How PM Modi and CM Vishnu Deo Sai Empowering Tribals of Chhattisgarh

The tribal community has played a vital role in India’s economic, social and cultural progress for centuries. However, the post-independence biased policies of the previous governments left the farmers and tribals behind in the development journey. A key factor for this exclusion was the absence of political leadership. The diverse communities living in forests and remote areas are not only contributing to the nation’s progress but also creating new avenues of leadership. The powerful and compassionate leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi since 2014 has brought this change in the country, especially for the tribal and the farmers. In his first speech at the Central Hall after becoming the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi had stressed that his government will be committed to the welfare of the disadvantaged, the poor and the tribals. Government schemes, programs and policies have been designed around the welfare of the marginalized sections of the society. Effective execution of these government schemes, programs and policies have led to remarkable socio-economic and educational improvement of the tribal community in Chhattisgarh.

PM Narendra Modi also took a praiseworthy step of appointing a tribal leader as the head of the state. After the Chhattisgarh Assembly elections, PM Modi gave the leadership of the state to the widely respected tribal leader Vishnu Deo Sai. Vishnu Deo Sai began his public career as a Panch. He was later elected as Sarpanch and then as an MLA from Tapkara assembly seat from 1990-1998. The first tribal Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Vishnu Deo Sai has been elected as a member of the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th Lok Sabha. He was born on 21 February 1964 in Bagiya village of Jashpur. People of the tribal community in Bagiya village affectionately call him as “Vishnu Babu”. He is known for his simplicity away from the media glare, and also for his stern image against corruption.

Vishnu Deo Sai entered public life as a worker of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. For more than four decades now, Sai has been a prominent leader among the tribals of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states like Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. Sai has raised tribal issues time and again and diligently worked to resolve them, fulfilling his duties as a public representative. By setting up various educational institutions including Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya Vidyalaya (Kunkuri), Livelihood, Polytechnic College, Agriculture College etc. in Jashpur region, Vishnu Deo Sai has taken this tribal dominated area forward on the path of development. During the first term of Modi Government at the Centre, in his role as Minister of State for Steel, Mines, Labor and Employment, special priority was given to forest areas.

In his two-month tenure, CM Vishnu Deo Sai has turned Modi’s guarantee into action and set an example of political good governance. With the budget of 2024-25, Vishnu Deo government has expanded the coverage of various government schemes to more than fifty tribes including Gond, Oraon, Kamar, Pahari Korwa, Birhor, Baiga, Kanwar, Koya, Dhurwa, Halba, Abujhmadia. Moving forward with the Bastar-Surguja policy, the state government is trying to improve the connectivity in Bastar-Surguja. Announcements have been made to promote eco-tourism and naturopathy in this area. Promotion of Minor Forest Produce and food processing will be stressed in the most tribal dominated area of the state. Tendu patta is a major source of livelihood for the tribals in Chhattisgarh. The government of Vishnu Deo Sai has fixed Rs 5,500 per standard bag wage rate for tendu patta collectors. Similarly, a provision of Rs 35 crore has been made for ‘Charan Paduka’ scheme. Through this scheme, footwear is provided to tendu patta collectors. The Deendayal Upadhyay Landless Agricultural Labourer Scheme will be implemented to provide an annual assistance of Rs 10,000 to landless labourers.

Fulfilling PM Modi’s Guarantee

The Vishnu Deo government has identified ten points for economic development. These include technology-based reforms, optimal utilization of natural resources, development of new opportunities in the service sector, promotion of private investment, development of Surguja-Bastar, promoting Chhattisgarhi culture and implementation of the government schemes. Council of Primitive Languages will be established in the state for the development of local tribal dialects. An amount of more than Rs 2 crore has been allocated for the translation of Gondi language. Within 2 months of the formation of BJP government in Chhattisgarh, Vishnu government has implemented several guarantees of PM Modi, which include implementation of Mahtari Vandan Yojana, free housing facility to more than 1.8 lakh poor families, release of the pending bonus of paddy to farmers and procurement of paddy at the rate of Rs 3100 per quintal. And the beneficiaries of all the above schemes along with distribution of free ration or tap connections mainly include the people of underdeveloped tribes.

In the last ten years, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Central Government has taken significant steps to ensure the rights and dignity of forest-dwelling communities. Government has decided to celebrate 15th November every year as ‘Gaurav Diwas’ to commemorate the birth anniversary of Lord Birsa Munda and the contribution of tribal freedom fighters. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has repeatedly emphasized that upliftment of the tribal community is his top priority. This commitment is evident through his interactions with tribal communities from Bastar to the Northeast. Smt. Droupadi Murmu as the first tribal woman president of the country, inspires millions of tribal women towards empowerment.

Livelihood Solutions for Forest Dwellers

Multi-functional food processing centers have been established in Chhattisgarh under Van Dhan Yojana. These centres promote food processing. Additionally, women self-help groups purchase products from collectors at support prices, handle the marketing of products and also earn livelihood from the same. 739 Van Dhan Centers in the state are making tribal women self-reliant. NAFED and TRIFED procurement of state minor forest produce has strengthened the livelihood of the tribals. Chhattisgarh’s Vishnu Deo Government has decided to establish Unity Center in every district for marketing of local products. A provision of Rs 19 crore has been made in the budget for this purpose. Most of these products are made of forest produce.

Chief Minister’s Special Emphasis on Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra

Tribal community is the main beneficiary of Van Dhan Yojana, Ujjwala, Kisan Samman Nidhi, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Ayushman Bharat Schemes of BJP governments at the Center and in the states. The benefits of various government schemes are being ensured to tribal communities through PM Janman Yojana (Pradhan Mantri Janjati Adiwasi Nyaya Maha Abhiyan). Forest rights ownership has secured the livelihood of the people residing in the forest areas. Vishnu Babu, inherently humble yet the flagbearer of Indianness and ‘Sanatan’ culture, indicated a policy of zero tolerance on issues like religious conversion immediately upon assuming the role of Chief Minister, hinting that it’s not just a political vote bank or a means of self-fulfilment for him. The affinity between the late Dilip Singh Judev and Vishnu Deo Sai still serves as an example in political corridors. This is why, amidst the aggressive image of Vishnu Babu regarding cultural nationalism, one also sees an image similar to that of late Dilip Singh Judev. Some time ago, the country witnessed political instability arising from nepotism and corruption in a tribal dominated state like Jharkhand. Chhattisgarh is a great example of how political stability can give a new dimension to the development of a state. Here, Chief Minister Shri Vishnu Deo Sai himself is monitoring the implementation of central schemes through the Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra. This Chhattisgarhi endeavour for the well-being of the tribal community, which has been a nurturer of development, is realising the goal of Antyoday.

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