Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        

A tribe usually consists of members of society having common culture, dialect, customs etc. The tribes are often confined to a definite area and may also consist of different sub groups.

The tribal communities in India have been recognized by the Indian Constitution under ‘Schedule 5’ of the constitution. Hence the tribes recognized by the Constitution are known as ‘Scheduled Tribes’

Legal provisions for Tribes

  • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955
  • Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989: to prevent the atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996: extension of the provisions relating to the Panchayats to the Scheduled Areas.
  • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006: to recognize and vest the forest rights and occupation in forest land in forest dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwellers.

Tribal Statistics 

  • According to the 2011 census, tribals make up 8.6% of India's population.
  • There are 75 Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India.
  • The largest number of tribal communities (62) are found in Odisha.

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

Committees related to Tribes

  • Kaka Kalelkar Commission,1953 appointed under Article 340, defined Scheduled Tribes as “They lead a separate exclusive existence and are not fully assimilated in the main body of the people. They may belong to any religion.”
  • Elwin Committee (1959):To examine the functioning of Multi-Purpose Development Blocks, the basic administrative unit for all tribal development programmes.
  • N. Dhebar Commission (1960) to address the overall situation of tribal groups, including the issue of land alienation in tribal areas.
  • The Lokur Committee (1965) to look into criteria for defining Schedule Tribes.
  • The Bhuria Committee (1991)recommendations paved the way for the enactment of the PESA Act, 1996.
  • Xaxa Committee: to examine the socio-economic, educational and health status of tribal communities and recommend appropriate interventional measures to improve the same.

Changes In the Tribal Society:

  • Changes in Lifestyle: Particularly in those tribes living in or near the Urban areas.
  • Discarding traditional practices and adopting modern lifestyle:
    • For e.g., Study of Baiga tribe by R. Joshi (1984) observed the transition of fun loving baiga tribe to a stressful modern lifestyle.
  • Loss of Languages: Many of the tribal languages are on the verge of extinction due to migration, globalisation and urban centric economic growth.
    • For e.g., death of Boa language in Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
  • Decline of Egalitarian values in Tribal societies and emergence of ‘economic classes’. Such changes are more visible in tribal people from Chotanagpur working as labourers in tea gardens of Assam and North Bengal.

Tribal Issues

  • Land Rights: Tribal communities often face land alienation, displacement, and loss of traditional territories due to developmental projects, mining activities, and encroachment.
  • Livelihood and Poverty: Many tribal communities struggle with poverty, limited access to livelihood opportunities, and lack of infrastructure. They often rely on subsistence agriculture, forest resources, and traditional occupations for their sustenance.
  • Education and Healthcare: Access to quality education and healthcare facilities remains limited in tribal areas. High dropout rates, lack of schools, and inadequate healthcare infrastructure contribute to disparities in tribal communities.
  • Forest Rights and Conservation: Many tribal communities have a deep connection with forests and depend on them for their livelihoods. Balancing conservation efforts with the rights of tribal communities is essential to ensure sustainable development.
  • Social Discrimination: Tribal communities often face social discrimination, stigmatization, and marginalization. Caste-based discrimination, prejudice, and lack of awareness about their rights exacerbate their vulnerability.

Polavaram Dam Conflict:

  • Tribal communities, such as the Koya and Kondh tribes, in Andhra Pradesh oppose the construction of the Polavaram dam due to violations of their land rights, inadequate compensation, and displacement without proper rehabilitation.
  • The conflict highlights the challenge of balancing development projects with the protection of tribal rights and cultural heritage.

Forest Rights Act (FRA) Violation:

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change released amended Forest Conservation Rules (FCR), 2022, omitting the clause requiring consent from local tribespeople and forest dwellers before forest land diversion.
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) invoked its power to requisition FRA implementation reports, leading to a dispute with the Union Environment Ministry over potential violations of tribal rights.


Indian society exhibits resilience, unity in diversity, and a spirit of inclusivity. It has made significant strides in various fields, such as education, technology, arts, and sports, and has produced accomplished individuals who have made their mark globally. It is important for Indian society to continue fostering an environment of tolerance, acceptance, and respect for diversity. By promoting education, awareness, and social reforms, Indian society can strive towards creating a more equitable, harmonious, and progressive nation. 

Overall, Indian society is a dynamic entity that is constantly evolving and adapting to meet the challenges of the present while preserving its cultural roots. With concerted efforts and collective participation, Indian society has the potential to overcome its challenges and create a brighter future for all its citizens.


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