sarna-religion

Context: The Jharkhand assembly has unanimously passed a resolution seeking the inclusion of Sarna as a separate religion in census, 2021.

More on news:

  • A separate column for tribes as a religious identity was included in the census from 1871 to 1951, but was subsequently dropped. 
  • Currently, citizens can choose from only six religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism.
  • If the Centre approves the new Sarna code, Census 2021 would have to make space for a new religion. 

Need for Sarna code:

  • Decline in tribal population: In the last eight decades, the population percent of tribal people in the state has come down to 26.02 per cent from 38.03 per cent as tribals would migrate to other states for non-agricultural employment when the surveys would be carried out.
  • Impact on the constitutional provisions : The basis for identifying an area as Schedule V is dependent on the tribal population. 
    • In 2019, there were demands of denotifying Schedule V areas where the tribal population has come down. 
    • The recognition of Adivasi Sarna code will address this problem.
  • Environmental conservation: Sarna religion can teach a lot to a world facing problems such as pollution and environmental degradation.
  • Tribal identity: It boosts the idea of recognising a unique religious identity of tribals to the special laws and provisions in the country.

Objections to the move:

  • The term Sarna is not common to all the adherers of a naturalistic religion based on worship of forests, rivers and mountains. 
  • Equating the idea of a naturalistic religion with only the Schedule Tribe population is problematic. It should be open to all. 

The Sarna dharam

  • The Sarna dharam of tribals worshipped nature, forests, mountains.
  • It is the idea of recognising a unique religious identity of tribals to the special laws and provisions in the country.
  • Jharkhand has 32 tribal groups. Eight groups belong to Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.
  • While many tribal groups follow Hindu religion, some have converted to Christianity.
Image source: facebook