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Scheduled Tribes in India

This topic covers about Tribes and their welfare in India.


The term 'Scheduled Tribes' first appeared in the Constitution of India. Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution". Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.

Article 342

The President may, with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a state, after consultation with the Governor there of by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall, for the purposes of this constitution, is deemed to be scheduled tribes in relation to that state or Union Territory, as the case may be.

Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled tribes specified in a notification issued under clause(1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid, a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.

Thus, the first specification of Scheduled Tribes in relation to a particular State/ Union Territory is by a notified order of the President, after consultation with the State governments concerned. These orders can be modified subsequently only through an Act of Parliament. The above Article also provides for listing of scheduled tribes State/Union Territory wise and not on an all India basis.

The criterion followed for specification of a community, as scheduled tribes are indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness. This criterion is not spelt out in the Constitution but has become well established. It subsumes the definitions contained in 1931Census, the reports of first Backward Classes Commission 1955, the Advisory Committee (Kalelkar), on Revision of SC/ST lists (Lokur Committee), 1965 and the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes orders (Amendment) Bill 1967 (Chanda Committee), 1969.

In exercise of the powers conferred by Clause (1) of Article 342 of the Constitution of India, the President, after Consultation with the State Governments concerned have promulgated so far 9 orders specifying the Scheduled Tribes in relation to the state and union territories. Out of these, eight are in operation at present in their original or amended form. One order namely the Constitution (Goa, Daman & Diu) Scheduled Tribes order 1968 has become defunct on account of reorganization of Goa, Daman & Diu in 1987. Under the Goa, Daman & Diu reorganization Act 1987 (18 of 1987) the list of Scheduled Tribes of Goa has been transferred to part XIX of the Schedule to the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 and that of Daman & Diu II of the Schedule of the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) (Union Territories) Order, 1951.

S. No. Name Of Order Date Of Notification Name Of States/ Ut(S) For Which Applicable
1 The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 (C.O.22) 6-9-1950 Andhra Pradesh, Arunanchal Pradsh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura And West Bengal.
2 The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) (Union Territories) Order, 1951 (C.O.33) 20-9-1951 Daman & Diu, Lakshdweep
3 The Constitution (Andaman And Nicobar Islands) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1959 (C.O. 58) 31-3-1959 Andaman And Nicobar Islands
4 The Constitution (Dadra & Nagar Haveli) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1962 (C.O. 65) 30-6-1962 Dadra & Nagar Haveli
5 The Constitution (Uttar Pradesh) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1967 (C.O. 78) 24-6-1967 Uttar Pradesh
6 The Constitution (Nagaland) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1970 (C.O.88) 23-7-1970 Nagaland
7 The Constitution (Sikkim) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1978 (C.O.111) 22-6-1978 Sikkim
8 The Constitution (Jammu & Kashmir) Scheduled Tribes Order, 1989 (C.O. 142) 7-10-1989 Jammu & Kashmir

No community has been specified as Scheduled Tribe in relation to the State of Haryana and Punjab and Union Territories of Chandigarh, Delhi and Puducherry.

Article 342 provides for specification of tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which are deemed to be for the purposes of the Constitution the Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory. In pursuance of these provisions, the list of Scheduled Tribes are notified for each State or Union Territory and are valid only within the jurisdiction of that State or Union Territory and not outside.

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 inclusion of a community as a Scheduled Tribe is an ongoing process.

The essential characteristics of these communities are:

  • Primitive Traits
  • Geographical isolation
  • Distinct culture
  • Shy of contact with community at large
  • Economically backward

Tribal communities live, in various ecological and geo-climatic conditions ranging from plains and forests to hills and inaccessible areas. Tribal groups are at different stages of social, economic and educational development. While some tribal communities have adopted a mainstream way of life, at the other end of the spectrum, there are certain Scheduled Tribes, 75 in number known as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), who are characterised by

  • pre-agriculture level of technology
  • stagnant or declining population
  • extremely low literacy
  • subsistence level of economy

Distribution of Tribes

The Scheduled Tribes are notified in 30 States/UTs and the number of individual ethnic groups, etc. notified as Scheduled Tribes is 705. The tribal population of the country, as per 2011 census, is 10.43 crore, constituting 8.6% of the total population. 89.97% of them live in rural areas and 10.03% in urban areas. The decadal population growth of the tribal’s from Census 2001 to 2011 has been 23.66% against the 17.69% of the entire population. The sex ratio for the overall population is 940 females per 1000 males and that of Scheduled Tribes 990 females per thousand males.

Broadly the STs inhabit two distinct geographical area – the Central India and the North- Eastern Area. More than half of the Scheduled Tribe population is concentrated in Central India, i.e., Madhya Pradesh (14.69%), Chhattisgarh (7.5%), Jharkhand (8.29%), Andhra Pradesh (5.7%), Maharashtra (10.08%), Orissa (9.2%), Gujarat (8.55%) and Rajasthan (8.86%). The other distinct area is the North East (Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh).

More than two-third of the ST population is concentrated only in the seven States of the country, viz. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. There is no ST population in 3 States (Delhi NCR, Punjab and Haryana) and 2 UTs (Puducherry and Chandigarh), as no Scheduled Tribe is notified.

Literacy rate

The progress over the years on the literacy front may be seen from the following :

1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
Total literate population 24 % 29.4 % 36.2 % 52.2 % 64.84% 73.00 %
Scheduled Tribes (STs) population 8.5 % 11.3 % 16.3 % 29.6 % 47.10% 59.00%
Total female population 12.9 % 18.6 % 29.8 % 39.3 % 53.67% 64.60%
Total Scheduled Tribes (STs) female population 3.2 % 4.8 % 8.0 % 18.2 % 34.76% 49.40 %

Source: Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Related resources

  1. Statistical Profile of STs 2013
  2. ST Statistical Profile - at a glance
  3. State/Union Territory-wise list of Scheduled Tribes in India
Morpi Aado Ronya Sep 03, 2019 02:30 PM

I belong from Arunachal pradesh nd we wants to regist our women self help groups under the Center..for better developments to our poor villegers

Vivek Mehra Aug 23, 2019 09:30 PM

Sir please provide information about the problems of tribes in different regions like island tribe or central India tribes

prabhu rajgadkar nagpur Jun 01, 2019 01:34 PM

please ensure what is the stetus, total populatiaon and ST population from 2011 to 2018 and likewise female population.

Jagannathan May 09, 2019 09:38 AM

pls let me know the status of boyar community in Tamilnadu, is there any new inclusion as scheduled tribes

Pranab k Deori Mar 12, 2019 09:47 PM

Respected Sir, Deori and Mishing Tribes of Lekang circle, Namsai considered ST of Arunachal Pradesh now deprived from same without any notification.. even PRC not issuing.. educated youth facing problem for job etc.. please ..ground zero maybe carried out as the community lacks any leaders from their communities.. please help the Indian citizen... warm regards..

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