Decentralised Governance and Tribal Development in Scheduled Areas of Northeast India: A Case Study of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council

DOI10.1177/0019556117720616
Published date01 September 2017
AuthorGadadhara Mohapatra
Date01 September 2017
Subject MatterArticles
Article
Indian Journal of Public
Administration
63(3) 475–494
© 2017 IIPA
SAGE Publications
sagepub.in/home.nav
DOI: 10.1177/0019556117720616
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/ipa
1 Department of Sociology, Indian Institute of Public Administration, I.P. Estate, New Delhi, India.
Corresponding author:
Department of Sociology, Indian Institute of Public Administration, I.P. Estate, Ring Road, New Delhi
110002, India.
E-mail: gadadharmohapatra.iipa@gov.in
Decentralised Governance
and Tribal Development
in Scheduled Areas of
Northeast India: A Case
Study of the Tripura Tribal
Areas Autonomous District
Council
Gadadhara Mohapatra1
Abstract
Decentralised governance has been conceived as an instrument in promoting
development. In realising the rights of the tribals, the Constitution of India has
provided special provisions by delineating special administrative structures for
tribal development with enacting the Fifth and the Sixth Schedules. The Sixth
Schedule is applicable to four states of northeast India, namely, Assam, Meghalaya,
Tripura and Mizoram, and the Fifth Schedule is in operation in other regions of
the country where tribes form a majority in a district or districts. The Sixth
Schedule provides for autonomous district councils, thus offering space for tribal
self-governance. The autonomous district councils are both administrative as
well as legislative entity. In Tripura, due to the movement launched by the tribal
people for the protection of their rights, the State Legislative Assembly has passed
an Act, Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council Act, 1979, under
which the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) was
established. Subsequently, in 1984, the special provisions of the Sixth Schedule
to the Constitution were extended to the tribal areas in the state of Tripura.
Since then, a new political process has been started in the state of Tripura by
establishing TTAADC for the realisation of the rights of the tribals (Das, 2001,
p. 208). It is in this context, that this article provides an overview of the decentralised
governance and tribal development in the Sixth Schedule areas of northeast India
with special reference to Tripura. It discusses the organisational and functional
476 Indian Journal of Public Administration 63(3)
aspects the TTAADC. In this connection, the article reviews the various Acts,
rules, regulations and amendments relating to TTAADC. It also examines its
role and impact in tribal development in the state of Tripura. Further, an attempt
has been made in the article to relate the deficiencies in the functioning of the
TTAADC, recommending suitable changes.
Keywords
Decentralised governance, tribal development, Sixth Schedule area, autonomous
district councils, TTAADC
Introduction
Studies on decentralisation have noted a positive relationship between decentral-
ised governance and better delivery of social welfare programmes (Bardhan &
Mookherjee, 2005; Mullen, 2012, p. 8; Oxhorn, Tulchin, & Selee, 2004; Work,
2002).1 Decentralised governance has been conceived as an instrument in promot-
ing development in the sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, etc. It is
expected to facilitate effective people’s participation, enhance the degree of trans-
parency and ensure greater accountability. Decentralised governance is also
assumed to provide more effective and competitive delivery of services at the
grass roots. Being closer to the people, decentralised governance is assumed to
meet the needs and preferences of the people (Islam, 2003, p. 1). Decentralised
governance is an essential prerequisite for inclusive governance. Decentralising
governance from the national level to regions, districts, towns, municipalities,
rural settlements and communities enable the people to participate more directly
in the governing process. It empowers people, who were excluded previously
from the decision-making process (Monditoka, 2010, p. 1).
The term ‘Scheduled Areas’ has been defined in the Indian Constitution as
‘such areas as the President may by order declare to be Scheduled Areas under the
Central Act’. The criteria followed for declaring an area as Scheduled Area are
preponderance of tribal population, compactness and reasonable size of the area;
underdeveloped nature of the area; and marked disparity in economic standards
of the people (Monditoka, 2010, p. 8). These criteria, though not spelt out in the
Constitution of India, have become well established. They embody broadly the
principles followed in declaring ‘Excluded’ and ‘Partially Excluded Areas’ under
the Government of India Act, 1935, and spelt out in the Report of the Scheduled
Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission, 1961. In exercise of the constitutional
provisions, the president after consultation with the state governments concerned
had passed the orders called, Scheduled Areas (Part A States) order, 1950, and the
Scheduled Areas (Part B States) order, 1950, which set out the Scheduled Areas
in the states (ibid., p. 9).
Since Scheduled Tribes live in contiguous areas unlike other communities,
an ‘area-approach’ for tribal development was envisaged right since the early
phase of planning and subsequently formalised during the Fifth Plan. In admin-
istrative parlance, such areas are referred to as the Fifth and Sixth Schedule areas

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