Tackling Maoism in tribal areas to top high-level meet Saturday

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Ways to tackle leftwing extremism in 33 affected districts, especially in tribal areas, will top of the agenda of the 55th meeting of the National Development Council (NDC) to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here Saturday.

Ahead of the day-long meeting, to be attended by all chief ministers and key members of the federal cabinet, officials said the strategy was to formulate a new plan which will address development deficit in tribal areas that makes people succumb to exploitation.

In a discussion paper prepared by the Planning Commission ahead of the meeting, it was noted that the country’s tribespeople, who account for 8.2 percent of the population, had not benefited adequately from India’s development.

Taking literacy as a yardstick, the paper said while this had increased from 8.53 percent in 1961 to 47.1 percent now in such areas, the gap with the general population was still high at 18 percentage points.

It said even though the tribal sub-plan incorporated into the planning process was an important instrument for flow of adequate funds for such areas, the implementation had not been satisfactory, both at the central and state levels.

The paper also sought to link the lack of adequate development in tribal areas to leftwing extremism by quoting Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s budget speech in February where he promised coordinated steps in 33 such affected districts.

Accordingly, the paper said, the plan panel has initiated a consultative process to prepare an action plan that will address a range of development and security measures, with an assurance of adequate funding by the finance ministry.

The prime minister had said last week that developmental issues in Maoist-affected states will be discussed in greater detail in the NDC meeting and that the state of affairs in tribal areas needed to be changed.

‘For far too long have our tribal brothers and sisters seen the administration in the form of arapacious forest guard, brutal policeman, greedy patwari (revenue official). It’s time we provided better delivery of service and one which is sensitive,’ he said.

The main agenda for the meeting Saturday is for a mid-term appraisal of the $910 billion 11th Five Year Plan and what course correction is required to realise its central theme: Towards Faster and More Inclusive Growth.

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