Yet again Chief Minister Hemant Soren Monday tabled a proposal on the floor of the house in the Assembly seeking separate religious status - Sarna Dharm Code for tribals.

This was the second time, CM Soren had done so during the past three years of his government’s tenure. After he sent the Assembly-approved and sent proposal to the Union government, seeking separate religious status- Sarna Dharm Code- for tribals, the Centre virtually out it in the dustbin.

This time Soren has another logic. He said that he was tabling this proposal in view of the rising demand of tribal people who have been demanding the inclusion of the Sarna Dharm code for tribals in the constitution of India. 

More Soren said that Jharkhand is a tribal-dominated state. The tribals of the Sarna community say they are neither Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Sikh, or Buddhist. They have their own religion Sarna, a section of the tribal community claims.

They who have been raising their demand for years have argued that the population of tribal Sarna dharm has been on the decline and as such, they claimed that their identity is under threat. This can be prevented by including Adivasi Sarna Code in the constitution of India.

Hemant Soren explained the reason responsible for the decline in the population of tribals. He said an analysis of the tribal population from 1931 to 2011 indicates that during the past eight decades, the percentage of the tribal population to the total population of Jharkhand had come down by 12 percent in comparison to the population of other communities.

From 1931 to 1941, the growth of the tribal population was 13.76 whereas the growth of other communities during the same period was 11.13 percent.

If population data from 1951 to 1961 are looked at, the population growth of tribals was 12.71 percent where as the population growth of other non-tribal communities was 23.62 percent.  During 1961 and 1971, the growth of the tribal population was 15.89 percent whereas the population of other non-tribal communities was 26.01 percent.

Similarly, during 1971 -1981, the growth of the tribal population was 16.77 percent whereas the growth of the non-tribal population was 27.11 percent. Then, during 1981-91, the growth of the tribal population was 13.41 percent against the 28.67 percent growth of the non-tribal population. Again during 1991-2001, the growth of the tribal population was 17.19 percent and the growth of the non-tribal population was 25.65 percent.

Soren opined that the survey data of the population was collected every ten years later between February 9 and February 28. During this non-paddy cultivation period, many tribals migrate to distant areas outside the state. As a result, they don’t figure in survey records.

The decline in population data leave impact of utilisation of development schemes for them, said CM Soren. In schedule areas, demand is also raised to delete the area from the schedule area of the Vth schedule of the constitution.

In any case, CM Hemant Soren expressed his view that decline in percentage of tribal population in comparison to Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists,s and Jain, will affect their constitutional rights.

In addition to Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and Jain, tribals should be accorded a separate Sarna ( religious ) code. “ This can make tribals have their own identity and the survey records of their population can be reformed in their interest”, thinks Soren.

“ The Sarna( religious) code is essential for the development of tribals”, thinks CM Hemant Soren claiming that from 1871 to 1951, the tribal population survey was conducted on the basis of a separate “ religious” code.

By submitting this proposal seeking  Sarna( religious) dharma code for tribals, CM Hemant Soren has not only sought “ approval” of the lawmakers on the floor of the Jharkhand Assembly so as to send it to the centre for its nod to make a constitutional amendment but also played a tribal card to woo a section of Adivasis for the forthcoming General and Assembly polls in 2024.


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