Tribal Community’s Lost Livelihood- Their Deracination And Relocation

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Tribal Community’s Lost Livelihood- Their Deracination And Relocation

Written By- Ms Ashima Mishra

Martin Luther King Jr. rightly said, “Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t need to have a college degree to serve. It is not mandatory to make your subjects and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

These lines are not meant for a particular human but for the entire humanity which is continuously degrading at an extreme level. On one side, various thinkers, philosophers and influential men are preaching about equality, humanity, kindness, compassion and many more virtues to the world, whereas at the other side, the same community is exploiting the poor class, tribal class, and the other backward class people.

Among all the communities in India, one of the most backward communities in the tribal community. Also, there is the biggest irony found in the tribal community i.e. this tribal group of people are the most backward and also considered as the most popular because of their customs and culture.

Definition of Tribe

The term ‘tribe’ has been derived from the Latin word ‘Tribus’, the administrative divisions and voting units of Ancient Rome. Gradually this term became the social unit and characteristic of life an organized social form of people who are more primitive than the Euro-American colonists.

According to a layman, Tribes have been defined as indigenous human creatures having a shallow history, common name, linguistic culture, and territory, bind by strong kinship, practising endogamy, having different customs, traditions, rituals, and beliefs. They have their own social rank, political organization, and common ownership in resources and technology. They are also addressed as ‘Adivasis’ by many Indians because they are presumed to be the oldest section in the society. Apart from being called Adivasis, they are called by various names like Girijans, Jana Jati, and Scheduled tribes.

Some reports also reveal that India has the second-largest concentration of tribal people after

To know the position of the tribal community, their geographical isolation has always been a major factor to understand Africa. The tribal people are considered as indigenous human creatures, children of nature and their lives are surrounded by the entire ecosystem. They live in forests, hilly areas and other isolated places where there is no interference from the outside world.  There are about 533 tribes in India. But tribals of India continue to suffer from all kinds of discrimination and marginalization. They are deprived of getting the basic amenities of life, proper education, a standard of living, health, employment and justice.

Position of Tribal Groups in India

their lifestyle. The tribals prefer to live in forest areas, hilly areas because of their immense love for freedom and liberty. They enjoy a life of their own freedom. With due course of time, their way of living and livelihood changed a lot in various aspects such as:

  • Geographical Isolation- The tribal groups are no longer geographically isolated but they are living in association with various groups i.e. Srinivas, Sinha, Srivastava, Dubey.

For instance-The Dablas tribes of the Surat District do not live in the forest but they live in fertile plains along with advanced communities.

  • Different Culture- They constituted up of culturally homogenous group which includes people with common dialect, practices, religion, food, clothing habit etc. Now a days, their culture is changing as some are found more advanced whereas in some groups, still the concept of inter-caste marriages and intra tribal marriages are prohibited.
  • Linguistic Separation- Though all of them belong to tribal group still they are separated by language. The Mundas, the Oraons, the Santhals, the Khonds, the Korkus speak languages which either belong to the Kherwari or Mundari or Dravidian.
  • FunctionalInterdependence- The tribal groups are always functionally interdependent within their own community. Tribes have always preferred interactional autonomy in case of adjoining groups, till the process of assimilation has made them functionally dependent on the other groups.
  • Economic Problems and Backwardness-This problem has always existed with the tribal groups. Tribals were backward economically as well because of the primitive means of resource and primitive means of exploiting. They were totally dependent upon the forest produce and shifting cultivation. But at the same time some tribal groups tried to change their way of living and preferred settled agriculture, they also opted for jobs in factories, industries, and in other places. Their presence was strongly felt in various competitive exams also.
  • Social Organization-The tribals were though socially organized but their organization was unique as there was no strict caste type system present in the tribal society.
  • Administrative System- The constitution of India recognized the tribal as scheduled class because of their backwardness. They were also provided with a lot of benefits by the law. The Constitution has a separate set of legislation for the upliftment of the community.

Composition of Tribes in India

Tribes (Adivasis) are the tribal groups that constituted 8.6% of India’s population. According to the 2011 census, the population of Adivasis was counted as 104 million in India. These tribal societies are particularly found in the states of Odisha, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Maharastra, and some North-Eastern states.

The Census Report of 2011 states that BHIL is considered the most popular tribe with a population of 4,618,068 which is around 37% of the total Scheduled Tribe population in India. It also revealed that Chattisgarh has more number of tribal population as compared to other states.

Tribal Rights in India

It was during the time of independence when the government of India provided the tribal population, a place and identity to show before the world. The Government tried its best to make plans in order to protect and secure the lives and rights of these tribal people. The Minority Commission, the National Human Rights Commission, and many other developmental organizations were established for the upliftment of the tribal community. These were there to prevent atrocities against them.

Recognition of Tribes Under the Constitution

The Constitution of India designates certain rights to indigenous groups who are deprived of the basic amenities of life and are considered backward as scheduled as per Article 342.

Article-342 of the Constitution recognizes isolation backwardness and cultural distinctiveness as the characteristics of a scheduled tribe. They are socially, economically, and educationally backward classes and also belong to the weaker section of the Society and thus are entitled to protest against the social injustice and all other forms of exploitation under Article 46 of the Constitution.

For example- Sometimes, the tribal groups also convert themselves into Christianity and Hinduism, still, they are called a tribe but under the Constitution, they may not get the status of Scheduled Tribe. They are also called Scheduled because they have been included in one of the schedules among the 12 schedules of the constitution of India.

Some of the provisions for the protection and safeguarding tribal people under the Indian Constitution:

  1. Article-15(4) of the Constitution provides special provisions for advancement of other backward classes which also included STs.
  2. Article-23 and 24 states about the prohibition of human trafficking and forbidding child labour.
  3. Article-19(5) speaks about right to freely move and residence throughout the territory and in addition to that state can also imposed certain restrictions for the protection of the interest of any Scheduled Tribe.
  4. Article-164 provides that to manage the affairs of the tribal people, the states of Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh to appoint Tribal Affair Ministers.
  5. Article- 330 and 337 speaks about reservation of seats for Schedule Tribes in Lok Sabha and State Legislature respectively.
  6. Aricle 244 (1)states about the provisions under fifth schedule shall apply to the administration and control of the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes in any State other than the states of Assam, Meghalaya. Mizoram and Tripura which are covered under Sixth Schedule, under clause (2) of the following Article.
  7. Article 275 granted in-aid to specified states which comes under the fifth and sixth schedule of the Constitution.

Displacement and Resettlement of Tribal Groups

Generally, Displacement means the movement or change of a thing from one state to another. But the term displacement has been used in a Different Context.

Here Displacement speaks about human displacement which also includes the tribal groups. Human displacement refers to the forced movement of people from their home, or country of origin.

The displacement is of the following kinds:

  1. Disaster Induced Displacement
  2. Conflict Induced Displacement
  3. Development Induced Displacement

As the tribal groups are considered as the most backward class in India and at the same time, their sufferings are also at their peak. Displacement of tribal groups has become a recent trend in Indian Society. People have gone to such a level that for the fulfilment of their own needs, they can go to any extent.  The population is rising every day but the land area is still the same. With the rise of population, the wants of people are increasing. The need for buildings, malls, schools, hospitals, factories, and industries are rising. That’s why people are cutting down the forest.

As deforestation is happening, not only wild animals but only certain kinds of human creatures are suffering due to this. The human creatures are non-other than the tribal people who are totally dependent upon the forest products for their livelihood. So, the process of displacement has been considered a curse for the tribal, as it is snatching their basic amenities of life due to displacing them from one place to another coercively.

Displacements in Odisha State

In the following years, displacement of the tribal groups has drawn the attention of many researchers. An estimation was made that the development schemes like dams, mines, industries, and various projects resulted in displacing about 40% of tribal between the year 1951 to 1991.

Odisha is one of those states which secures a unique position among all Indian states because of its large tribal population. According to the 2011 Census, the tribal population of the state was 22.85 per cent of the state’s total population. The state has the third-largest concentration of tribals in the country.

There are around 62 tribal communities which include 13 primitive tribal groups. The Schedule areas consist of about 44.70% of the state’s geographical area which covered up to 118 out of 314 blocks spread among 12 Districts. Most of the scheduled tribes live in hilly and forest regions which are mostly found in remote and isolated areas and less accessed by the urban area people. The tribal economy is not structured properly and is also non-specialized.

Since the First Five-Year Plan was implemented, a lot of development projects took place in the country. These projects showed that a large number of people and tribals constitute a sizeable proportion of the total displaced people. Forest life, livelihood, religion, and culture of tribal people were heavily affected. Acquisition of forest land for development projects directly leads to the uprooting of tribes from their home and hearth.

Around 713449.24 acres of forest land were acquired for various development between 1951 and 1995, and 44.34 per cent were acquired only for dam projects (Table 1).

Table 1: Acquisition of Forest Land for Development Projects 1951-1991 (in Acres)

Sl. No.Nature of ProjectsTotal land acquiredPercentage from totalForest land acquiredPercentage from totalPercentage of forest land from total land acquired
4Other Projects302100.000.70212769.0329.8270.43

In the above table, it is clearly seen that the highest percentage (42.41 per cent) of forest land were acquired for mining projects next to other projects (70.43 per cent). Hence, most of the mining projects in the state ousted majority of indigenous tribals settled in those areas. During the same period from 1951 to 1995, around  21,55, 317 tribals were displaced and 3,60, 999 tribals were affected due to various development projects in the state. The project displaced and the project affected STs constitute 40.35 per cent and 43.14 per cent respectively of the total project displaced persons and project affected persons of the state (Table 2).

Table 2: Tribal Displacement in Development Projects

Sl. No.Nature of ProjectTotal displacementTribal displacementTotal affectedTribal affected
1Irrigation and Dam4,10,0001,53,540 (37.45)3,90,0001,54,830 (38.70)
2Industries71,79425,937 (36.13)86,27514,719 (17.04)
3Mining1,00,00050,000 (50.00)2,00,0001,00,000 (50.00)
4Parks and Sanctuaries840840 (100.00)1,07,00080,450 (75.00)
5Other Projects50,00025,000 (50.00)50,00011,000 (22.00)
Total6,32,6342,55,317 (40.36)8,33,2753,60,999 (43.14)


Note: Figures in parentheses indicate the percentage to total

Table 2 depicts that the highest percentage of Scheduled Tribes were displaced and affected by parks and sanctuary projects. If the number will be counted then, the STs have been displaced the most. This is because of the irrigation, dam and mining projects done in Odisha.


The paper provides highlight the displacement problems faced by the tribals every year and how they aren’t even properly resettled after they are uprooted from their original places. Hence the government should take necessary steps and should look after the upliftment of the tribal community. Even if they are displaced for development purposes, they must be settled in areas where they can live peacefully without any problem.


  • Source: Source: Fernandes, Walter. and Mohmd. Asif. 1997. Development-Induced Displacement and Rehabilitation in Orissa 1951-1995: A Database on its Extent and Nature, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute
  • Source: Fernandes, Walter. and Mohmd. Asif. 1997. Development-Induced Displacement and Rehabilitation in Orissa 1951-1995: A Database on its Extent and Nature, New Delhi: Indian Social Institute

Keywords: Lost Livelihood, Tribal Community’s Lost Livelihood, Lost Livelihood in India

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