Report of the Eleventh Session – 20 August, 2011
Tribal Traditions and Land as Property in Composite Assam:
Consequences of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India
The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India is a product of the colonial baggage in which the special provisions for “Tribes” were created. “Tribe” per se began as an expression of colonial perception in the political realities of the world. The Constituent Assembly and the Bordoloi Committee carried the colonial burden to “independent” India. The communities which never called themselves ‘‘tribe’’ or ‘’backward’’ came to be identified as ‘‘backward’’ and therefore ‘ill-equipped’ to deal with ‘modern’ developments. Immigration and consequent alienation of tribal land and attempts to prevent such alienation created an overwhelming problem in the Sixth Schedule areas.
Through his lecture, Prof. Apurba K Baruah, Head, Department of Political Science, NEHU, who is also the Academic Director (Hon) ISCARD had stressed that the implications of the Sixth Schedule is serious and far-reaching. It has brought about huge gaps between the ‘elite’ and people at the grassroot level, between ‘tribal tradition and ‘modern’ liberal views.
Stressing on the issue of way of protecting the interests of the tribals and the non-tribals in the matter of land in the same footing which was never been an issue of pre British Assam, Prof. Baruah said that a step must have to be taken for a political and social negotiation towards its final solution in the contemporary times.
In the speech, of moderator Shri Arup Borbora, Senior Advocate, Gauhati High Court said that, in the Sixth Schedule areas the rich are becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer and that is why it is time to examine the workability of the Schedule. He said that unless the average growth of the community takes place, the Sixth Schedule will lose its worth. Moreover, inter-community relationships are also getting frayed in these areas. There is urgent need to instil mutual respect and trust so that the peaceful co-existence and harmony of pre-British times is restored, Shri Borbora said.
Prof DC Baroowa, Director, Research Advisory Council, introduced the guests and informed the gathering about the background to the series on Land Policy.
The program ended with a fruitful interactive session.