Speaking on the occasion, the President welcomed the participants of 7th Tribal Youth Exchange Programme to Rashtrapati Bhavan. He stated that there is a lot to learn from the tribal societies. The gender behaviour and relations in tribal communities and the respect and honour accorded to tribal women in their societies holds significant lessons for us. We must also learn from the manner in which the tribal societies have retained, nurtured and developed their contact with nature.
The President said that the notion of tribal welfare is not just about development of tribal communities through economic progress but a larger concept of lifestyle that fosters holistic living. The philosophy for tribal welfare enunciated by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was human development with conservation of their rich and diverse cultural heritage. The challenge in preparing any policy for tribal upliftment exists even now as the policymakers have to strike the right balance between preservation of tribal identity with their distinct culture and values, while ensuring their access to mainstream education, healthcare and income generating opportunities.
The President said that the seventy third amendment to the Constitution bestowed special powers to the Gram Sabha in tribal villages and hamlets in decision-making and self-governance. This has provided an impetus for protection of rights and enhancement of welfare of the tribals. At this point of time, when the country is marching forward in unity, it is absolutely essential that we ensure all segments of society to participate in and benefit from inclusive and equitable growth. The Government has taken several measures for the development of the tribal population. It has emphasized on rapid educational development to bring tribals into the mainstream of the population. It has allocated considerable resources to provide infrastructure and other incentives such as scholarships, free boarding and lodging, free distribution of clothes, books and stationery for better educational attainment by the tribals. The President said that education and capacity building can open a window of opportunity for the tribal youth. The educated youth from tribal societies, can usher in progress and bridge the development gap. He called upon them to be the torchbearers of a young and resurgent India. He stated that they must join hands with the youth from the rest of the country to build the India of our dreams. They must engage with the affairs of the nation whole-heartedly. They represent a potent force in the fight against criminality, poverty, deprivation, backwardness, domestic violence, caste discrimination, gender discrimination and exploitation. They also must give voice to the voiceless and become the strength of the weak. He called upon them to make the struggle of the needy and deprived their own.