Jawaharlal Nehru

Can Nehru’s Panchsheel Principles Solve Maoists’ Puzzle In Tribal Areas?

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Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime-Minister was considered a visionary on many respects, although his visions have had its fair share of detractors too.

In fact, the left-extremists armed Maoists cadres blame these large industrial and mining units for playing havoc with the lives of indigenous population in Jharkhand and other parts of Central India.

Many of the Jharkhandis praise him or blame him, depending off-course on whether one has lost or gained on account of import-substitution led big-industrialization drive in Jharkhand, which had led to setting up of big industrial units across not only in Jharkhand, but also in neighbouring states.

Jawaharlal Nehru
Jawaharlal Nehru

We decided to dig up the history and we came some interesting facts pertaining to Jawaherlal Nehru and his own vision on the development of Tribal people, he called it Panch Sheel, or the 5 basic principles that should guide the Government actions in dealing with Tribal People. For the benefit of our readers we shall share the same with you.

1. Nehru:

The Tribal People should develop along the lines of their own genius and we should avoid imposing anything on them. We should try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts and culture.


It is really shame that in Jharkhand, the Government lacks vision to protect and promote traditional arts and culture forms; it is yet to establish art and cultural centres across the states. For instance, some of the Tribal Languages (mother-tongue) are on the verge of extinction. The successive governments could not take necessary steps to protect and promote tribal languages, even Government schools do not teach these languages as they lack teachers, competent and qualified people are not given the job to teach languages. As a result many of the tribal languages are witnessing steadily decline in number of people who could read/write/speak them. If you do not believe us then you can read our old article on Jharkhandi languages. We could go on discussing the plights of many tribal folk artists,artisans, etc., who continue to suffer from government apathetic attitude.     

2. Nehru: Tribal rights in land and forests shall be respected.

Despite the fact that the large part of Jharkhand is covered by CNT Act and SPT Act, the state has witnessed large scale violation of both acts and the land-grabbing has only intensified in the last couple of decades. Another problem is that the half-hearted and shoddy implementation of Forest Acts in Jharkhand, thus denying livelihood to many Tribals families, who have been traditionally dependent on Forests.   

3. Nehru:

We should try to train and build up teams of their own people to do the work of administration and development. Some technical personnel from outside will, no doubt, be needed but we should avoid introducing too many outsiders into tribal territory.


If one has to believe the grape-vine and the whispering in the corridors of power in Jharkhand, then one could easily see that some of outsiders hold the real levers of power in Jharkhand, both in political and bureaucratic circles. Although, few may argue that quite a few Tribals are occupying powerful political positions, the reality is that these people are mere figure-heads to adorn the seats, they do deliver big talks on tribal issues, only to act in anti-tribal manner. For instance, even after the Jharkhand High Court Ruling on CNT Act, the government drags its feet on strict implementations of the act. As a result, far too many outsiders have come, and they are now dictating and implementing the anti-tribal politics in Jharkhand state. While the figure-heads keep mum or issue anti-tribal statements.   

4. Nehru:

We should not over-administer their areas or overwhelm them with a multiplicity of schemes. We should rather work through, and not in rivalry to, their own social and cultural institutions.


Most of the old tribal social and cultural institutions, viz., Parha system, Manki-Munda system, Akhra, Dhumkuria, et al, have either been destroyed or are in their last stage.

5. Nehru:

We should judge the results not by statistics or the amount of money spent but by the quality of the character that is involved.


If Government Auditors (or even lay-persons) have to do a back-hand calculation on amount of money spent (few lakh crore rupees) in Jharkhand since India’s independence, then compare with the actual development in the ground; we are sure that they all would suffer with a big-shock of their lives, and keep on mumbling where did all the development and social welfare fund vanished? What a magic-trick?

(Nehru’s Panch Sheel Source: Jagannath Sarkar)

In a short span of sixty years, since India’s independence, Governments in India has managed to alienate large section of tribal population and pushed them into the arms of Maoists.

Though, only few people could approve the Maoists way of doing things, their violence ridden ways to achieve their stated goals; on the other hand very few people can deny that Maoists’ activities have brought focus back on the various issues related to the Tribal population, which the successive Governments have conveniently side-stepped, with their acts of omissions and commissions.

In this ideological war, being carried out between Governments and Maoists, it is imperative for Government to take high moral ground, if it is really serious about solving the Maoists’ jigsaw-puzzle.

The Government would do well to realize that “an eye for an eye approach” or even their “half-hearted approach” is not going to solve this so-called biggest internal security threat by the current Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh.

It is time to douse the Maoist fire with positive actions and equitable justice, the government cannot and should not let the fire simmering in the mineral rich Tribal Areas.

On of the way forward for the Government could be to adopt honest and sincere adherence to Nehru’s Panchsheel principles would go a long way in tackling Maoist Challenge.

Sooner it is done, better it shall be for the entire nation, Tribal people and Maoists.


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Sameer Bhagat

Written by

Social-Activist. Author of SALVAGING ADIDWEEP.


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