Current Affairs

Why are tribals of Rajasthan and Gujarat demanding a separate state of Bhil Pradesh?

In News:

  • The demands for a “Bhil Pradesh”, a separate state for tribal people in western India, have of late begun to be raised again.

What’s in today’s article:

  • Background (Demand for a separate Bhil Pradesh, Reason for this demand, Challenges , Past examples)
  • Constitutional Provisions for STs


  • The Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTP), a political party based in Gujarat, envisions Bhil Pradesh as a separate state carved out of 39 districts spread over four states: 16 in Gujarat, 10 in Rajasthan, seven in Madhya Pradesh, and six in Maharashtra.
  • Formed in 2017 in Gujarat, the party’s core objective is separate statehood.

Why is the party demanding a separate statehood?

  • Earlier, the Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur region in Rajasthan and Gujarat, MP, etc. was part of a single entity.
  • However, post-independence, many of these tribal majority regions were distributed across the states.
  • Economic backwardness of sub-regions within large states has also emerged as an important ground on which demands for smaller states are being made. Linguistic and cultural reasons, which were the primary basis for creating new states in the country, have now become secondary in most of these cases.
  • Over the decades, several Union governments brought various “laws, benefits, schemes, and committee reports” on tribals, but went slow on their execution and implementation.
  • For example, the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 was enacted in 1996.
    • However, the Rajasthan government adopted the law in 1999, and came out with its Rules in 2011.
    • In many remote areas of the state, majority of the people are still not aware about the provisions of the Act.

Challenges in Creation of New States

  • Setting up various institutions, government offices, universities, hospitals, etc. require huge sums of money, therefore, the new state might end up depending on the Union for funds, which may or may not be available.
  • Different statehood may lead to the hegemony of the dominant community/ caste/ tribe over their power structures. This can lead to the emergence of intra-regional rivalries among the sub-region
  • There is also possibility of increase in the inter-State water, power and boundary disputes.
  • Creation of smaller states only transfers power from the old state capital to new state capital without empowering already existing institutions like Gram Panchayat, District Collector, etc. rather diffusion of development in the backward areas of the states.

Past examples

  • Jharkhand has failed from the governance and administrative perspective and became state of coal scams and corrupt practices.
  • Chhattisgarh has witnessed largest tribal displacement in the recent times
  • Uttarakhand continues to be at the end in the Human Development Index. The recent floods showed the inability of the state to deal with rehabilitation of the displaced residents.
  • Telangana is heavily relying on the central grants to pay for its newly created administrative and institutional machineries.

Basic safeguards provided in the Constitution:

  • Educational & Cultural safeguards:
    • 15(4): Special provisions for advancement of other backward classes (it includes STs);
    • 29: Protection of Interests of Minorities (religious and linguistic minorities);
    • 46: The State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes, and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation;
    • 350: Right to conserve distinct Language, Script or Culture;
    • 350: Instruction in Mother Tongue.
  • Social safeguards:
    • 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and beggar and other similar form of forced labour;
    • 24: Forbidding Child Labour.
  • Economic safeguards:
    • 244: Provisions of Fifth Schedule shall apply to the administration & control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule;
    • 275: Grants in-Aid to specified States (STs&SAs) covered under Fifth and Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.
  • Political safeguards:
    • 330: Reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha;
    • 337: Reservation of seats for STs in State Legislatures;
    • 334: 10 years period for reservation (Amended several times to extend the period.);
    • 243: Reservation of seats in Panchayats;
    • 371: Special provisions in respect of NE States and Sikkim.

Special Programmes & Enactments:

  • Successive Union governments have enacted progressive legislation, programmes and schemes for development and empowerment of Scheduled Tribes and other traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act, 2016).
  • The provisions of Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, Minor Forest Produce Act, 2005 and the Tribal Sub-Plan strategy are focused on the socio-economic empowerment of Scheduled Tribes.
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