All-round growth

Published : Sep 11, 2009 00:00 IST

The Tribal Welfare Department works towards strengthening the socio-economic condition of the tribal people.-PICTURES: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The Tribal Welfare Department works towards strengthening the socio-economic condition of the tribal people.-PICTURES: BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

TRIPURA, one of the eight States in north-eastern India, is also one of the remotest in the region. The small hilly State is bound on the north, south, south-east and west by Bangladesh, and in the east by Assam and Mizoram. It covers a total area of 10,491.69 square kilometres, of which around 60 per cent is highland.

The former princely state was for long ruled by the Manikya dynasty, and even during British rule in the rest of India, it functioned more or less as an independent administrative unit, subject, of course, to the recognition of every successive king by the colonial masters. Following the countrys independence, Tripura merged with the Indian Union on September 9, 1947. On October 15 the same year, the administration of Tripura was formally taken over by the Government of India. On November 1, 1956, it became a Union Territory without a legislature, and on July 1, 1963, a popular Ministry was installed there. But it was not until January 21, 1972, that Tripura attained statehood.

For administrative purposes, the State is divided into four districts, 17 subdivisions, 40 rural development blocks, 31 revenue circles, 183 tehsils, 874 revenue moujas, four zilla parishads, 12 nagar panchayats, one municipal council, and one autonomous district council. As per the 2001 Census, the total population of the State is 31,99,203, the rural population being 26,53,453. Apart from the Bengali and Manipuri communities, the State has 19 different tribal communities.

Each community in Tripura has its own unique tradition and culture, which finds expression most famously in various dance forms. The folk dances of Tripura include the Hozagiri dance of the Reang community; the Garia, Jhum, Maimita, Masak Sumani and Lebang Boomani dances of the Tripuri community; the Bizu dance of Chakmas; the Cheraw and Welcome dance of Garos; the Sangraiaka, Chimithang, and Padisha dance forms of the Mog community; the Garia dances of Kalais and Jamatias; the Gajan, Dhamail, Sari and Rabindra dances of Bengalis; and the Basanta Rash and Pung Cholom dances of the Manipuri community.

Rabindranath Tagore had a long and cherished relationship with Tripura. He visited the State seven times and maintained a cordial relationship with the last four kings of Tripura. His close association with the royal family was also said to have had a strong influence on the culture and administration of the region. Tripura recognised Tagores genius publicly quite early and, in fact, even contributed financially to the development of Shantiniketan as envisaged by Tagore as an institute of learning, art and culture. The rulers of Tripura also extended financial assistance to Jagadish Chandra Bose for carrying out his scientific research.

The State also produced its own musical geniuses in Sachin Dev Burman and his son Rahul Dev Burman, whose legacy remains intact.

Although just about 4,45,681 hectares of land in the State is available for cultivation, around 70 per cent of the people depend on this sector for their livelihood; of them, 90 per cent are small and marginal farmers. The main agricultural crops are paddy, wheat, sugarcane, potato, coconut, jute and oilseeds. Though Tripura remains a food-deficit State, its production of foodgrains has increased considerably over the years. In fact, in 2000, the State government formulated a Perspective Plan to enable Tripura to be self-sufficient in foodgrains by 2011. After eight years of implementation of the plan, the foodgrain production has increased from 5.13 lakh tonnes to 6.5 lakh tonnes a year in spite of some decrease in the cultivable area. A total of 117,000 ha has been assessed to be irrigable land, of which 94,310 ha has been brought under irrigation.

The terrain of the State with its high hills, valleys and rivers and its warm climate with an annual rainfall of about 2,500 mm make Tripura ideal for rain-fed horticulture. Fruits such as pineapple, jackfruit, orange, litchi, cashew, coconut and lemon grow in abundance here. In the past six years, there has been a significant increase in the area of production and productivity. A special drive is on to grow grafts of improved varieties of cashew. True Potato Seeds (TPS) has gained popularity and is exported to countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Bangladesh and Nepal. Among the new sectors that are being developed, the most notable are the cultivation of exotic flowers and mushroom. Moreover, the fruit juice concentration plants of the North East Region Agricultural Marketing Corporation (NERAMAC) in the State have the capacity to handle as much as 5,600 tonne per annum of fruits and bamboo shoots. NERAMAC also has a cashew-processing centre capable of processing 500 kg of raw cashew a day.

The 19 Scheduled Tribes (S.Ts) of the State have their own tradition, customs and culture. The Tribal Welfare Department is the nodal department working towards strengthening and developing the socio-economic condition of the tribes. Apart from running hostels and boarding houses and extending scholarships to S.T. students, the department also provides merit awards and free textbooks to students of Class IX and above. The department also runs three Ekalavya model residential schools, three Ashram schools and one residential school.

In addition, financial assistance is given to tribal youth who have left the path of militancy and returned to the mainstream. They are given training under various vocational training programmes. Since 1998, as many as 76 of them have become self-reliant and 11 of them have found jobs in government departments. A Tribal Research Institute has also been established to spearhead research in various tribal-related subjects.

Realising the dream of self-governance, the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) was set up in 1982, and in 1985 it was brought under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The TTAADC, with the help of funds from the State government, is also engaged in the task of ensuring tribal development.

Tripura has been making rapid strides in the field of education. During 2008-09, as many as 376 primary schools and 118 high schools were established under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The School Education Department has also been successful in implementing the midday meal scheme in 4,004 primary schools, covering 3,48,020 children. In 2008, midday meal was also introduced in 1,002 high schools; the number went up to 2,009 high schools in 2009.

At present, two universities the Tripura Central University and the private Institute of Chartered Financial Analysts of India (ICFAI) are functioning successfully in the State. There are numerous other institutes of higher education such as the National Institute of Technology, Agartala; the Tripura Institute of Technology; a government medical college; a society-run medical college; a law college; two polytechnic institutes; the Regional Pharmacy Institute; a fisheries college; an agricultural college; and 14 other colleges offering undergraduate courses. Recently, the State government decided to set up six more degree colleges, three polytechnics and one teachers training institute.

The main objective of the Health and Family Welfare Department of the State government is to render curative, preventive and promotive health care services to the people. Apart from making adequate health care services available at the doorstep of the people, the department plays a key role in educating them about prevailing health problems and methods of preventing and controlling them. The main activities of the department centre around treatment, control and eradication of communicable, non-communicable and endemic diseases through the implementation of various schemes. The State government also extends assistance to patients living below the poverty line from its State Illness Assistance Fund and organises health camps in interior areas.

For the benefit of the poor, particularly those in the BPL category, the Social Welfare and Social Education Department of the State government has implemented a number of schemes. During 2008-09, 1,36,592 beneficiaries received old-age pension; and 5,455 people were extended the pension for the visually challenged and otherwise handicapped. At present, 56 Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) projects are in operation in the State.

There are 7,379 anganwadi centres in Tripura, covering 3,60,553 children and 93,203 pregnant mothers. Recently, in a remarkable step, the State government started a scheme to provide Rs.300 a month for each female child born into BPL families until she attains the age of 16. It has also started giving Rs.300 a month to every rickshaw puller and leather worker above 60 years of age.

The government has also been active in developing the rural economy. Housing for BPL families under the Indira Awaas Yojana scheme, employment for the rural poor, strengthening of infrastructure under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) scheme, and formation of self-help groups of BPL families are some of its significant achievements. In 2008-09, in all 5,295 self-help groups were formed and bank loans amounting to Rs.3,518.25 lakh were provided.

Under the NREGA, 5,49,022 families were provided employment, creating 351.12 lakh mandays.

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