United Nations Population Fund-India organized a half-day seminar on 20 January 2015 on ‘Reaching Out to Tribal Adolescents: Needs, Priorities and Responses’.
Frederika Meijer, Representative UNFPA India, chaired the discussion and briefed the participants about the need and importance of reaching out to adolescents and young people, especially those who are vulnerable and marginalized.
Prof. Sachidananda Sinha, Social Geographer, Jawaharlal Nehru University set the tone of the seminar by highlighting key findings on adolescent tribals and their vulnerability. “Despite heavy investments in tribal mineral-rich areas, these areas continue to be devoid of development benefits,” he said. “Tribal people continue to live in poverty due to lack of development indices, especially education, health and other resources.”
Dr. Achyutananda Samanta, Founder, Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences, Odisha – that shelters and educates students from 13 tribal groups for free – addressed the challenges of tribal youth. “It is important to break the divide between the elite and the deprived. Efforts have to be made to bring tribal youth into the mainstream,” he said.
Amrita Sharma, Coordinator for the Centre for Migration and Labour Solutions talked about the high vulnerability of migrant workers, especially tribals. “Since migration is seasonal and casual, these workers are uncounted, and thus out of policy purview. They are also the preferred means of labour recruitment for the industry,” she said.
Dr. Shanta Sinha, Founder Trustee and Secretary, Mamidupudi Venkatarangaya Foundation urged all to not view tribals alone as a section needing special assistance and treat them equally.
Concluding the discussion, Prof Sinha said the tribal population’s needs and challenges can only be addressed if we remove the smokescreen – with tribals on the other side.