The topic of “important tribes of India” is crucial to study for your IAS Mains. This topic specifically falls under Human Geography and Culture. It has been a recurring part of the General Science Paper 1 of the mains.

In this article, we will understand the key features of tribes in India. From the examination’s perspective, we will also cover the major tribes in India.

Key Features Of Tribes In India

India is the abode of a sizeable proportion of indigenous people, who still live away untouched by the shadows of modern society.

To identify and distinguish these communities, the Chanda Committee in the year 1960 had laid down 5 standards to include any community/caste in the tribal group.

These standards are broadly categorized into the following: –

  • Special Culture
  • Geographical Isolation
  • Backwardness
  • Characteristics Of Tribes
  • Shyness

There are 461 tribal groups in India out of which 424 are considered as the Schedule Tribes.

Let Us Go Through The General Features Of Tribes Below: –

  • A tribe can be defined as a social section within a traditional society that consists of families that are connected through lines of economic, social, blood or religious ties, and aso share a common dialect and culture
  • Every tribe has certain qualities (social, political, and cultural) that distinguish it from the other
  • The tribes in India are also called as  “adivasis”
  • According to the constitution of India, tribal communities have been given recognition as scheduled tribe in Schedule 5.
  • Article 366 (25) defined 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”
  • The inclusion of a community as a Scheduled Tribe is an ongoing process
  • The total population of Scheduled Tribes in india is 84,326,240 as per the Census 2001. This accounts for 8.2% of the total population of the country.
  • The share of the Scheduled Tribe in the urban areas is only 2.4%
  • In Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chattisgarh,  Jharkhand, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, we have the maximum population of scheduled tribes
  • Of the total Scheduled Tribe population of the country, these stand for a good 83.2%
  • The states of Meghalaya, Assam, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, bihar, Tripura, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, contribute to 15.3% of  total Scheduled Tribe population
  • The share of other states that remain is minimal
  • The STs in India make the largest proportion of the entire population in Lakshadweep and Mizoram, closely followed by the states of Meghalaya and Nagaland.
  • There is reservation of seats for the Scheduled Tribes in the lok sabha.
  • 47 seats are reserved in Lok Sabha For Scheduled Tribes. The 1st schedule to R. P. Act, 1950  as amended vide Representation of the People (Amendment) Act , 2008 gives the State Wise break up
  • The number of seats is decided on the basis of proportion of Scheduled Tribes in the State concerned to that of the total population
  • The provision in Article 330 of the Constitution of India read with Section 3 of the R. P. Act, 1950 validates the above decision
  • The largest number of scheduled Tribes are in Madhya Pradesh (Bastar), closely followed by Bihar
  • Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Pondicherry have no STs.

List Of Major Tribes in India

  1. Andhra Pradesh:  Andh, Sadhu Andh, Bhagata, Bhil, Chenchus (Chenchawar), Gadabas, Gond, Goundu, Jatapus, Kammara, Kattunayakan, Kolawar, Kolam, Konda, Manna Dhora, Pardhan, Rona, Savaras, Dabba Yerukula, Nakkala, Dhulia, Thoti, Sugalis.
  2. Arunachal Pradesh: Apatanis, Abor, Dafla, Galong, Momba, Sherdukpen, Singpho.
  3. Assam: Chakma, Chutiya, Dimasa, Hajong, Garos, Khasis, Gangte.
  4. Bihar: Asur, Baiga, Birhor, Birjia, Chero, Gond, Parhaiya, Santhals, Savar.
  5. Chhattisgarh: Agariya, Bhaina, Bhattra, Biar, Khond, Mawasi, Nagasia.
  6. Goa: Dhodia, Dubia, Naikda, Siddi,Varli.
  7. Gujarat: Barda, Bamcha, Bhil, Charan, Dhodia, Gamta, Paradhi, Patelia.
  8. Himachal Pradesh: Gaddis, Gujjars, Khas, Lamba, Lahaulas, Pangwala, Swangla.
  9. Jammu and Kashmir: Bakarwal, Balti, Beda, Gaddi, Garra, Mon, Purigpa, Sippi.
  10. Jharkhand:  Birhors, Bhumij, Gonds, Kharia, Mundas, Santhals, Savar.
  11. Karnataka: Adiyan, Barda, Gond, Bhil, Iruliga, Koraga, Patelia, Yerava.
  12. Kerala: Adiyan, Arandan, Eravallan, Kurumbas, Malai arayan, Moplahs, Uralis.
  13. Madhya Pradesh: Baigas,  Bhils, Bharia, Birhors, Gonds,Katkari, kharia, Khond, Kol, Murias.
  14. Maharashtra:  Bhaina, Bhunjia, Dhodia, Katkari, Khond, Rathawa, Warlis.
  15. Manipur: Aimol, Angami, Chiru, Kuki, Maram, Monsang, Paite, Purum, Thadou.
  16. Meghalaya: Chakma, Garos, Hajong, Jaintias Khasis, Lakher, Pawai, Raba.
  17. Mizoram: Chakma, Dimasa, Khasi, Kuki, Lakher, Pawai, Raba, Synteng.
  18. Nagaland:  Angami, Garo, Kachari, Kuki, Mikir, Nagas, Sema.
  19. Odisha:  Gadaba, Ghara, Kharia, Khond, Matya, Oraons, Rajuar, Santhals.
  20. Rajasthan: Bhils, Damaria, Dhanka, Meenas(Minas), Patelia, Sahariya.
  21. Sikkim:  Bhutia, Khas, Lepchas.
  22. Tamil Nadu: Adiyan, Aranadan, Eravallan, Irular, Kadar, Kanikar, Kotas, Todas.
  23. Telangana: Chenchus.
  24. Tripura: Bhil, Bhutia, Chaimal, Chakma, Halam, Khasia, Lushai, Mizel, Namte.
  25. Uttarakhand: Bhotias, Buksa, Jannsari, Khas, Raji, Tharu.
  26. Uttar Pradesh: Bhotia, Buksa, Jaunsari, Kol, Raji, Tharu.
  27. West Bengal: Asur, Khond, Hajong, Ho, Parhaiya,  Rabha, Santhals, Savar.
  28. Andaman and Nicobar:  Oraons, Onges, Sentinelese, Shompens.
  29. Little Andaman: Jarawa.
  30. North-East: Abhors, Chang, Galaong, Mishimi, Singpho, Wancho.

The Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) Strategy

  • The  Government of India’s initiative targeted towards the rapid socio-economic development of tribal people is the Tribal Sub Plan or TSP
  • The funds provided under the Tribal Sub Plan (state) must be approximately equal in proportion to the Schedule tribe population of each State or Union Territories
  • The Central Ministries or departments are asked to designate funds from their budget for the Tribal Sub-Plan
  • As per the Planning Commission, the Tribal Sub Plan funds must be non-lapsable and non-divertible
  • The National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes is assigned with the responsibility to advise and be a part of the entire process. The NCST must participate in plans of socio-economic development of these tribes, and also evaluate the progress of their development rate for a specific UT/state.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs is the official body responsible for the development of the scheduled tribes in India
  • The Ministry was established in 1999 after the bifurcation of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
  • The aim behind this is a focused approach on the integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), which are demarcated as the most underprivileged of the Indian Society, in a coordinated and planned manner
  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs is the nodal Ministry for overall planning , policy, and coordination of development programmes for the Important Tribes of India
  • The sectoral programmes /schemes for development of these communities; their planning, policies, evaluation, coordination, monitoring, etc. will be the responsibility of the concerned Central Ministries/ Departments, Union Territory Administrations and State Governments. every Central Ministry/Department will be the nodal Ministry or Department .

The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was set up after amendment of Article 338 for betterment of the important tribes of India.
  • A new Article 338A was added in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003
  • With  this amendment, there was replacement of the former National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes  by 2 separate Commissions
  • The 2 commissions are:
    • the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST), 19 February, 2004
    • the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)

About the Author

Greeta Sulochana

Greeta Sulochana is a content evangelist with a flair for compelling creative writing. She has penned down her thoughts in poetry and prose since the past five years, and has catered her skills to the Indian and international audiences. She started out as an advertising intern with Grey worldwide, and is now a full-fledged writer in passion and profession, who has worked for major national brands.

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