Tribes in India UPSC


Scheduled Tribes in India

  • According to the 2011 Census, the Scheduled Tribes account for 104 million representing 8.6% of the country’s population.
  • It is important to note that there are many tribes that have not yet been identified as scheduled tribes. 
  • These Scheduled Tribes are spread throughout the country largely in forest and hilly regions.
  • The essential characteristics of these communities are:-
    1. Primitive Traits
    2. Geographical isolation
    3. Distinct culture
    4. Shy of contact with the community at large
    5. Economically backwards
  • There are over 700 scheduled tribes in India, out of which around 75 are Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • Bhil is the largest tribal group while Gond comprises the second largest tribal group of India.
  • The largest number of tribal communities (62) are found in Odisha.
  • The largest population of STs is in Madhya Pradesh- 21.1% of the total state population.
  • Lakshadweep, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, are predominantly tribal States /Union territories where Scheduled Tribes population constitutes more than 60% of their total population. 
  • No tribe was identified in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Puducherry.

Constitutional Provisions

  • The Constitution of India does not give any definition for Scheduled Tribes.
  • According to Article 366(25) of the Constitution, Scheduled Tribes are those communities that are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.

    Tribes in India UPSC
    Credit: The Economic Times
  • Article 342: “The Scheduled Tribes are the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within these tribes and tribal communities which have been declared as such by the President through a public notification”.
  • As per Article 338-A of the Constitution of India, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes has been set up.
  • 5th and 6th Schedule: Administration and control of Scheduled and Tribal Areas.
  • 5th Schedule: deals with the administration and control of Scheduled Areas as well as of Scheduled Tribes residing in any State other than the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. 
  • 6th Schedule: consists of provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, according to Article 244 of the Indian Constitution.

Legal Provisions

  • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955
  • Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
  • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006

Schemes for Tribal Welfare

  • The scheme of Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP
  • Van Dhan Vikas Karyakram
  • Pre Matric Scholarship Scheme for ST students
  • Post Matric Scholarship Scheme for ST students
  • Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
  • Eklavya Model Residential Schools
  • Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana

Important Tribes in News UPSC

  1. Various tribes across India resisted British rule vehemently and the law was aimed at dealing with these tribes with an iron fist. From Birsa Munda and Tantia Bhil in the north and central parts, Komaram Bheem and Thalakkal Chandu in the south to the likes of Rani Gaidinliu in the northeast, tribal movements in different regions of the country waged spirited battles against the British colonial rule.
  2. Zeliang-The Zeliang is the official name of the Zemi and Liangmeipeople in Nagaland. Primarily in the south-western part of Kohima district. The Hega festival is one of the most important and the biggest festival. They inhabit Barrail range of hills in Manipur, Nagaland and Assam. They are very famous for their sanitation and hygiene.
  3. Hmar tribe is also called as Mhar or Mar and they are the dwellers of the North Eastern Part of India. They inhabit Meghalaya, Mizoram, Cachar, Chittagong Hill Tracts and Tripura. They gained recognition as one of the Scheduled Tribes as per the 6th Schedule of Constitution of India. Hmar tribe belonged to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group of tribes. The festival of Hmar tribe highlights agricultural practices is Sikpuiruoi and Butukhuonglom.
  4. Lushais-They belong to Kuki-Chin group of tribes. They are commonly known as Mizos. They live on Jhum Cultivation and hunting of wild animal. They are also famous as orange producing community. They follow Christianity as their religion. Their Bamboo Dance (Cheraw-dance) is very much popular in and outside the country.
  5. Kuki-An ethnic tribe spread across vast areas of North-eastern region of India except Arunachal Pradesh, Burma and foot hills of Chittagong hills. They form a part of the great Mongolian race. They prefer to live on the hill tops and their villages are cluster of houses closely constructed to protect from alien raiders. Mainly followers of Christianity and Judaism.
  6. Kalbeliya Dance: Snake dance from the state of Rajasthan. Performed by the Kalbeliya tribe. UNESCO’s representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Both men and women participate. Accompanied by the traditional instruments of Rajasthani folk music like the morchang, dufli, dholak, khanjari, khuralio.
  7. Rengma Tribe: A Naga tribe found in Nagaland and Assam states of India. In Assam, the Rengma tribals are found in the Karbi-Anglong, the then Mikir Hills. Experts in terrace cultivation. Ngadah is the harvest festival of the Rengmas.
  8. Banrawats Tribe: A native endangered tribe originating and living in Uttarakhand. Also called Banrajis, Vanrawats, Vanrajis. Basically, nomadic hunter-gatherers but also work as agriculture and forest labourers and practise shifting cultivation. Speak Tibeto-Burman language generally called ‘Rawat’.
  9. Sherdukpen Community: The predominantly Buddhist Sherdukpen community of Arunachal Pradesh is known for its honey-hunting skill. Generally practice monogamy and trace their descent patrilineally. The honey collected from the wild has been traditionally used for its medicinal properties. The mithun or gayal (Bos frontalis), considered a descendant of the Indian Gaur or bison, plays an important role in the socio-economic and cultural life of tribes such as the Nyishi, Apatani, Galo, Mishmi, Adi, Sherdukpen and other communities of Arunachal Pradesh.
  10. Potraj Community: One of the sub sections of the Maang / Matang caste that are largely found in Gujarat, Daman, Rajasthan and Maharashtra. Worshippers of Goddess Kadak Lakshmi, a divinity they say, hails from the town of Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Also called the Kadak Lakshmi nomadic tribe, travels from one temple to the other, singing religious chants, playing the drums and dancing to it and violently flagellating themselves. Recently Members of the Mariaai community, a nomadic tribe also referred to as Potraj, are not willing to get vaccinated against Covid-19 due to superstition
  11. Hamja Folk Dance: Traditional folk dance by the Rabha tribe of Assam. The Rabhas have an agrarian culture and in shifting cultivation sharing a common song and music. It helps them to finish the work easily, they take agricultural implements.
  12. Rabha Tribe: Prominent tribe in Assam and is recognized as ST by Indian Constitution. In India, it is present in Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal.
  13. Nyokum Festival: A festival celebrated by the Nyishi tribe of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Close link with cultivation. The main prayer structure of the Nyishi is made of bamboo, called the yugang. Alongside the yugang sacrificial animals are tethered. Like cows, mithuns, and goats.
  14. Onge Tribe: One of PVTG of A& N. Indigenous people of Little Andaman. Traditionally hunter-gatherers. Camps established on Rutland Island and the southern tip of South Andaman Island. Semi-nomadic and fully dependent on hunting and gathering for food. Confined to Dugong Creek. Not habitual to clothes. Other PVTG of A&N: Shompen, Jarawa , Sentinelese, Great Andamanese.
  15. Unrepresented Tribes of Meghalaya: The five minor tribes namely, Bodo-Kachari, Hajong, Koch, Mann, and Rabha are clubbed together as ‘unrepresented tribes’ for nomination in Meghalaya’s autonomous tribal councils they are indigenous to Meghalaya. In News; Government of Meghalaya has decided to exclude ‘unrepresented tribes’ from the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
  16. Abujh Marias: Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG). Spread in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. Chhattisgarh government is processing habitat rights for Abujh Marias. Habitat is defined under the act as, “the area comprising the customary habitat and such other habitats in reserved forests and protected forests of primitive tribal groups and pre-agricultural communities and other forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes.”
  17. NAGOBA JATARA: A tribal festival. Celebrated by Mesaram clan of Gond tribes from Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh belonging to the Mesram clan offer prayers at the festival. Special attraction of the event: Gusadi Dance performance from the Gond tribe. Event also includes a ceremony called ‘bheting’, which incorporates new brides into the clan. Ceremony of Betal puja, which involves display of martial art, constitutes the last of the rituals in the event.
  18. Every monsoon, the Gond and Korku tribes of Madhya Pradesh’s Betul and Harda districts celebrate Hari Jiroti. It is a month-long festival of greenery, during which the tribals plant saplings of fruit-bearing trees.
  19. The Irulas and Kurumbas linked hands at Thoppaiyur, a small tribal hamlet in a remote part of the Blue Mountains near Sholurmattam to celebrate Thottatam a unique week-long tribal festival. Irulas from the state of Tamil Nadu inhabitants of the scrub jungles of Southern India belonging to the Negrito (or Negroid) race. Hunter-gatherers by tradition, their expertise in catching snakesis legendary. Most of them are wage laborers working in tea estates now. Partly Hinduized, but have their own indigenous religious system
  20. Maldharis: Traditional pastoral people found in and around the Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Founds in Rajasthan and other parts of Gujarat, and Banni grasslands. Maldharis of Gir, Alech and Barda have included among the Scheduled Tribes since 1956, although these castes are not classified as Scheduled Tribes outside the forest areas
  21. Jenu Kuruba tribe: Community listed under the specially privileged tribal groups (SPTG) category. Along with Koragas, Jenu Kuruba community is the only other tribal community of Karnataka to find a place on the SPTG list of 32.
  22. Odisha has one of the most diverse tribal populations in India, with 62 tribes, including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs). There are 21 tribal languages and 74 dialects which immensely contribute to the linguistic diversity of the state. Only six tribal languages — Santali, Ho, Soura, Munda and Kui — have a written script. Santali has already been included in the Eighth Schedule.
  23. Mizos and Kukis Tribe, share close linguistic and cultural ties and were usually referred to as Kuki-Lushai tribes in colonial times (Lushai or Lusei is the most prominent clan in what is now the Mizo community).
  24. Reang (Bru) Tribe: ST of Tripura. Found all over the Tripura. Found in Mizoram and Assam. Speak the Reang dialect of Kokborok language which is of Tibeto-Burmese origin. Locally referred to as Kau Bru. Mostly practised the Huk or Jhum cultivation. Dance-Hojagiri folk dance. Popular Festival-Buisu’, not ‘bihu’. Belong to the Vaishnav school of Hinduism and claim Kshatriya status. In Mizoram, they are largely referred to by other tribes as ‘Tuikuk’.
  25. Wangala Festival (The 100 Drums Festival): Dominant Garo Tribe primarily celebrates it in Meghalaya. Beginning of winter and is celebrated as a nod to the post-harvest season. Celebrated in the honour of ‘Misi Saljong’, a local deity who is considered to be a generous. Known as the ‘100 Drums Wangala festival’ as loud drum noises herald the beginning of the festival. An extraordinary feature is the feathered head-gear that is worn by everyone celebrating the festival and also reflects their clan’s colour
  26. Besides the Great Andamanese, the other four PVTGs are Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese and Shompen. Among the five, the Great Andamanese are the only ones who visit and live in the capital city of Port Blair frequently.
  27. Sentinelese also known as Negrito tribe who live on the North Sentinel Island of the Andaman (50 km west of Port Blair). Assumed to be direct descendants of the earliest humans who emerged from Africa. Consistently refused any interaction with the outside world. Hostile to outsiders and have killed people who approached or landed on the island. Nearly nothing is known about the Sentinelese culture due to isolation. Are hunter-gatherers. Not known to engage in agriculture. Protected under the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Protection of Aboriginal Tribes) Regulation, 1956.
  28. Jarawas currently inhabiting the Western coast of Middle Andaman and South Andaman Islands. Hunting and gathering nomadic tribes. Collect fruits and roots including honey from the forest. They build temporary huts in their camps. They speak Järawa language. 
  29. Shompen a hunter-gatherer subsistence economy and keep a limited contact with the outside world. Also, practice a little bit of horticulture and pig rearing. Share a symbiotic relationship or barter system with the Great Nicobarese. Marriage by capturing women from different groups and subgroups is one of the customs of the Shompen society- one reason for mutual hostility among groups. Speak Shompen language with different dialects like Kalay and Keyet.
  30. Tharu Tribe/Community: Oldest inhabitants of the Terai as well as the Himalayan region. India- Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. GOI recognizes as a scheduled tribe. Word (थारू) thāru is thought to be derived from sthavir meaning follower of Theravada Tharus worship Lord Shiva as Mahadev and call their supreme being “Narayan”, who they believe is the provider of sunshine, rain, and harvests. Main Dance-Laathi nach or stick dance. Festival: Barna, Maghi festival.
  31. Soligas Tribe: indigenous tribe of Karnataka. Forest-dwelling tribes in and around the forests of Biligiri Ranganath (BR) Hills, MM Hills, and Bandipur in Karnataka and the Sathyamangalam forests in Tamil Nadu. Also called the children of bamboo. First tribal community living inside the core area of a tiger reserve in India to get their forest rights officially recognised by the court of law. Worship the tiger as Huliverappa. One such community in the Western Ghats who use their indigenous tradition of eating Wild food plants (WFPs), to augment staple food crops.
  32. Sangrai Dance: Performed by the Mog tribal community on the occasion of Sangrai festival during the month of Chaitra (in April) of the Bengali calendar year. The Mogs are one of the 19 tribes in Tripura. Mogs are Buddhist and have the close affinity with Burmese Buddhism. Arakanese descendants who migrated to Tripura through Chittagong Hill Tracts. Language is grouped under Tibeto-Chinese family which is also linked with Assam-Burmese section of language.
  33. The Galoare a central Eastern Himalayan tribe, who are descendants of Abotani and speak the Tani Galo language. The Galos belong to the Tani group inhabiting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, besides Tibet. But unlike the Mising (Assam), Adi, Apatani, Nyishi and Tagin, the other communities, only the Galos maintain genealogy through given names.
  34. A climate activist from India has been named by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to his new advisory group comprising young leaders who will provide perspectives and solutions to tackle the worsening climate crisis, as the global body mobilizes action as part of the COVID-19recovery efforts. The Kharia are an Austroasiatic tribal ethnic group from east-central India. They mainly inhabit Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tripura 
  35. Siddi Community: Siddis of Karnataka, are an ethnic group who descended from the Bantu-speaking people of Southeast Africa. They were brought to India by Portuguese merchants about 400 years ago. live all over India, of which more than a third live in the northern parts of Karnataka. speak their own language called Siddi Basha, and having lived in Karnataka for generations, they are also fluent in Kannada. recognised as a Scheduled Tribe (ST). widely known for their expressive dance form Siddi Dhamal. women sing a repetitive song pattern, the men usually play the dammam — a percussive instrument which looks similar to a mridangam.
  36. Tangams: The Tangams are a little-known community within the larger Adi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh and reside in the hamlet of Kugging in Upper Siang district’s Paindem circle.
  37. As per the UNESCO World Atlas of Endangered Languages (2009), Tangam — an oral language that belongs to the Tani group, under the greater Tibeto-Burman language family — is marked ‘critically endangered’. Tangams have become multilingual, speaking not just Tangam, but other tongues such as Shimong, Khamba and Hindi.
  38. Lui-Ngai-Ni festival: Lui-Ngai-Ni festival celebrated by the Naga tribes of Manipur on February 14th and 15th every year. This is a seed sowing festival, essentially celebrated to seek blessings of divine forces to ensure an abundant harvest. Various other tribes across India’s North East and northwestern Myanmar also join in the celebrations. This national festival has a magnificent display of traditions and values, with cultural dances, folk songs, drum thumping, traditional costumes, fire acrobatics and indigenous sports like oiled bamboo pole climbing and so on. The Ministry of Tourism has recognized this event as a national tourism festival that spreads awareness of the region’s rich social legacy.
  39. Medaram ‘Jatara’: Tribal festival. Commemorates the valiant fight of a mother and daughter — Sammakka and Sarakka — against an unjust law imposed by the then reigning rulers. Organised once in two years. Believed that after Kumbh Mela, Medaram Jatara attracts the largest number of devotees. Vanaj, a tribal dance and music festival, as national festival. Held by forest dwelling Koya tribe of Telangana and surrounding States. Caused gradual decline and death of Kakatiya rule. Once declared a national festival, Jatara can be considered for ‘intangible cultural heritage of humanity’ tag of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). UNESCO had given the tag to Kumbh Mela, which is world’s biggest festival
  40. Chenchu Primitive Tribe: Nallamala forest areas in Nagarkurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. Chenchu habitations — known as ‘pentas’ locally. Forced to depend on unsafe natural water sources — streams, ponds and small fresh water springs (‘chelimalu’). A Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG) whose hamlets or Pentas dot the Nallamala forest range spread across four to five districts in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh states.
  41. Van Gujjars Tribe: Located along the foothills of the Shivalik range, the Rajaji National Park. One of the few forest-dwelling nomadic communities in the country. Migrate to the bugyals (grasslands) located in the upper Himalayas with their buffaloes and return only at the end of monsoons to their makeshift huts, deras, in the foothills. Traditionally practice buffalo husbandry; a family owns up to 25 heads of buffaloes.
  42. Tribes of Assam: Misings, Deoris, Rabhas, Sonowal-Kacharis and Tiwas.
  43. The Hill Tiwas, who are found in two districts of Assam (Karbi Anglong, Nagaon) and one in Meghalaya (Ri-Bhoi) practise Jhum or the slash and burn method of cultivation. The Hill Tiwas have a unique method of preserving and storing harvested paddy. Hill Tiwas do not store harvested paddy in granaries. A khitri or round vessel from the bark of a tree is prepared. Dry straw is used to line the Khitri before the paddy is put in. Bamboo strips are used to secure the Maiphurs or baskets, which weigh approximately 20 kilos each. The “maiphurs” are carried back to their homes by men and women to the singing of songs. Harvests are associated with dance, music and merry-making and there is a great deal of cooperation among the tribals who take part in the rituals of preserving and storing paddy for future consumption.
  44. Toda Tribe: Toda Tribe is a pastoral tribe of the Nilgiri Hills of southern India. The Toda language is Dravidian but is the most unusual and different among the languages belonging to the Dravidian family. They live in settlements of from three to seven small thatched houses. They traditionally trade dairy products, as well as cane and bamboo articles, with the other Nilgiri peoples.
  45. Rabha is one of the most popular and indigenous tribes of India, Nepal, Bhutan, Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Most of the Rabhas of Dooars refer to themselves as Rabha, but some of them often declare themselves as Kocha. Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal. They primarily inhabit the plains of Lower Assam and the Dooars, while some are found in the Garo Hills. The Baikho is the principal deity of the Rabhas which is associated with the crops dedicated to whom the Rabhas celebrate the Baikho festival. 
  46. Dimasa is an indigenous ethnolinguistic community inhabiting Assam and Nagaland states in Northeastern India. The Dimasa peoples are the inhabitants of North Cachar Hills Autonomous District Council (now Dima Hasao), Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council, Cachar District, Nagaon District of Assam and the Dhansiri region of Nagaland State.  They call themselves Bodo or Bodo-fisa in the Brahmaputra valley and Dimasa or Dimafisa or ‘sons of the great river’ in the Dima Hasao & Karbi-Anglong district. Busu is an important festival celebrated by the Dimasa with the celebration of great pomp and splendour. It is celebrated after the completion of harvest. Agricultural is the principal occupation and main source of livelihood of the Dimasa. Many practice jhum
  47. The novel coronavirus disease has reached the Niyamgiri hills of Odisha’s Rayagada district — home to Dongria Kondhs, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG).   The people of Niyamgiri use Kui language. Kui language is not written, but it is spoken among the people of Kondh community.
  48. Naga Morungs: The Naga Morung is one of the major highlights of the festival. The Morung is a self-governing body that aims to protect the village men. Morungs were the community spaces in Nagaland where the young boys were trained. The boys are taught history and culture of the tribes in the land. They also learnt folk songs and tales during their stay. The boys were made Naga warriors in these Morungs. At the Hornbill festival, the culture of the Morung tribes is exhibited. Their arts, paintings, lifestyle are displayed. Tourists stay at Morung cottages during the festival.
  49. The Korwa people are a Mundaethnic group of India. They live mainly on the border between Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. A small number of Korwa are also found in the Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh. The tribe is divided into several subdivisions: the Agaria, Dandh, Dil and Pahadi Korwas. Fishing and hunting are practiced as occupation.Karma dance is very popular dance and all the villagers participate in it.
  50. Santal Tribes: The Santals are the third largest tribal group in India. They are called Horhopon ko (Sons of Man), Hor Ko or Manjhi. They are classified as Scheduled Tribes in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal but not in Assam. In 1855, they protested widely for their mistreatment by the landlords, traders and money lenders. It was called the Santal Rebellion.
  51. The ordeal of the Gothi Koya tribe continues as they live like refugees in Telangana. The tribe faced exodus from Chattisgarh to Telangana between 2005 and 2011 due to counter-insurgency measures. Koyas are commonly referred to as Koi, Koyalu, Koyollu, KoyaDoralu, Dorala Sattam, etc. The Koya live in the forests, plains, and valleys on both sides of the Godavari River, which lies in the central Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Many also live in the states of Telangana, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. The Koya language, also called Koyi, is closely related to Gondi and has been strongly influenced by Telugu, the tongue of the neighbouring Hindu population. The Koya are one of the few multi-racial and multi-lingual tribal communities in India. Most Koya speaks either Gondi or Telugu, in addition to Koyi.
  52. The Chakhesangs are a major indigenous group found in the state of Nagaland. Chakhesangs were the previous Eastern Angamis- now recognized as a separate tribe. The tribe is mostly divided into two groups known as Chokri and Khezha. The name “Chakhesang” was derived from the names of three tribes: the Chokri, Khezha and Sangtam. Suhkuruhnye is the most important festival of Chakhesang Naga and is celebrated on the 15th of January.
  53. Shirui Lily festival ever since the eco-tourism festival started in 2017, world-famous bands such as Queensryche and Steelheart have made their way to the Northeastern state. What is so unique about the Shirui Lily? It is special because it is a species of ground lily found exclusively in the Shirui Hills, located about 18 km from the district headquarters of Ukhrul, which is home to the Tangkhul Naga tribe. In other words, it cannot be transplanted anywhere else in the world.
  54. The Mundapota Kela community is believed to have migrated to Odisha from Rayalaseema area of Andhra Pradesh decades ago. Being street performers, they travel from one village to another and bury their heads in soil for several minutes. They collect rice, vegetables and money from villagers for putting up the show.
  55. The Juang is one of the primitive tribal groups (particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTG)) of Odisha. The word ‘Juang’ means “Sons of Man”. Formerly the Juang used to be also known as Patuas, literally “leaf-wearers”.  Their tradition claims that the place where the tribe originated from the earth are the Gonasika Hills, near the Keonjhar district, at the source of the Baitarani River. They are found only in the Gonsaika hills. Some Juangs migrated to neighbouring plains of the Dhenkanal district during the Bhuiyan revolt in the late 19th century. Dances: They usually observe their festivals and marriage ceremony with Changu dance.
  56. Buksa-Primitive tribal groups of India. Indigenous people concentrated in the Dehradun and Nainital in the Kumaon foothills of the outer Himalayas Major occupation are agriculture and animal husbandry. Primarily found in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.
  57. The Similipal Tiger Reserve has been on fire since February 11, 2021. Among the communities affected are two of the 13 particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) inOdisha — Mankidias and Khadias — that have lost their livelihoods to the inferno.  The Mankidia are a nomadic ethnic group of India that live in Odisha. Mankidias mostly live in the Mayurbhanj, Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Sundergarh districts. Hilly areas of Similipal are the original home of many ethnic groups such as Birhors, Hill Khadias and Mankidias. Among the other tribal communities found in Similipal are Santal, Kolha, Bathudi, Mahali, Bhuyan, etc.
  58. The Rongmei (also known as Kabui) are one of the major indigenous communities a part of the Naga tribes of North-East India. They are a scheduled tribe under the Constitution of India. The Rongmei have a rich culture, customs and traditions. They share similarities with their kindred tribes of Zeme, Liangmai and Inpui which together are known as Zeliangrong. The Rongmeis are mostly concentrated in the three states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland in Northeast India. They make up the majority in Tamenglong district and Noney district of Manipur. The Gaan-Ngai festival (post-harvest festival) is celebrated annually between December and January to worship the Supreme God Haipou Tingkao Ragwang and other sylvan Gods. Other festivals are Sangai and Chapchar Kut.
  59. The Hakkipikki community migrated from the Northern India, population of which is about 8414, is found in Karnataka. The population is mainly concentrated in Shivamogga, Davanagere and Mysuru district of Karnataka. The alternate names of the Hakkipikki are Haranashikari, Pashi pardhi, Adavichencher and Shikari. The HakkiPikki tribes are semi nomadic tribal people, have four clans namely the Gujrathioa, Kaliwala, Mewara and Panwara. They speak many south Indian languages such as Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam along with Vagribooli which is similar to Guajarati. The HakkiPikki, meaning “bird catchers” in Kannada
  60. The Tai Khamti people, who follow Theravada Buddhism, number a little more than 1,00,000 today and live in areas straddling Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
  61. The Naxal area of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, a tribal community has no taboo about pre-marital sex. They happen to have an age-old tradition because of which there is absolutely no sex related crime among Muria sub-tribe of the Gond tribal Considered sacrosanct, the tribals celebrate love and the right to choose partners. The Murias have a tradition that is quite unique, called ‘ghotul’. This Ghotul system is a a hut made up of bamboos or mud and can be called a modern day nightclub, where taboos related to sex don’t exist. Ghotul is an important tool of Muria tribe that imparts gender equality, and a unique form of expressing love. 
  62. The Bonda (also known as the Bondo, Bondo Poraja, Bhonda, or Remo) are a Munda ethnic group who live in the isolated hill regions of the Malkangiri district of southwestern Odisha, India, near the junction of the three states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh. They are one of the 75 Primitive Tribal Groups identified by the Government of India.
  63. Limbus/ Limboos-Indigenous tribe of Sikkim belonging to Nepali stock Mongoloid looking by figure having their own language, faith, costume, culture and life style. Traditional group dance called Dhannach is performed in the marriage, death and any festive celebrations. Farmers by profession and they love enjoying their life more by singing, feasting and dancing. Traditional dress of the Limbus is mekhli and  The Limbu or Yakthung are Kiranti people indigenous and native to the Himalayan Limbuwan region of Eastern Nepal, North East India and Western Bhutan. Dance: Dhan Naach, Chyabrung dance. Festival: Chasok Tangnam.
  64. Apatani or Tanni-Settled agriculturists inhabiting the valley around Ziro– Subansiri district. Practice permanent wetland cultivation. Loyal followers of the Donyi-Polofaith, who pray to the Sun and the Moon. Men of other tribes would often steal the Apatani women, which led the Apatani men to tattoo the faces of their women and make them wear massive nose plugs, in order to make them less appealing.
  65. Biate-They are also one of the oldest living tribesin the North East mainly in Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya. Though they are less in term of population, they have their own identity with a rich and distinctive history, culture, dialect and religious heritages.
  66. Angami-Tenyidie is the most common language spoken. Population is around 12 million. Agriculture is the main occupation. Christianity is the major religion followed  They are quite popular for their woodcraft and artwork (producer of bamboo work, cane furniture, beds, shawls and powerful machetes). Sekrenyi is the main festival celebrated which marks the beginning of the lunar year.
  67. The Halam Tribes origin shows that basically ‘Halam’ means “killer of human beings”. The neighbouring people were involved in naming them ‘Halam’ as they were ferocious and used to kill strangers in the olden days. The term ‘Halam’ is expected to be coined by the Tipra Maharaja. As per their oral tradition, they called themselves “Riam”, which literally means “Human being”. The Halam are further divided into 12 sub-tribes. The Halam Tribe is native to the state of Tripura and Assam Mizoram in India. They could be found in Bangladesh as well.
  68. A historical fort in Jaipur has been embroiled in a row after members of the Meena tribal community claimed that few Hindu groups were trying to appropriate the tribal culture. The Meenas, also known as the Meos, or Mewati, are a tribe and caste inhabiting parts of western and northern India. The Meenas claim a connection to the Matsya avatar of Vishnu and the ancient Matsya Kingdom. Bhil Meena is one such sub-division among the Meenas. As part of a Sanskritisation process, some Bhils present themselves as Meenas, who hold a higher socioeconomic status compared to the Bhil tribal people.
  69. Khairwar-State-Madhya Pradesh. It is on the brink of extinction because of the tribe members’ inability to conceive. They reside in a remote village called Harrai. There are only about 30 families left — all childless couples who are either old or middle-aged and past their reproductive age.
  70. Six communities- Koch Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Chutia, Matak, Moran and Tea Tribes have been asking the Assam government for ST Status. The Rajbongshi or Koch-Rajbongshi is an ethnic group of the ancient Koch Kingdom. The community is variously designated as OBC (Assam), SC (Bengal) and ST (Meghalaya). They inhabit parts of Lower Assam, Meghalaya, northern West Bengal, Bihar and on the eastern parts of Nepal, Bhutan and northern Bangladesh. The Koch and Rajbanshi communities are distinguished from each other in West Bengal.
  71. Gaddis mainly dwell around Dhauladhar mountain range, Chamba, Bharmaur and the areas near to Dharamshala. Main occupation is shepherding and they make their livelihood by rearing and selling sheep, goats, mules and horses. Most of them are Hindus and a few Muslims. Most attractive aspect about this tribe is their attire. Speak the Gaddi Language but for writing they use Takri and Hindi. State-Himachal Pradesh
  72. Pangwal-Inhabitants of the Pangi valley of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh. They are mostly engaged in farming. Charming faces, fine physique and for their love of song and dance.
  73. Rahabas-They are widely scattered but mostly concentrated on Goalpara, Kamrup, and Darrang in Assam. Agriculture is the main occupation. Traditionally they were very religious. Now most of them have embraced Hinduism or Christianity. They like to live in compact blocks having 50-100 families.
  74. Sema /Sumi Nagas-They are one of the major tribes of Nagaland recognized for their martial art skills. They mainly inhibit Zunheboto  They are most united and aggressive tribe. Tuluni is the major festival celebrated. They follow Christianity.
  75. Konyak-They are the largest out of 17 officially recognized tribes in Nagaland, They are known as ‘those violent headhunters with tattooed faces.’ One of the last headhunters, they now practice agriculture and hunt seasonally. The most important festival is AolingMonyu which is celebrated in spring season and the occasion is related to the sowing of seeds. More than 95% of them follow Christianity. The men wear earrings made out of deer horn, necklace made out of boar tusks and brass heads.
  76. Nyishi are the largest ethnic group in Arunachal Pradesh in north-eastern India. Also known as  Dafla or Bangni Tribe. In the local language, Nyi refers to “a man” and the word shi denotes “a being”, which combined together refers to a civilized human being. They are the most populous tribe of Arunachal Pradesh, closely followed by the tribes of the Adi. Polygyny is prevalent among the Nyishi. It signifies one’s social status and economical stability and also proves handy during hard times. Festivals: Their major festivals are Nyokum Yullo, BooriBoot Yullo, and Longte Yullo. Dance: Rikham Pada. They are spread across eight districts of Arunachal Pradesh: Kra Daadi, Kurung Kumey, East Kameng, West Kameng, Papum Pare, parts of Lower Subansiri, Kamle and Pakke Kessang district. They also live in the Sonitpur and North Lakhimpur districts of Assam. 
  77. The people of the Kolam tribe have requested authorities to help them sell their bamboo products on World Bamboo Day. The Kolam tribe is categorised as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG). They have a high rate of turning out positive to the Naked eye single tube red cell osmotic fragility test (NESTROFT) test, making them prone to the high incidences of Thalassaemia. They live in the states of Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.
  78. Garos-2nd largest tribe in Meghalaya and comprise about a third of the local population. Mainly Christians. The youngest daughter inherits the property from her mother. Matrilineal not matriarchal society. Sons leave the parents’ house at puberty, and are trained in the village bachelor dormitory. After getting married, the man lives in his wife’s house.
  79. Jaintias-Sub tribe of Khasisand since they have been residing in Jaintia hills of Meghalaya, they have been named so. The men wear Jymphong and dhoti while the women wrap several pieces of clothes so as to give a cylindrical shape. The Paraja of Odisha recently celebrated their harvest festival Pausa Purnima. The Paraja have many socio-cultural features in common with the neighbouring major tribes namely the Gond, the Kondh and the Gadaba. Their mother tongue Porji is a form of Gondi belonging to the Dravidian family of languages that varies according to local tongues like Odia or Telugu. Dance: Dhemsa dance, Khadumara dance, Dungdunga dance are some of the popular dances of the tribe.
  80. Oarons-They mainly depend on agriculture for earning their living. Most of them are engaged in the occupation of tea cultivation. They are considered to have the second largest population of tribes in Bihar and Jharkhand. They speak Kurukhlanguage related to Dravidian family. Majority of them are Hindus and are religious minded people. They worship Gods and Goddesses but a great number of these tribes have adopted Christianity. They mainly found in the state of Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal.
  81. Badagas-It is one of the oldest tribal communities in the Nilgiris. The main occupation of the people in this community is agriculture. Tea plantation is the major agriculture here. Socially, educationally and even economically advanced now. The Badaga language is a mixture of Kannada and Tamil and there is no script for this language. They are Hindus of Shiva sect.
  82. Only six tribal languages of Odisha — Santali, Ho, Soura, Munda and Kui — have a written script. Odisha has one of the most diverse tribal populations in India, with 62 tribes, including 13 particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs). There are 21 tribal languages and 74 dialects which immensely contribute to the linguistic diversity of the state.
  83. The aim of commemorating November 15, the birthday of Bhagwan Birsa Munda, as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas is to ensure that the freedom fighters from various tribal communities who fought for India’s Independence get their rightful recognition. It will also ensure that the heritage, culture and the values of the 705 tribal communities (Scheduled Tribes) that constitute approximately 10% of our population is protected and is made accessible across the nation.
  84. Hmar tribe is also called as Mhar or Mar and they are the dwellers of the North Eastern Part of India. They inhabit Meghalaya, Mizoram, Cachar, Chittagong Hill Tracts and Tripura. They gained recognition as one of the Scheduled Tribes as per the 6th Schedule of Constitution of India. Hmar tribe belonged to the Chin-Kuki-Mizo group of tribes. The festival of Hmar tribe highlights agricultural practices is Sikpuiruoi and Butukhuonglom.

Language facing Extinction

  • There are five tribal languages that are moving towards extinction in India. Linguist experts say that the most threatened language is Majhi in Sikkim.
  • Similarly, the Mahali language in eastern India, Koro in Arunachal Pradesh, Sidi in Gujarat and Dimasa in Assam are facing extinction.

Critically Endangered language

  • UNESCO has put Asur, Birhor and Korwa in its list of the world’s endangered languages with Birhor being categorised as ‘Critically Endangered’, with just 2,000 speakers left. 
  • According to UNESCO, any language that is spoken by less than 10,000 people is potentially endangered. In India, after the 1971 census, the government decided that any language spoken by less than 10,000 people need not be included in the official list of languages.

PVTGs in India

  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. In India, tribal population makes up for 8.6% of the total population.
  • 75 tribal groups have been categorized by Ministry of Home Affairs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)s. PVTGs reside in 18 States and UT of A&N Islands.
  • They have declining or stagnant populationlow level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward.
  • They generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.
  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs, spread over 18 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands) in the country (2011 census).
  • Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
  • In 2006 the government of India proposed to rename “Primitive tribal group” as Particularly vulnerable tribal group.
  • PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc.

How they are identified

Government of India follows the following criteria for identifiaction of PVTGs. 

  • Pre-agricultural level of technology
  • Low level of literacy
  • Economic backwardness
  • A declining or stagnant population.

Scheme for PVTGs in India

  • The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), came into effect from April 1, 2008.
    • The Scheme defines PVTGs as the most vulnerable among the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheme therefore seeks to prioritise their protection and development. It identifies 75 PVTGs.
    • The Scheme seeks to adopt a holistic approach to the socio-economic development of PVTGs and gives state governments flexibility in planning initiatives that are geared towards the specific socio-cultural imperatives of the specific groups at hand.
  • Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry.
  • Jiban Sampark Project of Odisha  is being undertaken in association with UNICEF.

List of PVTGs in India UPSC

State / UT Name PVTGs Name
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana 1. Bodo Gadaba 2. Bondo Poroja 3. Chenchu 4. Dongria Khond 5. Gutob Gadaba 6. Khond Poroja 7. Kolam 8. Kondareddis 9. Konda Savaras 10. Kutia Khond 11. Parengi Poroja l2. Thoti
Bihar and Jharkhand 13. Asurs 14. Birhor 15. Birjia 16. Hill Kharia 17. Konvas 18. Mal Paharia 19. Parhaiyas 20. Sauda Paharia 21. Savar
Jharkhand Same as above
Gujarat 22. Kathodi 23. Kohvalia 24. Padhar 25. Siddi 26. Kolgha
Karnataka 27. Jenu Kuruba 28. Koraga
Kerala 29. Cholanaikayan (a section of Kattunaickans) 30. Kadar 31. Kattunayakan 32. Kurumbas 33. Koraga
Madhya Pradesh and


34. Abujh Macias 35. Baigas 36. Bharias 37. Hill Korbas 38. Kamars 39. Saharias 40. Birhor
Chhattisgarh Same as above
Maharashtra 41. Katkaria (Kathodia) 42. Kolam 43. Maria Gond
Manipur 44. Marram Nagas
Odisha 45. Birhor 46. Bondo 47. Didayi 48. Dongria-Khond 49. Juangs 50. Kharias 51. Kutia Kondh 52. Lanjia Sauras 53. Lodhas 54. Mankidias 55. Paudi Bhuyans 56. Soura 57. Chuktia Bhunjia
Rajasthan 58. Seharias
Tamil Nadu 59. Kattu Nayakans 60. Kotas 61. Kurumbas 62. Irulas 63. Paniyans 64. Todas
Tripura 65. Reangs
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand 66. Buxas 67. Rajis
West Bengal 68. Birhor 69. Lodhas 70. Totos
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 71. Great Andamanese 72. Jarawas 73. Onges 74. Sentinelese 75. Shorn Pens

Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Communities

  • Denotified Tribes (DNTs), also known as Vimukta Jati, are the tribes that were listed originally under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, as Criminal Tribes and “addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences.”
  • Once a tribe became “notified” as criminal, all its members were required to register with the local magistrate, failing which they would be charged with a “crime” under the Indian Penal Code.
  • The Criminal Tribes Act was repealed in 1949 and thus ‘de-notified’ the tribal communities.
    • This Act, however, was replaced by a series of Habitual Offenders Acts, that asked police to investigate a “suspect’s” “criminal tendencies” and whether their occupation is “conducive to settled way of life.”
    • The denotified tribes were reclassified as “habitual offenders” in 1959.
  • The name “Criminal Tribes” is itself a misnomer as no definition of tribe denotes occupation, but they were identified as tribes “performing” their primary occupation. The first census was in 1871 and at that time there was no consensus nor any definition of what constitutes a “tribe”. The terms “tribe” and “caste” were used interchangeably for these tribes.
  • The Renke Commission (2008) was earlier commissioned to identify and list the DNT communities.
  • The Idate Commission appointed by the Government called for the repeal of the Habitual offenders Act to allow for inclusive development of these tribes.
  • National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNSNT)
    • The National Commission for Denotified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNSNT) is a national commission set under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, to study various developmental aspects of denotified and nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes in India.
    • The commission had following terms of reference:
      • To specify the economic interventions required for raising the living standards of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Tribes by asset creation and self-employment opportunities;
      • To recommend measures to utilize the existing channeling agencies set up for the economic development of SC/STs and OBCs for extending an economic development package to these groups, keeping in view their specific requirements; and
      • To identify programmes required for their education, development and health;
      • To make any other connected or incidental recommendation, that the Commission deems necessary.
  • Status of Denotified Tribes in India

    • It has been estimated that South Asia has the world’s largest nomadic population. In India, roughly 10 per cent of the population is Denotified and Nomadic.
    • While the number of Denotified Tribes is about 150, the population of Nomadic Tribes consists of about 500 different communities.
    • While the Denotified Tribes have almost settled in various States of the country, the Nomadic Communities continue to be largely nomadic in pursuit of their traditional professions.
  • Schemes for DNT

    • Dr. Ambedkar Pre-Matric and Post-Matric Scholarship for DNTs
    • Nanaji Deshmukh Scheme of Construction of Hostels for DNT Boys and Girls
    • From the year 2017-18, the scheme “Assistance to Voluntary Organization working for the Welfare of Other Backward Classes (OBCs)” has been extended for DNTs and EBCs as “Central Sector Scheme of Assistance for Skill Development of Backward Classes (OBCs)/ De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (DNTs)/ Economic Backward Classes (EBCs)”.
    • The government set up a Development and Welfare Board under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 under the aegis of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment for implementing development and welfare programmes for the DNT. 
    • Scheme for Economic Empowerment of DNTs (SEED) 
      • Recently, launched by Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment for the welfare of Denotified, Nomadic and Semi Nomadic Communities. 
      • Free coaching to students from these communities for Civil Services, entry to professional courses like medicine, engineering, MBA, etc.
      • Health Insurance through PMJAY of National Health Authority.
      • Livelihoods to support income generation, and
      • Housing (through PMAY/IAY)
  • Key Challenges faced by DNTs

    • A hundred-and-fifty years ago, in 1871, the British Parliament passed the notorious Criminal Tribes Act and still prevalent.
    • budget for the schemes for the development of the DNTs across six years shows a slow growth
    • remain socially and economically marginalised even now, depriving many of them of basic human rights.
    • The absence of any uniform classification across the country is among the biggest dilemmas regarding DNTs:
      • They are not enumerated separately in the Census, making it difficult to ascertain concrete figures.
      • Also, these communities are spread across SC, ST and OBC communities in different states.
      • DNTs, as a whole are not recognised as a separate social category under constitutional schedules. 
    • Many of the communities were subsumed under SC, ST or OBC, but their biggest hurdle is access to schemes and, as a first step, access to the caste certificates.
    • The Renke Commission, which submitted its report in 2008, highlighted that 50 per cent of DNTs lacked any kind of documents and 98 per cent were landless. The report brought to light various challenges that the communities faced, especially with regard to access to caste certificates, health care and school enrolment. 
  • Way Forward

    • The core and critical need is that of identity. 
    • This is the starting point to establish their claim and avail of benefits under existing schemes as well as to quantify and qualify their future needs. This alone will establish what the third component of the budget hopes to achieve — a ‘caring society’.
    • State budgets will do more justice – not only in terms of increasing allocations, but also in reaching out to those who have been deprived of their legitimate stake for one-and-a-half centuries, for no fault of theirs.
    • How well the community has been able to use and benefit the amount is what is more important.
    • It is the duty of the government that they empower these communities to avail the benefits that are created for them. The National Advisory Council reviewed all data.
    • It clearly stated that although the DNTs are spread across different backward class categories and are entitled to various schemes under these categories, they are unable to access any of these benefits.

Language Census 2011

  • A number of small and relatively lesser-known tribal languages spoken in remote corners of India have shown a decline.
  • These include the Sema language of the Naga tribe of the same name, which showed a decadal growth increase (between 2001-2011) of -89.57, the Monpa language of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland’s Phom, Odisha’s Jatapu, Himachal Pradesh’s Lahauli and Bhumij of Eastern India.
  • A list of the languages is given below:


Santali Scheduled Eastern India
Bodo Scheduled Assam
Sema Non-Scheduled Nagaland
Monpa Non-Scheduled Arunachal Pradesh
Phom Non-Scheduled Nagaland
Jatapu Non-Scheduled Odisha
Lahauli Non-Scheduled Himachal Pradesh
Bhumij Non-Scheduled Eastern India
Korwa Non-Scheduled Chhattisgarh
Rabha Non-Scheduled Assam
Maram Non-Scheduled Manipur
Sangtam Non-Scheduled Nagaland
Yimchungre Non-Scheduled Nagaland
Lepcha Non-Scheduled Sikkim
Nocte Non-Scheduled Northeastern India
Tangsa Non-Scheduled Arunachal Pradesh
Konyak Non-Scheduled Nagaland
Ao Non-Scheduled Nagaland

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