Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities

2023 JAN 4

Mains   > Society   >   Features of Indian Society   >   Scheduled Caste/Tribe


  • The Parliamentary panel on Social Justice and Empowerment has pulled up the Union government over the delay to categorise over 260 denotified, nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes under either the SC/ST/OBC lists.


  • Denotified Tribes:
    • DNTs (Denotified) are communities that were ‘notified’ as being ‘born criminals’ during the British regime under a series of laws starting with the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871.
    • These Acts were repealed by the Independent Indian Government in 1952, and these communities were "De-Notified".
  • Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes:
    • A few of these communities which were listed as de-notified were also nomadic.
    • Nomadic and semi-nomadic communities are defined as those who move from one place to another rather than living in one place all the time.


  • These communities are not enumerated separately in the Census, making it difficult to ascertain concrete figures.
  • However, the Renke commission estimated their population at around 10.74 crore based on Census 2001.
  • A new Commission constituted in 2014 to prepare a state-wise list, which submitted its report in 2018, identified 1,262 communities as de-notified, nomadic and semi-nomadic.


Many commissions and committees constituted since Independence have referred to the problems of these communities. These include:

  • Ananthasayanam Ayyangar Committee in 1949: it was based on the report of this committee the Criminal Tribes Act was repealed
  • Kaka Kalelkar Commission (also called first OBC Commission) constituted in 1953.
  • In 1965, an Advisory Committee constituted for revision of the SC and ST list under the chairmanship of B N Lokur referred to denotified tribes.
  • The B P Mandal Commission constituted in 1980 also made some recommendations on the issue.
  • A National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) was constituted in 2006. It was headed by Balkrishna Sidram Renke and submitted its report in 2008.
  • The second National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNT) was created in 2015, for a period of three years, under the Chairmanship of Bhiku Ramji Idate. It submitted its report in 2018.


Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities are among the most vulnerable and deprived groups in India. This situation is an outcome of the following factors:

  • Lack of recognition:
    • DNTs as a whole are not recognised as a separate social category under constitutional schedules. Also, there is no uniform classification of DNTs across the country, making it difficult to ascertain concrete figures.
  • Limited benefit from affirmative actions:
    • At present, many DNT are not included in the SC, ST or OBC lists. This has prevented them from availing reservation and other affirmative action benefits.
    • Also, due to lack of uniform classification, those included are spread across SC, ST and OBC communities in different states. This has resulted in many deserving communities not getting the full benefits of reservations.
  • Red tapism:
    • An ethnographic survey is under way to study 269 DNTs and place them in SC, ST and BC categories. However, a parliamentary standing committee has expressed dismay at the inordinate delay and asked the government to fix a deadline for the process.
    • Many of the DNT communities subsumed under SC, ST or OBC are not issued caste certificates, citing lack of documents. This has hindered their access to reservation benefits and welfare schemes.
  • Lack of assets:
    • Historically, Nomadic Tribes and De-notified Tribes never had access to private land or home ownership. This has hindered in identifying and providing social security for them.
  • Stigmatisation:
    • DNTs continue to be wrongly stigmatised as crime prone and subjected to casteist stereotypes, ostracization, high handed treatment as well as exploitation by the authorities and society.
  • Continuing persecution:
    • Habitual offender laws, environment and forest conservation laws have been framed without considering that the livelihoods of DNT communities depend on certain traditional practices, like hunting and gathering.
    • The outcome of these legislations to dependent tribal communities is the repeated violation and being classified as habitual offenders.
  • Lack of political support:
    • Most of the DNT communities are politically ‘quiet’. They do not place their demands concretely before the government for they lack vocal leadership and also lack the patronage of a national leader.
  • Exploitation by middlemen:
    • Since these communities are nomadic and often reside in hard-to-reach areas, they rely on middlemen for selling their produce and acquiring essential goods. This is often exploited by the middlemen.
  • Limited success of DNT commissions:
    • Both Renke and Idate commissions were not able to make much headway in coming up with concrete lists of the DNT communities nor with tangible and achievable targets through recommendations.


  • Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED):
    • It aims for the welfare of De-notified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Communities
    • It is being implemented through an online portal (from 2021 to 2026) and would issue a unique ID to each applicant. But delay in the categorization of 1262 tribes is delaying the implementation of the scheme.
    • Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is implementing this umbrella scheme for empowerment
  • Development and Welfare Board for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities (DWBDNC):
    • DWBDNC was established under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for the purpose of implementing welfare programmes.
    • The DWBDNC was constituted in February 2019, under the chairmanship of Bhiku Ramji Idate.
  • Dr. Ambedkar Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship for DNTs:
    • This Centrally Sponsored Scheme was launched for the welfare of those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC. Under this scheme, scholarships are provided for pre-matric and post-matric students for 10 months a year.
  • Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of Construction of Hostels for DNT Boys and Girls:
    • The aim of the scheme is to provide hostel facilities to those DNT students who are not covered under SC, ST or OBC, to enable them to pursue higher education.
  • From the year 2017-18, the scheme "Assistance to Voluntary Organization working for the Welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs)" has been extended for DNTs and Economic Backward Classes (EBCs).


  • Recognition of communities:
    •  Expedite the categorisation of denotified, nomadic, semi-nomadic tribes under the SC/ST/OBC lists.
  • Implement Renke commission recommendations:
    • For implementation of welfare Schemes for DNTs State-wise list of such tribes should be prepared.
    • States/UTs and Central Ministries should formulate and implement DNT Sub-Plan for DNTs.
    • A separate department for the welfare of DNTs at the State level and separate Ministry/Department for the welfare of DNTs at the Centre.
    • Political empowerment:
      • Special campaign for issue of voter ID to the eligible members of DNT.
      • Include “Scheduled Communities” under Article 330 and Article 332 to enable these communities to be eligible for reservation of seats in the Houses of the People and in the Legislative Assemblies of the States.
      • Seats may be reserved in local self-governments for DNTs wherever their population is concentrated.
    • State Government may take special steps to issue Caste Certificates and ration cards to every member of DNT.
    • A multicultural complex/Academy may be set up in every State/UT to develop, preserve and exhibit the diverse and rich cultural heritage of DNTs.
    • Capacity building measures:
      • Special drive be made for awareness of DNTs particularly among women to avail the benefit of various schemes for educational empowerment.
      • Special Residential Schools for DNT Boys and Girls be made to encourage education among them.
      • Skill Development Programmes, in collaboration with National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC), Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) etc.
      • Separate Finance and Development Corporation for DNTs, like National Scheduled Castes Finance & Development Corporation, may be set up at the centre.
  • Implement Idate commission recommendations:
    • Grant Constitutional protection to these communities under a separate third schedule after Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
    • Repeal the Habitual Offenders Act
    • Extend the protective cover of Prevention of Atrocities Act to the communities.
    • Special housing schemes for the largely landless community


Q. Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities continue to be one of the most vulnerable and deprived groups in India. Analyse the reasons and suggest measures for their welfare.