Schedule Tribes

The criteria followed for the specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe are:

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

These criteria are not spelt out in the Constitution but have become well-established and accepted.

Salient Features of Tribes in India

  • The tribes have a segmentary but egalitarian system.
  • They are not mutually interdependent, as are castes in a system of organic solidarity.
  • They have direct access to land and no intermediary is involved between them and land.
  • Sustained by relatively primitive subsistence technology such as shifting cultivation and hunting and gathering.
  • Many tribes follow Animism as a form of religion
  • Both Monogamy and polygamy are prevalent in many tribal societies. Some tribes like Toda and Khasa practice polyandry.
  • Most of the tribes are patrilineal but Matriliny is also prevalent among a few tribes like Khasi, Jaintia and Garo.

Problems Faced by Tribes in India

  • Loss of communal rights over forest: Forest policies and regulations have snatched away traditional community rights of STs over forest produce. This has impacted the economic activities of tribes like food gathering, hunting, and shifting cultivation.
  • Land alienation: Acquisition of tribal lands for extraction of minerals and expansion of infrastructure projects alienated tribes of their lands
  • Indebtedness and Bonded labour: with the loss of communal rights over forest & agricultural land and lack of skill, they are forced to work as bonded labour.
  • Health and Nutrition: According to NFHS-4, Infant Mortality Rate (IMR), Under Five Mortality Rate (U5MR) and anaemia in women for STs are higher than in other social groups.
  • Literacy: According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate of STs is around 59% which is way below the literacy rate of the total population (73%)
  • Poverty: As per NSSO estimates, ST people living below the poverty line in 2011-12 were 45.3% in the rural areas and 24.1% in the urban areas as compared to 25.7% persons in rural areas and 13.7% persons in urban areas below the poverty line for all population.
  • Loss of tribal culture and identity: conversion of tribes into other religions; Industrialisation; urbanisation; Migration etc. resulted in the loss of tribal way of life and their identity.
  • Tribal Land Alienation
    Tribal people inhabit lands that are highly rich in minerals, water and other resources that the state and private corporations need for the “development” of the country. “Development” has emerged as the biggest threat to the tribal’s survival. They constitute around 9% of the total population of India (2011 census) but makeup over 50% of the total displaced people due to development projects.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)

  • Tribal communities are often identified by some specific signs such as primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness to contact with the community at large and backwardness.
  • There are some tribes who are more vulnerable because of their extreme backwardness and low literacy.
  • They are categorized as particularly vulnerable tribal groups. (In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, which are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)) Criteria for identification of PVTGs  –  
    • Pre-agricultural level of technology  
    • Low level of literacy
    • Economic backwardness   
    • A declining or stagnant population Accordingly,
  • 75 PTVGs have been identified across the country, spread over 18 states and 1 Union Territory (Andaman & Nicobar) Among the 75 listed PVTGs the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).

Constitutional Provisions for STs

Art. 164: Appoint a special minister for tribal welfare in the states of MP, Bihar, and Orrisa.

Art. 275: Allows special grant in aids to states for tribal welfare

Art.16: Reservation in public employment in the ratio of their population

Art. 15: Reservation in public educational institutes in their population ratio.

Art. 243D: Provides reservation of seats for SC and STs in panchayats.

Art. 233T: Provides reservation of seats for SCs and STs in municipalities.

Art. 330: Provides reservation of seats for STs in Lok Sabha.

Art. 334: Provides reservation of seats for STs in State legislatures.  

Article 338A: Special officer post for protection of interests of STs

Article 339: Control the union over the welfare of the scheduled tribe.

Article 342: Empower the president to declare a community as ST.

Forest Rights Act, 2006

  • Beneficiaries: Scheduled Tribes living in forest areas and other traditional forest dwellers who have been residing for generations but whose rights could not be recorded.

Rights Granted under FRA, 2006

  • Title rights –ownership of land that is being farmed by tribals or forest dwellers subject to a maximum of 4 hectares; ownership is only for land that is being cultivated by the concerned family, meaning that no new lands are granted. 
  • Use rights – to minor forest produce (also including ownership), to grazing areas, to pastoralist routes, etc.
  •  Relief and development rights – to rehabilitation in case of illegal eviction or forced displacement, and to basic amenities, subject to restrictions for forest protection. 
  • Forest management rights – to protect forests and wildlife. 
  • Section 6 of FRA – Authorities to vest forest rights in forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers and procedure thereof:
  • The Gram Sabha shall be the authority to initiate the process for determining the nature and extent of individual or community forest rights
  • Gram Sabha shall then pass a resolution to that effect and thereafter forward a copy to the Sub Divisional Level Committee. 
  • Sub-Divisional Level Committee constituted by State Government shall examine the resolution passed by Gram Sabha and prepare the record of forest rights and forward it through the Sub-Divisional Officer to the District Level Committee for their decision.
  • Provides for a Procedure for Appeal: Any person aggrieved by the resolution of the Gram Sabha may prefer a petition to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee. Any person aggrieved by the decision of the Sub-Divisional Level Committee may prefer a petition to the District Level Committee 

District Level Committee considers and finally approves the record of forest rights prepared by the Sub-Divisional Level Committee. The decision of the District Level Committee on the record of forest rights shall be final and binding.

Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA Act), 1996

  • This legislation extends Panchayats’ provisions to the Fifth Schedule Areas. These areas have a preponderance of tribal population (Total of 10 States are covered under PESA. These States are Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Telangana.)

Powers granted to Gram Sabha under PESA

  • Developmental: consultation before the land acquisition, prevent land alienation, power to enforce prohibition, prior approval of all developmental projects, selection of beneficiaries of poverty alleviation and other schemes of individual benefits, control over money lending activities etc.
  • Dispute resolution as per traditional laws and customs: the collective resolution of disputes based on customs, traditional laws and religious beliefs of tribal areas.
  • Ownership and management of natural resources: maintaining ownership of local tribal community over water resources, common lands, minor forest produce, minor minerals, etc.

Challenges in the implementation of PESA

  • 40% of the schedules area states have not been able to frame their rules for its implementation even after 25 years of its existence.
  • States were supposed to amend their law incorporating the provisions of PESA. But most of the state panchayat laws circumvented the PESA provisions and gave more powers to panchayat raj representatives instead of Gram Sabha.
  • States legislations govern the control of NTFP and state agencies have a monopoly over their marketing limiting the scope of tribal control over forest resources.
  • Government departments are involved in deciding the identification of beneficiaries under the schemes instead of Gram Sabha.
  • Panchayats are upgraded to municipalities to bypass PESA.
  • Gram sabhas are convened at the panchayat level instead of the village level (often without quorum) and are not consulted for the planning and implementation of government programmes.

Measures for Strengthening of PESA

  • Provision of the power of the union government to formulate rules to PESA which at present does not have and its adoption in case the State governments fail to formulate rules within a time.
  • A contentious issue is what ‘consultation’ with or ‘recommendations’ of the Gram Sabha means and requires. This term may either be defined or replaced with the more acceptable term ‘free and prior informed consent’.
  • The jurisdiction of “village” should be well defined.
  • There must be an explicit provision that the Gram Sabha shall oversee and control Gram Panchayats and any committees that it may create for any purpose.
  • Provision for the conduct of social audits by Gram Sabhas of all programmes implemented within its jurisdiction.
  • Clarification that all laws and rules inconsistent with PESA are null and void.
  • Introduction of provision for appeal against the decision of the Gram Sabha or grievance redressal to ensure the principles of checks and balances.

There is an urgent need to develop Gram Sabhas of tribal villages as institutions of self-government to restore their rights over a fair share of community resources and preserves their unique identity.

Programs for Tribal Development

  • Tribal sub plan
  • Eklavya Model Residential School (EMRS)
  • Scheme for the Development of PVTGs
  • Setting up of National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC)
  • Mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) and Development of Value Chain for MFP
  • Van Dhan Scheme
  • Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana

Virginius Xaxa Committee Recommendations on Tribal Development


  • Establish agro-based training institutions and related labour-intensive processing industries in tribal regions.
  • To make use of the land available to the tribal farmers, they should be motivated to undertake organic farming and eco-forestry.
  • micro watershed should be given top-most priority in tribal areas to enhance agricultural productivity
  • There should be monitoring agencies at the National and State levels to prevent the alienation of tribal land and its restoration


  • Keeping in view the difficulties of adjusting to a new cultural environment, teachers for schools in the tribal regions should be recruited locally. There should be a separate cadre of teaching and administrative staff, who will serve among the tribal schools over the long run.
  • Inclusion of local culture, folklore and history in the curriculum can help in building the confidence of tribal children and enhance the relevance of education in their lives.
  • Residential schools should be set up specifically for Nomadic Tribes


  • Social determinants of health – literacy, income, water, sanitation, fuel, food security and dietary diversity, gender sensitivity, transport and connectivity –play a very important role in determining health outcomes. Hence, intersectoral coordination for improvement in other sectors is as important.
  • Health and income available for the family will show improvement by controlling alcohol and tobacco.
  • Traditional herbal medicines should be protected through community ownership. The ownership and intellectual property rights of tribal communities over their herbal medicines and practices should be ensured.
  • Difficulties in deploying doctors, nurses and other technical personnel from outside, into Scheduled Areas have made the problem of human resources the Achilles’ heel of health care in Scheduled Areas. the most feasible and effective long-term solution will be to select, train and deploy local Scheduled Tribe candidates.

Land alienation:

  • In pursuance of the PESA, 1996, Land Transfer Regulations/Tenancy laws of all Schedule V Areas should be suitably amended to ensure Gram Sabha’s participation in the identification, investigation and restoration of lands to tribal people.
  • Legal loopholes and ambiguities should be removed in all Scheduled Area Land Regulations and Tenancy laws. For example, such removal must ensure that tribal land is not transferred for purposes such as the settlement of refugees, housing, etc.

The Gram Sabha should be empowered to restore the alienated land on detection, pending the long legal battle, to potentially discourage a prospective non-tribal buyer of land in Scheduled Areas.

SEED Scheme

  • SEED stands for Scheme for Economic Empowerment of Denotified and Nomadic Tribes.

It will provide

  • Educational empowerment: Free coaching to students from these communities for Civil Services, entry to professional courses like medicine, engineering, MBA, etc.
  • Health Insurance through PM Ayushman Bharat Scheme.
  • Livelihoods to support income generation.
  • Housing (through PMAY/IAY)
  • The Development and Welfare Board for DNTs, SNTs &NTs (DWBDNCs) has been tasked with the implementation of this scheme.

Schemes for Tribal Education

Eklavya School 

  • A centrally sponsored scheme aiming to impart quality education to ST children in remote areas.
  • The government will establish Eklavya Residential Schools to provide education to tribals in their local environment.
  • Target: Ekalavya schools in every block with more than 50% ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons by 2022.
  • It will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture, besides providing training in sports and skill development.
  • Schools established are like Navodaya schools.

Ashram Schools

  • They are demand-driven residential schools implemented through State governments. These schools are constructed in Tribal sub-plan States/UT administration.
  • The scheme covers primary, middle, secondary and senior secondary levels of education.
  • Under the scheme, only construction grant on a cost-sharing ratio basis is released to State Government for the construction of ashram schools.
  • State Governments are eligible for a 100% central share for the construction of all Girls’ Ashram Schools and for the construction of Boys’ Ashram Schools in Naxal-affected areas. The funding pattern for the other Boys’ Ashram Schools is on a 50:50 basis, while cent per cent assistance is given to UTs for the construction of both Girls’ and Boys’ Ashram Schools.
  • Recurring expenses of schools, administrative management, and academic issues including food, education & safety are overseen by States.

Support to Tribal Research Institutes (TRI) Scheme

  • Aim: Strengthen Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) in their infrastructural needs, R&D activities and Training & Capacity Building programs etc.
  • MoTA is the nodal Ministry for operationalizing the scheme. The scheme shall be a Central Sector Scheme with 100% funding by the Central Government to the TRIs directly or through the state government.

Schemes for the Economic Welfare of Tribes

Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana

  • A Central sector scheme was launched for the holistic development and welfare of the tribal population in India by plugging the infrastructure gaps and lags in human development indices.

Focus Areas

  1. Provision for a better standard of living for tribals.
  2. Improving access to and quality of education.
  3. Generating resources for long-term and sustainable growth
  4. Bridging infrastructural gaps
  5. Protection of tribal culture and heritage..

PM Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana

The scheme for Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme (SCA to TSS) has been revamped to PM Adi Adarsh Gram Yojana.

  • It is aimed at the Comprehensive development of 36,428 villages with more than 500 tribal populations and more than 50% of tribals will be undertaken to develop these villages as Adarsh Gram.

PM Janjatiya Vikas Yojana

  • It is aimed at Achieving livelihood-driven tribal development in the next 5 years through the formation of Van Dhan SHGs, organised into Van Dhan Vikas Kendras.
  • TRIFED is the nodal agency for implementing it.

Venture Capital Fund for ST

  • A 50-crore fund for promoting entrepreneurship and incubating start-up ideas of scheduled tribes.
  • It will provide concessional finance to ST entrepreneurs, creating wealth and value.

Shram Shakti

  • It is the national migration support portal for tribals developed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It would effectively help in the smooth formulation of state and national-level programs for migrant workers.

Schemes to Protect the Tribal Culture

Trifood Initiative

  • Aims to enhance the income of tribals through better utilization of and value addition to the MFPs collected by the tribal forest gatherers.


  • It is a National Tribal Festival organized by MoTA and TRIFED to celebrate, cherish and promote the spirit of tribal craft, culture, cuisine and commerce

Schemes for Tribal Health

Anamaya: Tribal Health Collaborative

  • It is a Tribal Health Collaborative launched by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.
  • It aims to end all preventable deaths among tribal communities in India. It aims to build a sustainable, high-performing health ecosystem to address key health challenges faced by the tribal population of India.

Schemes for Basic Amenities

100 Springs Initiative

  • It aims at improving access to safe and adequate water for the tribal communities living in difficult and inaccessible parts of rural areas in the country.
  • It is an integrated solution around natural springs.
  • It includes the provision of infrastructure for piped water supply for drinking; provision of water for irrigation;
Online Counselling
Table of Contents
Today's Current Affairs
This is default text for notification bar