In this article, we are going to share details about some of the major tribes of India. India, with its diverse culture and rich heritage, is home to numerous tribal communities, each having a distinct culture, tradition, language, and social structure.
An understanding of major tribes, their types, names, and features, is essential for aspirants preparing for the UPSC Civil Services Examination.
Scheduled Tribes in India
Scheduled Tribes, often referred to as Adivasis, are indigenous communities recognized by the Indian Constitution, which provides them with certain privileges and protections. The classification of tribes varies across states, reflecting India’s diversity.
According to the 2011 census, there are over 700 tribal communities in India, constituting about 8.6% of the country’s total population.
Key Tribes and Their Features
1. Gonds: They are one of the largest tribal groups in India, predominantly residing in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. Gonds are known for their Gondi language and Gond art.
2. Bhils: Bhils are majorly found in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra. They are known for their folk dance called ‘Ghoomar.
3. Santhals: Primarily residing in the states of Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, and Assam, Santhals are known for their Santhali language and rich cultural heritage.
4. Great Andamanese: The Great Andamanese tribe is one of the indigenous tribes of the Andaman Islands. They were the first tribe to come into contact with the British, and their population has drastically reduced over the years.
5. Khasi: Khasis predominantly reside in the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya. They follow a matrilineal system where lineage and inheritance are traced through women.
6. Munda: Munda tribe is one of the oldest tribes in India, primarily found in Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, and Chhattisgarh. They are known for their Munda language, a part of the Austroasiatic language family.
7. Naga Tribes: Nagas are a group of several tribes residing in Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Myanmar. They are known for their vibrant festivals, particularly the Hornbill festival.
8. Todas: The Toda tribe is one of the most ancient and unusual tribes in India, living in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu. They are recognized for their unique customs, distinct dialect, and barrel-shaped huts.
Understanding the major tribes of India, their geographical distribution, and unique characteristics forms an integral part of the UPSC Civil Services Exam preparation, especially under Indian Society and Anthropology optional.
It’s vital for aspirants to be aware of the government’s tribal welfare schemes and the constitutional provisions related to tribal rights and welfare. Regular updating of knowledge about any recent developments concerning tribal communities will add value to an aspirant’s preparation.