Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday said the Narendra Modi government has brought the number of districts affected by Left-wing extremism in the country down by 70 per cent.
The government has also lifted the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act from more than 66 per cent area in the northeast and brought peace in the region, Shah said after inaugurating the National Tribal Research Institute in New Delhi.
The home minister said the northeast and the Left-wing extremism-affected areas in the country are tribal-dominated regions and security is a precursor to development there.
"A secured northeast and a secured central India will pave the way for the development of tribals," he said.
Shah said 8,700 untoward incidents took place in the northeast between 2006 and 2014, when the Congress was in power. This number has reduced to 1,700 under the Modi government, he said, comparing eight years of both the dispensations.
Only 87 security personnel have lost their lives in the northeast under the Modi government as against 304 during the Congress rule. The number of civilian deaths has come down from 1,990 to 217, the home minister said.
He said Prime Minister Modi has accorded top priority to research and education since he came to power.
"Under the Congress government, in 2014, an amount of Rs 7 crore was set aside for this purpose. In 2022, we have kept Rs 150 crore for it," Shah said.
He added that the Modi government has increased the budget for Eklavya residential schools from Rs 278 crore to Rs 1,418 crore in the current financial year.
Shah said tribal children can even bring Olympic medals as sports is a part of their traditions.
"They are natural sportspersons and only need guidance, coaching, practice and a platform to showcase their talent," he said.
The Centre spends Rs 1.09 lakh on each tribal student studying in the Eklavya schools as against Rs 42,000 earlier, he added.
Shah highlighted that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has the highest number of tribal MPs and ministers.
"The previous governments would talk about tribal development, but did they provide clean drinking water to tribals or build toilets in their houses? Did they give health cards to the Scheduled Tribe communities?" he asked.
The Modi government provided clean drinking water to 1.28 crore tribal houses under the Jal Jeevan Mission and built toilets in 1.45 crore households, Shah said.
"We have given Ayushman cards to 82 lakh Scheduled Tribe families and built over 40 lakh houses for tribals under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana," he added.
The Modi government has increased the scholarship amount significantly -- from Rs 978 crore in 2014 to Rs 2,546 crore at present. The budgetary allocation for tribal welfare schemes has been increased from Rs 21,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 86,000 crore in 2021-22, the home minister said.
Shah said the government has recognised the sacrifices and valour of tribal freedom fighters and 10 museums are being built across the country in their honour at a cost of around Rs 200 crore.
He said there are many institutions in India such as the Planning Commission (now Niti Aayog), Life Insurance Corporation of India and Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited that have contributed immensely to the country's progress.
Similarly, the NTRI will play a pivotal role in the development of tribals in the country, he said, adding that this is a milestone.
The institute will become the backbone of tribal development in the run-up to 100 years of the country's Independence, Shah said.
The home minister said there are many traditional tribal laws in the country related to water, forests, land, education, health, art, culture, language and tradition, which need research.
"Any tribal welfare law cannot be implemented without harmonising these laws with the current laws. Research on all these subjects can only be done at the national level," he said.
Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju said indigenous tribes are spread across the country but earlier, people would not consider them a part of the mainstream.
Alleging that the previous governments completely disregarded the concerns of the tribals, he said the Modi government believes that the country will not progress till the Scheduled Tribes move forward.
Union Tribal Affairs Minister Arjun Munda said the policies and programmes to uplift the tribal people became stronger and transparent during Modi's tenure as prime minister.