Abstract dictionary, oxford university press, Madras). Adivasis are


Tribes are primitive clans under recognized
chief and usually claiming common ancestor, they dwell in isolated locations in
dense forests and  around hills  to avoid contact with others in society, to
maintain their culture and tradition. There is a wide gap between developmental
standards of tribals and non-tribals section of Tamil Nadu at social setting. There
had been  major impacts on the tribal
settlements due to the intrusion of the non tribals over the tribals. Tribes
face prejudice and violence from the society at large. Displacement of land stands
as the major reason for the economic and social problem of the tribes. A
shocking report says that state has been monitoring the tribal population
and  more than 80% of ethic group is
static in nature and may face extinction if measures are not undertaken. Forest
departments have helped to engage tribals in afforestation, cultivation for
livelihoods, educate


has been defined as group of primitive clans under recognized chief and usually
claiming common ancestor’ (the concise oxford dictionary, oxford university
press, Madras). Adivasis are original tribes. The legal and
constitutional term is “Schedule Tribes”. Their settlements are mostly around
mountains and hill areas at a distance from plains .Most of the tribes are
hunters-gatherers, agriculturists, Cattle farming, etc. They usually dwell into
interior forest areas, unaccessible locations in hilly areas to avoid contact
with non tribes. This is done so to maintain their culture and follow their traditional
way of living. They are often regarded as “primitive”, since independence.

of the scheduled tribes live in rural areas their main concern is the economic
exploitation. Most of them depend on forest produce for their livelihood.
Tribes have been denied the rights of land, in many cases they are fined and
penalized for using the product produce which they had been enjoying since
generations. Measures have been taken to avoid destruction of forest. Tribes
face prejudice and violence from the society at large. Reforms are undertaken by
the government at state level to protect the welfare of tribal community.
Displacement of land stands as the major reason for the economic and social
problem of the tribes.

Statement of Problem

    There is a wide gap between developmental
standards of tribals and non-tribals section of Tamil Nadu at social setting.  The right to preserve and enjoy the cultural
heritage in harmony with nature is severely threatened by the process of
modernization and economic growth. There is a threat that most of the tribal
groups are static and may face extinction. It is time we gather momentum to
look into the issues of the livelihood of tribes  and help them revive their standards of living
for existence.

Problems faced by tribes    

recurrent problems faced by the tribes are lack of transportation, non
availability of medical and health facilities, traditional practices that are
at times detrimental to their health and behavior. Mostly the developmental
programmes do not reach them because of the remote habitation within the
forests. In some parts of tribal settlements even officials find it difficult
to access the tribal destination, as they have to ascend steep hills.    

Result of intrusion by outsiders on tribal

in total disintegration of community

lost the power of solidarity in exercising his duties for tribal people welfare

people became more vulnerable

family system had disintegrated and common farming was no longer possible

reserves had limited the tribals to access the deep forests for livelihood

 tribal beliefs have been altered due to
contact with missionaries

to Christianity gave a number of advantages especially education.

Impact on tribal economy by outsiders

communication, road and government intervention increased, outside traders
engaged tribal people into mortgaging their land

people are sometimes forced as bonded labourers  


school dropout is very high with respect to tribes increasing from primary to
higher secondary. TN forest department is helping to educate tribal children by
offering attractive facilities. Primary education to tribals were started as
early as 1951 by the forest department and extended to nearby villages in
certain district and quality education is being offered to students Teachers in
tribal schools have high drop out rates. Schooling helps tribal people to
secure political and economic benefits.  Forest department has a major role to play for
the development of remote tribal areas

Static nature and Endangered list of tribes

research concluded that there are only 54000 number of tribes  by genetics and the rest of tribal population
do not know which group they belong to. Of the 36 tribal community in     Tamil Nadu 6 major community of tribes like
kota, kurumba, irular, paniyan and katunayakar has neither decreased nor increased
and it remains static. They are known as particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG).
A shocking report says that state has been monitoring the tribal population and
than 80% of ethic group is static in nature. Tamil Nadu has 36 types of tribes,
six are on endangered list. The total population has gone down to less than
2000,of this Kochuvelan, Melakudi and Maha malasar are on the verge of
extinction  with their total population
of less than 160.

Tribal Population Details of PVTG






















Source: Social watch

of tribes is increasingly becoming difficult due to inter caste marriage,
religion, conversion migration and lack of genetic or anthropological data. Only
20% of tribes continue doing their ethnic occupation like rearing sheep,
collecting honey, harvesting timber and other forest products. Many   tribes   who are
disintegrated from their group due to exploitation of non tribal end up as bonded
labourers   in brick kilns.

Significance of study

      Tribes in Tamil Nadu are cultivators,
agricultural labourers and dependent on forests for livelihood. The tribals significantly
contributed in the management and conservation of forests. The need of the hour
for tribal development is to reduce the gap between the tribal and non tribal
population with respect to economic, educational and social status. Tribes have
been setting an example for communal and sustainable ways of living which acts
as a counterbalance for all the damage we have caused as a result of
modernization and destruction of environment. 
They have to live in peace, as their destruction is highly detrimental
to humanity.  The reason for their static
nature is the exploitation by others in dominant society. We need to adopt
measures to protect them and help them lead a harmonious life with nature.

Central and state scheme for tribals are aimed

restoration and improvement

and conservation measure

planning and human resource development

development and community participation in conservation of bio resource

of human wildlife conflict.

of low impact eco tourism.

Review of Literature

Jayakumar and Palaniammal (2016) made a study on ‘Socio economic status
of Schedule Tribes in Kalrayan hills, Salem district, Tamil Nadu.’ Agriculture
is predominant for majority of households, which accounted for their income
also.  The study discusses the income
level of various households.  The study
emphasizes the need for attention into education, which will stand as a
motivating factor for improving their future.

Biswajith, Arunasis and Subhasish (2015) aims to study the’ socio
economic status of some selected tribes in West Bengal, India’ The study was
conducted in four blocks (Sabar, Oroan, Santhal and Tota) in 2 purposively
selected districts of West Bengal.  A
total of 400 samples were collected for study. 
The results revealed that, all the four tribes differed largely  on Social Economic Status, and among all
tribal sub caste, the one with low Social Economic Status was related to low
literacy level and it also made a difference in their livelihood and behavioral
pattern largely.

       Selvakumar and sivakumar (2014) made a ‘study
on the current socio-economic conditions of the tribal communities in Nilgiris
district, Tamil Nadu.  The study highlights
the social organization, livelihood and customs of the tribes with the rest of
the state.  The data for study was
collected through field survey and secondary data covering a random sampling of
100 households.  The study reveals that
the backwardness of tribal population with respect to social, economic, health
and lifestyle patterns.

Ramya (2014) aimed to study ‘socio economic status and associate problems of
the tribals, A case study of village in kurung kumay district of Arunachal
Pradesh’.  The study tries to highlight
the various aspects of socio economic structure with respect to age, marital
status, educational structure, economic status etc.  It attempts to explore the problems faced by
the tribal villages with respect to economic, education, sanitation and basic
amenities for livelihood.  The study aims
at suggesting ways to overcome their social constraints in receiving proper
facility.  The data was collected from
villages through interview with the help of questionnaire.  The sample consisted of age group 18 years
and above.  The study suggests measures
to be undertaken by the Government to improve sanitation, housing conditions,
healthcare, literacy rate, credit facility, irrigation and promote self-help

      Rajkumar, Pulla and Jayanand (2013) made an
attempt to ‘Analyse the Socio Economic status of Schedule Tribes in
Andhrapradesh’.  Multi stage random
sampling technique was adapted for the study. 
Primary data was collected with the help of pre-structured
questionnaire.  89 samples responded for
the tool.  The result reveals farming was
the primary occupation and the heads of the households were mostly agricultural
labourers.  The study refers the decline
in sex ratio in the community and highlights the exploitation of uneducated
tribals by money lenders, charging high interest rates.  The study recommends the Government to take
steps to promote banking service, for economic development and financial
stability and to increase literacy among tribals.    

(2013) aims to study on ‘socio economic status of scheduled tribes’ ‘The
constitution of India insured social and economic justice, equality of status
and opportunity assurance of the individuals dignity for all its citizens.  Our constitution has provisions to safeguard
and promote the cultural, social, educational and economic interests of ST and
SC to bring them on par with the mainstream nation’. This paper addresses the Social
Economic Status of the Scheduled Tribes in Visakapatnam district of AP in India.  More than 70% of the participants were illiterates.  Cultivation supports the income for majority
of households.  Wage labourers who also
form a part of the sample under study have comparably low income.  The need for promoting education of Scheduled
Tribes, as a motivating factor for their future is largely emphasized.


above studies  clearly portrays the
current problems faced by the tribes. 
Majority of the studies show that illiteracy has been a strong factor
for the backwardness and reason for being trapped by money lenders and banking
facilities be arranged for providing loans 
Amenities should be provided for them to foster education in their settlements
and promote self-help groups for their empowerment and communal development.


The schemes of tribals should pay much
attention towards

support for tribal settlement development

standard of living within forest areas.

partnership with tribes for development and empowerment

them in conservation and management of forest wealth.

develop required skills and utilize their knowledge for overall prosperity


      ‘poverty may be absolute or relative
deprivation of well-being of a section of population’.  The concept of well being is multi dimensional,
it becomes difficult for the measurement of poverty.  Poverty means not only material deprivation,
which is measured by income or consumption, but it can also be measured in
terms of low achievement in education and health.  It means to be illiterate and not schooled. (Pawar,
Suresh Krishna (2012) aimed to study ‘socio economic status of tribal
population in Maharashtra-a geographical analysis). Government has developed
many schemes for the upliftment of tribes, to enhance better quality of life
but the expected growth among them is yet to be achieved.  Tribals are still facing a number of problems
including poverty, illiteracy,  poor
health facilities etc.

     A 1969
report submitted by the tribal development programme stated the main problems
of tribal communities as




Lack of

Following the report, Government  took steps to promote the welfare of tribes
with the objectives of tribal  sub-plans.

To help scheduled
tribes family cross the poverty line

provide basic infrastructure facilities for improving the living conditions of
tribal people

the total eradication of the problems is yet to be achieved.  How much ever plans have been sanctioned and
tried to be  implemented there seems to
be a lag in the improvement of the condition of the tribes, they are being
looked down, their communities have disintegrated and people have started
moving into for petty inocmes in brick kilns , road laying, wage workers,
domestic cleaners and so on.  As a part
of the population have become nomads, they are unable to educate their children
in the new settlement, safety has become a major concern for their children
especially girls and women.If this is the urban and semi urban scenario, the
rural people quite a lot of problems. 
Their hardwork of gathering honey and other forest resources are being
encashed for low sums or just snatched in the name of power.  Being illiterate from a rural and tribal
backdrop a section of tribes are unaware of the Government measures, not
willing to relocate and not able to sustain in the settlement.  Their protein intake and food patterns,
health and hygiene  have been lowered
considerably and the new intruders in the name of money lending have plundered
their only valuable wealth ‘land’, because of which some tribes havre  started moving toward better livelihood but
untimately landed as bonded labourers, later rescued and rehabilitated.  But this is not the case with all the tribes,
there are certain tribal communities where the literacy rate is above the state
literacy ratio. The foremost of all the tribes, Malayalis have an excellent
literacy ratio and most of them have engaged in tourism and are leading a well
settled lives without hassles. They have chosen to become empowered by
educating and securing jobs through  the
Government quotas also.  But we need to
look at the last tribal citizen who inspite of having every right to lead a
better and fulfilled life is lost amidst the chaos of modernization and
political power and to reach out a helping hand for sustaining him in his
community.  If this assurance be given
then we can proudly say that the tribals are the guardians of our very mother
nature and we shall find peace by guarding the naute in this digitalized world.










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