices include most populated tribes such as Kondhs, Sauras / Sabar, Juang and unique Adivasis such as Bonda, Bhuiyan which are only found in the State.

Emphasising that the village community is the basic unit of governance and therefore it must be politically empowered for planning village development, managing natural resources and resolving conflict in accordance with traditional customs and practices.

Asserting that secured land tenures, rights to forest and forest based products and access and control over local water and mineral resources are key to our existence

Recognising that ‘the Adivasis’ identity in Orissa is at risk due to indiscriminate growth of mining and other extractive industries in Adivasi areas, Modernisation and consumerist market economy are also making the Adivasis more marginalized.

Reconginsing that ‘initiatives of the various Government programmes such as Adivasi Sub-plans, Special Component Plans, Primitive Adivasi Micro Projects, Modified Area Development Agency, Cluster and Dispersed Adivasi Development programmes and special education have not achieved their intended objectives.

Realising that in view of the growing marginalisation, deprivation, oppression and special unique social, economic, political character and livelihood systems, there is a need to develop a policy keeping in mind long-term sustainable human development perspective in a special geographical context of Orissa.

Realising that Adivasi community must be offered every opportunity for effective participation in the socio economic and the governance processes of the State.

The policy statement is declared here under

  • A separate Policy for the State of Orissa to be adopted emphasizing identity, local tradition, culture, religion and unique ness of regions.
  • That principles of equity, justice and equitable distribution of natural resources are key to all round development for Adivasi community in the region and therefore must be ingrained in any policy affecting Adivasis.
  • That key focus for any policy on Adivasi should be to develop sound principles on governance on issues such as land, water, forest, health, education, culture of the Adivasis and the rights of Adivasi women in the state.
  • That ownership and control over land in Adivasi areas is closely related with the economic and social well being of the people and it forms the basis of social status and political power. Prevention of Adivasi land alienation due to various methods of agriculture, industrialization and urbanization and its restoration needs to be the basis of any effective policy strategy.
  • Necessary amendments may be brought in the existing land legislations to include the principles enunciated in recent legislations on Adivasi self rule such as the Gram Saba /Gram Sasan including Palli Sabha’s role in consent for acquisition of land for development projects.
  • Secured access to forest and forest based products for bona-fide and dignified existence must be ensured through amendments in forest legislations and policy resolutions.
  • That the Adivasi should be given right to manage their own forest and reserve forest in the Adivasi areas. The Gram Sabha must have ownership rights over forest produce.
  • The State Government along with Adivasi community should develop a system for proper and sustainable forest eco system management in the Adivasi area and in particular to sustain forest productivity, health, bio-diversity, soil quality, water quality, natural landscapes and the full range of natural forest ecological processes.
  • To promote the formal education among the Adivasis, the State should ensure that the Adivasis are taught in their own language and the content of the course should be reworked to suit their cultural and social needs.
  • That the State Government must ensure adequate incentive structures such as scholarships, stipends, tuition waivers and residential school for Adivasis.
  • That serious effort must be made to preserve the Adivasi identity and their life style and cultural heritage. Cultural heritage includes natural heritage, customary practices, folk tales and beliefs and confined to relics or sacred sites.
  • The State should ensure the preservation of Adivasi language by providing all kinds of support, technical, academic, financial etc. and place heavy reliance on the local anthropology of Adivasi folk. The state should also take urgent initiative to protect and conserve Adivasi Archeological sites, Historical area and Historical places.
  • Criteria and Indicators must be developed for standardized herbal medicine system where tribals should play a leading role in setting up such standards. This may include setting up of a State or National Institute of Folk Herbal Medicine.
  • That the State must ensure reservation in Government services and public sector undertaking are in proportion to the demography of Adivasis and explore various possible means of providing loans and technology to Adivasis to develop a self-employment mechanism for youth.
  • The State Government should secure inheritance right of women over the property by amending concerned legislation on property.
  • The state should enable Adivasis to develop self-governing institutions and economic bases, which will assist them to participate effectively in decision making.

To support decentralized, participatory, multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary, eco-regional and adaptive management approaches that respect human and cultural diversity, gender equity, livelihood and human security and enhancement as well as environmental sustainability where we value and build upon both traditional and scientific information and knowledge.

Mr. Basudev Jani.
President, OAAA

Ms. Narango Pujari.
Vice President, OAAA

Mr. Philli Behra Patra.
Secretary, OAAA

17 NOVEMBER 2004