1. Prologue
  2. What was purpose of Xaxa Committee?
    1. Land acquisition: Problems found:
    2. Land Acquisition: Suggestions given
    3. Mining in tribal areas
    4. Linkage with Extremism
  3. Appendix: Tribal insurgency
  4. Appendix 2: Constitutional & Legal protection
  5. Mock Questions for Mains


  • Topic in News: As such Xaxa Committee was formed in 2013 and gave report in May 2014. But Indian express released detailed report in October 2014 hence in news.

Relevance in UPSC Mains Exam:

  • GS3: Linkages between development and spread of extremism.
  • GS2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
  • GS2: mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections (including ST)

What was purpose of Xaxa Committee?

  1. 2005: UPA had setup Sachar Committee to Muslim community’s socio-economic-educational status.
  2. 2013: On the similar pattern, UPA-II setup Committee under Virginius Xaxa. He was a member of NAC (National advisory council).
  3. To study the socio-economic, health and educational status of tribals.
  4. To suggest policy initiatives and interventions for tribal-upliftment.
  5. 2014: Gave report.
Virginius Xaxa Committee on tribals

Major recommendations of Xaxa Committee

Land acquisition: Problems found:

  1. Government notifies rural areas as urban areas to keep them out of PESA coverage.
  2. The PPP (Public private partnership) model, is simply a backdoor method of tribal land alienation.
  3. Government agencies acquire land for “public purpose” but later transfer it to private companies at throwaway prices.
  4. Government has signed such MoUs with companies, Government officials became “dealers and negotiators” of tribal land. “Neutrality of the State” is forgotten.
  5. In scheduled areas, tribal’s land cannot be transferred to non-tribals. YET Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) sometimes hastens project-files which directly /indirectly violate this provision.
  6. Development projects lead to influx of outsiders to tribal areas, thus harm tribal interests by money landing activities and pollution.

Land Acquisition: Suggestions given

  1. Prevent all kinds of tribal land alienation
  2. Gram Sabha’s consent compulsory for any type of land acquisition. Even if the government wants land for its own use.
  3. If anyone obtains Gram Sabha’s consent fraudulently = impose penalties and cancel such projects.
  4. Empower Gram sabhas to restore alienated land back to original owner, even while case is pending in court. This will discourage non-tribal buyers from committing frauds.
  5. Earlier Vijay Kelkal Committee suggested that unused Government land should be sold off/leased off to get more money and reduce fiscal deficit. Xaxa asks Government to use such land for tribal-resettlement.
  6. Promote small sized water-harvesting structures instead for large dams.
  7. Impose penalties on officials, if delayed implementation of Forest Rights Act or PESA.

Mining in tribal areas

  1. After mines are exhausted, return the land back to original owner. Amend the Coal-Bearing Areas Act, 1957 to implement this.
  2. In Andhra Pradesh, tribal-cooperative societies are can do mining activities. Other states need to adopt same model.
  3. In Scheduled Areas, only permit tribals to exploit mineral resources.
  4. Future policy makers should learn lessons from Niyamagiri episode.

Linkage with Extremism

  1. There is no legal basis for terming anything a “Naxal offence”.
  2. Yet many tribals are arrested for protesting against developmental projects.
  3. Thus, laws are used as tools of tribal oppression.
  4. Appoint a judicial commission to investigate such “naxal cases” registered against tribals and their (non-tribal) supporters.
  5. Avoid making Salwa Judum like policies to combat left wing extremism.

Epilogue: Modi unlikely to implement any of this, because he wants to give rapid push to highways, mining and industrial corridors, while Xaxa suggesting tough norms for land acquisition. Nonetheless, provides sufficient fodder for Mains GS.

Appendix: Tribal insurgency

just some fodder points based on a book review in thehindu

Under British rule:

  • The British passed Forest Acts (1878, 1927) banned -shifting cultivation, foraging, grazing and hunting in Indian jungles.
  • British kept the tribal areas under their direct administration through Governors and kept ‘their’ forest almost intact until they left India.
  • This negatively affected the livelihoods of tribes- leading to rebellions.
  • The British branded their protests as ‘savage attacks’, and usedextreme violence to impose ‘Colonial-civilisation’ on these “savages”.
  • Konds of Odisha- they spill blood to worship their deity under “Meriah” rite. But British branded it as “human sacrifice”.

Under Free India:

  • Since 1980s, Central and Eastern India became the perfect guerrilla terrain for the Naxalites.
  • This region is home to a large tribal population. The Maoist movement spread in these tribal belts because they Promised to end their historical marginalisation; and managed to build intimacy with local people, overriding differences of caste or tribe.
  • UPA Government took away nearly 1.2 lakh ht. of forest land and gave it to MNCs for mining and power projects.
  • Tribal made to work in the most dangerous parts of mines and steel plants, for petty wages. Thus, even the new ‘civilised’ Indian are keeping them as ‘primitive’ as possible.

Appendix 2: Constitutional & Legal protection

Constitutional protection to ST: List not exhaustive
Article How tribals protected?
15/4 State can make special provisions for advancement of SEBC, SC and ST.
19/5 As such citizen can freely move, reside and aquire property in any part of India. BUT State can impose restrictions to protect the ST. Example- forbidding non-tribals from purchasing land from tribal.
23 Human trafficking prohibited.
29 Linguistic minority has right to conserve its language and culture. Many ST communities are also linguistic minorities.
164 Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and JHK need to appoint a minister for tribal welfare.
330, 332 Reservation for SC-ST in Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha.
334 Above reservation valid only for ten years.
335 Reservation for SC-ST in Government jobs.
338A National commission for ST, appointed by President.
339/1 after 10 years from Constitution, President shall appoint a Commission to prepare report on Scheduled areas and ST. So far two commissions setup UN Dhebar (1961) and Dilip Singh Bhuria (2002)
371 Special provisions for 11 states. Including tribal-protection in Gujarat, Maharashtra, NE etc.
Schedule How tribals protected?
5th Tribal areas in nine states. Governors given special powers.
6th Autonomous district councils in AMTM = Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram


Legal protection to ST: Just brief overview
Law How tribals protected?
  • PESA or Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act
  • State Government have to give certain political, administrative and financial powers to local governments in tribal areas.
  • 50% seats reserved for tribals.
  • All chairpersons must be tribals (@gram, tehsil, district level bodies).
  • Forest rights act
  • Tribals given “land ownership”, if they can prove they/their ancestors have been tilling the land beyond x years.
  • Gram Sabha/ community rights over forest, forest produce, IPR on traditional medicine etc.

Mock Questions for Mains

Answer following in 200 words each:

  1. “The problem of tribal land alienation and its linkages with extremism, can be best solved with Implementation of Xaxa Committee report.” Expand on the assertion made.
  2. Discuss the Constitutional provisions for protection and development of Tribal areas in India.
  3. Mention any three tribal areas in India. What’re the main components of Government’s tribal development program? (UPSC asked this in 1988.)

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