Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Multi-Functional Approach to Tribal Welfare : Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Multi-Functional Approach to Tribal Welfare
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
Pioneer, Hyderabad (25-03-2020)

Twenty-five years ago, late P. Kamala Manohar Rao, in his report to the united AP State Government on streamlining Tribal Development, strongly recommended for a “Single-Line Administration”. Though number of schemes for the welfare of Tribals in the State as elsewhere in the country have been drawn up and scores of them are being implemented, most of the key suggestions made by Rao which are pertinent even today, are yet to be considered by Governments. 

Telangana born Kamala Manohar Rao was the first Director of Tribal Welfare when it was created in 1966 and continued until he retired in 1975. He was entrusted with the task of Tribal Development as part of Administrative Reforms Committee of Rusthomjee and Associates in 1985 in united AP. 

In his report titled “Streamlining of Tribal Development Administration” Rao recommended a “Single-Window Approach” and a decentralised “multi-functional organisation” for tribal development administration. His report was a comprehensive document and for all those who wish to look at problems of Tribals in perspective, the report reads very interesting.

Telangana state government gives top priority for the welfare of Tribals by implementing number of schemes conceived by CM KCR for them, from time to time. They include among others; Micro Irrigation, residential schools and colleges, study circles, overseas scholarships, Kalyana Lakshmi, subsidies under Economic support, Aasara pensions, ST special development fund through ST Sub Plan, making Thandas as Gram Panchayats etc. In this context it may be worthwhile for the Government to look into Late Kamala Manohar Rao’s report on Tribals which might be of added help.  

The then Principal of Administrative Staff College of India Dharani P. Sinha commending the report of Kamala Manohar Rao wrote: “if one wants to get results in tribal areas there is no alternative other than creating a decentralised administration with integrated multi-functional approach, where executives from different departments are accountable to the tribal development administrator”.

Late Prof. C. Von Fuer Haimendorf, whose service to the Tribals of the State lives for ever in the minds of one and all, in his letter in December 1985 from London to Kamala Manohar Rao, in his capacity of Emeritus Professor, London School of African and Asian Studies had all praise for the efforts of Rao.  Congratulating Rao for his brilliant analysis, Haimendorf agreed with Rao and wrote that, there was an urgent need for a thorough revision of the administrative machinery in the tribal areas. Prof. Haimendorf expressed the hope that Rao’s realistic proposals would be accepted by the State Government, the implementation of which would greatly benefit the tribal population of the State.

Haimendorf said: “I am particularly impressed by the soundness of Rao’s recommendation to introduce in the tribal areas a single-line administration and to concentrate for this purpose power in the hands of project officer, who should act as agent to the government, with revenue and judicial powers comparable to the powers of the collector as agent exercised in the system which was established by the Hyderabad Tribal Areas Regulation Act of 1949”. 

Kamala Manohar Rao recommended that the Girijan Cooperative Corporation to be combined in itself credit, commercial and welfare functions as a central bank as well as to function as a marketing organisation. He wanted it to have a project review and control mechanism and an independent status as Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute. Another suggestion made by him refers to changes in the administrative structure at the secretariat level which included constitution of a State level high power committee with the Chief Minister as Chairman, constitution of committee of experts to advise the Chief Minister on tribal affairs and constitution of another committee of direction to assess and review development. At the directorate level and district level also, Rao made many outstanding suggestions.

Kamala Manohar Rao, born on December 20, 1919 as a postgraduate student in 1947 was identified by Haimendorf to work among the Tribals. He joined service in the Social Welfare Department of Nizam’s Government. Rao evolved an integrated programme of development for weaning away Tribals from the extremist movement launched by the Communists in the Telangana tribal belt, in collaboration with Haimendorf, who was then adviser to the government to Hyderabad on Tribals in 1949. They were successful in restoring peace in that area.

Haimendorf was responsible for starting the social service department for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes, Backward Classes and at that time Rao was appointed as trainee organiser. Rao was instrumental in implementing the Hyderabad Tribal Areas Regulation Act, 1949 in Warangal district. It was Kamala Manohar Rao, who worked out a strategy for bifurcation of the tribal welfare and social welfare departments. He was Director of the Tribal Cultural Research and Training Institute for three years before assuming as the first director of the newly created Tribal Welfare Department in 1966.

The original Tribals used to live on hill tops, forests, caves and under the shade of trees. They were scared on seeing the civilized people from outside and used to literally run to their hide outs. They develop their villages also along the river side, which, however, are very small in size. Rarely 10 to 15 huts will make one village. The huts will have no windows or doors. The walls are made up of mud and bamboo.

The report submitted by Kamala Manohar Rao, whose long association with tribes and tribal development administration for about four decades could have been an answer to several problems. Kamala Manohar Rao was motivated by Haimendorf in the tradition of applying anthropological knowledge to field situations. As observed by Rao in his report, it requires a constant effort for creation of delivery system attuned to the ideals and objectives set forth in the constitution and the plans. Traditional administrative systems cannot adequately handle the new development tasks. It requires application of skills and technology in various fields and calls for rigorous coordination and integration of skills and technologies in various sectors.

It may perhaps be desirable, that the report of Kamala Manohar Rao, which contains several proposals, based on the study of various commission reports, are afresh gone through once again to work out a tribal development policy enabling Tribals to reap full benefits from all the developmental studies. This is how we can remember that great soul. He remains to this day what Verrier Elwyn called one of the greatest field-oriented philanthropists of this century, particularly in India the “rara avis” (Exceptional Person) of sociologist-administrators, who are, indeed a vanishing tribe.

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