Who are Tribals?
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Tribal are umbrella term for a heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups claimed to be the aboriginal population of India They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India. The word is used in the same sense in Nepal as is another word janajati although the political context differed historically under the Shah and Rana dynasties.
The terms 'Tribals' and 'Tribal People' have not been precisely defined in the Constitution of India. A skilfully coined phrase 'Scheduled Tribe' occupies a large portion of the Constitution. But the Constitution does not define Scheduled Tribes as such. Article 366(25) refers to Scheduled Tribes as those communities who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution.
This Article says that only those communities who have been declared as such by the President of India, through an initial public notification will be considered as Scheduled Tribes. Any further amendment in the list, is through an Act of Parliament. The list of Scheduled Tribes is State specific and a community declared as Scheduled Tribe in a State need not be so in another State. Identification of tribals in the Indian social structure was not known before the arrival of the British in the country. British are credited with initiating the task of tribal development. Various approaches, models, concepts and theories of tribal development have been adopted in the country after independence. Thus a question arises—who are tribals in India?
In anthropological literatures, various terms appear synonymous with the term tribe; for example primitive, indigenous, aboriginals, native, naïve, savage, original settlers, adivasi, uncivilised men, barbaric, depressed class, simple society, pre-literate society, backward Hindus, etc. Right from the beginning, several attempts have been made to define the term "tribe". But a common consensus has not been achieved. Different scholars have defined the term "tribe" in their own ways. Their definitions throw light upon some common characteristics of the term "tribe" on the basis of geographical characteristics as tribes reside in forest, hills, etc.
According to Imperial Gazetteers of India, tribe is a group of family which has a common name, whose members speak a common dialect, reside in a common area and observe taboo in marriage, though in the beginning they would not have been observing this taboo. Tribe as described in the Random House Dictionary means "any aggregate of people united by the ties of descent from a common ancestor, community of customs and traditions, adhere to the same leader". Truly speaking, hardly any of the population groups on the Indian mainland can lay claim of being a "tribal" group. The tribals in India comprise the groups which are declared tribals as per an order of the Indian President as the Scheduled Tribes.
The lists of Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, who were formerly known as depressed classes were published by the President of India, after the proclamation of the Constitution and before the common lists of Other Backward Classes had been published. This is all the more simple and unambiguous to any one who has the knowledge about the Indian social structure that they can easily say who are backward and who are forward, why they have remained backward all these centuries and what criteria is to be adopted to identify them.
The Indian social structure consists of people belonging to many religions, like Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Budhists, etc. While all the other religions have divided people horizontally the Hindus are vertically divided into innumerable castes and sub-castes and each one of them is given a certain social status in the society. Therefore, if one wants to understand the reasons for the backwardness of some sections of Hindu Society, one has to necessarily understand how and when the caste system was established in this country, which is the root cause for the backwardness of the vast community.
the word "tribal" is actually an adjective; it has been MIS-used in India as a noun, to signify people who have been listed in a Schedule of the Constitution of India as members of certain TRIBES. anthropological literature contains about four or five HUNDRED definitions of "Tribes', but none has been accepted as complete or comprehensive. generally, the criteria adopted for classifying a set of people as a "tribe" are geographical distance from the main population of a region or a State; cultural differences, local clan-based social organization, distinct language, etc. In India, all these criteria have been adopted to classify a list, which is now in the Schedule. The President can include more communities into the list, after a prescribed procedure of consultations and political decision making.so, the answers to your question: "Tribals" in India mean members of communities who have been listed in the Schedule to the Constitution enumerating a list of communities as such. They are legally referred to as the "Scheduled Tribes". That implies that there may be communities who do have "tribal" characteristics, and can be later on be classified as Scheduled Tribes.Nomadic Tribes: some tribal communities, both Scheduled and yet to be scheduled in India, do not stay at any fixed place throughout the year. they migrate over a range according to the seasons, in search of food and sustenance. some are sheep and cattle herders who move with their animals in search of pasture. others survive off the produce of the forest, and go on from place to place according to the availability of food. Generally speaking, they do not practice settled agriculture. Some nomadic tribes are classified as "Primitive" because they are not in an agricultural stage of development.