The Rajya Sabha on Monday passed the Post Office Bill, 2023 after Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw assured the House that interception provisions in the Bill was meant for national security purposes only, keeping in view the current challenging times.
Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda yesterday said the Modi Government had taken steps to end historical injustice to the tribal population in the country and initiated schemes after appreciating their problems and issues.
Replying to a debate on the working of the Tribal Affairs Ministry in the Rajya Sabha, the Minister refuted that there was a decline in the Ministry’s yearly Budget. The budgetary allocations had gone up every year, along with expenditure, he said.
It was true that for a year, Covid had affected expenditure by States and therefore allocations for them had to be reduced as per rules. But there is no change in the Government’s intent to address issues of development for the tribal population, he said.
Munda said the Government is making efforts to ensure that national progress reflects in the tribal areas also. In the last six years, Rs 1.64 crore was spent on tribals’ welfare.
All Ministries have started schemes for them and his Ministry was trying to ensure coordination, he said. The Tribal Sub-Plans would be prepared with more content. All schools in tribal areas would be made Navodaya Schools.
Munda said he represents the Jharkhand constituency known for Bhagwan Birsa Munda, the tribal leader who fought the colonial rulers for tribals’ rights. The Government had declared Birsa Munda’s 15 November birthday Adivasi Gaurav Day. The Government is committed to protecting and serving the tribals’ rights, he said.
The UPA and Congress Governments were in power for a long time but did only lip service to the tribals’ cause, giving an opportunity to the present Government to do work for the tribals. Roads were constructed in Ladakh or Arunachal Pradesh because there were no roads there. The tribals are being provided basic amenities, everywhere, he said.
Who displaced the tribals, he asked. The Congress Governments had talked sweetly with the tribals but did nothing to show respect to the tribals’ life.
For economic transformation of the tribals, he said the Government had announced Minimum Support Price (MSP) for 87 jungle produce. Wherever silk is produced, whether, in Jharkhand or Assam, the tribals were being trained in value addition.
Earlier, he said the tribals’ problems were studied and policies made, but no work was done. A small department for tribals was converted into a full-fledged Ministry by the Vajpayee Government.
To address the tribals’ health issues, a telemedicine scheme was started along with a portal. Data is being collected and ICMR and the Health Ministry are involved in addressing the tribals’ peculiar health problems. Aspirational districts are being identified for 4G connectivity.
Law and Justice Minister Kiran Rijiju said P A Sangma was the first Tribal Cabinet Minister after Independence. Today, there are three tribal Cabinet and five tribal Ministers of State in the Union Government. This sends a big message to the country, he said.
The tribal population comprised eight percent of the country’s population but was not treated as part of the mainstream. He said the tribals had small issues but were denied a hearing under earlier Governments, which led to discontent in their areas.