The Harsh Consequences of The Politics of Social Inclusion and Exclusion

Each social institution has its own methods of creating boundaries within its structure. There are concrete and blur boundaries made in order to distinguish between the cultural spaces of individuals in a society. These boundaries, contribute to the social inclusion and exclusion mechanisms by which people are labelled to be as inferior or superior. What is deemed as ‘normal’ plays a great role in cementing the foundations and boundaries of a society. Anyone who deviates from the so called ‘normal’ is said to be looked at as a maladaptive element in the society and hence is marginalised. However, it is important to note that the definition as to what constitutes as normal is subjective for each community.

Social inclusion as well as exclusion, play a a vital role in terms of marking social positions of individuals in society. Both these concepts are intertwined with power relations, which cater to the issue of social advantage. The individuals who have access to resources are given a more ‘inclusive status’ which is characterised by a privileged status, where as an ‘exclusive status’ can be seen in those who are alienated and de-attached. Exclusion in the Indian context can be understood by those individuals who fall into the category of Dalits, tribals or adivasis and other minorities who are alienated from their most basic rights.

As per the 2011 census in India, scheduled tribes constitute to 8.6% of the total population. Since this number is relatively small, the classification of tribes as inferior is not uncommon amongst many minds in India. Tribals in many parts of the country are assumed to be irrational and incapable of making their own decisions, which is why they have been marginalised not only from many societies in India, but by the nation as a whole.

The issue of governance of tribals in India has been a fragile one and it is crucial to understand both sides of the story. Shri Brajeshwar Prasad, member in the Constituent assembly had strong opinions about the governance of tribal areas. He said that they should be centrally administered and not in control of the state, as during 1947 there was still a blur boundary as to which areas constitute as India. This view further argues that the trib- als through the ‘civilising mission’ should be integrated into the nation as a whole. This argument has lead to the thought of tribals being a ‘local tradition’ which needs to be absorbed in a larger tradition, being that of the country.

There is a confusion as to what constitutes as ‘Indian culture.’  As Hinduism is a religion which is majority in number, many characterise practices of Hinduism as what should be ‘Indian culture’. Hence, tribals who live in isolation are ‘sanskritised’ into Hinduism and are given the status of a lower caste. This a a way of integrating them into so- ciety, into a bigger more ‘recognised’ culture. Hence, the face value of tribals can be seen as inclusive, but looking deeper into the situation they still have an excluded status.

Another school of thought is that of the liberals, who state that the tribals should be be seen as an autonomous unit and be given self governing rights in order to ensure their welfare. This view claimed, that the tribals should be free from processes of globalisation and impacts of dominant cultures that disorient the tribals from their own culture.

Years of hard work towards the preserving of resources such as cultivable land, and forests which are owned by the tribals are looted by the ‘developed people’ who make profit off these means of production. 90% of all coal and around 50% of other minerals are found in the tribal lands. The tribals, being naive and illiterate are fooled by the poli- cies and framework of the so called ‘promised’ agendas of the government resulting in further alienation of tribals from their own land. These so called developmental activities leave the tribals landless and displaced with minimum survival needs.

The government has certain ideologies and goals in mind for the country, one is to increase the GDP growth of the country and move towards a more civilised India. There is nothing wrong in having such agendas, but what is wrong is the means by which they achieve them. The government relentlessly feels that after taking over the resources from the tribals, it would grant the tribals separate land to live on and give them means of livelihood. However, this does not always follow due to the scams and corruption activities involved. Even if they are given employment opportunities and societies to stay in, they are still at a great loss as they are placed in unfamiliar societies having less skill to fit the conditions of modern society. This leads them to be excluded from not only form the economic, social and political sphere but also in the areas of education, citizenship and respect.

Rebellious movements such as the Maoist movements come into play here. The members of the movement brainwash the tribals and use examples of how the tribals have been excluded from mainstream society and from the eyes of the government. They emphasise on how a blind eye is turned towards them, compelling the tribals to join these movements. The tribals feel that there is a certain class of people showing sympathy to- wards them and hence join them. This further intensifies the struggle of being excluded for the tribals.

Till date, tribals are still victims of developmental processes. Unless proper attention is given to the plight of the tribals, bringing about a change in their situation is tough to accomplish. The main issue to be targeted is the implementation of the laws. There are many protective laws made in order to protect the tribals. But the question still remains, how far does law enforcement go? Nevertheless, tribals should be educated and made aware of the laws made for them, it is only then they can stand up for their rights.

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Author: stutikakar

Stuti Kakar holds a Master's degree in sociology, and is currently pursuing her M.Phil in sociology from Mumbai University. Her areas of interest include gender studies, art history, culture and Identity, and critical studies of science and technology. This blog reflects her interest in contemporary debates.

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