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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
Total literate population 24 % 29.4 % 36.2 % 52.2 % 64.84%
Scheduled Tribes (STs) population 8.5 % 11.3 % 16.3 % 29.6 % 47.10%
Total female population 12.9 % 18.6 % 29.8 % 39.3 % 53.67%
Total Scheduled Tribes (STs) female population 3.2 % 4.8 % 8.0 % 18.2 % 34.76%

Source: Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Michael Hasda Sep 03, 2018 09:35 AM

Santal Tribe of Assam should immediately be included in ST. They have been deprived of ST status although they fulfill the criteria to be ST.

Kristie May 21, 2018 09:44 PM

Why wasn't mention ST population percentages for each of the north eastern states, like it was for the central Indian ST population, when it has been clearly mentioned that this region is the home of the other distinct part of the Indian ST population? I would very much like to know from You the statewise spread of their population in the north east.

K Kipgen Apr 05, 2018 05:19 PM

The scheduled tribe list for the Kukis has become confusing. For example, many clans or subtribe who belong to Any Kuki Tribes or Kuki tribe in Assam, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya & Tripura are being recognised as separate tribes. Why a subtribe shouldn't be recognised with a single name? Can this anomaly be amended? If so, how? Should it be amended suo motu by the government or do the affected tribe who are being recognised with more than one name apply for amendment? How long will it take to complete the amendment process? Please let me know.

Bhawna Apr 03, 2018 09:48 PM

Why Naik or Ghasi are not include in Schedule Tribe?

Manoj Kumar Singh Jan 22, 2018 07:36 AM

Precised and well defined. Constitutional provisions and data are nicely highlighted.

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