Human Development Report of Tribal Communities 2010 – Kerala

Land alienation continues to be a major issue among tribal communities, according to studies done by the State Planning Board [published in 2010].

The Human Development Report of Tribal Communities in Kerala, prepared by the Planning Board under a project sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme and the Planning Commission, says their land is lost to settlers and encroachers. In the process, they lose their livelihoods as well. “The excessive dependence of tribal communities on land for their income and employment makes land alienation and landlessness a major livelihood concern of the tribes.”

(Though a law was enacted in 1975 to restore alienated land to tribes, it has never been enforced effectively. Subsequently, its clauses have been diluted through fresh legislation.)

The average size of landholding among traditionally landowning communities such as Kurichya, Kuruma and Malayarayan and communities such as Muthuvan is much above other tribal communities. This is seen to be associated with their better levels of development.

The study reports that noticeable differences exist between forward and backward communities in their livelihood options. The majority of the tribal communities depends on the primary sector for their livelihood. The spread in main sources of employment is higher among the forward communities.

The backward tribes, such as Irula, Kattu Naika, Paniya, Urali and Adiya, depend almost entirely on agriculture, agriculture labour and non-agriculture labour. Nearly 15 per cent of the tribes report the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as their main source of employment.

“The fact that almost one person out of every nine tribal people have indicated the MGREGA as the main source of employment raises concern about the sustainability of the traditional livelihood options of tribal people. […]

This is indicative of the fact that income and employment generation schemes introduced by the government are more popular and effective mainly among the forward tribes.” […]

A disturbingly high percentage of the tribal population reports borrowings as the main source of meeting hospital expenditure. They cite financial incapability as a major hindrance to using health-care facilities. This is so when treatment is free in government hospitals and cultural aspects are found to be not roadblocks in accessing health care. The problem is their inability to meet incidental expenses such as travel, bribes to doctors and boarding and lodging of bystanders associated with treatment. The situation takes a huge toll on the health status of the backward communities because of their lower creditworthiness and lack of assets to pledge, the study says.

Poor health

It further says that substance abuse, unhygienic living environment and malnourishment are major factors that contribute to poor health indicators for tribal communities.

The ignorance about the severity of many medical conditions and problems of affordability to modern medical facilities expose the tribal communities to health risks and eventually lead them to high morbidity and mortality situations.

The tribal communities continue to be educationally backward with visible gender differences. While women lag behind their men counterparts in literacy, men lag in education.

Major factors hindering literacy include inaccessibility, language barrier, cultural barrier, lack of tribal sensitive functionaries, lack of libraries and reading materials and alcoholism. The dropout rates of tribal students are high at the high school and higher secondary school level

Source: “Land alienation still haunts tribes: study” by Roy Mathew, The Hindu 30 September 2010
Address :
Date Visited: 14 March 2024

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Reports in the Indian press | List of periodicals included in this search >>

Search tips

Combine the name of any particular state, language or region with that of any tribal (Adivasi) community.

Add keywords of special interest (music, poetry, dance just as health, sacred grove and biodiversity); learn about the rights of Scheduled Tribes such as the “Forest Rights Act” (FRA); and the United Nations “Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, “women’s rights”, or “children’s right to education”.

Specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, bonded labour and human trafficking, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, hunter-gatherers in a particular region or state, prevention of rural poverty, water access).

For official figures include “scheduled tribe ST” along with a union state or region: e.g. “Chhattisgarh ST community”, “Himalayan tribe”, “Scheduled tribe Tamil Nadu census”, “ST Kerala census”, “Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group Jharkhand”, “PVTG Rajasthan”, “Adivasi ST Kerala”, “Adibasi ST West Bengal” etc.

In case the Google Custom Search window is not displayed here try the following: (1) toggle between “Reader” and regular viewing; (2) in your browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript” | More tips >>

Note: hyperlinks and quotes are meant for fact-checking and information purposes only | Disclaimer >>

“It was assumed that tribal people have same health problems, similar needs and hence the uniform national pattern of rural health care would be applicable to them as well, albeit with some alteration in population: provider ratio. The different terrain and environment in which they live, different social systems, different culture and hence different health care needs were not addressed.”– Abhay Bang, Chairman, Expert Committee on Tribal health (2018 Report of the Expert Committee on Tribal Health)

Learn more >>
Download Tribal Health in India PDF (35 MB) >>
Searchable file (backup):
PDF (OCR 70 MB) >>

See also

Biodiversity and development – Kerala

Childhood – Kerala | Childrens rights: UNICEF India | Safe search

Childrens rights: English or Malayalam (UNICEF India)

eBook | Background guide for education

Education and literacy | Right to education

eLearning | “National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other”: Droupadi Murmu – 15th President of India

Ethnobotany & ethnomedicine

Food distribution

Health and nutrition

Human development – Kerala

Kerala | State wise ST list (Scheduled Tribes)

Literature and bibliographies

Literature – fiction | Poetry


Recommendations by the Expert Committee on Tribal Health

Success stories

Tribal schools and educational projects – Kerala

Video – Kerala

Video | M.S. Swaminathan on Biodiversity and the sharing of resources

Video | Trailer to “Have you seen the arana?” – Kerala

Vulnerable tribal groups – Kerala


Women | Safe search | President Droupadi Murmu on women’s empowerment