SHOMPEN TRIBE (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Vulnerable Section)

News-CRUX-10     20th April 2024        
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Context: Recently, members of the Shompen, one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in the country, participated in the election process for the first time by casting their votes in the Andaman and Nicobar Lok Sabha constituency.

Shompen Tribe

  • About: These are one of the most isolated tribes on Earth, residing in the dense tropical rainforest of Great Nicobar Island in the Andaman and Nicobar group of Islands.
  • Limited Study and Census Data: They are one of the least studied Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India, with only limited information available despite a census conducted in 2011 estimating their population at 229.
  • Refusal of Outside Contact: Most Shompen individuals remain uncontacted, displaying a reluctance to interact with outsiders and preferring to maintain their isolation.
  • Territorial Identification: Living in small groups, Shompen territories are identified by the rivers that weave through the rainforest, marking boundaries.
  • Traditional Livelihood Practices: As semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers, their livelihood revolves around hunting, gathering, fishing, and rudimentary horticultural activities.
  • Language: Shompen speak their own language with multiple dialects, often unintelligible between bands.
  • Physical Characteristics: Shompen individuals typically exhibit features such as short to medium stature, round or broad head shape, narrow nose, light brown to yellow-brown skin, and oblique eye features, reflecting Mongoloid ancestry.
  • Family Structure: Shompen families consist of nuclear units, typically comprising a husband, wife, and unmarried children. 

o The eldest male member holds authority over family affairs, with monogamy being prevalent but polygamy also permitted.

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