The new survey duplicates SECC efforts, no doubt, but will also help plan better for the country’s tribals.
With the socio-economic caste census (SECC) and Census 2011 data showing a serious gap in the enumeration of tribal households in the country—the difference between the two sets of data is as much as 40,000 —the government has done well to initiate a separate survey that would capture, apart from socio-economic data of the tribal population, the behavioural aspects of tribal life as well. The survey, to be carried out at the last-mile level by village panchayats, will also help understand the varying cultural aspects of the different tribes in India—from the musical instruments that individual household members play to the games played by children. This will be a rich repository of data on such aspects that would prove useful in preserving tribal culture as increasing globalisation erases vulnerable aspects of it—for instance, many tribal languages, most notably, in the Andaman Islands have died out, as successive generations took to more mainstream Indian languages.
At the same time, the survey is also intended as a dipstick to study behavioural aspects, including use of pucca toilets, mosquito nets and washing hands. The other pertinent details sought are on education levels and occupation. The survey data, to be sure, may duplicate efforts of the SECC on many aspects, but with the new data, the government will be able to plan for tribal households in a more holistic manner.