Adivasi impoverishment accelerates under NDA II

Written by Archana Prasad | Published on: December 8, 2015
urban areas for adivasi women increased by 8.4% in the period between 2007-2010 alone.

An analysis of data from the Census of India for the years 2001 to 2011 shows a secular decline in the number of main workers (workers getting more than 180 days of regular work in one year) in all three long-term BJP ruled states while there is only a marginal decline in the total work participation rates.[i] The reason why the full magnitude of the decline in main workers or workers with regular work is not reflected in the total work participation rates is a secular increase in marginal adivasi workforce (people working for less than six months a year). However, both the decrease in the main workforce and the increase in the marginal workforce are much higher in the rural regions than in the urban regions. This trend indicates that increasing number of rural adivasi workers have less work available during the year. This is reflective of the larger rural crisis that has fundamentally impacted adivasi livelihoods. Another trend that emerges from the data is that while there is decline in the main male urban workforce, there is a generalised increase in the main female urban workforce in all states except Chhattisgarh[si1] . This trend highlights the gendered nature of the changes in the occupational structure. Significantly the decline in marginal female urban workers is replaced by a corresponding increase in the main female urban workers. Once again this indicates that schedule tribe women are shouldering greater responsibility to meet the daily needs of urban survival. ​
This picture contrasts with the decedal changes in the character of marginal work. The data shows that though the number of tribal marginal other workers have gone up in both urban and rural areas the increase is much higher in the case of male worker participation rates (7.33%) as compared with female work participation rates (0.69%). The pattern of this trend is more evident in the rural areas where work participation rates of marginal work have increased by 4.72% overall and for male workers they have risen by 8.02%. In two out of the three states under consideration the rural marginal work for male workers has risen more than the national average (8%). In Chhattisgarh the increase is more than 10% and in Madhya Pradesh it is close to 10 percent. In the case of Gujarat there has been a rise in all types of marginal employment highlighting the jobless growth in the state. This reflected in the fact that there is there is a decrease in urban main work and increase in marginal work for male workers resulting in a total decrease in work participation rates. This decrease in work participation rate is largely due to growth in unemployment and decrease in main workers.​ In contrast there is an increase in female urban main work force and decrease in the marginal workforce. This clearly indicates that women are being pushed out of agriculture and are forced to migrate for low paid wage labour in peri-urban and urban areas.

The experience of the BJP ruled states also shows that programmes of conversion, reconversions and the inculcation of caste Hindu values go hand in hand with the process of proletarianisation of adivasis.

This shows that the much-touted BJP record of development is a false propaganda and needs to be demystified.

Adivasi cultivators on the decline
In this context a further probe into the nature of occupational changes reveals a rather interesting scenario of working class formation and consolidation amongst the adivasis. The decedal changes in the industrial classification of main workers reflect the land dispossession that is taking place amongst the tribals. Given the figures for increasing landlessness amongst this social group, it is not surprising that the number of adivasi cultivators or peasants have declined by more than 10% in all least developed states except for Odisha where the rate of decline is less than the all India average of 10.31%. As expected most of this decline is amongst the tribal farmers of rural areas, but this decrease is also gendered in its character. The rate of