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Dr. Tanaji G. Rathod
General Manager- Finance
Karnataka Thanda Development Corporation Limited
No.29, Vap Park view, Takser Town, near Indian express, BANGLORE – 560051.
Email ID: ,
Mob:98453 81805, (Office): 080 22865564.

The objectives of this paper are to find out the rural infrastructural hurdles and socio-economic problems faced by the banjara community (one of SC/ST communities) in the state of Karnataka. This study conducted to review the present status, investigate the issues and suggest innovative programs for rural infrastructure development, socio-economic development and redefine the strategies for overall development of banjara community in the state. This community people are basically living in remote hilly areas or nearby revenue villages. Hence they deprived of much needed basic civic infrastructure facilities, employment opportunities, agricultural income and wealth creation avenues etc., in the state. They are in dire need of basic needs like, shelter, rural infrastructure, sanitary systems, primary education, healthcare facilities etc.  Recently, the Government of Karnataka has perceived their long standing demands and issues and  it has formed the separate company i.e., Karnataka Thanda development corporation Ltd for their overall socio-economic development so that they can come into mainstream of the society and contribute to state’s economy. Therefore, this case study has been carried out at KTDC to investigate the inside genesis of the socio-economic issues. The authors have travelled across the state, visited most of the thandas, discussed with inhabitants, local leaders, experts and reviewed their civic amenities, infrastructural problems and suggested many innovative developmental programs for the Corporation and the state. The findings of the study could be replicated elsewhere. 


Banjaras means – a community of people belongs to Banjara, Lambani, Gore, Sugali, Labada or any other synonyms used to identify Banjaras Community in Karnataka. This is a rare community which is having rich cultural heritage in the Indian society. Due to influence of modernization, westernization and externilities, they are facing several internal social problems.  Many of the research students have chosen this community for research study and obtained PhD degrees in India and in foreign universities too. Because this community has full of treasure of rich information, culture, tradition, Indian ethos, problems, social issues, economic problems etc. It has its own inherited beleaguered problems in the society. They are one of the socio-economically and educationally lagging communities of the country. They live mostly in the inaccessible or remotely situated undulating terrain and have been far behind the mainstream of economic development of India. Therefore, their livelihood sustainability is the main concern in the state. The policy options and programmes of livelihood development of this banjara community were fettered with many such dichotomies and debate which often relevant in the context of other poverty reduction programmes too.  There is aggressive development paradigm is needed. The diversified agriculture , education and income generation, skill improvement rural enterprises based on modern technology, value addition in bio-products , emphasizing on quality infrastructure creation and close partnership with wealth creators, were essential in structuring livelihood programmes for this community is necessary. The scheduled caste comprise of 101 castes in Karnataka  and banjaras represents 11.85% of SCs. SHGs, Members belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes still lived under deplorable conditions in the rural areas despite more than six decades of Independence.

Hence, in one of the study of UN-Habitas’s State of Asian Cities Report  of 2010-11 says that policy makers must give more recognition to the informal sector which sat side by side with symbols of Asia’s successful integration with the world economy and provided “a fair amount of socio-economic resilience. Low income communities have contributed to the prosperity of the Asian cities and improved education will help the formal and informal sectors take advantage of new opportunities in the global and domestic markets. This is a downtrodden community of scheduled caste category which inhabited across the state in all the twenty-five districts of Karnataka. Exceptionally, they are invisible in some districts viz., Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Udupi and Kolar.  There are more than 3000 thandas in the state. It is roughly estimated that they are about (35) thirty five lakhs living and settled across the state.  In each thandas, ranging from 500 to 3000 people live. They are mostly invisible in coastal Karnataka but migrated for employment opportunities here and there. They are also concentrated majorly in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and in northern part of India. 

Time immemorial, racism is existed Indian society. The history of categorizing some castes as scheduled castes commenced with the Government of India Act, 1935. Untouchable Hindu classes were divided into three categories such as untouchables, unapproachables and unseeables. Hence they were forced to occupy the dirty, dingy and unhygienic outskirts of villages and towns for habitations where they lived in dark for ages. Insanitary and miserable smoky shanties or cottages were their places (Dhananjay Keer, 1954). This picture is still true in villages and towns. Megacities have now mostly overcome this prejudice.  But in the 16th and 17th centuries, when Britishers occupied the place in India, they were on imperialistic alien rule and they were playing neutral role in respect of the untouchables and were in effect a negative support to the caste Hindu oppressors.  Therefore, Dr Bhabassaheb Ambedkar rose to as social crusader/reformer to eradicate caste system and differentiation in the society. A larger proportion of the population  especially the weaker sections such as women, landless labourers, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and the backward communities have not shared the benefits of growth in the state.  The greatest single issue that comes into focus is the wide gap between the Scheduled Castes and the general population along almost all human development indicators. 


The Government of Karnataka vide its order No.SWD:35:SDC:07, Bangalore dated 31.08.2007 had ordered to set up a new Company under the provisions of Companies Act 1956 for the development of infrastructure facilities and community halls for Banjara community in Karnataka. Hence, Karnataka Thanda Development Corporation Limited has been incorporated on 23.2.2009 under the Companies Act of 1956. It is a wholly owned by Government of Karnataka undertaking. This corporation is under the administrative control of Social Welfare department of Government of Karnataka. The corporation is basically focusing on creating necessary infrastructure facilities like road, drinking water, sanitation, street lights, etc In all the thandas (smaller then revenue villages) settled in nearby villages, hillocks, remote area of Karnataka etc. Eventually, the State government perceived its socioeconomic issues which suffered by large number of banjara/lambani community since ages. The banjara community as a whole is lacking in getting basic infrastructure needs. To bring them up on economic mainstream or social inclusion, it is proposed with the following set of main objectives.

To create physical, socio-economic, cultural, moral, educational and healthcare related infrastructure for the overall development of thandas in particular & thanda habitants in general and  to develop and facilitate to develop basic infrastructure like all weather approach road’s, internal roads, drains, housing & transportation and communication facilities, community center’s etc.  

To create such economic infrastructure that provides an opportunity for the thanda habitants to engage in self-employment and group employment / income generation activities and to undertake training programmes for acquiring new skills and upgrading / enhancing and developing the skills in various fields, especially the traditional unique Kasuti skill (stitching & embroidery) of Banjara costumes to attract young Lambani generation and fashion world to renew, promote & strengthen socio economic conditions of the community.

To facilitate in providing legal title to agriculture land of Banjara formers who are cultivating for the livelihood since long time in forest land / Government land/ Gomal land.  And also to facilitate in providing legal status to thanda’s by way of providing legal titles over the sites and houses constructed in forest land, Government land / Gomal and in private land and also to regularize the sites and houses occupied by thanda habitants in such lands from ages.  And to facilitate and to co-ordinate with the concerned departments in converting the remaining thanda’s (hamlet village’s) into revenue villages.

To renew, promote & strengthen the social institutions (mutts) existed over ages in thandas for administering their value system, social affairs in order to create proper awareness and to enhance the morals of the people living in thanda’s and to protect the Banjara dialect and to promote and develop the script of Banjara language and also to bring out a dictionary of the language to protect, preserve, and to promote the rich culture of Banjara’s in the areas of language, customs, life style, traditions, art and folklore, ethnicity and costumes of Banjara’s in thandas.

The objects sought to be achieved are purely for a social cause and not for a profit motive. Therefore, it is in the nature of a non-profit organization and it would be appropriate to register the Corporation under the provisions Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956. Based on the above objectives, the corporation is carrying out the various programmes under the supervision of social welfare department of Government of Karnataka. In a span of two years of operations, initially the corporation has implemented rural infrastructural projects in selected 20 districts in various thandas of Karnataka. In the years to come, it is proposed to continue the same in other thandas with additional developmental schemes. There are several programmes implemented though social welfare department like plan and non-plan schemes which flown from state level to district lever to taluk level. Schedule caste sub plan (SCSP) is under special component plan which is comprehensive integrated, planned development effort directed towards eradicating poverty among the SC and providing to them habitation and much needed basic infrastructure facilities in thandas.  There are 114 backward taluks identified by HFC FRRI in the state using 35 socio-economic indicators on agricultural, industry, trade, finance, and infrastructure and population characteristics. The North-South divide is clearly apparent in the state.


The literature review has been done from the available research books, thesis, and analyzed data from government departments and from the case study organization. Prominent literature like Sanjay Sinha (2007), A.K. Verma (2007), IIMB,CPP Proceedings (2007), AIBSS(2004), M.Krishnamurthy(2000), Bhangya Bhukya (2010), N. Raju Naik(2006), R.H. Naik(2008),  D. B. Naik, (2007) Harilal Pwar,(2007), P.K.Khandoba (2002), GoK compendium (2006),Sannarama Naik,(2008) etc has been referred to. Most of the discussions and analysis work is based on primary data, field study and inspection carried out by the authors across the state.  Many ethnographers and anthropologists are posing questions that who is the aborigines of this community? How come this culture, customs tradition and language are highly intergraded in India and remained in preserve in spite of scatted or dispersed across the India? When did this community of nomadic caravanners first appear in the historical accounts? What are the terms used by medieval chroniclers and early European travelers to describe the nomadic caravanners? How were those terms replaced with the modern term ‘Banjara’? etc.  However, to find out the real stories behind this skepticism, this study has been conducted with the following objectives.

1.    To find out the infrastructural issues faced by banjara tandas in the state;
2.    To find out the socio-economic problems of banjara community,
3.    To review the financing options available for the development of banjara tandas and
4.    To suggest the ways and means, innovative strategies, developmental schemes, policy guidelines and framework for the overall development of banjaras and their thandas in the state to bring them up into the main economic stream.  

To meet the said objectives, sectorwise schemes to be formulated, physical and financial progresses have to be carried out to analyze the progress. In this process, certain bottlenecks in this regard were identified. There is lack of awareness about the grievance redressal mechanism and the provision for unemployment allowance. There is a need to improve marketing and technical infrastructure, necessity to tie-up with institution and improve product quality for the rural mass. 


There is a striking demographic diversity across the regions/districts/taluks/ communities in the state. There is a need of multidimensional approach in breaking this syndrome. Role of the public sector and ppp, local management and local input. Infrastructure planning and design,  to it requires review of the policy framework in rural sectors. I feel now the government must actively consider every possible avenues of accessing foreign fund private sector fund for long term funding.    , look into the benefits that the SC/STs have availed themselves, by consulting deputy commissioners, chief executive officers of the zilla panchayats, bankers and other officers.SSI should be encouraged in the nearby thandas. BPO centers should be opened upend up, cottage industry should be encouraged. Embroidery, apparel centers should be encouraged. Purchasing power to ne improved. Living pattern of the inhabitants, socio economic model,  textile firms, IT firms, packaging industries, training centers, NGO, oral communications skills,  low cost business models, addressing the challenges, personal investment bevaours to be improved, electricity supply under rural schemes, health care centers, social gathering buildings, play ground areas,

The corporation or the Government of Karnataka has to find out the financing option from WB, ADB, Central schemes and redefine the strategies integrating with Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas (PURA) schemes of Ministry of Rural Development of Government India. PPP framework can be implemented for providing livelihood opportunities and urban amenities to improve the quality of life in rural areas. Take assistance from ministry of social justice and empowerment, GoI etc.   


Based on the literature review, findings of the study, a detailed analysis has been discussed here. There are different aspects has been chosen for different issues in lambani/banjara thandas. These are following issues has been discussed. 

INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITIES TO BE CREATED: First and foremost, all the thandas have to be provided with infrastructure facilities, electricity connections, roads, sanitation, straight lights, houses etc. these thanda inhabitants are basically migrated and roamed from place to place and region to region. Therefore they don’t have any identity, asset creation except their culture and tradition is unbreakably carry forwarded through the ages. The astonishing thing that they have very rich heritage like, costumes, unscripted language, ladies wears, rituals, etc.  But due to urbanization, it is also disappearing. They live mostly in mud houses/huts made with gross and small wooden pieces. Therefore thy have to provide with rural housing facilities. Along with the thandas should be provided adequate sanitation facilities like toilets, bathing facilities, gutters, and solid waste management units nearby thandas. Due to unhygienic conditions, many children and women are suffering from contagious deceases especially in north Karnataka. Secondly there is biggest problems is that the drinking water availability. Most of the hamlets are in remote areas, hillocks are away from revenue villages. They are facing problems in getting potable drinking water. They are fetching from open nearby ponds, open wells. Most of the bore wells are dried up. Other than irrigated areas, the dry land part of the northern Karnataka is very pathetic.  Access to sanitary litrines remained at a low level in rural areas of the State with less than 10% of households in the villages having the facility.  Therefore, tanks or ponds are to be de-silted so that ground water is recharged.   In this regard, vide its Govt. Order SWD 66 SLP 09, Bangalore dtd. 01.09.2009, in this order, it has ordered for development of infrastructure.  To provide infrastructure to thandas, the main criteria is as follows: There should be maximum population in the Thandas. Where thandas basically deprived of infrastructure facilities, for such thandas priority will be given. To avail infrastructure,  it should have never been considered / earlier.  In these thandas, Civil Work would be provided for Drinking Water, Public Toilets, Drainage , Street lights, Cement Roads etc.

PROVIDE AGRICULTURAL LAND TO LABOURERS: Many of the hamlets have become like slum colonies. Governments can’t alone provide all the facilities for the well beings of the rural mass.   Village inhabitants have to come up with weekly/monthly awareness programmes on environments, resources utilization, cleaning of their surroundings etc. In the development process, educated people migrate to nearby towns and cities seeking employment opportunities. Subsequently, these well-off people seldom revert to their natives. Therefore these elite people should be encouraged to give back to society, involve them into development process of their respective hamlets. Due to lack of education to women and children, exploitation is taking place at work place. Selling of child, poverty, selling of illicit liquor and its easily availability, harassment by the police/excise depts., is common in most of the hamlets.  The de-addiction camps should be set up in hamlets. To curb the practices, there should be rehabilitation and resettlement programmes to be implemented in affected regions. 

SOCIAL INCLUSION PROGRAMMES TO BE ADOPTED: Though this community has rich cultural heritages, some of the banjaras who are illiterates, suffering from poverty are converting to Christian. They are being lured by meager amount. They have become vagabonds. It’s a social stigma to them. Over a period, they neither follow Christianity nor banjara culture. They will not be accepted easily in the society for social gatherings or rituals. They become destitute children of the society.this community have a unique system of providing justice to the society. So-called panchayat system since ages. There are three prominent persons like Naik, Karbhari and davo. They are providing justice absolutely in unbiased way and hence avoiding all court expenses for the litigants. Most of the family problems, domestic issues, village to village disputes are sorted out through these people only.  There are several religious places of sevalal, durgamba, mariyamma etc. these places should be provided with civic amenities so that pilgrims can go and visit the places comfortably.  

HEALTHCARE FACILITIES AT THANDAS: in the hamlets, children and women are suffering due to lack of proper healthcare facilities. Therefore there is need of rural healthcare units, supported by staff nurses, paramedical facilities, rural doctors etc.  mobile clinics should be provided for hamlets. Reconfigure the primary healthcare in rural areas, it is perceived that doctors would not stay in villages. Hence with the combination of technology and reasonable amount of training to local nurses under the supervision of doctors, can deliver superior outcomes.  National rural health mission, rural ambulance service can be helpful that provide secondary and tertiary care to larger hospitals, , telemedicine pilots which involve remote diagnosis.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES:  To create employment opportunities in the banjara thandas, the government has to come out with different programmes. It has to create agricultural activities. Employment guarantee scheme under NREGA to be brought in. Dairying, farming,  sheeping, micro financing, tailoring, nursing etc to be provided in nearby villages. Many of the banjaras go to nearby states in seeking short term employment opportunities. To avoid this, the government has to provide schemes under PURA of central government. 

INDUSTRIAL CLUSTER DEVELOPMENT IN DISTRICTS & TALUKS: To stop the migration of the rural people to urban, there should be created are industry clusters/cottage industry in nearby towns and cities. So that they can get industrial awareness and opportunities.  This community is very rich in costumes making of lades wears. In the olden days they themselves, were preparing their colorful dresses, and wearing. Even now, many ladies are carrying the same tradition and preparing lambani dresses. Therefore, apparel training centres should be created and every women and girls should be provided the dress making skills in the hamlets so that they can become self sustained income generating families.  SSI sector and cottage industry will make significant contributions to employment generation and also to rural industrialization, the sector needs further investments in technology production process, R&D and marketing. the promotional activities for SSI in India need to concentrate on improved credit flows, human resource development , appropriate technology and funds for modernization. There should be effective policies to enhance rural livelihood opportunities through financial inclusion.

TECHNOLOGY ADOPTION: There is no clear cut demarcation of thandas that where they are situated, land availability, exact populations etc. The Government of Karnataka wants to create database of all the thandas of the state. It would be helpful to know the boundaries of thandas, their infrastructure status, way forward for creation etc.  The help from remote sensing application centre is obtaining for the same.

POLICY GUIDELINES TO BE IMPROVED: The government polices should focus to find out the poorest of the poor and provide them necessary facilities so that they can come up in the society. The villagers themselves should tell that who is the poor and not by politicians. In many of the corners of the society, there is a resistance that politicians are biased in implementing the development schemes. The procedure for implementation of the banjara bhavans at districts and sevalal bhavans at taluks of KTDC works is that, the DSW officer in the respective area should inspect and find out the suitable place and inform the implementation committee and submit a report within 15 days.  For these purpose, he has to approach Urban Development Authority for allotment of land, if it is fail, the land may be purchased from the Private Party.  The implementing Department / Agency have to prepare estimate and gets administrative approval from the respective DCs.  The respective implementation Department has to take technical approval also for the work.  After that the work is handed over to the suitable department and agency for implementation of the work.   This committee has to review the progress and quality with the reasonable time and see that work has to be completed within a stipulated period.  The respective DC is responsible for to take over the complete progress. The whole work has to be followed in the Karnataka Transparency Act 1999 and has to follow work procedure and rules and regulations under the said Act.   

For these, the implementation Committee under the Chairmanship of DC, there will be CEO as a Member, respective Taluk Panchayath Officer as a Member, respective Taluk Social Welfare Officer as a Member and respective DSW as Member Secretary.  There are 10 steps to be followed as procedure aspects for the implementation of basic infrastructure facilities in thandas. District Social Welfare Officer / Taluk Social Welfare officer both should go to visit the respective thandas and identify which work has to be take place.  They have to discuss with respective MLAs.  Prepared a table and bring it before the implementation committee for the approval.  District Level Committee of Thandas and Civil Work after approval they all earmarked to the respective suitable department / agency like Nirmithi Kendra, Karnataka Rural Infrastructure , ZP, PWD etc. to these department it should be implemented.     Such selected thandas, there should be Action Plan be prepared and send it to the Social Welfare Commissioner for approval.  After that, Commissioner, SWD , releases first installment for the development of Civil Works.    If the proposals are not come for the suitable time, the Commissioner, SWD can redirect where there is more demand for the funds and works. Respective DSW and Implementing Agency / Dept officers has to verify sight inspection and prepare a estimate and submit it within 15 days to the DC.Respective DC will give administrative approval for the implementing Agency / Department and technical approval has to be obtained. All the work has to be followed as per Karnataka Transparency Act Rule. For this work, the utility certificates has to be submitted to the Commissioner, SWD, and next installment will be released. All the work should completed within 3-4 months and providing basic infrastructure facilities in thandas.  The implementing agency has to see the progress and quality of the work within stipulated period and take over all the monitoring of the work.    


This banjara community has suffering from the ages in the socio-economic development. Therefore the government has to consult the local people and get their views and feedback. Based on their suggestions, they have to provide assistance to bring them in mainstream of the economic development. How to integrate the rural folk with towns and cities and metros is important task. Poverty reduction programmes must focus on social empowerment instead of being stand-alone programmes. Poverty alleviation strategy  like delivery of micro-finance-plus service to the marginalized and vulnerable poor at a minimum cost will have wider impact on the socio-economic well-being of the poor banjaras. Demand-driven approach project under PPP to be implemented. To opt for private participation, bring reforms into the system through commercial approach and at the same time making allowance for cross subsidy to protect the genuine poor.  There is an immediate need to boost industrial climate by providing the required infrastructure in north Karnataka backward taluks and districts to wipe out the industrial disparity, to provide labor intensive employment opportunities.  Thanda water supply and sanitation programs are to be taken with the assistance of World Bank/ADB. The Government can set up a highly specialized research cell in a social science research institute, preferably in North Karnataka to monitor the developments towards redressal of regional disparity (HFCFRRI 2002). Government has to focus on this issue to wipe out regional imbalance. 
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[Authors are thanking to all the above writers for providing valuable research contribution on the subject]. 

(Posted on May 16, 2011)---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------