British colonial rule left them in gross suspicion and insecure and their ‘integration’ into Indian nation became a challenge as India had already witnessed the ill effects of policies of ‘isolation’ and ‘assimilation’ in past. So, Nehru and other leaders saw a middle path in form of integrative approach and said ‘tribal areas have to progress and have to progress in their own way’. Tribals had to be developed economically, socially and politically, but as per their own genius. Their forest and land rights have to be acknowledged. Their language and culture has to be preserved.
Provisions were also made in the constitution itself. Article 46 called for their educational and economic development without injustice and exploitation. Similarly, special provisions were made for tribal areas and governors were given additional responsibility. State and central laws have to be modified to be applicable in these areas. Right to Property and Right to free travel and residence were curtailed in these areas. Seats were reserved in legislatures for them. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes was also setup. Tribal Advisory Councils were setup in areas with tribal population.
However, execution of above ideas remained far from satisfaction and tribals lagged behind in the developmental race and tribal areas are still exploited by the money-lenders, forest officials, merchants and traders, forest contractors and land grabbers. Their ignorance of law has also made them even more vulnerable. Their educational performance have remained very low and little attention has been paid on education in their own language despite constitutional directives. As a result of this, there have been many protest movements, violent actions and vociferous demands for their development in post-independence period. Antagonism of tribals towards non-tribals is another grave development. In many areas tribals have been outnumbered by the outsiders and it has further fuelled their anger.