Tribal movements and livelihoods – Recent developments in Orissa – A working paper by CPRC-IIPA

This working paper by Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) and Chronic Poverty Research Centre (CPRC) deals with recent developments in tribal movements and livelihoods in Orissa.

For the last few decades and more particularly since 1990’s the issue of human rights-violation of rights to life and livelihood of tribal peoples’ is a central concern. Therefore, the discourse on tribal movements and issues of tribal livelihood revolved around securing their well-defined rights on land and forest resources.

The paper attempts to critically review major tribal policies and programmes of the state of Orissa. It tries to assess the impact of and changing perspectives regarding development programmes that affect the livelihood resources of the tribal people. The paper also tries to review various methods of articulation of collective concerns of tribal people with regard to the promotion and protection of their natural resources based livelihood.

The experience in Orissa shows that tribal peoples’ protest movements, however well organised, have to take cognizance of the powerful interests of economic elite and industrial capital - both domestic and foreign - that wield considerable political power. Protest movements by the tribal people of Orissa in different pockets have attracted the attention of policy makers, bureaucrats, academia and activists across the world.

These movements have contributed to strengthening the sporadic articulations by tribal people to organised protests and have led to the recognition that there is need to review the approaches and strategies of development interventions of the state as well as streamline the development programmes.

The paper is structured as follows -

  • Sections 1 and 2 of the paper gives a brief account of the physiographic conditions and historical factors, which together carved out a niche for the tribal people of Orissa and gave them a pre-eminent position in the state.
  • In section 3, the critical natural resource base, and customary access to it, of tribal people’s livelihood structure is presented. How this has changed over time is described to provide a backdrop for the discussion that follows.
  • Section 4 briefly presents the extent and causes of development-induced displacement and the poor record of rehabilitation and indebtedness as conditions of livelihood insecurity.
  • Section 5 gives a detailed account of the nature of and approach to planned interventions by the state and central government.
  • Section 6 critically examines certain major government initiatives specifically aimed at improving the livelihood base of tribal people, as well as some from bilateral funding agency and non-governmental organisation (NGO) bodies.
  • Section 7 illustrates the changing nature of state interventions through adoption of a participatory mode and autonomous institutional support.
  • Section 8 gives an account of the different forms and contexts of the open articulation of tribal rights in the recent past, while section 9 provides some concluding remarks.

Download the paper here -



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