SPR 2020: Tribes in News

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In this article we will read about:

  1. Scheduled tribes and constitutional and legal provisions for them.
  2. Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  3. Tribes that have been in news in 2019 and 2020. 

Important facts about tribes in India

  • 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 who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.
  • 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.

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 which 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 identified in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Puducherry.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

  • 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.
  • Later 23 groups were added to the category making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 18 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands) in the country (2011 census).
  • Characteristics of PVTG’s:
    1. Declining or stagnant population,
    2. Low level of literacy,
    3. Pre-agricultural level of technology,
    4. Economically backwards,
    5. Generally, inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.
  • The highest number is found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).
  • These hunting, food-gathering, and some agricultural communities have been identified as less acculturated tribes among the tribal population groups and in need of special programmes for their sustainable development.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them.
    • 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.
    • Priority is also assigned to PVTGs under the schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme (TSS), Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organizations working for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes and Strengthening of Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts.



Legal Provisions

  • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955: against untouchability.
  • Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989: to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
  • Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996: to provide for the extension of the provisions of Part IX of the Constitution 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.

Committees Related to Tribal Communities

  1. Xaxa Committee (2013)
  2. Bhuria Commission (2002-2004)
  3. Lokur Committee (1965)


Main Problems Faced by the Indian Tribes
  1. Loss of control over natural resources: 
    • Loss of ownership rights over land, owing to chronic indebtedness, unscrupulous landlords, money­lenders, contractors and officials.
    • Land alienation due to changes in demography and socio-cultural spheres resulted from large scale immigration to some states like Assam.
  2. Lack of education:
    • The literacy rate as per Census 2011 is 73% but for STs is 59% only.
    • It leads to tribal superstitions and prejudices, extreme poverty, nomadic lifestyle of certain tribes, lack of interest in alien subjects taught through an alien language and a lack of suitable teachers and other facilities in the tribal areas.
  3. Displacement and rehabilitation: 
    • Acquisition of tribal land by the government for developmental projects led to large scale displacement of the tribal population.
    • Tribals forced to live in peripheries in slums or to migrate to adjoining states to work as unskilled workers in conditions of poverty. 
  4. Problems of health and nutrition: 
    • Due to economic backwardness and insecure livelihood, the tribals face health problems, diseases like malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and jaundice,
    • problems associated with malnutrition like iron deficiency and anaemia, high infant mortality rates, low levels of life expectancy, etc.
  5. Gender issues: 
    • Degradation of the natural environment, through the destruction of forests and a rapidly shrinking resource base, has had its impact on the status of women.
  6. Erosion of identity:
    • Traditional institutions and laws are coming into conflict with modern institutions which create apprehensions among the tribals about preserving their identity.
    • Extinction of tribal dialects and languages is a major concern as it indicates an erosion of tribal identity in certain areas.
  7. Exclusion and isolation: Tribals face untouchability, including physical exclusion, the assumption of criminality.
  8. Climate change: Changing agricultural and hunting practices, rising temperature and water scarcity across the world puts them at most risk. 


Tribes in News


Tribe State/s Important Facts


Bonda/Bondas/Bondo/Remo Tribe



  • Members of a group of Austroasiatic tribes.
  • Believed to be part of the first wave of migration out of Africa about 60,000 years ago.
  • First forest settlers in India.
  • Location: Live in the isolated hill regions of the Malkangiri district of southwestern Odisha near the junction of the three states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Population: 12,231.
  • Divided into two groups based on their settlement:
    • The Upper Bondas living in the inaccessible forests.
    • The Lower Bondas in the plains.
  • Society: 
    • Matriarchal society.
    • Females outnumber males.
    • Women are primary workers and providers of food for the community.
    • Women prefer to marry men who are younger by at least 5-10 years so that the men can earn for them when they grow old.
  • Festivals: 
    • Bondas celebrate many feasts and festivals which are associated with agricultural cycle or socio-cultural life of the people.
    • Patakhanda Puja, Jatimara festival, also called Pus Parba (festival of brotherhood), Chait Parab, Bihan Puja are some festivals.
  • Dance: Bonda dance.
  • Language: 
    • Remo, which comes under the Austroasiatic language belonging to the Mundari group (spoken by Munda people).
    • Remo is now an endangered tongue as more Bondas have taken to Odia as their primary language of communication.
  • Occupation:
    • Primarily, forest dwellers, the Bondas used to hunt and forage for food in the wild.
    • Salap and Mahua trees have importance as traditional wine is made from the flowers of these trees.

Katkari Tribe

Maharashtra and Gujarat


  • Historically forest dwellers of western ghats in Maharashtra, now located in the outskirts of agricultural villages on the plains. 
  • British administration had classified them under the Criminal Tribes Act, 1871.
  • The stigma associated with the Act continues.
  • Location:
    • Located primarily in Raigad and in parts of Pune, Palghar, Ratnagiri and Thane districts of Maharashtra.
    • Some places of Gujarat.
  • Population: 2,85,334.
  • The name Katkari is derived from a forest-based activity– the making and bartering or sale of Catechu from the Khair tree (Acacia Katechu).
  • Festivals:
    • One of only a few tribal groups in India that eat rodents.
    • Cultural festival, the Undir Navmi, dedicated to the rodent.
    • Also celebrate Holi, Akaja, Pola, Dawali.
  • Dance: Badgi Nrutya.
  • Language:
    • bilingual, speaking the Katkari language, a dialect of the Marathi-Konkani languages, with each other,
    • they speak Marathi with the Marathi speakers, who are a majority in the populace where they live.
  • Occupation:
    • Katkaris are expert fishermen, swimmers, divers, archers and marksmen.
    • They are famous for their strength, endurance and hunting-gathering skills.

Sahariya Tribe

Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan


  • An ethnic tribe of Chambal region of Madhya Pradesh. 
  • They trace their origin from Shabri of the Ramayan. 
  • The community considers every adult member part of a governing council which is headed by a Patel.
  • Location:
    • Mainly found in the districts of Morena, Sheopur, Bhind, Gwalior, Datia, Shivpuri, Vidisha and Guna districts of Madhya Pradesh and Baran district of Rajasthan.
  • Regions with significant populations:
    • Madhya Pradesh- 614,958
    • Rajasthan- 111,377
  • Festivals: Veer Teja, Dhakar Baba, Durga, Hanuman, Lalbai, Bejasan, Savni Amavasya, Janmashtami, Raksha Bandhan, Deepavali, Holi and Teja Dashmi.
  • Dance: Swang Nritya- adance drama to spread awareness about social issues like child marriage, women’s rights, the need for education etc. and about prenatal care and deadly diseases like AIDS.
  • Language: The most widely spoken language is Hindi with its dialectal variations like Brij Bhasha, Malwii and Bundelkhandi.
  • Occupation:  
    • Expert woodsmen and forest product gatherers, particularly skilled in making catechu from Khair trees.
    • Gathering & selling of forest wood, gum, tendu leaf, honey, mahua and medicinal herbs.
    • Traditional occupations also include making baskets, mining and quarrying, and breaking stones.
    • They also hunt and fish.
    • Some Sahariyas are settled cultivators. 

 Dongria Kondh



  • Members of the Kondhs, of the Munda ethnic group. 
  • At the centre of a dispute over mining rights in the area.
  • Location: Located in the Niyamgiri Hills in the Rayagada and Kalahandi District in Odisha. 
  • Population: 8,000 
  • Nomenclature: 
    • Derive their name from dongar, meaning agricultural land on hill slopes.
    • Their name for themselves is Jharnia– “protector of streams“.
  • Society:
    • Inclusion of youth in religious and political matters.
    • Equal rights to women- widow remarriage, property inheritance. 
  • Beliefs: They worship Niyam Raja, the supreme god of the Niyamgiri jungle. 
  • Festivals: Bijun Parab or seed festival, Niyamraja festival.
  • Language: Kui 
  • Occupation: Sustain themselves from the resources of the Niyamgiri forests, practising horticulture and shifting cultivation. 

 Siddi Tribe

Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka


  • Known by different synonyms such as Habshi and Badsha.
  • African origin- descendants of Bantu people of East Africa.
  • Siddi ancestors were largely brought to India as slaves by Arabs as early as the 7th Century, followed by the Portuguese and the British later on.
  • When slavery was abolished in the 18th and 19th centuries, Siddis fled into the country’s thick jungles, fearing recapture and torture.
  • Population: 270,000–350,000 (50,000 in India)
  • Location: 
    • Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Hyderabad in India and Makran and Karachi in Pakistan as the main population centres.
    • More than a third live in the northern parts of Karnataka- in Dharwad, Belagavi and Uttar Kannada districts.
  • Festival: Active in cultural activities and organise annual festivals, like, Habash Festival.
  • Dance: Dhamaal
  • Language: Siddi Basha. 
  • Occupation: 
    • Previously depended on hunting and gathering but at present, their main sources of livelihood are labour and agriculture. 
    • In Karnataka, they are largely settled in suburbs and forest and often work as coolies and unskilled labourers on plantations.

 Tribes of Andaman & Nicobar Islands




  • The Andaman and Nicobar islands accommodate main five vulnerable tribes: 
    1. Great Andamanese,
    2. Onges,
    3. Jarwa,
    4. Sentinelese,
    5. Shompen.
  • Excluding the Nicobarese, the rest fall under the PVTG category.
  • According to the 2011 census, there are only 44 Great Andamanese, 380 Jarawa, 105 Onges, 229 Shompen, and 15-150 Sentinelese (roughly estimated as they don't interact) remaining.
  1. Great Andamanese: 
    • Based in ‘Strait Island’ of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
    • The Administration has provided houses and raised Coconut Plantation for the upliftment of Andamanese.
    • Further free ration including clothes is also being provided to them.
    • Andamanese are no longer a nomadic tribe. 
    • However, they do sometimes go hunting and fishing.
    • Andamani Hindi increasingly serves as their primary language.

  2. Onges:
    • One of the most primitive tribes in India inhabiting the Little Andaman Island.
    • This Hunting and Gathering tribe has also been settled by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration at Dugong Creek and South Bay on Little Andaman Island.
    • Coconut plantation has been raised for the benefit of Onges Medical care, free ration etc.  are being provided by the Administration.
    • Onges go for hunting and fishing occasionally.
    • Speak the Önge language.


  3. Jarawas:
    • Currently inhabiting the Western coast of Middle Andaman and South Andaman Islands.
    • Continue to be hunting and gathering nomadic tribe. 
    • Collect fruits and roots including honey from the forest.
    • They build temporary huts in their camps.
    • Speak Järawa language. 

  4. Sentinelese: 
    • 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.

  5. Shompen: 
    • Located in Great Nicobar.
    • Practice 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.

Asur Tribe



  • One of the oldest Austroasiatic ethnic group.
  • Divided into three sub-tribal divisions, namely Bir (Kol) Asur, Birjia Asur and Agaria Asur.
  • The Birjia are recognized as a separate schedule tribe.
  • Birjia means the farmer roaming around and Agoria means people who work for the fire like melting iron etc.
  • Veer Asur is the people who live in the forests or the forest dwellers. 
  • Location:
    • Living primarily in Jharkhand, mostly in the Gumla, Lohardaga, Palamu and Latehar districts.
    • A small minority live in the western part of West Bengal.
  • Population: 23,000.
  • Festivals: Khalihani Puja, Goraiya Puja, Deothan Puja, Kharoch Puja, Phagu and Pitar Puja, Navakhani, Kathdeli and Sarhi Kutasi.
  • Dance: Fagud, Sarhul, Thadia, Karam,  Jatra, Dohadi, Lahsav, Jadur. 
  • Language:
    • Asur language, figures in the list of UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
    • Using mobile radio, the Asur community has been spreading the popularity of the language within their geographical limits.
  • Occupation: 
    • Traditionally iron-smelters (India's first metallurgists), they were once hunter-gatherers.
    • Now the majority of them shifted into agriculture, 91.19% are enlisted as cultivators.

Paharia Tribe



  • One of the primitive tribal groups in Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand and once ruled the region.
  • Extremely poor and backward on all human development indicators. 
  • Subdivided into Shauria/Sauria Paharia and Mal Paharia. 
  1. Mal Paharia:
    • Live in the southern hills of Damin-i-Koh and in the south and east of Santhal Parganas.
    • Regions with significant populations:
      • Jharkhand: 135,797
      • West Bengal: 44,538
      • Bihar: 2,225
    • Also found in Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal.
    • Speak Malti and Bangla language.
    • Survive on agriculture and forest produce.
  2. Shauria Paharia:
    • Mostly found in Santhal Parganas.
    • Regions with significant populations:
      • Jharkhand: 46,222 
      • West Bengal: 3,480 
      • Bihar: 1,932
    • Festival: Bandana 
    • Speak Malta language.
    • Resort to shifting cultivation and settled farming.

Reang/Bru Tribe


 Northeastern states


  • More than 30,000 people of Bru community, who fled from Mizoram to Tripura in 1997 in the wake of inter-community violence, are set to be repatriated to Tripura (proposed new agreement).
  • Second most populous tribe of Tripura after the Tripuris.
  • Location:
    • Indigenous to Northeast India, living mostly in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam.
  • Population: 188,220 
  • Festival: Buisu
  • Dance: Hozagiri dance
  • Language: Reang dialect of Kokborok (Kau Bru) language.
  • Occupation: 
    • Mostly practised the Huk or Jhum cultivation, but now have adopted modern agricultural practices.

Chenchu Tribe

Multiple States


  • Oldest living aboriginals of south India.
  • They have formed a symbiotic relationship between these forest dwellers and forest department officials- they help in monitoring the forest.
  • Location:
    • Living in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, and Odisha.
    • Many Chenchus live in the dense Nallamala forest of Andhra Pradesh (Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger Reserve).
    • Amrabad Tiger Reserve in Nalla Malla hills of Telangana has a large presence of the Chenchu tribe.
    • However, a recent order form NTCA means Chenchus will no longer be able to claim Nallamala as their home.
  • Population: 65,000.
  • Festivals: Bourapur ‘jatara’, Maha Shivratri.
  • Dance: Chenchu Bhagavatam.
  • Language: Chenchu language (with Telugu accent), a member of the Dravidian language family.
  • Occupation: 
    • Still dependent on forests- collect jungle products like roots, fruits, tubers, beedi leaf, mahua flower, honey, gum, tamarind and green leaves and make meagre income by selling these.
    • Do not cultivate land and livelihoods are based on hunting and gathering. 

Baiga Tribe

Madhya Pradesh


  • A primitive tribe.
  • Live completely cut off from the world- they do not communicate with other tribes, do not seek access to education and are dependent on the jungle.
  • Tattooing is an integral part of their lifestyle.
  • Location:
    • Live in the forests of several states of northern India such as Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
  • Festival: Karma or Karama. 
  • Dance: Baiga Pardhauni.
  • Language: Baigani (recognised as a variety of Chhattisgarhi influenced by Gondi).
  • Occupation:
    • Practice shifting cultivation, called 'bewar' or 'dahiya'.
    • Bamboo is the primary resource.

Konda Reddy Tribe


Andhra Pradesh, Telangana


  • Also called Hill Reddy.
  • One of the most backward tribal groups in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
  • Known for their eco-friendly practices such as the use of household articles made of bamboo, bottle gourd, and seeds.
  • Location:
    • Inhabit on both the banks of the Godavari River (East and West Godavari districts), in the hilly-forest region (Bison hills) of Khammam (Telangana) and Srikakulam (Andhra Pradesh) and neighbouring states of Odisha, Tamil Nadu.  
    • Live in the interior forest areas largely cut-off from the mainstream.
  • Population: 1,100.
  • Festivals: Ugadi, Akshade and Dussehra. 
  • Dance: 
    • The region inhabited by Konda Reddy is famous for mangoes.
    • Before plucking the mangoes, they have a ceremonial festival with a community dance called Mango Dance.
  • Language: Telugu with a unique accent.
  • Occupation:
    • Collecting minor forest products like honey, making a wide array of bamboo products such as baskets and cots besides cultivating jowar, bottle gourd and a few other traditional crops.
    • Some of them have adopted settled agriculture and horticulture. 
    • They cultivate the crops in a distinct way called ‘Podu’. It is an ancient practice in hilly regions.

Other Scheduled Tribes

Tiwa/Lalung Tribe 



  • Lives both in the hills and plains of Assam and Meghalaya state.
  • Tiwa means people who were lifted from below.
  • Also found in some areas of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland.
  • Population: 200,915.
  • Divided into two sub-groups, Hill Tiwa and Plains Tiwas.

  1. Hill Tiwa:
    • Live in the westernmost areas of Karbi Anglong district.
    • They speak a Tibeto-Burman language.
    • Matriarchal society– the husband goes to live in her wife's family settlement (matrilocality).
    • Men comb the deep jungles to hunt wildlife.
    • Habitual to the Jhum cultivation, horticulture, vegetables and the crops which are cultivable in the area.
  2. Plains Tiwa:
    • Live on the flatlands of the Southern bank of the Brahmaputra valley.
    • The majority speaks Assamese as their mother tongue.
    • Descent system is patrilineal. 
    • Practice shifting cultivation but the majority have taken settled agriculture and rice has become their major crop.


  • The main festivals of the Tiwa tribes are- Three Pisu (Bihu), Borot Utsav, Sogra Phuja, Wansuwa, Jonbeel Mela, Kabla Phuja, Langkhon Phuja, Yangli Phuja, Christmas, New Year, and Easter.
  • In April, Khelchawa festival is celebrated at the close of the harvest season.

Khasi Tribe

Meghalaya, Assam


  • Earliest immigrant tribes who came from Myanmar and settled down in the plains of eastern Assam.
  • Had their own kingdom until the British exercised control over them.
  • Called by different names such as Khasi Pahris, Khuchia, Kassi, Khashi and Khasa.
  • Location:
    • Reside in different parts of India like the state of Assam, the Khasi Jaintia hills in Meghalaya, in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, West Bengal and Jammu & Kashmir.
    • Almost 50% of Meghalaya's population is Khasi.
  • Population: 1,512,831.
  • Society: Follow the matrilineal system of descent and inheritance. 
  • Language: Khasi
  • Festivals: Ka Pomblang Nongkrem, Shad Suk Mynsiem, Bamkhana, Christmas, Seng Kut Snem.
  • Dance: Nongkrem, Ka Shad Suk Mynsiem, Ka-Shad Shyngwiang-Thangiap, Ka-Shad-Kynjoh Khaskain, Shad Beh Sier.
  • Occupation: Peasant-based economy- shifting cultivation.

Gurjer/Gujjar Tribe

Multiple States


  • A large heterogeneous group that is internally differentiated in terms of culture, religion, occupation, and socioeconomic status.
  • In all the tribal communities the Gujjars are held high in esteem.
  • Also called as Goojar, Gujar & Gurjara.
  • The name for the state of Gujarat has derived from “Gurjar”.
  • Location:
    • Found in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
    • In India: Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, northern Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra. 
  • Population: 763,806
  • Festivals:
    • Celebrate all the festivals of national significance.
    • The main festival is Id. 
  • Dance: Chari dance, Gojari dance.
  • Language: Gojri, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, English.
  • Occupation: 
    • Herd animals like sheeps, goats and buffalo- migrate to upper parts of Himalayas along with their cattle during the summer season and back to the plains with the onset of chilly winters. 
    • Other occupations include- Labour, agriculture, services, business, artisans.

Chakma Tribe



  • Largest tribe found in the hilly area of eastern Bangladesh known as the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
  • Migrated to India after they lost their land to the development of the Kaptai Dam on the Karnaphuli River, Bangladesh.
  • Believed to be part of Buddha's Sakya clan from Himalayan tribes.
  • Location: Bangladesh, Myanmar, India (Mizoram, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh).
  • Population: 1,000,000
  • Festivals: Bizu, Alphaloni, Buddha Purnima and Kathin Civar Dan.
  • Dance: Bizu dance. 
  • Language: Changma Bhach.
  • Occupation:
    • Practised slash-and-burn cultivation in the past, many Chakma today have adopted plough cultivation and some have taken up poultry farming.

Rabari Tribe


Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan


  • Nomadic cattle and camel herders and shepherds.
  • Also known as Desai or Rewari.
  • One of the most threatened tribes.
  • Known for their distinctive art, particularly the mirrored and whitewashed mud sculpture-work that adorns their homes and villages.
  • Location: Live throughout northwest India, primarily in Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan as well as Sindh in Pakistan.
  • Society:
    • Women stand in almost equal status to that of their men.
    • However, women do not have the right to parental property.
    • All Rabari women always dress in severe black.
  • Language: Bhopa language which is a mixture of Gujarati, Kachchi, Marwari and Pharasi.
  • Festival: Shitla Mata.
  • Occupation:
    • Sheep breeding and selling of milk.
    • Only a few of them own cultivable agricultural land.
    • Some have started engaging as wage labourers in industrial establishments both as skilled and unskilled labourers.

Bharwad Tribe



  • A caste of shepherds- one of the Maldhari nomadic communities.
  • Population: 2,500 
  • Language: Gujarati
  • Occupation:
    • Herding-many of them live in and around the Gir Forest National Park and are permitted to graze their sheep and cattle in certain demarcated areas of the reserved forest.
    • Among the most urbanised of the region and, combined with their niche position in the supply of milk, which forms their main source of income, this has enabled them to improve their traditional social position.

 Charan Tribe

 Rajasthan and Gujrat


  • The Charan, a small tribe were bards attached to royal courts to spread royal fame by singing praises.
  • Charan is derived from the word ‘Char’ which means grazing.
  • Location: Rajasthan and Gujarat states of India, as well as Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan.
  • Society: 
    • The Charans marry within their community.
    • All the marriages are arranged.
  • Occupation: Traditionally cattle breeders, have also adopted agriculture as their secondary occupation.

Angami Tribe



  • A major Naga ethnic group native to the state of Nagaland. 
  • Divided into four regions namely Chakhro Angami, Northern Angami, Southern Angami and Western Angami. The now separated Chakhesangs were previously known as the Eastern Angamis.
  • Location:
    • Predominantly settled in Kohima District and Dimapur District of Nagaland.
    • Also recognized as one of the ethnic groups in the state of Manipur.
  • Population: 452,910 
  • Festival:
    • Sekrenyi.
    • Nagaland also hosts its biggest event- the Hornbill Festival to celebrate its diverse community and culture in which all Naga ethnic group take part.
  • Occupation:
    • Depend on cultivation and livestock-rearing.
    • Known for terraced wet-rice cultivation.

Santhal Tribe



  • Ethnic group native to India and Bangladesh.
  • Oldest tribes in Indian forwarded from the Pre Aryan times.
  • Location:
    • Largest tribe in the Jharkhand state of India in terms of population
    • Also found in the states of Assam, Tripura, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Odisha and West Bengal.  
    • Sizeable population in Nepal and Bhutan.
  • Population: 7.4 million.
  • Festivals: 
    • Sohrai is the principal festival. 
    • Other festivals- Baha, Karam, Dansai, Sakrat, Mahmore, Rundo and Magsim, Disum sendra.
    • They traditionally accompany many of their dances during these festivals with two drums: the Tamak‘ and the Tumdak’.
  • Dance: Santhal dance.
  • Language: Santhali (a dialect of Kherwari) and Mundali languages.
  • Occupation:
    • Many Santhals are employed in the coal mines near the city of Asansol, West Bengal, or in the steel factories in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, while others work during part of the year as paid agricultural labourers.
    • Practice wet-rice agriculture.
    • apart from agriculture, they can be seen in the tea gardens plucking tea leaves, residing in the nearby villages. 

Gond Tribe

Central India


  • One of the largest tribal groups in the world.
  • Subdivided into four tribes:
    1. Raj Gonds
    2. Madia Gonds
    3. Dhurve Gonds
    4. Khatulwar Gonds
  • They have been witnesses to the Naxalite–Maoist insurgency in the central part of India.
  • Location:
    • “Gond” refers to tribal peoples who live all over India's Deccan Peninsula (Gondwana).
    • Spread over the states of Madhya Pradesh, eastern Maharashtra (Vidarbha), Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Odisha. 
    • Live around the Satpura Hills, Maikala Range and Son-Deogarh uplands, Bastar plateau, and Garhjat Hills of northern Orissa.
  • Population: 13 million.
  • Festivals:
    • Pola, a cattle festival, Phag, Nagpanchami, and Dassera.
  • Dance: 
    • Saila Dance, Karma Dance, Rina, Dadariya and Ahirai Dance, Ditong or Gedi Dance.
  • Many Gonds worship Ravana.
  • Cockfighting is their favourite pastime.
  • Ghotul is a religious and social Center them and is a village dormitory for unmarried girls and boys.
  • Language: Gondi- a Dravidian language.
  • Occupation:
    • Mainly farmers.
    • Some Gond communities have risen to the status of landowners, many are landless labourers.
    • Flowers and fruits of Mahua tree are an integral part of their life.

Changpa Tribe



  • A semi-nomadic Tibetan people.
  • Location:
    • Found mainly in the Changtang (part of the Tibetan Plateau extending in Ladakh).
    • Stay in the region throughout the year despite temperatures below freezing point.
    • A smaller number resides in the western regions of the Tibet Autonomous Region.
    • They were partially relocated for the establishment of the Changtang Nature Reserve (the second-largest nature reserve in the world).
  • The word ‘Changpa’ means northerners.
  • Those who are still nomadic are known as Phalpa and the sedentary Changpa are called Fangpa.
  • They live in a big cone-shaped tent called Rebo. Lekha is a place where their goats and sheep are kept.
  • Population: 500,000 (across India and China)
  • Festival: Losar, Tangpe Chao and Korzok Gustor.
  • Dance: Cham dance at 
  • Language: Changskhat, a dialect of Tibetan.
  • Occupation:
    • Rearing of yaks, horses and sheep.
    • Cashmere, also known as pashmina, is majorly sourced from the pashmina sheep that the tribe rears.
    • The Chinese Army’s intrusion in Chumur and Demchok has left Ladakh’s nomadic herding Changpa community cut off from large parts of summer pastures.

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