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Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities

This topic provides information about Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DNCs).

Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DNCs) are hard to reach, less visible, and therefore frequently left out.

While most DNTs are spread across the Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) categories, some DNTs are not covered in any of the SC. ST or OBC categories.

Who are DNTs

The term 'De-notified Tribes' stands for all those communities which were once notified under the Criminal Tribes Acts, enforced by the British Raj between l87l and I947. These Acts were repealed by the Independent lndian Government in l952, and these communities were "De-Notified". A few of these communities which were listed as de-notified were also nomadic.

Terms such as nomads and semi-nomads are applied to 'social groups who undertook a fairly frequent, usually seasonal physical movement as port of their livelihood strategy in the recent past. The term semi-nomad is mostly used to describe those sections of nomads whose duration, distance and frequency of movement is comparitively less than others. The distinction between nomads and semi-nomods do not involve distinguishable ethnic categories or social groups, it rather describes the degree of mobility practiced by them.

Culture and Tradition of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes

The De-notified and Nomadic communities have diverse ideological patterns, culture, political and social lifestyle, customs and traditions. The customs of Nomadic communities have a long tradition of continuity and many of their practices claim on ancient heritage. They hove their own Gods and Goddesses. Moreover, their own festivals and celebrations ore diversified.

The social and cultural characteristics of nomadic communities are closely related with their economic activities. Most of the communities follow a traditional system of moving in groups of five to twenty with a senior member who is responsible for settling disputes, leading each group. Each of these sub groups travelled independently on different routes in order to earn their livelihood. ln some communities there is a system of meeting of meeting on annual customary camping, where reunions, marriages and even cattle trading took place.

As is the case with most of the communities in lndia, large majority of De-notified and nomadic communities are primarily patriarchal.

Livelihoods of DNT

The nomadic way of life revolves around socio-economic necessity, ranging from making tools and utensils, supplying basic goods (salt, wool), providing medicines and herbs, to entertaining people. The available accounts indicate that these nomadic communities were an integral part of the society and its economic processes around the middle of the l9th century. With their skills and ability to travel for long distances with their kin, they provided essential goods and services to sedentary agrarian communities.

Historically, Nomadic Tribes and De-notified Tribes never had access to private land or home ownership. These tribes used forests and grazing lands for their livelihood and residential use. These communities had "strong ecological connections. Many of them are dependent upon various types of natural resources and carve out intricate ecological niches for their survival. The changes in ecology and environment seriously affect their livelihood options.

Status in India

It has been estimated that South Asia has the world’s largest nomadic population. In India, roughly 10 per cent of the population is Denotified and Nomadic.While the number of Denotified Tribes is about 150, the population of Nomadic Tribes consists of about 500 different communities. While the Denotified Tribes have almost settled in various States of the country, the Nomadic Communities continue to be largely nomadic in pursuit of their traditional professions.

The Government in July 2014 had constituted National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) for a period of three years to prepare a State-wise list of castes belonging to Denotified and Nomadic Tribes and to suggest appropriate measures in respect of Denotified and Nomadic Tribes that may be undertaken by the Central Government or the State Government. To access the Idate Commission Report, click here

The Renke Commission (2008) was earlier commissioned to identify and list the DNT communities. To access the Renke Commission Report, click here

To access the Status of Inclusion of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes among Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes (Provisional) 2016, click here.

A Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities has also been constituted vide gazette Notification dated 21.02.2019 for Development and Welfare of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic communities.

Schemes for DNT

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing the following schemes for the welfare of the DNTs.

  1. Dr. Ambedkar Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship for DNTs : This Centrally Sponsored Scheme was launched w.e.f. 2014-15 for the welfare of those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC. The income ceiling for eligibility is Rs. 2.00 lakh per annum. The scheme is implemented through State Governments/UT Administrations. The expenditure is shared between the Centre and the States in the ratio of 75:25.
    The rate of Scholarship for Pre-Matric is:
    • Class I to VIII Rs. 1000 per student for 10 months
    • Class IX to X Rs. 1500 per student for 10 months
    The rate of Scholarship for Post-Matric is:
    • Hostellers Rs. 380 to Rs. 1000 per student for 10 months
    • Day Scholars Rs. 230 to Rs. 550 per student for 10 months
  2. Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of Construction of Hostels for DNT Boys and Girls. This Centrally Sponsored Scheme launched w.e.f. 2014-15 is implemented through State Governments/ UT Administrations/ Central Universities. The aim of the scheme is to provide hostel facilities to those DNT students; who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC; to enable them to pursue higher education. The income ceiling for eligibility is Rs. 2.00 lakh per annum. The Central Government provides a maximum of 500 seats per annum throughout the country. The cost norm is Rs. 3.00 lakh per seat plus Rs. 5000/-per seat for furniture. The expenditure is shared between the Centre and the States in the ratio of 75:25.
  3. From the year 2017-18, the scheme "Assistance to Voluntary Organization working for the Welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs)" has been extended for DNTs and EBCs as "Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Skill Development of Backward Classes (OBCs)/ De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs)/ Economic Backward Classes (EBCs)".

Source : Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

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