The legal regime and political economy of land rights in the Scheduled Areas of India

Through an investigation of the constitutional, legal and policy frameworks grounding the specialised protection of the STs, and the administrative and financial apparatuses that effectuate those protections, as well as compilations of data on the preponderance of dams and mines in the Scheduled Areas, the Report presents some insights on why the STs have been increasingly marginalised by the processes of economic development. First, the Report notes that the various policy and legal initiatives taken by the British colonial state that criminalised the activities and livelihoods of the tribal peoples, even as the British sought to classify them within the parameters of the mainstream Indian society which was engaged in settled cultivation. Second, the Report finds that though India was a pioneer in recognising special protections for tribal or indigenous peoples in the Constitution, the fragmented protections for the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Areas in the Constitution contradict the centrality of land to the identity, economy and culture of the Scheduled Tribes. Third, the Report finds a fundamental contradiction between two narratives that have characterised the policies of the British colonial state and the independent Indian state.

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