In India tribal people are often called “Adivasis” and the government recognizes them as scheduled tribes (STs). Scheduled Tribes (STs) and also Scheduled Castes (SCs) are the disadvantaged sections of the society due to socio-economic exploitation and isolation since times immemorial. According to the Census of 2011, the ST population in India was 104.5 million, accounting for 8.63 percent of the total population of the country. The tribal population in Maharashtra in 2011 was 10.5 million constituting 9.35 percent of the total population of the state.
The state has the second largest tribal population in the country, next only to Madhya Pradesh, with 10 percent of the total ST population of India. Numerically, Maharashtra state has the largest number of tribal population in the country. Though the ST population in India is numerically less as compared to the general population, they deserve special attention as they are socio-economically and culturally backward and isolated from the general population. Even among the STs, there are large differences between them in terms of numerical strength, history of settlement, geographic location, livelihood pattern, language, culture, human development, political empowerment and developmental aspirations. Further, each tribe is an endogamous group and interaction between groups and outside world is very much limited. […]
Source: Foreword by Dr. S. Parasuraman in “Tribal Sub-Plan in Maharashtra: A Diagnostic Study” (TATA Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai supported by Unicef Maharashtra, December 2015)
Date Visited: 30 June 2022
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Ādivāsi [ādibāsi] may be used in accordance with local conventions; and increasingly so for official purposes (e.g. in “Conserving Tradition and Practices of Adivasi Communities in India” published on NIDM.gov.in); Dr. Ivy Hansdak clarifies:
“Adivasi – which is derived from Sanskrit – is applied to the dark-skinned or Austro-Asiatic indigenous groups of India (usually those from Eastern India). It is a commonly-used term in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. It is also used by the local Mongoloid tribes of North Eastern India for the migrant workers who were brought in as indentured labourers to work in tea plantations during the colonial period. ‘Tribal’ is a very broad term in the English language and includes all the different indigenous groups of India. The terms ‘indigenous’ and ‘aboriginal’ are not used often as the government claims most groups are indigenous in India. ‘Denotified Tribes’ is only used for those nomadic tribes who were notified as ‘criminal tribes’ during the British Raj [colonial rule]; later they were ‘denotified’ but still bear the stigma.” (emails dated 2020 & 2023)
“Tribal groups (adivasis) in India have often been excluded, marginalized and oppressed by ‘mainstream’ society. In many ways this exclusion, marginalization and oppression is fostered by the way in which ‘mainstream’ society looks at the adivasis – as exotic, dangerous, or ‘primitive’ others.” – Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence and Voice | Classifications in different states >>
“Since the Indian Constitution uses the term ‘Scheduled Tribes’ or ‘tribals’ to refer to indigenous communities in India and the colloquial reference used by several indigenous communities themselves is ‘adivasis’ these two terms shall be used interchangeably.” – Rebecca S . David in “An analysis of the impact of the Forest Rights Act (2006) in three states of India” (MPhil University of Cambridge, UK, 2014), p. 1 | Learn more | Classifications in different states >>
“Adivasis are not a homogeneous group; there are over 200 distinct peoples speaking more than 100 languages, and varying greatly in ethnicity and culture.” – Source: World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – India | Learn more | Classifications in different states >>