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Political Inclusion of Tribes

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    6th Jul, 2022


  • About Tribals of India
  • Their significant culture and living
  • Role and Contributions
  • Santhal Tribes
  • Education and their Political inclusion
  • Constitutional Backing to tribals in India


Droupadi Murmu, former Jharkhand Governor, has been nominated for President Election candidature.

  • Belong to ‘Santhal Tribal community’ she is going to be the first Tribal women to hold such a higher position in politics of India.


  • Tribal communities, outside the Northeast, generally have lower levels of literacy.
  • But the Santhals have higher – a result of pro-school education awareness since at least the 1960s – literacy rate compared to other tribes in Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Many of the community have entered the creamy layer of Indian society.
  • For example, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren is a Santhal.
  • The incumbent Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAGI) Girsh Chandra Murmu, who was the first Lt Governor of the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, also belong to Santhal community.


Santhal Tribes

  • Santhal, also spelt as Santal, literally means a calm, peaceful man. Santha means calm, and ala means man in the Santhali (also spelt as Santali) language.
  • Santhals are the third largest Scheduled Tribe community in India after Gonds and Bhils.
  • The Santhali population is mostly distributed in Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal.
  • The Santhals were a nomadic stock before they chose to settle in the Chotanagpur plateau.
  • By the end of the 18th century, they had concentrated in the Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand (earlier Bihar).

Cultural features of Santhals

  • Religion:
    • They are nature worshippers and could be seen paying obeisance at Jaher (sacred groves) in their villages.
    • River Damodar holds a special place in the religious life cycle of a Santhal.
    • Their traditional dress includes dhoti and gamuchha for men and a short-check saree, usually blue and green, for women, who generally put on tattoos.
  • Society:
    • Various forms of marriage are accepted in the Santhal society – including elopement, widow remarriage, levirate, forced (rare) and the one in which a man is made to marry the woman he has impregnated.
    • Divorce is not a taboo in the Santhal society. Either of the couple could divorce the other.
  • Art forms:
    • Santhals are fond of their folk song and dance that they perform at all community events and celebrations.
    • They play musical instruments like kamak, dhol, sarangi and flutes.
    • Most Santhals are agriculturists, depending on their farmlands or forests.
    • Their homes, called Olah, have a particular three-colour pattern on the outer walls.
    • The bottom portion is painted with black soil, the middle with white and the upper with red.


Why tribals are considered vulnerable section in the society?

  • Tribal communities are often identified by some specific signs such as;
  • Primitive traits
  • Distinctive culture
  • Geographical isolation
  • Shyness to contact with the community at large
  • Backwardness
  • Though their vulnerability is defined by several factors;
  • Dependency on hunting and gathering for food
  • Having pre-agriculture level of technology
  • Zero or negative growth of population
  • Extremely low level of literacy
  • These groups are called Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.

Issues faced by tribal population

  • The tribal communities have not received the full benefits of development processes undertaken over the past six decades.
  • Plus, they are adversely affected by the developmental projects undertaken during this period.
  • While tribes have a distinct culture and history, they also share commonalities with other marginalised sections of Indian society, such as the
  • lack of adequate political representation
  • economic deprivation
  • cultural discrimination

How tribal leadership can help India?

  • Leaders of the tribal middle class: They are connected to the global indigenous people's network. They are a little more vocal about issues of land, water and forest, but are hardly involved in any sustained movement.
  • The grassroots leaders: They know the issues better than anybody.
  • Economic growth: The leader will help them to acquire proper job opportunities and their inclusion in main stream society, which can help them to generate revenue for their survival.
  • Add to Heritage of India: Many local art forms and practices which are indigenous to Tribal living in secluded forests are unknown to common people, which are beneficial for ancient medicinal knowledge and other techniques.

Xaxa Committee report

  • Accordingly, the Prime Minister’s Office constituted a High-Level Committee (HLC) in 2013, under chairmanship of Prof. Virginius Xaxa.
  • The Committee was mandated to examine the socio-economic, educational and healthstatus of tribal communities and recommend appropriate interventional measures to improve the same. It submitted report in May, 2014.
  • The five critical issues:  Livelihood and employment, Education, Health, Involuntary displacement and migration, and Legal and constitutional matters have been studied by Xaxa Committee.
  • In one of the discourses, the overall condition of tribal people, including their poverty, is attributed to their social and geographical isolation.
  • Verrier Elwin attributed their deplorable and impoverished condition to their contact with the outside world, which had led to indebtedness and loss of control over their land and forests. (Verrier Elwin (1902 – 1964) was a British self-trained anthropologist, ethnologist and tribal activist.)

Way forward

  • Improving Health related concerns: Health is the foremost aspect to be taken care for tribals and making them aware of the diseases evolving such as COVID19.
  • Making primary education accessible to them in local language: Lack of Education makes them deprive to higher political positions and better livelihood conditions in general.
  • Accessibility of education in their language will make easy for them to understand the concepts clearly.
  • Even they can relate to the studies better.
  • Awareness drives about Political rights: Political rights of tribals are unreached to them even after 75 years of Independence due to the lack of awareness among them about their rights.
  • By Conducting rallies and community meetings can help to make them more aware.


Q1. Examine the dilemma related to the development of the tribes in India. 

Q2. Discuss the issues faced by tribes in India. What are the recommendations given by Xaxa committee to improve the condition of tribes?


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