In terms of the provisions of the Constitution of India, the tribal’s come under the category of Scheduled Tribes (STs). As per 2001 Census, they are 8.43 crore in number, constituting 8.2 per cent of India’s total population. The tribal’s are concentrated in the following three regions of India: (i) North-Eastern Region (NER): Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. (ii) Central Tribal Belt (CTB): Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Dada and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. (iii) Other States/UTs: Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, J&K, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep.
The tribal communities live in about 15 per cent of the country’s area, in varying ecological and geo-climatic conditions, plains, forests, hills and inaccessible areas. Tribal groups are at different stages of social, economic and educational development. They have their presence in the States and Union Territories except Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Pondicherry. The predominant tribal-populated States of the country, i.e. those with tribal population of more than 50 per cent of the total population of the States are: Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Union Territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakshadweep.
If a comparison is made amongst ST population alone, more than half the ST population of the country is concentrated in the States of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The largest number of tribes (62 per cent) is in the State of Orissa.
The Sixth Schedule under Article 244 of India’s Constitution identifies Autonomous Districts in the Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. It also makes provisions for recognition of Autonomous Regions within these Autonomous Districts. These have been...