#GS-02 Social Justice
- The Lokur Committee (officially Advisory Committee on the revision of the lists of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) was set up in 1965 to look into the criteria for defining Schedule Tribes.
- The 5 criteria recommended by the committee for identification are; primitive traits, distinct culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness.
- Office of the Registrar-General of India (RGI) follows the set of criteria given by the Lokur Committee to define any new community as a Scheduled Tribe.
- An internal task force set up by the Government of India under the leadership of then Tribal Affairs Secretary Hrusikesh Panda in February 2014 called these criteria “obsolete”, “condescending”, “dogmatic”, and “rigid”.
- Further, it also noted that terms like “primitive and the requirement of primitivity to be a characteristic of Scheduled Tribe indicates a condescending attitude by outsiders.”
- It also pointed out that the continued infrastructure development across the country have made the geographical isolation criterion meaningless.
What can be done:
- A new criteria for selecting STs can be created which is more contemporary.
- It should include;
- Socio-economic, including educational, backwardness, vis-a-vis, the rest of the population of the State;
- Historical geographical isolation which may or may not exist today;
- distinct language/dialect;
- presence of a core culture relating to life-cycle, marriage, songs, dance, paintings, folklore;
- endogamy, or in case of exogamy, marital relationship primarily with other STs which is for scheduling of a community as ST and not for determining ST status of an individual.