The term 'Scheduled Tribes' first appeared in the Constitution of India. Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution".
Tribals in India consists of various groups distributed unevenly across the country and some among them are referred to as Scheduled Tribes. This is because the name of those tribes are contained in the Schedule 5th and 6th of the constitution and provisions are applicable to those particular groups only.
Article 46 of the Constitution provides that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the society and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
The object of reservation for the Scheduled Tribes is to bring them into the mainstream of national life, while the objective in respect of the backward classes is to remove their social and educational handicaps.
Protective laws such as the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 (POA Act). While the protective laws are meant to protect these communities from all forms of injustice and exploitation, the Reservation policy is to ensure representation of the SCs and STs not only in law making bodies but also in bureaucracy and in all government funded institutions and Public Sector Units (PSUs).
Lakshdweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, are predominantly tribal States /Union territories where Scheduled Tribes population constitutes more than 60% of their total population. No Scheduled Tribes is notified in Punjab, Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi, and Pondicherry.
Meetei should be included in ST list of the Indian Constitution for the following reasons: a) Meetei fulfill all the criteria of being ST as given by authority. b) Majority of Meetei community live in hand-to-mouth economy. c) Among the indigenous communities in the Northeast, Meetei are one of the smallest community. Meetei are smaller than Naga, Khongjai(Kuki), Tai-ahom, etc. d) The area of the state of Manipur is 22,327 SqKm. Meetei can own and live only in approximately 2000 sqkm which is less than 10% of the total area of the state. The remaining 90+ percent of the land area of the state of Manipur is beyond the reach of the Meetei community & land law of Manipur bar Meetei community to buy and own land. Hence, Meetei are not rightful citizens in the state of Manipur which indeed is their own home state. This is the reality.
MEETEI fulfills all the criteria and therefore Meetei should be included in the ST list. a) Indications of primitive traits: Meetei is one of the tribes in NORTH EAST INDIA and MANIPUR. Though the majority of Meetei embraces Vaishnavism Cult, they do not give up their age old traditions and practices of animism. b) Distinctive Culture & Language: Culturally and Socially, Meetei are distinct and still follow their age old cultures and practices of Animism besides practices of Vaishnavism Cult. Meeteilol belongs to the Tibeto-Burman group of languages. c) Historical & Geographical Isolation: MEETEI Community was isolated and not connected to MAINLAND INDIA in the past. The land where the Meetei community lives were cut off by different mountain ranges from Main Land India. d) Shyness of contact with the community at large: MEETEI community is a closed society. They do not mix up with the other communities socially and culturally especially with the larger Indian society as there is language barrier and also there is a marked difference in socio-cultural ethos. In regards to food habits, there is acute dissimilarity. And now with the small population of hardly 17 lakhs in India approximately 14 lakhs and 2 lakhs in Manipur and Assam respectively and the rest in other NE states and other cities of India, Meetei feel quite awkward socially and culturally. e) Socio-Economic & Educational Backwardness: Meetei society follows and practices both the cult of Vaishnavism and Animism. Even the Meetei Vaishnavites practice age old practices of Animism along with the cult of Vaishnavism even in this 21st Century. Meetei come in direct contact with God through our practice of Animism for example LAI-HARAOBA, SHAROI-KHANGBA, which are part of the Meetei society till today. With 32.59% of population are living under the BELOW POVERTY LINE and PER CAPITA INCOME of Rs 70000/- only, the community is among the poorest community in INDIA. Literacy Rate is 79% but drastically low in the higher education due to economical backwardness.
WMC will pursue our rightful claim by all democratic means.
As the movement is a matter of survival and protection, a right-thinkingMeetei should first enroll his or her name in any WMC State/Country Unit of WMC where he/she lives or belong to state/country where he resides. You may follow Facebook, Twitter and Youtube of World Meetei Council.