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The ‘conservation vs people’ approach to protecting wildlife has hit tribals hard

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[h=2]This is not just an India-specific problem: In order to make room for wildlife, tourism and industry, governments all over the world are using conservation as a pretext to drive the world’s most endangered peoples away from the lands and animals they have lived with for generations, say activists.

This ‘conservation vs people’ approach to protecting wildlife only worsened the lives of thousands of the forest-dependent tribal communities in India. On paper, however, the State acknowledges that “although there is a need to keep forest reserves as inviolate for the purposes of tiger conservation, this ought to be done without affecting the rights of traditional forest dwellers”.[/h][FONT=&quot]One of the main reasons why finding a common ground on this issue is difficult is this: India’s rehabilitation record of tribals has been abysmal. The challenge is also far greater because not just are the jungles integral to the social and cultural lives of tribals, but also they are not equipped with the necessary tools — education and skills — to thrive in a modern world. And it is here the failure of the Indian State to provide even basic facilities to the poorest of the poor lies exposed.

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