Discuss Schedule 6 and the functioning of Autonomous districts in the context of Manipur’s ethnic faultlines.

The Sixth Schedule (Total 12 Schedules ) includes provisions relating to the administration of the Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The objective is to provide autonomy and protection to the tribal communities residing in these areas.

Article 244 provides for the formation of autonomous administrative divisions — Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) — that have some legislative, judicial, and administrative autonomy within a state.

The tribal areas in the four states are to be administered as Autonomous Districts. If there are different Scheduled Tribes in an autonomous district, the Governor can divide the district inhabited by them into Autonomous Regions.

There shall be a District Council for each autonomous district consisting of not more than 30 members, of whom not more than four persons shall be nominated by the Governor, and the rest shall be elected on the basis of adult suffrage.There shall be a separate Regional Council for each area constituted an autonomous region.

Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) play a significant role in the administration of these tribal areas. These councils are responsible for the administration of the tribal areas and can make laws on a range of subjects, including land, forests, and local governance.

                     In Manipur, which has predominantly tribal populations in some places, the autonomous councils are not included in the Sixth Schedule. Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which are totally tribal, are also not in the Sixth Schedule.

                    THE WAY FORWARD

The ADCs suffer because of inadequate resources, less administrative and financial powers, and fewer personnel. The need of the hour is to ensure ADC’s effective functioning by giving more powers to manage their affairs independently.

There are areas with a substantial tribal population so the sixth Schedule should be expanded to include more such areas.

And lastly, regular monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Sixth Schedule should be conducted periodically.

The Fifth Schedule applies to tribal areas in various states of India, excluding Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.

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