aim of this study is to highlight the present scenario of the tribes of Tamil
Nadu in this modernized world and the suggestive measures for their well being.
Adivasis, are the native people, who have settled in the dense forests and
hilly areas, mostly inaccessible by others, living in isolated locations. They are the indigenous people who have
chosen to live in communities with solitude, far from the civilized society,
having distinct culture and tradition for themselves, conserving nature and
treasuring their ideologies, promoting well being within their community. They had always depended on forest resources
for their livelihoods. Initially tribes
were hunter-gatherers, who later depended on cultivation. Their rich knowledge about the forest
resources, trees, herbs, natural habitat favoured their living, sustained and
promoted their community. But as a
result of globalization, modernization, digitalization, the living standards of
the people changed drastically over the years.
The intrusion of outsiders into the tribal community, had made them
vulnerable, some tribes lost their lands. Common farming was no longer
possible. The Forest reserves had
limited the tribals to access deep into the forests. Joint family system and communal living was
disrupted. Though the communication,
roadways and Government intervention increased, the outside traders and money
lenders, engaged the tribals to mortgage their lands. 90% of the tribals lived in rural areas and
more than half the population uneducated.
The tribals lived in hilly areas and some in steep hills which is
inaccessible to the officials also.
School dropout increases from primary to higher secondary. Due to lack of facilities, even teachers are
unwilling to travel to the locations. The tribes who move out of their
community serve as bonded labourers in brick kilns, daily wage workers,
domestic helps , assisting in road laying and other jobs for meager wages. At times some bonded labourers have been rescued
drastic measure has to be taken right now because research shows that 80% of
the ethnic group had remained static over a period of time, which means their
population has neither increased nor decreased.
This is a major concern because this may lead to extinction in course of
time. These tribals are called as particularly
vulnerable tribal groups, PVTG. Of the
36 tribes in Tamil Nadu, six tribes have been in endangered list, their
population less than 200. To promote wellbeing of tribes, Infrastructure
support for tribal settlement development, improved standard of living within
forest areas, to establish partnership with tribes for development and
empowerment, to engage them in conservation and management of forest wealth and
to develop required skills and utilize their knowledge for overall prosperity
are the suggestive measures to be implemented.
has been defined as group of primitive clans under recognized chief and usually
claiming common ancestor’ (the concise oxford dictionary, oxford university
press, Madras). Adivasis are original tribes. The legal and
constitutional term is “Schedule Tribes”. Their settlements are mostly around
mountains and hill areas at a distance from plains .Most of the tribes are
hunters-gatherers, agriculturists, Cattle farming, etc. They usually dwell into
interior forest areas, inaccessible locations in hilly areas to avoid contact
with non tribes. This is done so to maintain their culture and follow their traditional
way of living. They are often regarded as “primitive”, since independence. Majority
of the scheduled tribes live in rural areas their main concern is the economic
exploitation Close to 90% of tribals live in rural areas. Most of them depend
on forest produce for their livelihood. Tribes have been denied the rights of
land, in many cases they are fined and penalized for using the product produce
which they had been enjoying since generations. Measures have been taken to
avoid destruction of forest. Tribes face prejudice and violence from the
society at large. Reforms are undertaken by the government at state level to
protect the welfare of tribal community. Displacement of land stands as the
major reason for the economic and social problem of the tribes.
constitution of India insures social and economic justice, equality of status
and opportunity assurance of the individuals dignity for all its citizens. Our constitution has provisions to safeguard
and promote the cultural, social, educational and economic interests of ST and
SC to bring them on par with the mainstream nation'(Pulla 2013), but there is a
wide gap between developmental standards of tribals and non-tribals section of
Tamil Nadu at social setting. The right
to preserve and enjoy the cultural heritage in harmony with nature is severely
threatened by the process of modernization and economic growth. It is time we
gather momentum to look into the issues of the livelihood of tribes and help
them revive their standards of living for existence, else the static tribal
groups may face extinction in due course.
faced by tribes
recurrent problems faced by the tribes are lack of transportation, non
availability of medical and health facilities, traditional practices that are
at times detrimental to their health and behavior. Mostly the developmental
programmes do not reach them because of the remote habitation within the
forests. In some parts of tribal settlements even officials find it difficult
to access the tribal destination, as they have to ascend steep hills.
of intrusion by outsiders on tribal settlements
in total disintegration of community
lost the power of solidarity in exercising his duties for tribal people welfare
people became more vulnerable
family system had disintegrated and common farming was no longer possible
reserves had limited the tribals to access the deep forests for livelihood
tribal beliefs have been altered due to
contact with missionaries
to Christianity gave a number of advantages especially education.
on tribal economy by outsiders
road and government intervention increased, outside traders engaged tribal
people into mortgaging their land
people are sometimes forced as bonded labourers
helps tribal people to secure political and economic benefits. The school
dropout is very high with respect to tribes, increasing from primary to higher
secondary. TN forest department is helping to educate tribal children by
offering attractive facilities. Primary education to tribals were started as
early as 1951 by the forest department and extended to nearby villages in
certain district and quality education is being offered to students Teachers in
tribal schools have high drop out rates due to lack of facilities.
nature and Endangered list of tribes
A research concluded that there are only 54000 number of tribes by genetics and the rest of tribal population
do not know which group they belong to. Of the 36 tribal community in Tamil Nadu, 6 major community of tribes like kota, kurumba,
irular, paniyan and katunayakar has neither decreased nor increased and remains
static. They are known as particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG).
‘PVTG is characterized by
level of technology
or declining population
level of economy’ (Indiantribal heritage.org, 2017)
shocking report says that state has been monitoring the tribal population and more
than 80% of ethic group is static in nature. Tamil Nadu has 36 types of tribes,
six are on endangered list. The total population has gone down to less than
2000,of this Kochuvelan, Melakudi and Maha malasar are on the verge of
extinction with their total population
of less than 160.
Tribal Population Details of PVTG
POPULATION OF TRIBES
AS PERCENTAGE TO TOTAL
Source: Social watch
of tribes is increasingly becoming difficult due to inter caste marriage,
religion, conversion migration and lack of genetic or anthropological data. Only
20% of tribes continue doing their ethnic occupation like rearing sheep,
collecting honey, harvesting timber and other forest products. Many tribes who are
disintegrated from their group due to exploitation of non tribal end up as bonded
labourers in brick kilns.
in Tamil Nadu are cultivators, agricultural labourers and dependent on forests for
livelihood. The tribals significantly contributed in the management and
conservation of forests. The need of the hour for tribal development is to
reduce the gap between the tribal and non tribal population with respect to
economic, educational and social status. Tribes have been setting an example
for communal and sustainable ways of living which acts as a counterbalance for
all the damage we have caused as a result of modernization and destruction of
environment. The reason for their static
nature is the exploitation by others in dominant society. We need to adopt
measures to protect them and help them lead a harmonious life with nature.
and state scheme for tribals
Central and state schemes are aimed at
restoration and improvement
and conservation measure
planning and human resource development
development and community participation in conservation of bio resource
of human wildlife conflict.
of low impact eco tourism.
Jayakumar and Palaniammal (2016) made a study on ‘Socio economic status
of Schedule Tribes in Kalrayan hills, Salem district, Tamil Nadu.’ Agriculture
is predominant for majority of households, which accounted for their income
also. The study discusses the income
level of various households. The study
emphasizes the need for attention into education, which will stand as a
motivating factor for improving their future.
Biswajith, Arunasis and Subhasish (2015) aims to study the’ socio
economic status of some selected tribes in West Bengal, India’ The study was
conducted in four blocks (Sabar, Oroan, Santhal and Tota) in 2 purposively
selected districts of West Bengal. A
total of 400 samples were collected for study.
The results revealed that, all the four tribes differed largely on Social Economic Status, and among all
tribal sub caste, the one with low Social Economic Status was related to low
literacy level and it also made a difference in their livelihood and behavioral
Selvakumar and sivakumar (2014) made a ‘study
on the current socio-economic conditions of the tribal communities in Nilgiris
district, Tamil Nadu. The study highlights
the social organization, livelihood and customs of the tribes with the rest of
the state. The data for study was
collected through field survey and secondary data covering a random sampling of
100 households. The study reveals that
the backwardness of tribal population with respect to social, economic, health
and lifestyle patterns.
Ramya (2014) aimed to study ‘socio economic status and associate problems of
the tribals, A case study of village in kurung kumay district of Arunachal
Pradesh’. It attempts to explore the
problems faced by the tribal villages with respect to economic, education,
sanitation and otherbasic amenities for livelihood. The data was collected from villages
through interview with the help of questionnaire. The sample consisted of age group 18 years
and above. The study suggests measures
to be undertaken by the Government to improve sanitation, housing conditions,
healthcare, literacy rate, credit facility, irrigation and promote self-help
Rajkumar, Pulla and Jayanand (2013) made an
attempt to ‘Analyse the Socio Economic status of Schedule Tribes in
Andhrapradesh’. Multi stage random
sampling technique was adapted for the study.
Primary data was collected with the help of pre-structured
questionnaire. 89 samples responded for
the tool. The result reveals farming was
the primary occupation and the heads of the households were mostly agricultural
labourers. The study refers the decline
in sex ratio in the community and highlights the exploitation of uneducated
tribals by money lenders, charging high interest rates. The study recommends the Government to take
steps to promote banking service, for economic development and financial
stability and to increase literacy among tribals.
(2013) aims to study on ‘socio economic status of scheduled tribes’ and addresses
the Social Economic Status of the Scheduled Tribes in Visakapatnam district of
AP in India. More than 70% of the
participants were illiterates.
Cultivation supports the income for majority of households. Wage labourers who also form a part of the
sample under study have comparably low income.
The need for promoting education of Scheduled Tribes, as a motivating
factor for their future is largely emphasized.
The schemes of tribals should pay much
support for tribal settlement development
standard of living within forest areas.
partnership with tribes for development and empowerment
them in conservation and management of forest wealth.
develop required skills and utilize their knowledge for overall prosperity
‘Poverty may be absolute or relative
deprivation of well-being of a section of population’. The concept of well being is multi dimensional,
therefore it becomes difficult for the measurement of poverty. Poverty means not only material deprivation,
which is measured by income or consumption, but it can also be measured in
terms of low achievement in education and health. It means to be illiterate and not schooled. (Pawar
and SureshKrishna, 2012). Government has developed many schemes for the
upliftment of tribes, to enhance better quality of life but the expected growth
among them is yet to be achieved.
Tribals are still facing a number of problems including poverty,
illiteracy, poor health facilities etc. A 1969 report submitted by the tribal
development programme stated the main problems of tribal communities,
Following the report, Government took steps to promote the welfare of tribes
with the objectives of tribal sub-plans.
scheduled tribes family cross the poverty line
provide basic infrastructure facilities for improving the living conditions of
the total eradication of the problems is yet to be achieved. Many plans have been sanctioned and tried to
be implemented, but there seems to be a
lag in the improvement of the condition of the tribes, they are being looked
down, their communities have disintegrated and people have started moving into
for petty incomes in brick kilns , road laying, wage workers, domestic workers
and so on. As a part of the population
have become nomads, they are unable to educate their children in the new
settlement, safety has become a major concern for their children especially
girls and women .If this is the urban and semi urban scenario, the rural people
quite a lot of problems. Their hardwork
of gathering honey and other forest resources are being encashed for low sums
or just snatched in the name of power.
Being illiterate from a rural and tribal backdrop a section of tribes
are unaware of the Government measures, not willing to relocate and not able to
sustain in the settlement. Their protein
intake and food patterns, health and hygiene have been lowered considerably and
the new intruders in the name of money lending have plundered their only
valuable wealth ‘land’, because of which some tribes havre started moving toward better livelihood but
untimately landed as bonded labourers, a few
later identified, rescued and rehabilitated. But this is not the case with all the tribes,
there are certain tribal communities where the literacy rate is above the state
literacy ratio. The foremost of all the tribes, Malayalis have an excellent
literacy and have chosen to become empowered by educating and securing jobs
through the Government quotas also.
Tribals have taught us what ‘civilized’ is,
which is respecting the difference of others and accepting the values of human
diversity, otherwise they would not have flourished under a single headman.
They taught us communal living. Tribes and their culture are destroyed
gradually because of the intruders, who are not attracted by the tribal culture
or values but by the minerals, the trees and the valuable resources in the
forests. But we need to look at the last tribal citizen who inspite of having
every right to lead a better and fulfilled life is lost amidst the chaos of modernization
and political power and to reach out a helping hand for sustaining their
community. If this assurance be given
then we can proudly say that the tribals are the guardians of our mother nature
and we shall find peace by guarding the nature in this digitalized world.
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