Rajasthan Govt: Policy for Denotified Tribes

Context: The Congress government in Rajasthan has initiated a move to prepare a policy for the denotified tribes ahead of this year’s Assembly election despite the fact that very few among them are registered as voters in the absence of any residential proof because of their nomadic lifestyle.

Denotified Tribes

Aim of the government of Rajasthan

  • The policy will identify the modalities for extending the benefits of development and welfare schemes to these tribes.

‘De-notified Tribes’

  • The term ‘De-notified Tribes’ stands for all those communities which were once notified under the Criminal Tribes Acts, enforced by the British government between 1871 and 1971. These Acts were repealed by the independent Indian Government in 1952, and these communities were “Denotified”. A few of these communities which were listed as de-notified were also nomadic. 
  • A National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) was constituted in 2006 by the then government. It was headed by Balkrishna Sidram Renke and submitted its report in June 2008.
  • The Renke commission estimated their population at around 10.74 crore based on Census 2001. A new Commission constituted in February 2014 to prepare a state-wise list, which submitted its report on January 8, 2018, identified 1,262 communities as de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic.
  • Not all of these tribes are categorised under SC, ST and OBC. The standing committee report in Parliament has cited that 269 DNT communities are not covered under any reserved categories.

Issues / Challenges

  • Though the notified communities were often described as “Criminal Tribes”, they were often treated as castes in traditional rural society. There were restrictions placed on marriage, access to village facilities and dining. While there are significant overlaps with the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, these communities ore often treated differently by police and other authorities when it comes to crime. Despite 65 years elapsing since the repeal of the colonial era Criminal Tribes Act, the authorities still view many of these communities with suspicion.
  • ln independent India, despite attempts by previous governments to provide them with some avenues of growth and development by placing them in the same category as scheduled tribes, schedule castes and other backward communities, it has been incomplete at best and inadequate at worst.
  • They remain, in most cases, firmly placed of the lowest rung of the social hierarchy, often forcing the prejudices thot were created during Colonial rule.


  • As is the case with most of the communities in lndia, large majority of De-notified and nomadic communities ore primarily patriarchal.
  • The De-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic communities hove o very strong caste or tribal panchayat. The decisions pertaining to their domestic and social life ore negotiated in their Kulpanchayat (Caste Councils). The panchayat comprises of the village elders. Their laws (unwritten) ore respected and obeyed by everyone. Any violation of these conventions is dealt with seriously.
  • Being subdued in the social stratum, they were never treated with dignity. Likewise, their languages too were not recognized. Every subgroup of these communities has its own distinct language for intro-group communication.
  • The DNTs and NTs show great pride in their past. They try to survive on traditional patterns of livelihood. They have been into supply of goods and services to people in villages and towns, some were pastoral nomads while others were involved in a variety of occupations like entertaining people, fortune telling and practice of crafts. 
  • The nomadic communities have been forced to adopt new means of livelihood abandoning their traditional occupations. Most of them become daily wage labourers; some migrated to cities like Delhi in search of work. Communities with traditional occupations of singing and playing instruments got opportunities to work in hotels and cafes in tourist places. But the fight for livelihood, land and shelter is common across all nomadic communities.
  • Behrupia, Banjara, Sapera, Van Gujjar and Birhors are some of the commonly known Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-nomadic communities.

Schemes for DNT

The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing the following schemes for the welfare of the DNTs.

  1. Dr. Ambedkar Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship for DNTs : This Centrally Sponsored Scheme was launched for the welfare of those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC.
  2. Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of Construction of Hostels for DNT Boys and Girls. This Centrally Sponsored Scheme is implemented through State Governments/ UT Administrations/ Central Universities. The aim of the scheme is to provide hostel facilities to those DNT students; who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC; to enable them to pursue higher education
  3. From the year 2017-18, the scheme “Assistance to Voluntary Organization working for the Welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs)” has been extended for DNTs and EBCs as “Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Skill Development of Backward Classes (OBCs)/ De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs)/ Economic Backward Classes (EBCs).

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