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Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar casts votes for first time in general election

Empowering Tribal Voices: Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in Various States Make Their Mark in General Elections 2024
04:40 PM May 01, 2024 IST | GK NEWS SERVICE
shompen tribe of great nicobar casts votes for first time in general election
Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar casts votes for first time in general election --- Representational Photo
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New Delhi, May 01: The Shompen tribe of Great Nicobar exercised their democratic right by voting for the first time in a General Election, the Election Commission of India said adding that the event was the culmination of concerted efforts by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure the inclusion of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the electoral process.

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The continuing General Elections of 2024 in India signify more than just a ballot cast; they represent a transformative moment in the nation's democratic fabric, especially with the proactive engagement of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

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Traditionally, tribal communities, particularly the PVTGs, have had limited participation in the democratic process for various reasons. However, in the current elections, their unprecedented involvement, spanning from Tripura to Tamil Nadu, stands as a testament to the concerted efforts of the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure their integration.

Under the leadership of CEC Rajiv Kumar, the ECI embarked on special initiatives over the past two years to bolster the participation of tribal communities in the electoral process.

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Special outreach camps, designed to address the specific needs of PVTGs, were conducted across states during the special summary revision to prepare electoral rolls.

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The impact of these endeavours was visible in the first two phases of elections as tribal communities across various states and Union Territories fervently embraced their voting rights.

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Madhya Pradesh: Home to three PVTGs – Baiga, Bhariya, and Sahariya – Madhya Pradesh witnessed remarkable voter enthusiasm among these communities. With a population of 9,91,613 across 23 districts, all 6,37,681 eligible citizens aged 18 and above were successfully registered in the electoral rolls. Tribal-themed polling stations added to the festive atmosphere,

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Karnataka: The western and southern regions of Karnataka are inhabited by PVTGs like Jenu Kuruba and Koraga. Ahead of the elections, concerted efforts by the CEO Karnataka office and social and tribal welfare departments ensured 100% enrolment of eligible PVTGs. District and Assembly Constituency level committees worked tirelessly to create electoral awareness and facilitate registration. Tribal-themed polling stations aimed to attract these voters, with 40 such stations established across the state.

Kerala: In Kerala, five communities are classified as PVTGs, including Koraga, Cholanaikayan, Kurumbar, Kadar, and Kattunaykan. Despite their small population of 4750 individuals, significant strides were made in their electoral inclusion. Noteworthy was the determination of Kurumba tribal voters, some in their 80s and 90s, who journeyed for hours to reach accessible forest areas where transportation was provided to polling booths.

Tripura: The Reang tribe, known for their resilient spirit, constitutes a significant portion of Assembly Constituencies across Tripura, residing in remote and hilly regions such as Dhalai, North, Gomati, and South Tripura Districts. Additionally, the Bru community, also known as the Reang Community, migrated from Mizoram and now resides in government-provided resettlement sites within the state.

Odisha: Home to 13 PVTGs, including Paudi Bhuiya, Juang, and Saura, Odisha has witnessed a remarkable transformation in electoral participation. Through comprehensive registration drives and awareness campaigns, all 1,84,274 eligible PVTGs out of a total population of 2,64,974 are now enrolled as voters. Traditional folk arts, community engagement, and innovative initiatives like street plays and mobile demonstration vehicles have played a crucial role in boosting voter education and awareness.

Bihar: Five PVTGs, including Mal Pahariya and Sauria Paharia, contribute to Bihar's diverse tribal landscape. With 100% enrolment of eligible 3147 electors, initiatives like the 'Matdaata appeal patra' campaign have been pivotal in encouraging tribal participation in ongoing elections.

Jharkhand: The state hosts 32 tribal groups, including nine PVTGs like Asur and Birhor. Through special campaigns and registration drives in hilly areas, 100% enrollment of all 1,69,288 eligible 18+ PVTGs has been achieved, fostering a sense of empowerment and inclusion.

Gujarat: Tribal groups like Kolgha and Kathodi in Gujarat have seen 100% registration of eligible PVTGs, with a total of 86,755 voters enlisted. As the state gears up for the third phase of elections, these communities are poised to make their voices heard.

Tamil Nadu: In Tamil Nadu, six PVTGs, including Kuttunayakan and Kota, have actively participated in the electoral process. A comprehensive campaign spanning 23 districts has prioritized PVTG inclusion, resulting in significant voter turnout, even from remote areas accessible only through dense forests or waterways.

Chhattisgarh: With a combined population of 1,86,918, five PVTGs in Chhattisgarh, such as Baiga and Birhor, have all been registered in the electoral rolls. Eco-friendly polling stations and voter education campaigns have fostered a sense of community engagement and sustainability.

With the upcoming third phase of the seven-phased General Elections of 2024 scheduled for May 7, a notable development has been the heightened involvement of tribal communities, particularly the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs). Thanks to sustained efforts by the Election Commission of India and other stakeholders, these marginalized voices have emerged prominently within the tapestry of the nation's democracy.

Moving forward, it is imperative to build upon this momentum, ensuring that every citizen, irrespective of background, has a meaningful stake in shaping the collective destiny of India. The journey towards a more inclusive democracy continues, with tribal communities playing an integral role in its evolution.

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