For Prelims: Tribal Welfare Department, National Tribal Policy, Tribal Welfare, injhiaB, Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran, God Community, Hatti Tribe. 

For mains: Percentage of Scheduled Tribes, Welfare schemes for SC and ST, Issues Related to SCs & STs

Why in the news?

The government recently approved the inclusion of particular communities in the lists of Scheduled Tribes in the states of Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh in response to long-standing requests from these states.

What do we need to know about the Scheduled Tribe?

The tribes, who are considered to be the Indian Peninsula's original inhabitants, are the autonomous or native people of the region. Their common name, Adivasis, connotes that they are the original inhabitants.

The criterion followed for the specification of a community, as scheduled tribes are 

  • Indications of primitive traits, 
  • Distinctive culture, 
  • Geographical isolation, 
  • shyness of contact with the community at large, 
  • Backwardness.

Classification of  Tribes in India

For academic purposes, some scholars have categorized Scheduled Tribes in India according to ethnicity and location, despite the fact that the official classification of Scheduled Tribes is state-by-state.

(A) Classification of Tribes based on Ethnicity (Race)

In 1944, B.S. Guha, a former ASI director, presented a scientific classification. He identified six major racial groups, including

  • The Negritos
  • The Proto-Australoids
  • Mongoloids
  • The Mediterranean
  • The Western Brachycephals
  • The Nordics

(B) Classification of Tribes based on Location

India's tribal people are dispersed across the entire nation. But there are very few tribal people in Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, and Puducherry. The tribal population is generally strong in the remaining states and union territories. The greatest number of tribes were recorded in Madhya Pradesh. They are divided into 4 zones based on where they are located.

  • Zone 1: Northern and North-Eastern
  • Zone 2: Central
  • Zone 3:South-Western
  • Zone 4: Scattered Tribes of Andaman and Nicobar

What is the Status of Scheduled Tribes in India?

  • In the "Excluded" and "Partially Excluded" areas, Schedule tribes are referred to as "backward tribes" according to the Census of 1931. First-time inclusion of "backward tribes" representatives in provincial assemblies was mandated by the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • The criteria for recognizing scheduled tribes are not specified in the Constitution, so during the early years of independence, the 1931 Census definition was applied.
    • According to section 342(1), the President may designate certain tribes or tribal communities—or portions of or groups within tribes or tribal communities—as Scheduled Tribes in relation to a State or Union Territory, and in the case of a State, after consulting with the Governor.
  • The administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in states other than Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram are outlined in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution.
  • The administration of the tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram is covered by the sixth schedule.
  • Legal Provisions:
    • Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 against Untouchability.
    • Act of 1989 to Prevent Atrocities Against Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
    • The Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act of 1996's provisions
    • Act from 2006 known as Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights).
  • Related Initiatives:
    • TRIFED
    • Digital Transformation of Tribal Schools
    • Development of PVTGs
    • Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana
  • Related Committees:
    • Xaxa Committee (2013)
    • Bhuria Commission (2002-2004)
    • Lokur Committee (1965)

What will be the benefits of its inclusion in the ST List?

  • Members of the new communities added to the Scheduled Tribes list will be eligible for benefits under the government's current ST-specific programs.
  • Along with educational opportunities, some of the major advantages include post-matric scholarships, international fellowships, and scholarships for study abroad, as well as student housing provided by the National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation.
  • In accordance with government policy, they will also be eligible for the advantages of reservations in services and admission to educational institutions.

What do we know about the newly added tribe?

  • Hatti Tribe (Himachal Pradesh):
    • A close-knit group of people known as the Hattis, they traditionally sell their produce at small markets in towns known as "haats," including vegetables, grains, meat, and wool.
    • Since 1967, when residents of the Uttarakhand region of Jaunsar Bawar, which borders the Sirmaur district, were granted tribal status, the community has been calling for this.
    • Resolutions adopted at various maha Khumblis over the years strengthened their demand for tribal status.
  • Narikoravan and Kurivikkaran (Tamil Nadu):
    • The traditional hunting and gathering practices of nomadic tribes like the Narikuravas and Kuruvikaras (jackal catchers and bird eaters) are something they take great pride in.
  • Binjhia (Chhattisgarh):
    • In Jharkhand and Odisha, the Binjhia were listed as STs, but not in Chhattisgarh.
      • The primary industry in the economy of the non-vegetarian Binjhia people is agriculture. Although they avoid eating beef and pork, they do drink alcohol, including handia (rice beer).
  • Gond Community (Uttar Pradesh):
    • The Gond community, which resides in 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh, will be moved from the Scheduled Caste list to the ST list after the Cabinet has approved the proposal.
    • The five Gond subgroups—Dhuria, Nayak, Ojha, Pathari, and Rajgond—are included in this.
  • ‘Betta-Kuruba’ (Karnataka):
    • The Betta-Kuruba community, also known as the Karnataka-based Kadu Kuruba, was given ST status.
    • For the past 30 years, the betta-Kuruba community has pushed for inclusion in the ST category.