Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Orissa record dismal in tribal welfare: NSSO

Orissa record dismal in tribal welfare: NSSO

Diptiman Chakraborty | Bhubaneswar

Despite various welfare schemes and reservation for tribals, literacy record of Orissa's tribal and other backward classes is at best dismal. As per the recently released National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) report on a 2004-2005 study of the employment, unemployment situation among the various social groups in the country, Orissa stands seventh in the list of the major States with the most number of illiterates per thousand in Scheduled Caste category of both rural and urban population combined. It has 493 illiterates in every 1,000 persons compared to only 156 in Kerala and 134 in Manipur. Even for neighbouring West Bengal the figures are much lower at 414.

Besides, the State has only 21 graduates and post graduate SCs of every 1,000 persons making it the 11th State in the list compared to 50 in Maharashtra and 34/1,000 even in neighbouring Chhattisgarh.

When it comes to the statistics of the Scheduled Tribes, Orissa is the fourth from below, preceded only by Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It has 672/1,000 illiterates among the tribals, which means more than 67 per cent of the tribals are illiterates and this includes urban tribals as well.

If rural tribals are considered independently, the figures will be alarming. No doubt when it comes to tribal graduates and post graduates, Orissa has the lowest figures after Madhya Pradesh with only eight tribals per 1,000 reaching that level while it is four for MP. Compared to this even Bihar has 59/1000 STs getting higher education.

When it comes to OBCs, the State fares no better. With 330/1,000 it ranks within the top 15 States with high prevalence of illiteracy. The figures are 93 for Kerala while neighbouring W Bengal has 233 illiterates in this category.

However when it comes to OBC graduates an above, Orissa has a face saver with respectable figures of 41/1,000. Only Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Maharashtra are above Orissa with figures reaching 62, 48 and 46 respectively.

In general category Orissa has only 22 per cent of illiterates, where it betters than even the national average of 24 per cent. For AP the percentage is above 33 while Karnataka has more than 25 per cent illiterates in this class.

Orissa's figures, however, dip again when it comes to higher education among the general category. It ranks a dismal 15 among the major States with only 99/1,000 getting higher education of graduate and post graduate level, compared to the national average of 111. Even neighbouring Chhattisgarh boasts of 184/1,000 and Jharkhand figures well above Orissa at 151.

Huge hiatus between tribal and OBC education and the general class prevails in the State which makes it imperative for the Government both at the Centre and the State to take steps to bridge the gap. In no State the figures are fraught with such huge discrepancy. While the general class has 22 per cent illiterates it is nearly 50 per cent for the SC population and a whopping 67 per cent for the STs in the State.

It is high time the Government realised that education is one of the strongest weapons to dissuade the innocent tribals away from the lure of the Maoists who are constantly making forays into the peace of the State. Spread of education in the tribal belts could be a big blow for the Maoists in making further inroads by cashing in the ignorance of the poor tribals.

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