Scheduled Tribes is an important aspect that you must cover for the UPSC exam. You must know how many tribes there are in India? And the important tribes in India along with the scheduled tribes in India.

According to Article 366(25) of the Constitution of India, they are certain groups that are scheduled in compliance with Article 342 of the Constitution. Article 342 of the Constitution of India also states that: The Scheduled Tribes are the tribes or tribal communities or are part of or groups within those tribes and tribal communities that have been designated as such by the President in a public notice.

According to the 2011 Census, 104 million Scheduled Tribes constitute 8.6 per cent of the population of the nation. These Scheduled Tribes are spread primarily in forested and hilly regions throughout the country.

The main aspects of these groups are

Primitive Features
Isolation in geography
Distinguished society
Shy of touch at large with the group
Economically retrograde

Who are Tribes?

A tribe is a group of persons in a common geographical region who live and work together. A tribe has a history, dialect and religion that are traditional. Typically, the tribe is headed by a chief. A collective of tribes structured around kinships is a tribal culture. Tribes play a role in the social transition between communities and countries.

As notified under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, there are over 500 tribes (with several overlapping populations in more than one State), scattered over the country’s various States and Union Territories.

Gonds are one of the world’s largest tribal groups. They are located mainly in the Madhya Pradesh district of Chhindwara, the Chhattisgarh district of Bastar and parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha

How many Tribes Are There In India?

The Indian Constitution has identified tribal groups in India under the Constitution of ‘Schedule 5’. Therefore the tribes identified by the Indian Constitution are called ‘ Scheduled Tribes’. How many tribes are there in India? The answer is, in India, there are approximately 645 distinct tribes.

There are different types of tribal groups in India with diverse cultures, languages and traditions. All the tribes are unique in their own way. Few of them are listed below so read on to learn more about different types of tribes in India.

Also Read: Types of Tribe in India: Here’re the Things to Know about the Major Tribes in India

How Many Tribes in India? A-List Indian Tribes

As in the case of the SCs, a three-pronged policy of civic mobilisation, economic empowerment and social justice completes the plan’s goal of empowering the tribals. A significant issue is relevant to the Scheduled Tribes-Atrocities Reduction Act, 1989. The following is a list of the major tribes in India.

Major Indian Tribes 
State Tribes
Chhattisgarh Nagasia, Biar, Khond, Agariya, Bhattra, Mawasi and Bhaina
Goa Varli, Dubia, Siddi, Naikda and Dhodia
Gujarat Patelia, Bhil, Dhodia, Bamcha, Barda, Paradhi, Charan and Gamta
Himachal Pradesh Swangal, Gujjars, Lahaulas, Khas, Pangwala, Lamba and Gaddis
Jammu and Kashmir Balti, Garra, Sippi, Bakarwal, Mon, Gaddi, Purigpa and Beda
Jharkhand Gonds, Birhors, Savar, Mundas, Santhals, Khaira and Bhumji
Karnataka Gond, Patelia, Barda, Yerava, Bhil, Koraga, Adiyan and Iruliga
Kerala Malai, Aarayan, Arandan, Uralis, Kurumbas, Arandan and Eranvallan
Madhya Pradesh Kharia, Bhils, Murias, Birhors, Baigas, Katkari, Kol, Bharia, Khond and Gonds
Maharashtra Warlis, Khond, Bhaina, Katkari, Bhunjia, Rathawa and Dhodia.
Manipur Thadou, Aimol, Maram, Paite, Chiru, Purum, Kuki, Monsang and Angami
Meghalaya Pawai, Chakma, Raba, Hajong, Lakher, Garos, Jaintias and Khasis
Mizoram Dimasa, Raba, Chakma, Lakher, Khasi, Synteng, Kuki and Pawai

Also Read: Can I Prepare for UPSC While Working? How to Prepare for UPSC While Working?

Important Tribes of India

Important Tribes of India
State Tribes
Nagaland Nagas, Angami, Sema, Garo, Kuki, Kachari, Mikir
Odisha Gadaba, Ghara, Kharia, Khond, Matya, Oraons, Rajuar, Santhals.
Rajasthan Bhils, Damaria, Dhanka, Meenas(Minas), Patelia, Sahariya.
Sikkim Bhutia, Khas, Lepchas.
Tamil Nadu Adiyan, Aranadan, Eravallan, Irular, Kadar, Kanikar, Kotas, Todas
Telangana Chenchus.
Tripura Bhil, Bhutia, Chaimal, Chakma, Halam, Khasia, Lushai, Mizel, Namte.
Uttarakhand Bhotias, Buksa, Jannsari, Khas, Raji, Tharu.
Uttar Pradesh Bhotia, Buksa, Jaunsari, Kol, Raji, Tharu.
West Bengal Asur, Khond, Hajong, Ho, Parhaiya, Rabha, Santhals, Savar.
North-East India Abhors, Chang, Galang, Mishimi, Singpho, Wancho.
Andhra Pradesh Andh and Sadhu Andh, Bhil, Bhaghata, Dhulia, Rona, Kolam, Gond, Thoti, Goundu, Kammara, Savaras, Dabba Yerukula, Sugalis, Nakkala, Pardhan, Gadabas, Chenchus, Chenchawar, Kattunayakan, Jatapus, Manna Dhora
Arunachal Pradesh and Assam Singpho, Monpa, Abor, Sherdukpen, Galo, Apatanis, Abor, Chakma, Dimasa, Gangte, Garos, Hajong, Khasis.
Bihar Gond, Birjia, Asur, Savar, Parhaiya, Chero, Birhor, Baiga, Baiga, Santhals

Also Read: Scheduled Tribes In India: All You Need to Know about Scheduled Tribes for UPSC Exam

Andaman Nicobar Tribes

Given below are the Andaman Nicobar tribes:

Andaman and Nicobar Oraons, Onges, Sentinelese, Shompens.
Little Andaman Jarawa

Great Andamanese Tribe

In the ‘Strait Island’ of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, this tribe is found. The people communicate in Jeru dialect among themselves and they are 51 in number as per the previous survey (done in 2012) run by Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti.

In the 19th century, before the arrival of British settlers, the Andamanese were in a great number of 5,000 and above.

They lived on the Island. Though, many were killed in the dispute as they protected their regions from British raids, and many more were wiped out in plagues of syphilis, measles and influenza.


The Onge were fully dependent on gathering and hunting for food. They were semi-nomadic. This tribe is one of the least fertile communities on the earth. About 40% of married pairs are unproductive. Before the age of 28, Onge female hardly becomes pregnant. The child mortality and the infant mortality rate is 40%.

The Onge communicate in their Önge language. The main reason for the fall in the Onge population is the differences in their habits of food. It is brought by the outside world when they visit the place. They influence the locals to follow western habits.


The Shompen are the tribe that does hunting and gathering. The people practice hunting wild game like hunting down birds, pigs and tiny animals during searching for forest foods and fruits.

On stilts, the Shompen construct their huts and the ceiling of thatched palm fronds, the sides are made of woven substance on a wood structure, and the frame is put up on stilts.

A male generally keeps a spear and in his loincloth belt,  bow and arrows, fire drill, a hatchet and knife. The language they speak is Shompen, which originated from the Austroasiatic Language.


Sentinelese are one of the earth’s least contacted beings. The tribes are engaged in hunting and gathering. They hunt by using bows and arrows. Few of their methods haven’t developed beyond those of an early age. It’s doubtful whether they have any awareness of creating fire though researches have shown they utilize fire.

Jarawa Tribe

In India, there is a group of indigenous people of the Andaman Islands known as Jarawa. They reside in parts of the Middle Andaman Islands and South Andaman. They have vastly rejected interchange with foreigners, and various particulars of their community, tradition and culture are wrongly understood.

Largest Tribes In India

Mentioned below are the largest tribes in India:

Bhils Tribes

Bheel or Bhils is the biggest tribe in our nation. These tribes are the ones that belong to the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. These people are the residents of Ratlam, Jhabua, Dhar and Khargone districts of Madhya Pradesh. A large number of Bhils tribes reside in the nearby states of Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Bhilli is the popular language used for communication by this group of people. They use the basic dialects of Gujarati. It has approximately 36 identified languages and diction changes by area.

The culture of the Bhil tribe is extremely vibrant and distinctive. Pithora painting generally comes from this group of tribes. The traditional folk dance of this tribe is Ghoomar. This folk dance denotes Womanhood. Young females perform this folk dance symbolising they are taking a step towards womanhood.

The basic food they consume is garlic, onion, maize and chilli which are nurtured by themselves. Rice and wheat are the food consumed only during particular occasions. The gents wear Gamcha, Angarkha, Pagri and Dhoti as traditional dresses whereas the ladies wear Ghagra Choli and Sari.


According to the Indian Census 2011, the Bhilli population is 37.7% which is approximately 4,618, 068 constituting the total ST population.

Gonds Tribe

The Gonds tribe is found in the district Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh and also covers a few portions of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Orissa. The Gonds are the 2nd largest tribe in India. They are widely known for their valour and can communicate in many languages of India.

They can also speak the Dravidian Gondi language. Their houses are built of thatched roofs and mud walls in the forests of Gondi.

Agriculture is their primary employment source. They celebrate Mafia and Keslapur Jathra festivals.

Famous Tribes

There are many famous tribes in India with rich traditions and cultures. Few are mentioned below.

Toto Tribe

Toto tribe resides in Totapara village in the district Alipurduar, West Bengal. The tribe’s language has no article and is affected by Bengali and Nepali. They practise the barter system, they exchange fruits and vegetables to live their moral life. They pray Ishpa God and Cheima Goddess, though they are Hindus.

Bodo Tribe

The Bodo tribe originated in Assam, Nagaland and the regions of West Bengal. They are assumed to be the first indigenous immigrants of Assam. They came from the family of Indo-Mongoloid.

They communicate in Bodo, a Tibetan-Burmese language. They practice traditional weaving, they weave handloom products. In the spring, they celebrate the Baishagu festival. They are devoted to Lord Domashi, Shiva and Hapsa hatarani.

Garo Tribe

Garo tribes generally originated in the hills of Meghalaya and regions of Assam, West Bengal and Nagaland. The tribe is one of the rare matrilineal communities on earth. Garo architecture is very extraordinary. Jamsireng, Nokpante, Nokmong and Jamadaal are a few of them.

A variety of traditional ornaments are worn by tribal women. The male wears their traditional clothes with a turban with feathers in the turban. They celebrate Wangala as their festival.


Gujjars are distributed in parts of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

The Gujjars were no question, an incredible community spread from Gujarat to Kashmir and Maharashtra, who lent individuality to Gujarat, solidified kingdoms.

Joined the Rajput committees as the powerful origin of Badgujar, and survived. Today as an unsophisticated and tribal committee with both Muslim and Hindu segments. They generally practise dairy farming and pastoralism.

Siddis Tribe

Siddis Tribe is a tribe of Karnataka. Assumed to have come down from Southeast Africa’s Bantu people. Records say that the community were brought by the Portuguese as slaves.

They are based in several regions of Karnataka. The plurality of them is Christians whereas the rest of them follow Islamism and Hinduism. They love to practise ritual practices and to perform dance and music.

Irular Tribe

The Irular tribe resides in regions of the Nilgiri mountain in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. These tribes are the 2nd biggest group in Kerala. They are based largely in the Palakkad area.

They are primarily agriculturists and dependent on the generation of Raggi, paddy, chillies, dhal and plantains and turmeric. They are ritualistic and pray to their own Gods. Widely recognized for their abilities in black magic.

Kurumba Tribe

Kurumba tribe is the main tribe based in regions of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They are the firstest emigrants of the Western Ghats. They live a normal lifestyle relying on farming and gathering wax and honey. They are capable of developing traditional herbal medicines. They are widely famous in the area for their abilities in magic and witchcraft.

Lepcha Tribe

Lepcha tribe are the tribes of the Himalayan range that reside at the corner of India, North-East corner. They mostly live in Darjeeling, Bhutan, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and  Sikkim. Lepchas are a tribe of Mongoloids. Their dialect is a mixture of Sikkims and Nepalese languages that is extremely similar to the language of Indo-Chinese.

They call themselves “Rong”. This tribe lives on raising a huge number of milch cows and cattle. Apart from that, they are engaged in the cultivation of Horticultural crops Agricultural. Initially, these tribes were nature worshipers and had assumptions in spirits and witch-crafts.

Munda Tribe (Means Headmen of Village)

Munda tribe is established in Jharkhand and regions of West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. Munda tribe lives a basic and simple lifestyle. They communicate in the Mundari language. In the past, these tribes were hunters but presently are workers on farms. They obey the Sarna religion owing commitment to a God called Singbonga which implies the God of Sun.

Their dialect is Killi. Their main source of entertainment is Nupur dance.

Also Read: Important Tribes of India: Check out these Famous Tribal Groups for the Upcoming UPSC Exam

Vulnerable Indigenous Groups in Particular

Among the tribal groups, PVTG (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) are more vulnerable. Because of this reason, a large portion of the tribal development funds are taken up by more established and assertive tribal communities, so PVTGs need more funds targeted at their development.

In 1975, as a different category named PVTGs, the Government of India started to recognise the most vulnerable tribal groups and designated 52 such groups.

Another 23 classes were added to the list in 1993, making 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes in all.

The PVTGs in the country are distributed over 18 states and one Union Territory (UT) (2011 census).

Scheduled Tribes

The word ‘Scheduled Tribes’ initially emerged in the Indian Constitution. Article 366 (25) interpreted ST (scheduled tribes) as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”.

Also Read: Schedules of Indian Constitution

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

The NCST (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes) was founded by modifying Article 338 and setting a new Article 338A in the Indian Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003. By this revision, the erstwhile National Commission for SCs (Scheduled Castes) and STs (Scheduled Tribes) was rebuilt by 2 different Commissions namely-

the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) w.e.f. 19 February 2004.

What are Tribes and Who are Adivasis?

Adivasis were the first inhabitants of the subcontinent, as their name implies, and once occupied even wider areas than they do at present. None of their histories is known, but it seems that after the invasions of the Indo-Aryan tribes 3,000 years ago, many were driven into the hill regions.

What is the Gap between the 5th and 6th Schedule?

For such regions known as “scheduled areas and tribal areas”, Article 244 in Section X of the constitution provides for a specific form of administration.

In several states, except for the four states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the management and regulation of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes.

Although the sixth scheduled constitution deals with the governance of the tribal regions of Assam Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram in the four northeastern states.

In these states, the tribes in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram did not assimilate well with the lives and ways of other people.

Until now, these places have become anthropological collections.

The tribes also have their origins in their own culture, traditions and tradition in these four nations.

Also Read: UPSC Interview Questions of Toppers and Interview Tips to Achieve your UPSC Dream

Why is it Important to Study about Important Tribes in India and Scheduled Tribes in India?

The tribes in India are called “Adivasis” as well. Tribal groups have been recognised as scheduled tribes in Schedule 5, according to the Constitution of India.

In a traditional society, a tribe can be described as a social segment consisting of families linked by lines of economic, social, blood or religious connections and sharing a common dialect and culture. Each tribe has some characteristics (social, political, and cultural) that make it distinct from the other tribes.

India is home to a large proportion of tribal people who, unaffected by the shadows of urban civilization, still remain far apart.

The Chanda Committee in the year 1960 set 5 criteria to include every community/caste in the tribal group in order to recognise and differentiate these groups.

In order to study for your IAS Mains, the question of “major tribes of India” is crucial. Specifically, this subject comes under Human Geography and Culture. It was a recurring part of the Mains’ General Science Paper 1.

Some Facts about Major Tribes in India

The total population of the Scheduled Tribes in India, as per the 2001 Census, is 84,326,240. 8.2% of the country’s overall population accounts for this. Just 2.4 per cent of the Scheduled Tribe’s share is in urban areas.

We have the highest number of proposed tribes in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. This constitutes a healthy 83.2% of the country’s overall Scheduled Tribe population.

The states of Meghalaya, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Bihar, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu account for 15.3% of the total population of the Scheduled Tribe. The proportion of the other remaining states is small.

India’s STs make up the highest proportion of the total population in Lakshadweep and Mizoram, closely followed by the Meghalaya and Nagaland states.

The seats of the Scheduled Tribes in the Lok Sabha are reserved. The Lok Sabha For Scheduled Tribes has 47 seats reserved. Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2008 provides the P. Act, 1950 as amended vide.

Also Read: UPSC English Syllabus for 2021: Detailed Syllabus and General Preparation Tips for Literature Optional


It is the obligation of the National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes to advise and be a part of the whole process. The NCST must engage in these tribes’ socio-economic development strategies and also measure the success of their rate of development for a given UT/ state. To know more about the major tribes and provisions in our country, go on to the UPSC Pathshala content section.

Also Read: Interest Groups in India: Why are Self-help Groups Formed in a Country?

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Shilpa is a professional web content writer and is in deep love with travelling. She completed her mass communication degree and is now dedicatedly playing with words to guide her readers to get the best for themselves. Developing educational content for UPSC, IELTS aspirants from breakthrough research work is her forte. Strongly driven by her zodiac sign Sagittarius, Shilpa loves to live her life on her own notes and completely agrees with the idea of ‘live and let live. Apart from writing and travelling, most of the time she can be seen in the avatar of 'hooman' mom to her pets and street dogs or else you can also catch her wearing the toque blanche and creating magic in the kitchen on weekends.

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