Tribal Integration in India

Tribal Integration in India

by Devender 20-Jul-21

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During the rule of Britishers, money lenders, traders & petty officials used to invade the tribal areas and disrupt the tribal’s traditional way of life. To save forests and for their own advantage, the colonial powers brought large parts of forest under Forest laws. These laws stole the rights of people to practice shifting cultivation and put severe restrictions on the tribal's use of forest and their access to forest products.

The loss of lands, debt, exploitation by the middlemen, denial of access to forests & forest products, and oppression & extortion by policemen, forest officials, other government officials led to series of Tribal uprisings. All these factors brought uprisings in the 19th and 20th century.

Tribal Integration Post Independence

The integration of Tribals under the Indian Union was a much more difficult task than integrating the princely states. There were various reasons why it was so difficult such as:

  • Diverse dwelling conditions
  • Different cultures & tradition
  • Varied languages
  • Spread all over India
  • Resided mostly in hills & forest areas
  • They used to live in isolation
  • Different habits and ways of life with their non-tribal neighbors
  • Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, NE India, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat & Rajasthan were the places where the greatest concentration of these people could be found. They constitute minorities in their home states except for North-East India.


    India Tribal Policy



    Nehru stood strong for the development of tribal people economically and socially, mainly in the fields of modern medical facilities communications, agriculture and education. He with the help of V Elwin laid down some broad guidelines known as the Tribal Panchsheel. These are:

  • People should develop with their own genius and nothing should be imposed on them
  • They should try to encourage their own traditional arts and culture in every way
  • The rights of tribal people to forest lands should be respected
  • Technical experts are needed for development but not many outsiders to be introduced to tribal areas
  • Results should be judged not by the money spent or statistics but by the quality of human nature involved
  • These areas should not be over administered or overwhelmed with many schemes
  • Despite the constitutional safeguards, efforts of both state and central government, there hasn't been much progress to these tribal people. Tribals peoples continue to be poor, indebt, unemployed, and mainly landless except for North-East. The real problem is the weak execution of even well-intentioned plans.

  • Reasons for disastrous performance of Tribal Policy:
  • There were many reasons for this dismal performance such as:

    1 The funds allocated for these people are not spent or if spent then done without corresponding results. Many times the funds are not even appropriate.

    2 The administrative personnel were either not well-trained or prejudiced against tribals.

    3 The tribal people are not familiar with the law or the legal system so, they are denied, Justice.



    4 Violation of strict land transfer laws to tribals, leading to alienation of land & eviction of tribals.

    5 Their conditions worsened due to the expansion of Mines and industries rapidly.

    6 Education progress is very slow among the tribal people.

    7 Forest officials exploit tribals and are very unsympathetic towards them.


  • Positive Development happened due to the state’s Initiative:
  • Despite such failures, some development reached the tribal due to efforts of various authorities which are:

  • Legislation to protect tribal rights & interests
  • Activities of the tribal welfare departments
  • Panchayati raj, the spread of literacy and education
  • Reservation in higher education institutions
  • Efforts by TRIFED such as marketing of MFP (minor forest produce)
  • Reservations in government services and in Parliament & state assemblies
  • Tribal art & craft mela such as Adiship
  • Many health policies especially for tribal people










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