“ADIVASIS are the ancient and indigenous people, with a distinct identity and culture that has territorial identification, a harmonious and symbiotic relationship with the earth as her children, internally organised on egalitarian and communitarian basis, with systems of knowledge, self-governance and nationhood”. This is the definition that we read to understand the adivasis of India. In today scenario the life of adivasi people is a big question mark. Due to several reasons, these adivasi people now became the migrant, forced labour and most marginalized vulnerable communities. They are displaced, their livelihoods resources are exploited, their life became nomadic and living in extreme poverty with illiteracy and they are poorest of the poor in India.

    It is generally believed that the Aryans pushed the original inhabitants of the land in the interiors of the dense hills and forests of the country. Although the manner in which the Aryans forced them to retreat is not exactly known but one thing is more or less certain i.e. they must have faced some kind of resistance from the original inhabitants. It led to an already existing virile social and political homogenous unit to withdraw itself from the main stream of a secluded life in inaccessible areas where they developed their own means of living and social organisation. Thus they acquired a different character of their own which can be called as tribalism.

    Furthermore, the British India, forced adivasis as one of the most vulnerable sections. For example, several tribal groups revolted against the forced encroachment of the British rulers during 1760. They rebelled against the East India Company for dispossessing the tribal chiefs of their land and forests against East India Companies’ Rajas, Landlords, Zamindars. There were atleast 90 tribal revolts during the colonial period of 1639 to1947 against the exploitation of oppression and unjust ownership of the land and forest by the British rulers and their laws such as the Forest Act (1864), Criminal Tribes Act (1871), and Land Acquisition Act (1894). 

    Even after independence, their struggle for survival continued till they got some legislation like the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, Prevention of Atrocities Act and Provisions of Extension to Scheduled Areas Act and the Forest Rights Act. Up till now, most of the government laws and schemes are unreachable for the adivasi communities. According to the World Bank report 2005, about 41.6% of Indian people live on less than $1.25 a day - the International poverty line. Adding to that, the UNICEF estimates that in the year of 2000 about 24,20,000 children in India died before reaching at the age of five and it estimates that most of them are adivasi children which associated with malnutrition, illhealth and poverty.

    Adivasis are facing range of atrocities and violence on many aspects. Case in point the Vachathi incident. According to the CBI report (Central Bureau of Investigation), 155 forest personnel, 108 policemen and six revenue officials entered Vachathi on June 20, 1992, dragged tribals out of their homes, assaulted about 100 of them, raped 18 young women and ransacked their properties. Nearly two decades after this infamous incident, the judgment came on September 29, 2011. “215 men of police, forest and revenue departments were sentenced to terms up to 10 years for assault and rape of tribals” –news by Deccan Chronicle dated September 30, 2011. “No roads, No Educational and No medical facilities in tribal areas” – report by the Hindu daily, dated April 2, 2012. Due to forced displacement and marginalization, many of the Irula tribes are working as bonded labourers – News by Dinakaran daily - dated April 10, 2012 and etc.


    There are 36 adivasis’ communities are listed in this. Majority of them includes Todas, Kadars, Irulas, Kotas, Kattunaikas, Kurumans, Muthuvans, Paniyans, Pulayans, Malayalees, Kurumbas, Eravallans, Kanikkars, Mannans and Paliyans. Share of Adivasis population in the state is 1.03%. According to the Census Report, the total ST Population in Tamilnadu is 6,51,321 (1.04%) among this Male is 328917 and Female is 322404. There are six primitive tribal groups in Tamilnadu such as Irular, Kattunaikan, Kotar, Kurumbar, Paniyan and Todas are the PTGs. Adivasis literacy rate is 27.89% among them men 35.25% and the women 20.23%. Enrolment rate of STs is 48.2%. About 87% of the Adivasis are living under the poverty and have lost their indigenous identity. Government schemes are not reaching to them and still many villages do not have basic amenities like drinking water, schools, electricity, road and transport. Exploitation, ignorance and discrimination are some of the stumbling block for the under development of Adivasis. About 53% of Adivasis do not have permanent houses 48% of the Adivasis are not finding any employment opportunities. 2 MLA seats reserved for Adivasis. The Ministry for Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes (SC/ST) implements programmes and schemes for the development of Adivasis in Tamilnadu. Majority of their schemes and programmes are focusing on educational development of the scheduled tribes.


    There are 35 Adivasi communities are listed in this state. Majority of them includes Malakuravans, Malayarayans, Malavetans, Malayans, Mannans, Ullatans, Uralis, Vishawans, Arandans, Kattunaykans, Koragas, Kotas, Kurichiyans, Kurumans, Paniyas, Pulayans, Malsars and Kurumbas. Share of adivasi population in the state is 0.49%. Adivasi literacy rate in Kerala south India is 57.22% among them men 63.38% and the women 51.07%. About 82% of the Adivasis are living under the poverty. 54% of the Adivasis are not finding any employment opportunities in this south India. Only 1 MLA seat reserved for Adivasis in Kerala. Government is not interested in implementation of the Forest Rights Act. Tribals’ lands are encroached by the non-tribals and corporate sectors. Forced displacement and migration due to wild-life sanctuaries and extreme poverty are common issues that are faced by Adivasis of Kerala.  


    There are 49 Adivasis communities are listed in this state. Majority of them includes Gaudalus, Hakkipikkis, Irruligas, Jenu Kurubas, Malaikuds, Malikudis, Bhils, Gonds, Chenchus, Koyas, Yeravas, Haleyas and Koramas. Share of Adivasi population in the state is 2.95%. Adivasi literacy rate in Karnataka is 36.01% among them men 47.95% and the women 23.57%. About 85% of the Adivasis are living under the poverty. 52% of the Adivasis are not finding any employment opportunities in this state. 2 MLA seats reserved for Adivasis in this state. There are several issues and false cases against adivasi groups by the forest department. Recently most of the adivasis are forced for displacement due to the special economic zones and nature-based tourism which are motivated by the multi-national companies along with state authorities.


    There are 33 Adivasis communities are listed in this state. Majority of them includes Chenchus, Koyas, Gadabas, Konda, Doras, Konda Kapur, Konda Reddis, Sugalis/Lambadis, Yenadis, Yerukulas, Bhils, Gonds, Kolams, Pradhans & Valmikis. As per the census report, share of STs in the state is 6.47%. Adivasi literacy rate in Andhra Pradesh is 17.16% among them men 25.25% and the women 8.68%. About 89% of the Adivasis are living under the poverty. Over 46% of the Adivasis are not finding any employment opportunities in this state. There are 15 seats for MLA and 2 seats for MPs are reserved for Adivasis (STs) in this state. Andhra Pradesh state has both scheduled areas and non-scheduled areas. The Northern Andhra Pradesh comes under the fifth schedule area. Most of Adivasis in these regions are depended on non-timber forest produces for their livelihoods needs. In Southern Andhra Pradesh Adivasis have lost their forest rights and identity and most of them are migrated in search of employment. Many of the Adivasi families are working as bonded labourers and as unorganised workers for very minimum wages and their issues are well-known by the National Human Rights Commission but the state is not interested in addressing their issues due to very low voting power.

    PUDUCHERY (Pondicherry):

    There is no clear baseline data about Adivasi population in the state of Pondicherry. The Anthropological department says that over 18,400 Adivasis living in this union territory out of the general population of 9,73,829. General literacy rate is 81.49% and the Adivasi literacy rate is less than 10%. It has 4 districts. Over 4132 adivasi families are living and these adivasi people needs special component plan for their development, identity and empowerment. According to the Pondicherry ST Federation there are Irulas, Malaikuravan, Kattunayakan, Kurumans, Yerukula are living in this land. After, several struggles, these adivasi groups are recognised by the Pondicherry Government as “Backward Tribes with 1% reservation” and the groups that are listed are Irulas including the sub caste Villi, Vettaikaran(Pondicherry & Karaikal region), Malaikuravan/Malakuravan, Kattunayakan (Pondicherry, Karaikal & Yanam region), Yerukula (Pondicherry & Yanam region), Kuruman/Kurumans (Pondicherry region) as per the GO MS No: 5/2009/Wel/SW-V dated 12.4.2010.


    1. EQUALITY & SOCIAL JUSTICE (Article 14, 29, 46 of the Constitution): The state shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the scheduled tribes and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. Tribals of this country are facing several types of discrimination and atrocities both by non-tribals and by the state departments. Hence, it is the duty of government to protect the tribes from all types of injustice and secure their equality and development in all aspects including education and economic sector.

    2. SELF-DETERMINATION (Article 244-1 of the Constitution): According to the Census 2011 report, there are 35 States/Union Territories, 640 districts, 5924 sub-districts, 7935 Towns and 6,40,867 Villages. Out of this, over 51267 villages that is being the original inhabitants by adivasi families which need immediate recognisation as per the PESA 1996 act and autonomy from the forest & revenue departments. 

    3. RIGHT TO LAND & FOREST (Article 19, 244, 275, 339 of the Constitution): More the 90 per cent of the tribals are dependent on agriculture, forest and allied activities. Land is the only tangible asset of a tribal family, other possessions being extremely meager in the present stage of their economy. There are a number of social and religious rituals connected with land which establish emotional ties between the tribals and their land. Therefore, as per the FRA 2006, each adivasi families must be given atleast 10 acres of land and right to non-timber forest produce for their livelihoods. This will ensure their identity with forest-land-based development.

    4. CONSULTATION & PARTICIPATION (ILO convention 107 & 169): Many of the tribal areas have rich natural resource potential, bulk of which remains to be explored. In some areas, large scale industries and big mining complexes have been established and all these are forcing for displacement of tribal communities. The pattern of development in these areas, however, has not been in the best interest of the tribal communities. Hence, there should be consultation with tribal people’s participation in sharing of benefits, profits and on decision-making process.

    5. INCLUSIVE DEVELOPMENT (Article 23, 24, 275 of the Constitution): More than six decades after independence, the majority of adivasi families in this country are living with no basic facilities-no shelter, no ration card, no hospitals, no roads, no transports, no schools and no community certificates. People are evicted from their homelands in the name of development or conservation. Tribals are voiceless and forced as bonded labourers. Laws such as the BLA 1976 and POA 1989 have to be implemented for the rights of all adivasis with special attention of the state units and regular monitoring process by the prime minister. This may protect their rights, culture, value systems and dignity of the tribal communities of this country.

    6. PEOPLE’S BASED APPROACH: (Article 338-A of the Constitution): In order to monitor and evaluate the impact of development schemes and laws, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) and the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has to interact with the State/UT Governments with people’s views. The commissions must review the development of tribals with all the Chief Secretaries and other senior officers and should conduct periodical field level visits and solve the genuine problems of the Tribes and would take the necessary initiative in working out remedial measures with people’s opinion by adopting appropriate strategies to reach the impact of independence to every corner of this country.