September 2022 Kurukshetra Magazine Issue: Tribal Life and Culture

Kurukshetra Magazine is a vital source of study material for the UPSC IAS exam. It is a monthly magazine that gives information about important government schemes and programmes in various sectors. Kurukshetra is an authentic source of information for the UPSC Exam. Here, we provide the Gist of Kurukshetra, exclusively for the IAS Exam.

Chapter 1: Tribal Development Strategies

  • Schedule Tribes constitute 8.6 percent  of the total population of the country  according to the 2011 Census.
  • ST population grew from 6.9 percent in 1961 to 8.6 percent in 2011 and 92% of the ST population lives in rural areas.
  • Because of their traditional lifestyles, remoteness of habitations and dispersed population, their socio- economic progress  remained skewed on various development parameters.

Tribal Population

Image Source: Business Standard

Constitutional Safeguards:

  • Recognising the special needs of ST’s , the Constitution of India has made special safeguards to ensure social and economic justice and also protect them from possible exploitation.
  • Fundamental Rights ensure their holistic development whereas the  Directive Principles of State Policy prompt the State to create a conducive environment that its citizens can enjoy.
  • The Constitution has also laid down special provisions for areas which have a predominance of ST population in its Fifth and Sixth Schedule.

Provisions 1

Image Source: Kurukshetra

Development Plans and Programmes:

  • Development of tribes of India has remained a central theme in various perspective Five-Year Plans and Annual Plans.
  • Five Year plans laid emphasis on sustainable economic development, with the focus on reducing inequalities in society based on respect and understanding of their culture and traditions.
  • The Fifth Plan (1974-78) launched the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP).
    • TSP  aims to bridge the gap between the STs and the general population with respect to all socio-economic development indicators in a time-bound manner.
    • TSP is not applicable to states where tribals represent more than 60% of the population.
    • The Narendra Jadhav Committee was formed by the Planning Commission in 2010 in this regard.
    • As per the recommendations of the committee the earmarking of funds for all Central Ministries/Departments taken together should be at least 8.2% of the total Plan outlay under the TSP.
  • Seventh Plan (1985-90) laid emphasis on the economic development of STs by creating two national level institutions namely,
    • i) Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation (TRIFED) in 1987 as an apex body for State Tribal Development Cooperative Corporations, and
    • (ii) National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation.
  • The Eighth Plan {1992-97) focused on problems such as suppression of rights, land alienation, non-payment of minimum wages and restrictions on the right to collect minor forest produce, etc.
  • The Annual Plans post 12th FYP through NITI Aayog take care of development needs of STs in States.
  • Niti Aayog  issues guidelines for implementing Tribal Sub-Plans by Central Ministries/Departments.

The socio-economic status of the STs:

  1. Livelihood Development
  • According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey on poverty line , ST People living below the poverty line in 2011-12 were 45.3 percent and 24.1 percent in the rural and urban areas, respectively.
  • As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey, conducted by NSSO, the Labour Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in usual status (Principal + Subsidiary) for STs during 2017-18 and 2019-20 were 41.8 and 47.1 percent.
  • The India Human Development Survey shows the incidence of poverty is highest among the STs (49.6%), followed by the SCs (32.3%), and then the Muslims (30.6%).

      2. Literacy Rate and Education:

  • According to the Census figures, the literacy rate for STs in India improved from 47.1 per cent in 2001 to 59 per cent in 2011.
  • Although STs show a declining trend in dropout rates they are still very high – 35.6% in Classes I to V; 55% in Classes I to VIII; and 70.9% in Classes I to X in 2010-11, according to the Statistics Of School Education 2010-2011.
  • Special incentives such as free education in schools, exclusive residential schools for the STs are provided to address the issue of dropout.
  • Special focus is laid on STs under schemes such as Mid Day meal scheme, Navodaya Vidyalaya etc.
  • The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs is setting up Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs) under every block with more than 50% Schedule Tribe (ST) population and at least 20,000 tribal persons by the year 2022.
    • These are being set up by grants provided under Article 275(1) of the Constitution.
    • The objective of EMRS is to provide quality middle and high level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas, and to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non ST population.
  • By focusing on specific intervention to cater to the educational needs of STs, their quality of life is expected to improve to the level of the rest of the social groups and a visible impact by the 2021 Census.

      3. Entrepreneurship and Skill Development

  • Enabling entrepreneurial atmosphere along with skill development initiatives to ensure gainful absorption of educated ST persons are crucial for their development.
  • Under Skill India Mission, the Union Ministry of Skill Development has been delivering short-term skills through Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana , Jan Shikshan Sansthan Scheme, National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme, and long-term skills through Craftsman Training Scheme  and Industrial Training Institutes to the youth belonging to all section of the society including tribal community.
  • All of the above schemes have the mandatory provision of utilisation of funds for tribals through Scheduled Tribes (ST) component.
  • While resources are not an issue, the prime concern is how to encourage the participation of youth, employable STs in various vocations by mapping their needs and aspirations.


  • Plans and Programmes of the government have continuously facilitated the socio-economic development of ST population. However, the achievement is skewed across States.
  • Government needs to popularise a tribal specific participatory self-governance system where the STs will choose their own destiny by managing their own  resources and empowering themselves in the tribal-participative and tribal managed development process.
  • More focus should be given to the need based training and skill upgradation.
  • Intra-departmental cooperation, coordination and convergence are required for the effective implementation of schemes dedicated to the upliftment of the STs.

Chapter 2: Welfare of Tribes


  • Government of India has been making consistent efforts to empower Scheduled Tribes (STs) from launching various welfare schemes in different sectors, providing soft loans at a highly concessional rate of interest and increasing the budgetary allocations as evident from the Union gadget 2022-23.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs was set up in October 1999 after the bifurcation of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to provide a more focused approach towards their integrated socio- economic development in a coordinated and planned manner.
  • Schemes comprising economic, educational and social development through institution building are administered by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and are implemented mainly by the state government administrations.

Organisations for Development of Scheduled Tribes:

  • National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC) and Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED) was formed to generate livelihood opportunities for STs based on locally available resources.
  • NSTFDC was intended to provide credit support for livelihood creation while the TRIFED was created with an objective to provide remunerative prices for the Forest and Agriculture Produce of tribal people.
  1. National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation: 
  • NSTFDC strives towards empowerment of ST population through creation and promotion of sustainable livelihood.
  • The corporation in collaboration with the state ST corporations and banks provides concessional loans for viable projects costing upto Rs. 50.00 lakh per unit for undertaking various income generation activities.
  • Adivasi Mahila Sashaktikaran Yojana , an exclusive scheme for economic development of Scheduled Tribes women provides loan upto 90 percent for projects costing upto Rs. 2 lakh.
  • Micro Credit Scheme for Self Help Groups , a scheme for meeting small loan requirement of ST members under which the corporation provides loans upto Rs. 5O,000 per member and maximum Rs. 5 Lakh per Self Help Group.
  • Corporation provides loans upto Rs. 10.00 lakh at concessional rate of interest of 6 percent per annum under Adivasi Shiksha Rrinn Yojana  to ST students to meet expenditure for pursuing technical and professional education including Ph.D. in India.

      2. The National Education Society for Tribal Students (NESTS):

  • This is an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. It has been registered as a Society, under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 in New Delhi on 1 April 2019 to establish, endow, maintain, control and manage the schools (hereinafter called ‘Eklavya Model Residential Schools’) and to do all acts and things necessary for or conducive to the promotion of such schools.

3. The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

4. Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India (TRIFED)

Welfare Schemes for STs Administered under Ministry of Tribal Affairs

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs administers various central sector and centrally sponsored schemes.
  • Some of the prominent schemes of the Ministry are:
    • Pre-Matric Scholarship and Post Matric Scholarship
    • Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)
    • Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme
    • Grants to States under Article 275(1) of Constitution.
    • National Fellowship and Scholarship for Higher Education of ST Students.
    • Scholarship to the ST Students for studies abroad.
    • Grant in Aid to Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes.
    • Support for Marketing and Development of Tribal Products.

Schemes of Central Government

  1. Pradhan Mantri Janjatiya Vikas Mission:
  • The Mission seeks to achieve livelihood driven tribal development during financial years 2021-22 to 2025-26 through formation of Van Dhan groups who have been organised into Vandhan Kendras.
  • The Minor Forest Produces gathered by tribals will be processed in these kendras and marketed through Van Dhan Producer Enterprises.
  • New haats bazaar and ware houses will be developed in next 5 years as part of “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan”.
  • TRIFED would be the nodal agency for implementing the scheme.

      2. Van Dhan Scheme

      3. Venture Capital Fund  for Scheduled Tribes

  • Announced in 2022-23 Union Budget to promote entrepreneurship among tribals who are oriented towards innovation and technology.
  • Schemes provides concessional finance and hand holding to new incubation ideas and start-up ideas by ST entrepreneurs.

      4. Stand-Up India Scheme 

      5. Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme

Financial Support to STs:

  • There are several major centrally sponsored schemes under which credit is provided by banks and subsidy is received through government agencies with significant reservation and relaxation for the members of the Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities.
  • The allocation for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes across all Ministries has witnessed an increase from Rs. 31,920.00 crore in 2017-18 to Rs. 78,256.31 crore in 2021-22.
  • NSTFDC’s refinance to scheduled commercial banks/regional rural banks on lending to STs is considered as priority sector lending which makes the refinance more attractive and helps in expansion of its outreach.
  • Special financial assistance is ensured to States for infrastructure development in tribal dominated areas under Article 275 (1) of the Constitution.
  • Budget outlay for the Financial Year 2022-2023 for the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, saw an increase of 12.32% from previous year budget.


  • There is a need for far greater attention to tribal development through focused, tailored, and innovative interventions at the grassroots which can harness the potential of tribal population through innovation-driven and entrepreneurship-based modern economic systems.
  • The financial assistance from the government through its various schemes and institutions may not fulfil the existing gaps unless it is proportionately blended with effective contribution of private stakeholders in development and community participation.

Chapter 3: Tribal Art and Culture


  • Although India has the second-largest population of tribal people worldwide,It is difficult to define and conceptualise tribes since they exist in a variety of socio-economic milieus and because of their ongoing assimilation and acculturation with the larger social structure.
  • Every tribe maintains its very own culture, dialect, and economic activities within its own ecological habitat.

Evolution of Tribal Culture:

  • Several tribes remain obscure, isolated, and alienated, while others have migrated and have undergone metamorphosis.
  • The tribals contributed to many dimensions of India’s ancient culture. Four major ethnicities and cultures converged to establish what we could identify as Indian civilisation—
    • The Vedic culture of the Indo-Aryans,
    • The Indus Valley or Harappan culture
    • The Dravidian cultures
    • The Mongoloid people who speak the languages of the Sino-Tibetan family.
  • It can be argued that this is a very difficult and uncertain manner of classification simply because of interaction and engagement between the tribes.
  • The evidence of the earliest tribal culture comes from India’s Upper Palaeolithic period.
  • Twelve years before the discovery of Altamira in Spain – the location of the oldest rock paintings in the world – the first known discovery of rock paintings was made in India in 1867-1868.
  • Bhimbetka, Jogimara in MadhyaPradesh, Lakhudiyar in Uttarakhand, Tekkalakota in Karnataka and Kupgallu in Telangana, among other places are the examples of early rock painting sites.

Characteristics of Early Painting:

  • Paintings are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge animal figures, such as  multi-legged lizard and foxes beside stick-like human figures.


Image Source: World History Encyclopaedia

  • Mostly they are filled with geometric patterns.
  • The subjects of paintings evolved with time and creatures like bulls, elephants, sambars, sheeps,horses, styled humans started to appear.
  • The Mesolithic period has the greatest concentration of Paintings, the majority of which features hunting scenes. A common theme is presented by community dances.
  • The Indus Valley Civilisation which coincided with the copper and bronze age placed great emphasis on art and culture.

Examples of Contemporary tribal art and culture:

  • India has numerous tribal painting styles each with its own sets of colours and themes.
  • Bhils, largest tribal group in India places high value on art. Their paintings, rich textures,steeped in rituals,symbolism and traditions,connect them to nature.
    • Bhil Paintings are characterised by large, un-life-like shapes of everyday characters that are filled in with earthy,yet bold colours before being covered with an overlay of uniform dots in a diverse array of colours and patterns that stand out against the background.
  • Warli painting is a traditional Maharashtra art form that traces its origins back to the 10th century A.D.
  • The ‘Saura’ is a tribe from the jungles of Odisha, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Maharashtra.
    • Nature’s splendour is celebrated in Saura art. The ‘Tree of Life’, which has human and animal inhabitants on its branches and symbolises the harmonious coexistence of humans and animals, is the basis for the majority of paintings.
    • Idital, the primary deity of the Sauras, is honoured by the wall paintings created by the Saura people, known as ‘talons or Ikons. The ritualistic significance of these paintings is derived from their use of tribal folklore.

Tribal Crafts:

  • Indian tribal crafts are typically ritualistic, drawing a clear distinction between the artist and the art lover.
  • Each group has its own festivals, myths,taboos,rituals, music, dance and music which have profound influence on the group’s art and crafts.
  • The eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Odisha, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh are home to the ancient folk-art tradition known as ‘Dhokra’.
    • Dhokra craft objects are made using lost wax-casting technique.
    • Each tribal region creates something distinct in design and form that carries the  impression of its own mystic ideology, the life and attributes, as well as belief and reflections of its people.

Dhokra Art from West Bengal

tribal handicraft

Image Source: Craftsvilla

Tribal Dance Forms:

  1. Kalbelia: The Kalbelia dance is performed as a celebration and an integral part of Kalbelia culture. Their dances and songs are a matter of pride and a marker of identity for the Kalbelias, as they represent the creative adaptation of this community of snake charmers to changing socio-economic conditions and their own role in rural Rajasthani society.
  • Kalbelia songs are based on stories taken from folklore and mythology and special dances are performed during Holi.
  • In 2010, the Kalbelia folk songs and dances of Rajasthan were declared a part of its Intangible Heritage List by UNESCO.

     2. Dumhal Dance: it is performed in  Jammu and Kashmir by the Watal tribe.

  • Only the female folk of the wattal are privileged to perform this dance, on specific occasions and at set locations.
  • The dancers sing in the chorus. Drums are used to assist the music. The performers move in a ritual manner and dig a banner into the ground on set occasions. Usually, the dance begins with men dancing around this banner.

      3. Hojagiri Dance: Performed in the state of Tripura by the Reang people.

  • It is performed by women and young girls, about 4 to 6 members in a team, singing, balancing on an earthen pitcher and managing other props such as a bottle on the head and earthen lamp on the hand.

       4. Bhavada Tribal Dance: By Kokna tribesmen from Dadra and Nagar Haveli.

       5. Gussadi: By Raj Gonds in Telangana.

Tribal Music:

  • Indian tribal music features lyrical chanting,traditional sounds and modern musical variations.
  • Learning process of tribal music is inherited through generations, given the passage of time and changing tastes, variations in the current form are to be expected.
  • Songs in tribal societies are mostly functional with added sanctity of a ceremonial rite.

Chapter 4: Changing Lives of North Eastern Tribes


  • The North-eastern region is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse regions in Asia, and each state takes pride in a range of cultures and traditions.
  • The 2011 Census Report mentions 135 recognised scheduled tribes and 250 ethnic communities in the region.

Pradhan Mantri Vandhan Yojana:

  • Pradhan Mantri Vandhan Yojana (PMVDY) intends to bring significant positive changes in the lives of tribal communities living in forest areas across the country by way of improving livelihood opportunities for them.
  • TRIFED is responsible for developing,designing and pivoting PMVDY across India.
  • At the grassroots level, tribal community-owned Van Dhan Vikas Kendra Clusters (VDVKCs) have been set up in the predominantly forested tribal districts.
  • Government of India provides 100 percent funds through TRIFED, and each cluster is provided Rs. 15 lakh to conduct its activities.
  • Several activities are interrelated in making the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana successful in the northeast and it has impacted the tribal ecosystem significantly by providing employment to tribal women and improving their financial conditions.
  • These include value addition to various minor forest produce available in the respective tribal inhabited areas, upgrading skills by imparting training, building successful entrepreneurship among the communities, and creating a dependable market linkage.
  • The most significant aspect of the Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana programme in Assam is the creation of a brand called ‘TRISSAM’ in order to bring about a uniform identity for all products manufactured by the tribal beneficiaries.
  • Manipur a leading state in the implementation of PMVDY, and this achievement was duly recognised by the central government by conferring it the “Champion State” title in October, 2020.
  • Bamboo cultivation has remained a sustainable livelihood option for about 5,000 tribal families of Tripura, and value-addition of various bamboo items such as ‘bamboo water bottle’ (An eco friendly innovation of the Bamboo and Cane Development Institute,Tripura) under PMVDY has begun to redefine the lives of the poor tribal communities with major income generation.

Chapter 5: Livelihood Opportunities for Tribals


  • Successive governments have made continuous efforts to bring tribals to the mainstream by providing relief and rehabilitations besides creating minimal infrastructure and other amenities as mandated under the Constitution and laws enacted under it.
  • Tribals inhabit two distinct geographical areas viz. the Central India and the North- Eastern Region.
  • More than half of the Scheduled Tribe population is concentrated in Central India, i.e,, Madhya Pradesh (14.69 percent), Maharashtra (10.08 percent), Orissa (9.2 percent), Rajasthan (8.86 percent), Gujarat (8.55 percent), Jharkhand (8.29 percent) and Chhattisgarh (7.5 percent).
  • Substantial tribal population still depends on the small farming, forest and forest based livestock for their livelihood, some of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) earlier known as Primitive Tribal Groups live in the forest and peripheries of forest and mountain regions as hunters, food gatherers, pastoralists and small farmers.

Pre Independence:

  • The tribals before Mughal and British rule were considered to be an equal part of society and were fully involved in kingships, land and forest politics, tributary relationships with other groups, particular occupational specialisations including commerce and war.
  • However colonisation of India by Europeans transformed their life, with outsiders exploiting them for their resources.
  • The concept of private property began with the Permanent Settlement,1793 and establishment of the Zamindari system gave control over territories, including tribal territories, to feudal lords for the purpose of revenue collection by the British.
  • The forced eviction of tribal communities from forest was initiated for timber economy and other revenue resources.
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927, which provided that any forest area or wasteland that was not privately owned could be marked as reserved areas, no particular system or settlement rights were formulated for tribal communities living in forests in India.
  • The British legislation and invasive policies affected tribal habitations in India particularly their livelihood posing a challenge for the Government of independent India.

Post Independence:

  • The Panchsheel policy of 1952 has provided five principles for guiding the administration of tribal welfare.
  • Article 275 of the Constitution mandates a special financial grant for programmes for the social and economic welfare of the tribal population living in scheduled areas.
  • The Second Five-Year Plan focused on development of communication, education, health and culture in tribal areas.
  • Third Five-Year plan envisaged for economic rehabilitation of persons engaged in shifting cultivation, working of forests through cooperatives and formation of multi-purpose cooperatives for meeting the credit requirements of tribal agriculturists and artisans.
  • The Fourth-Year Plan focused on intensive development of areas with large concentrations of tribal population. Accordingly, programmes for increasing agricultural production,livestock production and diversifying and modernising the occupational pattern of landless labourers were given priority.
  • During the Fifth-Five year plan, Tribal Sub-plan was incorporated for 16 States and two Union Territories. These programmes were funded through provisions in the State plans, and Central assistance.
  • Sixth Five Year Plan focused on poverty alleviation  and envisaged developmental effort in the identified areas with pooled resources from centre, states and financial institutions.
    • The Large Area Multipurpose Societies (LAMPS) were set up to provide credit and marketing facilities.
  • Seventh Five-Year Plan, focused on the development of folk and tribal arts, especially those which were facing extinction such as the folk art of the Himalayan regions, and that were threatened ecologically as well as culturally.
    • Special attention was given towards children, pregnant women and nursing mothers, under the direct nutrition intervention schemes like Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) and Mid-Day Meals Programme (MDM).
  • During the Eighth Five-Year Plan the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation through the State Tribal Development Cooperative Corporations had started managing collection and marketing of minor forest produce to ensure reasonable returns to tribals.
  • The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs was set up during the ninth five year plan to exclusively work for the tribal development in the country.
  • 10th,11th and 12th Five Year plans were implemented by the Tribal Affairs Ministry.

Initiatives to promote livelihood opportunities for tribals in India:

  • Institutional Support for Development and Marketing of Tribal Products/Produce: Under the scheme Grants-in-aid are released to State Tribal Development Cooperative Corporations and TRIFED.
  • To give comprehensive support to people belonging to various tribes in the entire range of production, product development, preservation of traditional heritage, support to both forest and agricultural produce of tribal people, support to institutions to carry the above activities, provisions of better infrastructure, development of designs, dissemination of information about price and the agencies which are buying the products, support to government agencies for sustainable marketing is provided and thereby ensure a reasonable price regime.
  • Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through Minimum Support Price (MSP) The scheme ensures fair returns to MFP gatherers mainly through MSP for identified MFP collected by them along with necessary infrastructure at local level.
  • Van Dhan Vikas Yojana (VDVK)
  • Equity Support To National/State Scheduled Tribes Finance And Development Corporation (NSTFDC/STFDCs):
    • NSTFDC is a Government aided Not-for-Profit company having licence under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 to provide concessional financial assistance to scheduled tribes for their economic and educational development.


Union and State Governments in India have been committed to the cause of inclusive empowerment of tribal communities in India through development of their livelihood. Various landmark initiatives have been taken to eliminate poverty and empower the tribal communities in India.

Chapter 6: Education for Tribals


  • Education was conceived as a means for promoting overall development of tribals and adopted as a strategy for mainstreaming them.
  • Various research studies have shown the correlation between literacy and poverty.
  • Despite government efforts to promote education among the Scheduled Tribes (STs), their literacy rates as compared to the national average have remained low.

Status of Education among STs:

  • According to Census 2011, Overall literacy rate  is 73 percent and it is  59 percent for STs.
  • The overall literacy gap amongst the various groups and STs has come down from 19.77 percent in 1961 to 14.03 percent in 2011.

Literacy rate

Image Source: Semantic Scholar

  • The number of students belonging to the tribal population has shown consistent growth in the periphery of school education.
  • The Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) has improved over the years and in the last five years i.e. from 2016-17 to 2020-21. GER for ST students is above the national average for the last five years at primary and upper primary level, however, it starts decreasing at secondary and senior secondary level.
  • There is also consistent improvement in the last few years is the dropout rate of students. The data on dropout rates at primary, upper primary and secondary level from 2016-17 to 2020-21 indicates a decreasing trend and hence an improvement in the status of school-going tribal children at all levels.

School going level

Image Source: Kurukshetra

Genesis of Educational Policies and their Focus on Tribal Education:

  • After independence various commissions were constituted to study, review, analyse and recommend the desired contextual changes in the education system.
  • Commissions for Tribal Education recommended the formation of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribe Commission (1960 – 61) under the chairmanship of U.N Dhebar for investigating and reporting the problems of Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Commission recommended educating the tribes by using vernacular language as the medium of instruction with the support of trained teachers from the tribal communities in the nearby places. The commission suggested promoting tribal culture and arts, by adding folklore, songs, etc. in the curriculum.
  • The commission also identified the basic issues related to the educational backwardness of tribal communities and the drop-out of the students.
  • Subsequently, the Kothari Commission also supported the recommendations and suggestions of the Dhebar Commission.
  • The second National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986 gave priority to the promotion of tribal education, such as the establishment of primary schools in tribal areas; Model Residential Schools including Ashram Schools for tribal students; starting Anganwadis in tribal hamlets, etc.

Various Programmes on Education:

  • Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009
  • Samagra Shiksha Scheme
  • The other programmes run by the Union Ministry of Education are Kendriya Vidyalayas and Navodaya Vidyalays.
    • Fifteen percent seats for Scheduled Caste and 7.5 percent seats for Scheduled Tribes are reserved in all fresh admissions in all Kendriya Vidyalayas.
  • The Central Sector Scheme ‘National Means­cum-Merit Scholarship Scheme’ has the objective to award scholarships to meritorious students of economically weaker sections to arrest their drop­out at class VIII and encourage them to continue the study at secondary stage.

Schemes for uplifting the education amongst tribal communities:

  • The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ has been implementing various schemes relating to education, health, economic empowerment, etc. in the Scheduled Tribe dominated areas of the country.
  1. Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRSs)
    • Announced in the Union Budget of 2018-19, they are established under every block with more than 50% Schedule Tribe (ST) population and at least 20,000 tribal persons by the year 2022.
    • These are being set up by grants provided under Article 275(1) of the Constitution.
    • The objective of EMRS is to provide quality middle and high level education to Scheduled Tribe (ST) students in remote areas, and to have access to the best opportunities in education at par with the non ST population.
    • These EMRSs were to be at par with Navodaya Vidyalayas with special facilities for preserving local art and culture besides providing training in sports and skill development.

      2. National Fellowship and Scholarship for Higher Education of ST students:

    • Under the scheme, Fellowships are provided to ST students to take up higher studies after completing Post Graduation, such as M.Phil and Ph.D courses.

      3. Pre-Matric Scholarship Scheme and Post Matric Scholarship Scheme

      4. Support to Tribal Research Institutes (TRI):

    • The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs under the scheme “Support to Tribal Research Institutes (TRI) provides grants to States/UTs to strengthen the Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) for their infrastructural needs, Research & documentation activities and Training & Capacity Building programmes etc.

      5. Development of PVTGs:

    • The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups was first introduced and implemented from 1st April 2008.
    • The Plan characterises PVTGs as the foremost defenceless among the Planned Tribes and the Plan hence looks to organise their assurance and improvement.
    • It recognizes 75 PVTGs.
    • The Scheme adopts a habitat level approach to improve the quality of life through intervention in housing, drinking water, education and health services, livelihood services and cultural aspects.

Major Challenges for Tribal Education:

  • In the case of Scheduled Tribes, the remoteness of habitations, lack of travelling facilities, insufficient infrastructure facilities, illiteracy of parents, communication problem, and segregated population are the primary constraints for the educational attainment of these children.
  1. Lack of Adequate Infrastructure in Schools :
    • Adequate infrastructure such as gender segregated functional toilets, pucca school buildings, electricity, water, play area, library, sports facilities, and safe and conducive environment for learning are the primary requirements for retaining a child in the school.
    • The schools in tribal areas are generally located in remote, hilly and in dense forests and lack above facilities which ultimately leads to children dropping out of school.

      2. Low Learning Level of Children: 

    • The recently released results of National Achievement Survey (NAS) 2021, indicate that only 42 percent of children at Grade III are proficient in all subjects which decrease to 23 percent in class X.

      3. Medium of Instruction:

    • Primary education in mother tongue has huge benefits. One language dominating learning and education as a medium of instruction in a country with multiple cultures and languages can leave many illiterate and foster unproductive learning.

      4. Lack of Teachers and Appropriate Pedagogy:

    • Due to disproportionate teacher’s deployment, schools in far flung areas and difficult terrain face shortage of teachers. Many primary schools merely have a single teacher and that teacher is not aware about the needs of tribal students.
    • Real life application of knowledge and respect for tribal knowledge may make a huge difference in educational outcomes of tribal students.

Way Forward:

  • The National Education Policy 2020 strongly emphasised to ensure equity and inclusion and has given a national perspective to the education of tribals.
  • NEP 2020 proposed the policy strategy to identify special education Zones (SEZs) to ensure inclusion of marginal communities in quality educational space of India.
  • NEP 2020 puts special emphasis on Indian Knowledge Systems, including tribal knowledge, and indigenous and traditional ways of learning.
  • It provides specific courses in tribal ethno­medicinal practices, forest management, traditional (organic) crop cultivation, natural farming, etc.
  • As per NEP 2020, special attention may be given to employing local teachers or those having familiarity with local languages.


Universal access to quality education to all children is the key to India’s continued ascent, and leadership at the global stage in terms of economic growth, social justice and equality, scientific advancement, national integration, and cultural preservation.

Chapter 7: Tourism Potential in Tribal Regions


  • The ecological setting in which Scheduled Tribes live, along with their unique cultural attributes are facets that can be a tourism offering.
  • This will aid in the preservation and promotion of the tribal culture, if planned holistically with a tailor made approach for diverse  tribal regions of tourism potential.
  • Monitoring the negative socio-cultural impacts of such forms of tourism and regulating tourism development plans accordingly is very important.

Tribal Tourism in India:

  • Tribal tourism refers to a form of travel in which tribes allow tourists to experience authentic indigenous life (tribal habitat, heritage, history and handicrafts, culture, values and traditions) by allowing the tourists to visit their villages for them to be exposed to a culture completely different from their own.
  • The intangible heritage that the tribal population possesses including the traditional knowledge system contains many positive and productive elements that are really precious for the entire humanity.
  • Tourism can be a tool through which the rich cultural heritage of the tribes such as folklore, costume, jewellery and lifestyle, their  sustainable ways of living, indigenous practices by tribal healers and medicinal plants can be offered as a unique attraction to the potential visitors.
  • Tourism may act as a monetary incentive for cultural preservation and promotion, and can prevent cultural facets from fading into oblivion.
  • These concepts are a part of the wider umbrella of Alternative Tourism which in essence means tourism activities or development that are viewed as non–traditional.

Case Study: Tribal Tourism and Museum Development in Uttar Pradesh: Tharu Tribe

  • The Tharu Tribes live in  fertile Terai  (foothills of the Himalayas) lowlands in Uttar Pradesh and majority of the Tharu people work either as forest dwellers or are farmers.
  • This tribal group also has a presence in Nepal, Bihar and Uttarakhand.
  • Tharu people worship mainly their tribal Goddess (Earth) which they refer to as ‘Bhumsen’ in their language. They are also worshippers of Theravada Buddhism.
    • Tharu people plant rice, wheat, mustard, corn, and lentils. They also collect minor food products from forests like wild fruits, medicinal plants, etc. They hunt deer, rabbit and wild boar and also do fishing.
    • Their homes are decorated and coloured, Wine made by rice is quite popular in this tribe.
    • The Uttar Pradesh Government has started a new programme connecting Tharu villages with the ‘home stay scheme’ of the UP Forest Department with an objective  to offer tourists an experience of living in the natural Tharu habitat that contains traditional huts made of materials naturally found in the forest.
  • U.P government also announced ‘Tharu Janjati Museum’ to preserve and promote the cultural facets. There is a huge demand for tribal artefacts, textiles, ornaments, paintings, potteries, cane and bamboo products, and organic and natural food products.
  • This will aid in domestic and global propagation of the culture and tradition of the Tharu tribes,create jobs and bring economic independence and advancement in the tribal population.


  • The most fundamental premise of ensuring success of using tourism as a means to preserve and promote tribal heritage is to consider the opinion of tribal communities and their participation in planning and development of tribal tourism at each and every stage of tourism development. Local people should be encouraged to undertake leadership roles in planning and development with the assistance of government and business enterprises.

Chapter 8: Reconsidering Indigenous Knowledge System


  • Tribal communities, though marginalised, have rich Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), which could be useful if they are properly integrated in modern knowledge systems in the emerging discussion on localisation of Sustainable Development Goals and strengthening of the local economy through ‘vocal for local’.
  • IKS could play an important role in mainstreaming tribal communities, living in remote locations, devoid of infrastructure and schemes and programmes of the Government.
  • Indigenous knowledge is embedded in community practices, institution relationships and rituals and is inextricably linked to the identity of indigenous peoples, their experiences with the natural environment, and hence their territorial and cultural rights.

Key Issues and Concerns

  • Indigenous communities are not adequately valued and recognised as they face challenges in terms of preservation and expansion of their traditional knowledge and innovations in every field.
  • Poor Documentation:
    • Proper institutional framework to map, profile, and accredit indigenous knowledge and innovations is lacking mainly  because of remote and difficult geographical areas and due to the low level of education and skill of tribal population.
    • In 2002, UNESCO launched its Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (LINKS) Programme, which aims at empowering local and indigenous peoples in various aspects of environmental management by advocating recognition and mobilisation of their unique knowledge.
    • The availability of digital technology has greatly expanded possibilities for preserving indigenous knowledge that is more sensitive due to the unique characteristics of indigenous knowledge and the needs of indigenous Communities.
  • Biopiracy: 
    • Indigenous people have traditional cognition primarily consisting of biological features and genetic diversity of the natural environment from one generation to another.
    • Biopiracy is the practice of commercial exploitation of biochemicals or genetic materials which occur naturally without proper procedure, acknowledgement, or benefit-sharing agreement.
    • Internationally, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) recognises the rights of indigenous peoples to self-determination, self-governance, and organisational structures in support of these rights.

Reconsidering Indigenous Knowledge System

  • Indigenous knowledge offers cheap, locally adapted solutions to development problems along with  scientific knowledge, it can  boost productivity and living standards. Therefore, policymakers need to pursue several steps to include IKS into mainstream knowledge and innovation narrative
  • There must be a National Consortium of Indigenous Knowledge Resource Centre to document indigenous knowledge and innovation.
  • A strong legal framework to facilitate social participation, indigenous practices, and the protection and conservation of indigenous knowledge and resources is necessary.
  • Intellectual Property Right (IPR) and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) should be of greater focus with respect to product development involving indegenous People and their knowledge.
  • Public policy initiatives shall allow indigenous knowledge components to be added into the curricula of secondary schools, universities, and extension training institutes
  • The larger goal should be towards creating new, more effective knowledge systems that merge the positive aspects of indigenous and scientific knowledge systems.

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