Tribal and Indigenous - Holy Cross International Justice Office

Tribal and Indigenous - Holy Cross International Justice Office

Tribal and Indigenous - Holy Cross International Justice Office


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8 Promoting <strong>Tribal</strong> Rights <strong>and</strong> Culture<br />


IN INDIA<br />

John B. Mundu<br />

There are two streams in the underst<strong>and</strong>ing of the tribal<br />

<strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples in India: 1) the tribal self-underst<strong>and</strong>ing;<br />

2) the ruling elite’s underst<strong>and</strong>ing. The latter is headed <strong>and</strong> guided<br />

by the country’s leaders <strong>and</strong> the anthropologists/sociologists who<br />

belong to the high castes <strong>and</strong> upper classes <strong>and</strong> espouse the<br />

sanskritising <strong>and</strong> modernising models. In reality both streams of<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>ing deeply contradict each other.<br />

The Ruling Elite’s Underst<strong>and</strong>ing of <strong>Tribal</strong>s<br />

When the time came for writing the Indian Constitution after<br />

Independence, there were only a h<strong>and</strong>ful of persons to represent the<br />

interests of the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples. The ruling class was<br />

faced with the existence of these peoples spread out in all parts of the<br />

country. Three main theories (isolation, assimilation <strong>and</strong> integration)<br />

were proposed to face the question of the tribals. The Constituent<br />

Assembly chose the third theory (Areeparampil 2002: 242).<br />

Accordingly, two constitutional arrangements were made. First, a<br />

state-wise list of tribes was drawn <strong>and</strong> it was left to the Parliament to<br />

officially determine the list of the Scheduled Tribes (STs) from time<br />

to time. Second, the provisions for the administration <strong>and</strong> control of<br />

Scheduled Areas <strong>and</strong> Scheduled Tribes were made <strong>and</strong> were<br />

incorporated in the Fifth <strong>and</strong> Sixth Schedules of the Constitution.<br />

The Fifth Schedule notifies <strong>and</strong> denotifies who is a ‘tribal’ by a<br />

sheer majoritarian act of the Parliament <strong>and</strong> the Sixth Schedule<br />

professedly protects the tribals. In practice, these betray a clear leaning<br />

towards the assimilationist approach of the high-caste <strong>and</strong> upperclass<br />

combine of the majority community, <strong>and</strong> policies <strong>and</strong> laws are<br />

Fr. John B. Mundu SJ, is a lecturer at the Regional Theological Centre, Boreya<br />

P.O., Ranchi Dt., 835 240. He is a scholar of the HO tribal culture <strong>and</strong> religion.<br />

For the sake of brevity, a few passages <strong>and</strong> references have been omitted.<br />

thrust down on the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples. An irony is that<br />

one remains a member of a tribe only within the state he/she is enlisted<br />

<strong>and</strong> not in other states. This denies the identity of a person <strong>and</strong> his<br />

community as tribal. Moreover, one has to produce a certificate from<br />

the government to prove that he/she is a tribal, which is contrary to<br />

the reality. The underst<strong>and</strong>ing of the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples is<br />

‘once-for-all’ fixed in the Constitution (Art. 342). Thereafter, it is<br />

left to the Government to do whatever it wants with this group of<br />

people.<br />

The perception of the Constitution is basically juridical <strong>and</strong><br />

protective in nature, but from the perspective of the rulers <strong>and</strong><br />

not the people. The history of the indigenous peoples <strong>and</strong> their<br />

struggles against all types of groups testifies to their determination<br />

to assert their distinct peoplehood. 1 The monumental work of K.S.<br />

Singh, The Scheduled Tribes: People of India, represents the<br />

Government’s point of view. He writes: “Any discussion of tribes in<br />

India has to proceed from the assumption that a tribe is an<br />

administrative <strong>and</strong> political concept in India” (Singh 1997: xiii). This<br />

work provides a comprehensive introduction to 461 tribal<br />

communities found in different parts of India.<br />

The common English terms in India for the members of the tribal<br />

communities are tribals, tribes. In Hindi a section of the majority<br />

community uses girijan (hill people) or banvasi (forest dwellers).<br />

The Constitution of India uses the term Scheduled Tribes in its English<br />

version <strong>and</strong> anusuchit janjati in its Hindi version. We have already<br />

shown how these terms have derogatory <strong>and</strong> discriminatory<br />

connotations.<br />

The <strong>Tribal</strong>/<strong>Indigenous</strong> Self-Underst<strong>and</strong>ing<br />

What do the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples say about<br />

themselves? In order to answer this question, we need to differentiate<br />

a-historical (mythical) <strong>and</strong> historical consciousness. These two levels<br />

are not mutually exclusive, rather at one point of time one is<br />

overstressed <strong>and</strong> the other underplayed. One is not to be preferred<br />

over the other either, because each of them is on a different plane.<br />

Ahistorical consciousness highlights that there is reality beyond<br />

history, while historical consciousness stresses the historical<br />

conditioning of reality <strong>and</strong> tends to limit itself to history. The tribal

<strong>Tribal</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Indigenous</strong> Peoples in India 9 10 Promoting <strong>Tribal</strong> Rights <strong>and</strong> Culture<br />

<strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples overstress ahistorical consciousness in their<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>ing of reality. Therefore, they underst<strong>and</strong> themselves<br />

primarily in terms of their being in contrast to other beings among<br />

whom they find themselves. They use terms which basically mean<br />

“man” (including both male <strong>and</strong> female). For example, the Mikirs<br />

use Arleng, the Garos M<strong>and</strong>e, Boros Kacharias <strong>and</strong> Koayens Singpho<br />

(Chattopadhyay 1978: 2). In Jharkh<strong>and</strong>, the Mundas use Horo (sing.)<br />

<strong>and</strong> Horoko (pl.), the Santals Hor, <strong>and</strong> Hos Ho. In all these instances<br />

the term used points to the meaning of human being in contrast to<br />

non-human beings. But in relation to non-tribal fellow human beings,<br />

they call themselves Adivasis, a term replete with the historical<br />

consciousness of the people.<br />

The self-identification of the historically conscious tribal<br />

communities indeed uses the Sanskrit term Adivasi (adi = first,<br />

original, vasi = dweller, inhabitant; thus literally meaning the first<br />

or aboriginal dwellers) in relation to the other communities who<br />

made inroads into their homel<strong>and</strong>s. This term has found widespread<br />

acceptance among the members of the tribal communities all over<br />

India. (Among the Mundas <strong>and</strong> the Hos, this meaning is even reflected<br />

in the customary laws of succession <strong>and</strong> inheritance.) It points to<br />

their distinct identity, history <strong>and</strong> culture in the Indian socio-political<br />

context. This self-identification as Adivasi corresponds to the modern<br />

concept of indigenous peoples. The <strong>International</strong> Working Group for<br />

<strong>Indigenous</strong> Affairs (IWGIA) thus states: As Adivasis, “we are people<br />

with distinct historical, political <strong>and</strong> cultural identities. We are<br />

united by our histories as distinct societies, by our languages,<br />

laws, traditions <strong>and</strong> unique spiritual <strong>and</strong> economic relationships<br />

with our l<strong>and</strong>s <strong>and</strong> territories” (IWGIA 2000: 395).<br />

In spite of such powerful assertions by the indigenous peoples,<br />

the government of India refuses to acknowledge the presence of<br />

indigenous peoples in the country, by saying that all the tribals have<br />

been absorbed in various degrees into the wider society. The silence<br />

of the Indian Government delegation at the Commission on Human<br />

Rights (Working Group of 1999) unfortunately reflects the ambiguous<br />

position of the Indian Government in the international forums (IWGIA<br />

2000: 402). In fact, “the Indian state <strong>and</strong> the Indian ruling class<br />

have followed a policy that has tried to assimilate the tribal societies<br />

into the ‘mainstream’ under the name of ‘integration’” (Lourduswamy<br />

1997: 4). Integration is indeed understood as assimilation into<br />

the majority community which rules the country.<br />

The Adivasis or “the Scheduled Tribes are the earliest inhabitants<br />

or indigenous people of the country, who were unable to defend<br />

themselves <strong>and</strong> were gradually forced to recede before the invading<br />

hoards of such people as the Dravidians, Indo-Aryans <strong>and</strong> Mongolians<br />

coming from the West, North West <strong>and</strong> North East respectively, who<br />

were not only superior in numerical strength but also in mechanical<br />

equipment” (Das 2000: 1-2). Their traditional stories tell us that it is<br />

they who cleared the inhospitable dense forest tract <strong>and</strong> made it<br />

habitable.<br />

Regarding the Munda tribe, which would be equally true for other<br />

tribes, Hoffman writes: “As far as we can look back into the remotest<br />

past, we find the Mundas waging war against the wild beasts of the<br />

forests <strong>and</strong> daring their deadly fevers, to ‘snatch’, as they put it, field<br />

after field <strong>and</strong> village after village from the jaw of the tiger <strong>and</strong> the<br />

fang of the snake. When they had thus (prepared) large tracts, hordes<br />

of invaders, one after the other, always came putting them in the<br />

alternative either to ab<strong>and</strong>on their property, to serve on it as slaves,<br />

or to risk their lives for its defense. And they are despised as a weak<br />

<strong>and</strong> backward race, unfit to survive, because they generally preferred<br />

to ab<strong>and</strong>on to their aggressors the fruits of their labours, <strong>and</strong> to go<br />

<strong>and</strong> snatch more new fields from more wild beasts in forests farther<br />

away from the ‘civilisation’ of the strong invading races, until at the<br />

beginning of this (20 th ) century, the few remaining forests of inner<br />

India were closed against them” (Hoffman 1930: 461). It is clear<br />

from this citation that, due to their original relationship with the<br />

l<strong>and</strong>, the term “Adivasi” appropriately fits as the tribal selfidentification.<br />

Geographical Distribution of <strong>Indigenous</strong> Peoples<br />

The IWGIA has highlighted the presence of tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous<br />

peoples throughout the continents of the world: Inuit 100,00, North<br />

America 1.5 mn, Mexico <strong>and</strong> Central America 13 mn, Highl<strong>and</strong><br />

Indigenes 17.5 mn, Lowl<strong>and</strong> Indigenes 1 mn, West African Nomads<br />

8 mn, East African Nomads 6 mn, Pygmies 250,000, San <strong>and</strong> Basarwa<br />

100,000, Pacific 1.5 mn, Australian Aborigines 250,000, Maori<br />

350,000, Sami 80,000, Russia 1 mn, West Asia 7 mn, South Asia 51

<strong>Tribal</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Indigenous</strong> Peoples in India 11 12 Promoting <strong>Tribal</strong> Rights <strong>and</strong> Culture<br />

mn, East Asia 67 mn, South East Asia 30 mn (IWGIA 2000: 4-5).<br />

Other estimates speak of more than 300 mn indigenous people living<br />

in more than 70 countries. In India alone, there were 67,758,380<br />

Adivasis in 1991 – 7.95% of the total population (1991 Census).<br />

Only 9.95% of the ST population was then residing in urban areas,<br />

compared to 25.7% of the total population. The STs are spread in all<br />

the states of India except Punjab <strong>and</strong> Haryana, <strong>and</strong> over all the Union<br />

Territories except Ch<strong>and</strong>igarh, Delhi <strong>and</strong> Pondicherry, because no<br />

ST has been listed in them as per the Presidential Order (N<strong>and</strong>a 1993:<br />

6).<br />

The tribal population of India mainly inhabits in the forest <strong>and</strong><br />

hilly areas of the country. There are 635 official communities (Singh<br />

1992: 210) <strong>and</strong> many more unlisted groups of tribals located in<br />

different geographical areas, speaking a variety of languages. In spite<br />

of their diversity, the tribals are united at the level of myths. What<br />

unites them all over the country is their cosmothe<strong>and</strong>ric vision of<br />

reality. In other words, they look at reality as a whole: the nature,<br />

divine <strong>and</strong> human are understood as constituents of every reality.<br />

This cosmothe<strong>and</strong>ric vision is enshrined in their myths (stories of<br />

the origins of human beings, other beings <strong>and</strong> the earth) <strong>and</strong> enfleshed<br />

in their rites of passage <strong>and</strong> social institutions (family, clan, village<br />

<strong>and</strong> tribe). It is also lived out in the socio-economic <strong>and</strong> political<br />

activities of day-to-day life. 2<br />

The areas inhabited by the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples are “the<br />

entire eastern part of the Satpura mountain, eastern Gujarat, sub-<br />

Himalayan regions, Central Plateau, Vindhyan mountain, Western<br />

Ghat in the south of the Krishna river <strong>and</strong> the isolated region of<br />

Andaman <strong>and</strong> Nicobar Isl<strong>and</strong>s” (Tiwari: 3). The tribal population<br />

may therefore be broadly divided into four distinct geographical<br />

zones in India: 1) North <strong>and</strong> North Eastern Zone; 2) Central Zone;<br />

3) Southern Zone; <strong>and</strong> 4) Andaman <strong>and</strong> Nicobar Isl<strong>and</strong>s. 3<br />

1. The North <strong>and</strong> North Eastern <strong>Tribal</strong> Zone comprises the entire<br />

sub-Himalayan regions, the mountain ranges of North Eastern India,<br />

the Tista Valley <strong>and</strong> the Yamun-Padma doab of the Brahmaputra river.<br />

The states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagal<strong>and</strong>, Meghalaya,<br />

Mizoram, Manipur <strong>and</strong> Tripura are situated within this area. These<br />

seven states of the Northeast are the home of 182 tribal communities.<br />

Arunachal Pradesh alone has as many as 62 tribal communities (Singh<br />

2002: 293-4). The North Eastern hilly tracts are the home of the Naga<br />

tribes. In Arunachal, the main tribes are the Akas, Abors, Miris <strong>and</strong><br />

Daflas. In Manipur <strong>and</strong> Meghalaya, the Kuki Chins, Lushais, Lakhers,<br />

Garos <strong>and</strong> Khasis are the main tribes. About 13% of the tribal<br />

population of the country lives in this zone.<br />

2. The Central Zone is separated from the North Eastern zone by<br />

the Garo <strong>and</strong> Rajmahal hills. This zone comprises the hills <strong>and</strong> plateau<br />

area which extend to the river Ganges in the north <strong>and</strong> the Krishna<br />

river in the south. Within this zone are the states of Madhya Pradesh,<br />

Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Southern Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar,<br />

Jharkh<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> Orissa. This zone has the highest ST concentration.<br />

The Central Zone has about 244 tribal communities. In Orissa,<br />

the Savar, Gadaba, Khond, Korwa, Juang <strong>and</strong> Bhuian tribes are found<br />

in the hilly tracts of the state. The Korku, Agaria, Pradhan <strong>and</strong> Baiga<br />

tribes inhabit the Satpura <strong>and</strong> Maikal hills. In the Bastar district of<br />

Madhya Pradesh, the Muria, Abujhmar, Hill Muriya, Koya <strong>and</strong> other<br />

tribes are found. Andhra Pradesh <strong>and</strong> Madhya Pradesh are full of the<br />

Gond tribe. Therefore, peninsular India is known as the Gondwana<br />

l<strong>and</strong>. Rajasthan has the Bhil, Garasia, Sohria, Rawat <strong>and</strong> Mina tribes.<br />

In Gujarat, the Dhodias, Bhils, Daffars, Patelias, Dublas <strong>and</strong> Kolis<br />

are the main tribes. About 81% of the total tribal population lives in<br />

this zone. Some scholars however classify the Western zone separately,<br />

with the tribals residing in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa,<br />

Dadra <strong>and</strong> Nagar Haveli.<br />

3. The Southern <strong>Tribal</strong> Zone consists of the states of Karnataka,<br />

south Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala <strong>and</strong> South Maharashtra<br />

districts. In this region the most significant tribes are the Chenchus,<br />

Kotas, Paniyas, Todas, Kadars, Uralis, Badgas, Irullas, Muthuwan<br />

<strong>and</strong> Kurumba Malap<strong>and</strong>arams, Reddis <strong>and</strong> Koyas. This zone extends<br />

from Wayanad to Kanyakumari. 4. The Isl<strong>and</strong>s of Andaman <strong>and</strong><br />

Nicobar are the home of the Onga, Jarawa, Sentili, Andamani <strong>and</strong><br />

Nicobari tribes.<br />

The Origins of Present-Day <strong>Tribal</strong> Locations<br />

“How did the tribes settle down in their respective present<br />

locations?” is a perplexing question. Our aim here is not to offer a<br />

convincing theory but to point to the validity of the traditions of each

<strong>Tribal</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Indigenous</strong> Peoples in India 13 14 Promoting <strong>Tribal</strong> Rights <strong>and</strong> Culture<br />

community’s w<strong>and</strong>erings in the past centuries (till they could w<strong>and</strong>er<br />

no more) to acquire for themselves a l<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> preserve their identity<br />

as a people. Since the 18 th century the history of the tribals is preserved<br />

in their oral traditions. These traditions is their story in their own<br />

language. There are works which have made an attempt to trace the<br />

history of the tribes from the Hindu Scriptures <strong>and</strong> the kingly dynastic<br />

histories. 4 These attempts are from the point of view of the ruling<br />

<strong>and</strong> invading groups or classes. We know how the tribes kept a separate<br />

identity from these groups till today, which is seen in their religious<br />

<strong>and</strong> social institutions, beliefs, practices <strong>and</strong> relationships, economic<br />

<strong>and</strong> political structures, till the modern nation state subsumed them<br />

within itself. The past of the tribals is kept alive in their oral traditions.<br />

The oral tradition is found in the form of myths <strong>and</strong> the history<br />

preserved in their family tree (kursinama), sayings, songs <strong>and</strong> burial<br />

grounds. These oral traditions disclose two things: one, how the<br />

tribes have been driven out of their homel<strong>and</strong>s by the latecomers<br />

who were superior in human cunningness <strong>and</strong> technology; <strong>and</strong> second,<br />

how the tribes loved to struggle in order to preserve their identity<br />

<strong>and</strong> homel<strong>and</strong>. The following translation of a Santal song thus speaks<br />

of this story:<br />

“For just one span of stomach<br />

(just to get a little food),<br />

Just to stay alive,<br />

I have w<strong>and</strong>ered from country to country,<br />

I have travelled twelve (i.e. a great number) countries.”<br />

(Quoted by Areeparampil 2002: 24).<br />

Traditional History of Migrations<br />

By traditional history of migrations, I mean the historical details<br />

which the tribes still h<strong>and</strong> on today, now in the written form. Peoples<br />

remain peoples in their memory of the history of their ancestors, in<br />

which the factual details are not so important as the meaning of the<br />

history. In the following paragraphs I will present, as illustrations, a<br />

sketchy traditional history of a few tribes of the central zone.<br />

There are many traditions of the Mundas which represent them<br />

as a people w<strong>and</strong>ering from one homel<strong>and</strong> to another. After the Aryan<br />

invasion, the Mundas appear to have come <strong>and</strong> settled in Azimgarh.<br />

From there, they migrated (rather were pushed out) to Kalangjar,<br />

Garh Chitra, Garh Nagarwar, Garh Dharwar, Garh Pali, Garh Pipra,<br />

M<strong>and</strong>ar Pahar, Bijnagarh, Hardinagarh, Laknougarh, N<strong>and</strong>angarh,<br />

Rijgarh <strong>and</strong> Ruidasgarh. From Ruidasgarh they moved southward<br />

<strong>and</strong> after crossing Burumaghat, they arrived at Omed<strong>and</strong>a in<br />

Jharkh<strong>and</strong>. 5<br />

The traditional history of the Santals w<strong>and</strong>ering for a homel<strong>and</strong><br />

is summarised in the following four lines:<br />

“In Hihiri Pipiri we were born,<br />

In Khoj Kaman we were called for,<br />

In Harata we grew up,<br />

In Sasan Beda we became septs.”<br />

(Troisi 1978: 32)<br />

After the division of the tribe into septs, the Santals came to Jarpi<br />

country, a mountainous region. From there through the Sin Pass <strong>and</strong><br />

Baih Pass they entered Aere. They then went to Kaende, Chae <strong>and</strong><br />

finally Champa. There, the Santals lived in prosperity, having their<br />

own kings for a long time. (Each sept had its own fort.) They were<br />

under no one. The kings were persons of the Kisku sept, the priests<br />

were from the Murmus, the Sorens were the fighters, the Hembroms<br />

the nobility, Mar<strong>and</strong>is the wealthy class, Tudus the drummers <strong>and</strong><br />

dancers, <strong>and</strong> Baskes the merchants. We see here a replica of an<br />

urbanised Hindu society. (At Champa, several groups like the Mundas,<br />

Birhors <strong>and</strong> Kurmis were all known by the common name Kharwar.)<br />

The numerous Santal migrations continued till they were dispersed<br />

to Sir, Sikhar <strong>and</strong> Nagpur. From that time they were mostly under the<br />

dekos (non-tribals). Later on, the tribe came to Tundi <strong>and</strong> then to<br />

Santal Pargana.<br />

Another major tribe of the central zone is the Oraons. 6 According<br />

to their traditions, they once lived in Ajabgarh. From there they came<br />

to Rohtasgarh. It was their golden period... It is noteworthy that the<br />

traditions of the Mundas, Kharias, Oraons, Kharwars, Cheros <strong>and</strong><br />

Santals speak of them as having once lived in the Rohtasgarh area<br />

before settling down in Jharkh<strong>and</strong>. Rohtasgarh was a dense forest<br />

area. Therefore, different tribes as well as Hindus <strong>and</strong> Muslims wanted<br />

to get hold of the Chotanagpur plateau, where several tribes settled<br />

in different areas.

<strong>Tribal</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Indigenous</strong> Peoples in India 15 16 Promoting <strong>Tribal</strong> Rights <strong>and</strong> Culture<br />

Racial <strong>and</strong> Linguistic Groups<br />

The tribes in India are basically derived from four racial<br />

stocks, the Negrito (the Great Andamanese, Onges <strong>and</strong> Jarawas), the<br />

Proto-Austroloid (the Mundas, Oraons <strong>and</strong> Gonds), the Mongoloid<br />

(the tribes of the Northeast) <strong>and</strong> the Caucasoid (the Todas, Rabaris<br />

<strong>and</strong> Gijjars) (Singh 1994: 4; Tiwari: 6-7; <strong>and</strong> Fuchs 1974: 23-37).<br />

B.S. Guha has also identified four types of tribes on the basis of<br />

morphological characters. 7<br />

Linguistically, the Indian tribes are grouped under four<br />

families. (1) The Austro-Asiatic family has two branches <strong>and</strong> 30<br />

languages: the Mon-Khemer branch with the Khasi <strong>and</strong> Nicobari<br />

languages <strong>and</strong> the Munda branch to which the Santali, Kherwari,<br />

Mundari, Ho, Gondi, Kharia, Savara, Gond, Gadaba <strong>and</strong> other<br />

languages belong. (2) The Tibeto-Chinese family has 143 languages.<br />

Most of the languages spoken by the North eastern tribes belong to<br />

this family, such as Khampti, Bhutia, Lahauli, Swangli, Lepcha, Miri,<br />

Angami, Manipuri, Thado, Naga, etc.<br />

(3) The Dravidian family. There are 107 languages in this family.<br />

To name a few of them: Korawa, Yerukula, Todo, Oraon, Maler, Kui,<br />

Khond, Gondi, etc. (4) The Indo-Aryan family has 163 languages<br />

like Hajong <strong>and</strong> Bhili. According to K.S. Singh however, the tribal<br />

communities should be grouped under five major linguistic families:<br />

Indo-Aryan (191 languages), Dravidian (123), Tibeto-Burman (146),<br />

Austro-Asiatic (30), <strong>and</strong> Andamanese (4) (Singh 1992: 223). In<br />

practice, due to cultural contacts <strong>and</strong> the spread of modern education,<br />

bilingualism <strong>and</strong> even trilingualism is common among the tribal<br />

communities. In many states, a large number of the STs are bilingual.<br />

Growth of <strong>Tribal</strong> Population in India<br />

The ST total population grew from 22.51 mn in 1951 to 38.06 mn<br />

in 1971 <strong>and</strong> 67.76 mn in 1991. (We were not able to get the figures of<br />

the 2001 Census.) State-wise, the 1991 ST population was as follows<br />

(in million): AP 4.2, Arunachal Pradesh 0.55, Assam 2.87, Bihar 6.6,<br />

Gujarat 6.2, Himachal Pradesh 0.22, Karnataka 1.9, Kerala 0.3, MP<br />

15.4, MS 7.3, Manipur 0.63, Meghalaya 1.5, Mizoram 0.65, Nagal<strong>and</strong><br />

1.06, Orissa 7, Rajasthan 5.5, Sikkim 0.09, TN 0.57, Tripura 0.85,<br />

UP 0.29 <strong>and</strong> WB 3.8. In the Union Territories (UTs), it was:<br />

Andaman & Nicobar 0.03, Dadra & Nagar Haveli 0.1, Daman & Diu<br />

0.01, Lakshadweep 0.05. In the other states <strong>and</strong> UTs, nobody was<br />

scheduled as ST (N<strong>and</strong>a 1993: 190-6; <strong>and</strong> Tiwari: 7-8). The percentage<br />

of the STs to the population of the state/UT was highest in Mizoram<br />

(94.7), followed by Lakshadweep (93.8), Meghalaya (85.5) <strong>and</strong> Dadra<br />

<strong>and</strong> Nagar Haveli (79). The lowest percentages were in UP (0.2),<br />

followed by Kerala (1.1) <strong>and</strong> TN (1.0). Among the 15 major states,<br />

MP has the largest percentage of ST population (23.3), followed by<br />

Orissa (22.2), Gujarat (14.9), Assam (12.8), <strong>and</strong> Rajasthan (12.4).<br />

The Need for Change<br />

We have looked at the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples in India from<br />

their perspective in the present socio-political context. The tribal <strong>and</strong><br />

indigenous peoples are part <strong>and</strong> parcel of India <strong>and</strong> its Constitution<br />

is valid in relation to their relationships with the rest of the community.<br />

Nevertheless, due to the unscrupulous attitudes of the majority<br />

community, the tribals’ neighbours <strong>and</strong> the Government officials, the<br />

tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples’ situation is getting worse in<br />

comparison to that of the general population. They are facing the<br />

loss of their identity <strong>and</strong> basic human dignity as well as of their<br />

ancestral homel<strong>and</strong>s <strong>and</strong> means of livelihood through the<br />

government policies <strong>and</strong> programmes in the name of ‘national<br />

integration’ <strong>and</strong> development.<br />

No amount of expenditure in the name of the development of the<br />

tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples will help them – unless there is a<br />

radical transformation of the repressive <strong>and</strong> unethical<br />

assimilationist policies of social engineering, economic<br />

development <strong>and</strong> political governance which are made by the<br />

caste-minded high-class ruling elite of the country. All the<br />

‘civilisations’ of the world which have come <strong>and</strong> gone were built on<br />

the homel<strong>and</strong> of the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples. Will the people<br />

of the world <strong>and</strong> India realise that they can no longer feed<br />

themselves on the tribal <strong>and</strong> indigenous peoples <strong>and</strong> remain<br />

prosperous for long?<br />

NOTES<br />

1. The tribal struggles to maintain their identity were ruthlessly crushed<br />

both before <strong>and</strong> after Independence in India. See Jagadish Ch<strong>and</strong>ra Jha,<br />

The <strong>Tribal</strong> Revolt of Chotanagpur 1831-1832, Kaship Jayaswal Research

<strong>Tribal</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>Indigenous</strong> Peoples in India 17<br />

Institute, Patna, 1987; <strong>and</strong> A.C. Mittal <strong>and</strong> J.B. Sharma (eds.), <strong>Tribal</strong><br />

Movement, Politics <strong>and</strong> Religion in India, 3 Vols., Radha Publications, New<br />

Delhi, 1998. 2. John B. Mundu, The Ho Christian Community..., Media<br />

House, Delhi, 2003 especially chapters 2-4. 3. K.S. Singh (1994: 1212-28)<br />

gives a list of the 635 tribes of India with an ethnographic description. 4. One<br />

such work is that of Mamata Choudhary, Tribes of Ancient India, Indian<br />

Museum, Calcutta, 1977. This book looks at the tribes from the perspective<br />

of caste-based Hindu society. 5. For details, see for example S.C. Roy, The<br />

Mundas <strong>and</strong> Their Country, Asia Publishing House, Bombay, 1970; J.B.<br />

Hoffman, Encyclopedia Mundarica, Vols. 1-16, Gyan Publishing House,<br />

1990 reprint; <strong>and</strong> E.T. Dalton, <strong>Tribal</strong> History of Eastern India, New Delhi,<br />

1973, reprint, which considers many main tribes of the central zone. On the<br />

Kharias, see S.C. Roy <strong>and</strong> R.C. Roy, The Kharias, Man in India <strong>Office</strong>,<br />

Ranchi, 1937, <strong>and</strong> Antony Doongdoong, The Kharias of Chotanagpur,<br />

Ranchi, 1981. 6. For details, see S.C. Roy, Oraon Religion <strong>and</strong> Customs,<br />

Man in India <strong>Office</strong>, Ranchi, 1928, reprint 1972. 7. B.S. Guha, in Census of<br />

India 1931, Vol. I, Part III-A & B, Manager of Publications, Delhi, 1935.<br />


1. Areeparampil Mathew, 2002, Struggle for Swaraj: A History of Adivasi<br />

Movements in Jharkh<strong>and</strong>, <strong>Tribal</strong> Training <strong>and</strong> Research Centre, Chaibasa.<br />

2. Bodding P.O., 2001, Traditions <strong>and</strong> Institutions of the Santals, Gyan<br />

Publishing House, New Delhi, reprint. 3. Chattopadhyay Kamladevi, 1978,<br />

<strong>Tribal</strong>ism in India, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi. 4. Das S.T., 2000,<br />

Life Style: Indian Tribes: Locational Practice, Vol. 1, Gyan Publishing House,<br />

New Delhi. 5. Fuchs Stephen, 1974, The Aboriginal Tribes of India,<br />

Macmillan, Delhi. 6. Hutton J.H., 1986, Census of India 1931: With Complete<br />

Survey of <strong>Tribal</strong> Life <strong>and</strong> Systems, Gyan Publishing House, Delhi, Vols. 1-3.<br />

7. IWGIA (<strong>International</strong> Working Group for <strong>Indigenous</strong> Affairs), 2000, The<br />

<strong>Indigenous</strong> World, Copenhagen. 8. Lourdusamy Stan, 1997, Jharkh<strong>and</strong>’s<br />

Claim for Self-Rule, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi. 9. N<strong>and</strong>a Amulya<br />

Ratna, Census of India 1991, Paper 1 of 1993, Abstract for SCs <strong>and</strong> STs,<br />

The Controller of Publications, Delhi, especially 190-6. 10. Sachchidan<strong>and</strong>a<br />

& R.R. Prasad (eds.), 1998, Encyclopedic Profile of Indian Tribes, Vols. 1-<br />

4, Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi. 11. Singh K.S., 1997, The<br />

Scheduled Tribes, People of India, National Series Vol. 3, Oxford University<br />

Press. 12. -- --, 2002, People of India: An Introduction, National Series Vol.<br />

1, ibid. 13. Tiwari R.K., in An<strong>and</strong> Bhusan et al., The <strong>Tribal</strong> Scene in<br />

Jharkh<strong>and</strong>, Novelty <strong>and</strong> Company, Patna. 14. Troisi Joseph, 1978, <strong>Tribal</strong><br />

Religion, Manohar Publication, New Delhi. 15. -- --, 1979, The Santals:<br />

Readings in <strong>Tribal</strong> Life, Vols. 1-10 (mimeograph), Indian Social Institute,<br />

New Delhi.

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