The Scheduled Tribes communities in India as well as in Orissa are characterized by economic and social marginalization, primitive existence, geographical isolation and educational backwardness. Tribal population is the aboriginal inhabitants of India who have been living a life based on the natural environment and have cultural patterns congenial to their physical and social environment. They have been neglected in different sectors of the society and to protect that they started resistance movement over the years. The major tribes of Orissa, in terms of their numerical strength, are the Kondh, Gond, Santhal, Saora, Bhuiyan, Paraja, Koya, Oraon, Gadaba, Juanga and Munda. There are also several smaller tribal communities living in the state. They are the Chenchus, Mankiridia Kharia, Baiga, Birhor and Ghara. Tribal communities such as the Santhal, Gond, Munda, Ho, Birhor, Koya, Lodha, Kondha, Bhumija, Kharia and Oraons cut across state boundaries and are found in the neighbouring states of Jharkhand. As a matter of fact, acute poverty, malnutrition and starvation death have come to be associated with the life of many of the tribes living in different parts of the country. Though each of the tribal groups are culturally different and have their own identities, the problems faced by them are more or less same. It makes us believe that probably at the level of understanding the tribal culture, their social structure and also at the level of making intervention while implementing the development programmes for the tribals, some gaps have so remained that they have rather frustrated our objectives and approach to a large extent.
Key words: Tribal population, Adivasi, untouchability, discrimination, tribal rights.
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