Tip | How many ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are there in India? And what distinguishes them from other communities? (‘tribal’ or otherwise) – Information provided by the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

There are over 700 tribes (with overlapping communities in more than one State) which have been notified under Article 342 of the Constitution of India, spread over different States and Union Territories of the country. The largest number of main tribal communities (62) has been specified in relation to the State of Orissa. The Scheduled Tribes have been specified in relation to all the States and Union Territories except Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Delhi, and Pondicherry.

The Constitution of India seeks to secure for all its citizens, among other things, social and economic justice, equality of status and opportunity and assures the dignity of the individual. All Rights available to the Citizens of India, enshrined in the Constitution or any law of the land or any order of the Government are equally available to the Scheduled Tribes also.

Scheduled Tribes being backward and isolated from the rest of the population are not able to exercise their rights. In order to empower them to be able to exercise their rights special provisions have been made in the Constitution. Framers of the Constitution took note of this fact and incorporated enabling provisions in the Constitution in the form of reservation and measures to be taken to empower them to be able to avail the opportunities. Some people call these provisions as privileges for the Scheduled Tribes but these are only the enabling provisions so that Scheduled Tribes can avail the opportunities and exercise their rights and safeguards. […]

Who are Scheduled Tribes?
The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that certain communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness on account of the primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation. The Constitution of India in Article 366 (25) prescribe that the Scheduled Tribes means such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 of the Constitution to be Scheduled Tribes. […]

Source: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
Address: https://www.ncst.nic.in/
Date Visited: 15 September 2021

While the Constitution is silent about the criteria for specification of a community as a Scheduled Tribe. The words and the phrase ‘tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities” in Article 342 have to be understood in terms of their historical background of backwardness. Primitiveness, geographical isolation, shyness and social, educational & economic backwardness due to these reasons are the traits that distinguish Scheduled Tribe communities of our country from other communities. It takes into account the definitions of tribal Communities adopted in the 1931 Census. These facts are the basis for the provision in Article 342(1) which mandates to specify the tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within tribes or tribal communities as Scheduled Tribe in relation to that State or Union Territory as the case may be. Thus the list of Scheduled Tribes is State/UT specific and a community declared as a Scheduled Tribe in a State need not be so in another State. The Presidential notifications under Clause 1 of Article 342 of the Constitution are issued as the Constitution Orders. Two Constitution Orders were initially issued in relation to two distinct categories of States as existed at the time of adoption of the Constitution of India. […]

Source: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS | National Commission for Scheduled Tribes
Address: https://www.ncst.nic.in/content/frequently-asked-questions
Date Visited: 15 September 2021

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Scheduled Tribes are notified in 30 States/UTs [Union Territories]. Number of individual ethnic groups, etc. notified as Scheduled Tribes is 705. There has been some changes in the List of Scheduled Tribes in States/ UTs during the last decade. 

Source: “Scheduled Tribes in India as revealed in Census 2011” by C. Chandramouli (Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India, Ministry of Home Affairs), 3 May 2013
Document: “23scheduledTribesIndiaRevealedInCensus2011EN20170503.pdf”
URL: https://ruralindiaonline.org/library/resource/scheduled-tribes-in-india-as-revealed-in-census-2011/
Date visited: 31 October 2020

Tips for using interactive maps

  1. toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser
  2. for details and hyperlinks click on the rectangular button (left on the map’s header)
  3. scroll and click on one of the markers for information of special interest
  4. explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>

See also

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress since Independence. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.

Source: States and Union Territories – About India
URL: https://knowindia.india.gov.in/states-uts/
Date visited: 4 September 2021

Learn more about India’s 28 States and 8 Union Territories – From Andhra Pradesh to West Bengal | Nutrition >>

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

Tip: type the name of a tribal community, region or state in the search field seen below. For better results, combine search words of special interest to you: Adivasi, Indigenous or tribal with topics like artist, music, craft, poetry, literature, education, biodiversity, ethnobotany, festival, film, health, nutrition, forest rights or human rights

Try the following in case Google Custom Search window or media contents are invisible here: (1) switch from “Reader” to regular viewing; (2) in browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript”; (3) check Google support for browsers and devices | More >>

List of Indian magazines and web portals covered by the present Custom search engine | To search other sources safely, click here >>

  1. www.indiatoday.in
  2. www.india-seminar.com
  3. www.livemint.com
  4. www.outlookindia.com
  5. www.ruralindiaonline.org
  6. scroll.in
  7. www.sanctuaryasia.com
  8. www.tehelka.com
  9. www.thebetterindia.com
  10. www.theweek.in

About website administrator

Secretary of the foundation
This entry was posted in Assimilation, Constitution and Supreme Court, Democracy, Economy and development, FAQ, Figures, census and other statistics, Government of India, History, Organizations, Quotes, Regions of India, Resources, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Rural poverty, Scheduled Tribe (ST), Tips. Bookmark the permalink.