Abstract Tribesare primitive clans under recognized chief and usually claiming commonancestor, they dwell in isolated locations in dense forests and around hills to avoid contact with others in society, tomaintain their culture and tradition. There is a wide gap between developmentalstandards of tribals and non-tribals section of Tamil Nadu at social setting. Therehad been major impacts on the tribal settlements due to the intrusion of thenon-tribals over the tribals.
Tribes face prejudice and violence from thesociety at large. Displacement of land stands as the major reason for theeconomic and social problem of the tribes. A shocking report says that statehas been monitoring the tribal population and more than 80% of ethic group isstatic in nature and may face extinction if suitable measures are notundertaken. Forest departments have helped to engage tribals in afforestationand cultivation for livelihoods.
Theright to preserve and enjoy the cultural heritage in harmony with nature isseverely threatened by the process of modernization and economic growth. Tribeshave been setting an example for communal and sustainable ways of living whichacts as a counterbalance for all the damage we have caused as a result ofmodernization and destruction of environment. Theschool dropout is very high with respect to tribes increasing from primary tohigher secondary.
Majority of the studies on tribes show that lack of educationhas been a strong factor for the backwardness in addition to other factors. Thisstudy highlights the problems faced by tribes, the reason behind their currentsituation and measures that could be adopted for a better and harmoniousliving. Introduction ‘Tribeshas been defined as group of primitive clans under recognized chief and usuallyclaiming common ancestor’ (the concise oxford dictionary, oxford universitypress, Madras). Adivasis are original tribes. The legal andconstitutional term is “Schedule Tribes”. Their settlements are mostly aroundmountains and hill areas at a distance from plains .
Most of the tribes arehunters-gatherers, agriculturists, Cattle farming, etc. They usually dwell intointerior forest areas, inaccessible locations in hilly areas to avoid contactwith non tribes. This is done so to maintain their culture and follow their traditionalway of living. They are often regarded as “primitive”, since independence. Majorityof the scheduled tribes live in rural areas their main concern is the economicexploitation Close to 90% of tribals live in rural areas. Most of them dependon forest produce for their livelihood.
Tribes have been denied the rights ofland, in many cases they are fined and penalized for using the product producewhich they had been enjoying since generations. Measures have been taken toavoid destruction of forest. Tribes face prejudice and violence from thesociety at large. Reforms are undertaken by the government at state level toprotect the welfare of tribal community.
Displacement of land stands as themajor reason for the economic and social problem of the tribes. Statementof Problem ‘Theconstitution of India insures social and economic justice, equality of statusand opportunity assurance of the individuals dignity for all its citizens. Our constitution has provisions to safeguardand promote the cultural, social, educational and economic interests of ST andSC to bring them on par with the mainstream nation'(Pulla 2013), but there is awide gap between developmental standards of tribals and non-tribals section ofTamil Nadu at social setting. The rightto preserve and enjoy the cultural heritage in harmony with nature is severelythreatened by the process of modernization and economic growth.
It is time wegather momentum to look into the issues of the livelihood of tribes and helpthem revive their standards of living for existence, else the static tribalgroups may face extinction in due course.Problemsfaced by tribes Therecurrent problems faced by the tribes are lack of transportation, nonavailability of medical and health facilities, traditional practices that areat times detrimental to their health and behavior. Mostly the developmentalprogrammes do not reach them because of the remote habitation within theforests. In some parts of tribal settlements even officials find it difficultto access the tribal destination, as they have to ascend steep hills. Resultof intrusion by outsiders on tribal settlements· resultedin total disintegration of community· headmanlost the power of solidarity in exercising his duties for tribal people welfare· tribalpeople became more vulnerable· Jointfamily system had disintegrated and common farming was no longer possible· Forestreserves had limited the tribals to access the deep forests for livelihood· tribal beliefs have been altered due tocontact with missionaries· Conversionto Christianity gave a number of advantages especially education.Impacton tribal economy by outsiders· Though communication,road and government intervention increased, outside traders engaged tribalpeople into mortgaging their land· Tribalpeople are sometimes forced as bonded labourers Education Schoolinghelps tribal people to secure political and economic benefits.
The schooldropout is very high with respect to tribes, increasing from primary to highersecondary. TN forest department is helping to educate tribal children byoffering attractive facilities. Primary education to tribals were started asearly as 1951 by the forest department and extended to nearby villages incertain district and quality education is being offered to students Teachers intribal schools have high drop out rates due to lack of facilities. Staticnature and Endangered list of tribes A research concluded that there are only 54000 number of tribes by genetics and the rest of tribal populationdo 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 remainsstatic. They are known as particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG). ‘PVTG is characterized by · Pre-agriculturallevel of technology· Stagnantor declining population· Extremelylow literacy· Subsistencelevel of economy’ (Indiantribal heritage.org, 2017) Ashocking report says that state has been monitoring the tribal population and morethan 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 than2000,of this Kochuvelan, Melakudi and Maha malasar are on the verge ofextinction with their total populationof less than 160.Tribal Population Details of PVTG NAME TOTAL POPULATION POPULATION OF TRIBES AS PERCENTAGE TO TOTAL KOCHU VELAN 7 .
0008 MEKAKUDI 66 .0083 MAHA MALASAR 77 .0096 KORAGA 106 .012 ARANADAR 138 .017 MALAI ARAYAN 172 .
021 Source: Social watch Identificationof tribes is increasingly becoming difficult due to inter caste marriage,religion, conversion migration and lack of genetic or anthropological data. Only20% of tribes continue doing their ethnic occupation like rearing sheep,collecting honey, harvesting timber and other forest products. Many tribes who aredisintegrated from their group due to exploitation of non tribal end up as bondedlabourers in brick kilns.
Significanceof study Tribesin Tamil Nadu are cultivators, agricultural labourers and dependent on forests forlivelihood. The tribals significantly contributed in the management andconservation of forests. The need of the hour for tribal development is toreduce the gap between the tribal and non tribal population with respect toeconomic, educational and social status. Tribes have been setting an examplefor communal and sustainable ways of living which acts as a counterbalance forall the damage we have caused as a result of modernization and destruction ofenvironment. The reason for their staticnature is the exploitation by others in dominant society. We need to adoptmeasures to protect them and help them lead a harmonious life with nature.
Centraland state scheme for tribals Central and state schemes are aimed at · Habitatrestoration and improvement· Protectionand conservation measure· Managementplanning and human resource development· Ecodevelopment and community participation in conservation of bio resource· Mitigationof human wildlife conflict.· Promotionof low impact eco tourism.Reviewof Literature Jayakumar and Palaniammal (2016) made a study on ‘Socio economic statusof Schedule Tribes in Kalrayan hills, Salem district, Tamil Nadu.’ Agricultureis predominant for majority of households, which accounted for their incomealso. The study discusses the incomelevel of various households. The studyemphasizes the need for attention into education, which will stand as amotivating factor for improving their future. Biswajith, Arunasis and Subhasish (2015) aims to study the’ socioeconomic status of some selected tribes in West Bengal, India’ The study wasconducted in four blocks (Sabar, Oroan, Santhal and Tota) in 2 purposivelyselected districts of West Bengal. Atotal of 400 samples were collected for study.
The results revealed that, all the four tribes differed largely on Social Economic Status, and among alltribal sub caste, the one with low Social Economic Status was related to lowliteracy level and it also made a difference in their livelihood and behavioralpattern largely. Selvakumar and sivakumar (2014) made a ‘studyon the current socio-economic conditions of the tribal communities in Nilgirisdistrict, Tamil Nadu. The study highlightsthe social organization, livelihood and customs of the tribes with the rest ofthe state.
The data for study wascollected through field survey and secondary data covering a random sampling of100 households. The study reveals thatthe backwardness of tribal population with respect to social, economic, healthand lifestyle patterns. TameRamya (2014) aimed to study ‘socio economic status and associate problems ofthe tribals, A case study of village in kurung kumay district of ArunachalPradesh’. It attempts to explore theproblems faced by the tribal villages with respect to economic, education,sanitation and otherbasic amenities for livelihood. The data was collected from villagesthrough interview with the help of questionnaire. The sample consisted of age group 18 yearsand above. The study suggests measuresto be undertaken by the Government to improve sanitation, housing conditions,healthcare, literacy rate, credit facility, irrigation and promote self-helpgroups. Rajkumar, Pulla and Jayanand (2013) made anattempt to ‘Analyse the Socio Economic status of Schedule Tribes inAndhrapradesh’.
Multi stage randomsampling technique was adapted for the study. Primary data was collected with the help of pre-structuredquestionnaire. 89 samples responded forthe tool. The result reveals farming wasthe primary occupation and the heads of the households were mostly agriculturallabourers.
The study refers the declinein sex ratio in the community and highlights the exploitation of uneducatedtribals by money lenders, charging high interest rates. The study recommends the Government to takesteps to promote banking service, for economic development and financialstability and to increase literacy among tribals. Pulla(2013) aims to study on ‘socio economic status of scheduled tribes’ and addressesthe Social Economic Status of the Scheduled Tribes in Visakapatnam district ofAP in India. More than 70% of theparticipants were illiterates.
Cultivation supports the income for majority of households. Wage labourers who also form a part of thesample under study have comparably low income. The need for promoting education of Scheduled Tribes, as a motivatingfactor for their future is largely emphasized.SuggestionsThe schemes of tribals should pay muchattention towards· Infrastructuresupport for tribal settlement development· Improvestandard of living within forest areas.· Establishpartnership with tribes for development and empowerment· Engagethem in conservation and management of forest wealth.· Todevelop required skills and utilize their knowledge for overall prosperityConclusion ‘Poverty may be absolute or relativedeprivation of well-being of a section of population’. The concept of well being is multidimensional,therefore 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 interms of low achievement in education and health. It means to be illiterate and not schooled. (Pawarand SureshKrishna, 2012).
Government has developed many schemes for theupliftment of tribes, to enhance better quality of life but the expected growthamong 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 tribaldevelopment programme stated the main problems of tribal communities,· Indebtedness· Landalienation· Educationbackwardness· Lack ofcommunicationFollowing the report, Government took steps to promote the welfare of tribeswith the objectives of tribal sub-plans.
· To helpscheduled tribes family cross the poverty line· Toprovide basic infrastructure facilities for improving the living conditions oftribal people Butthe total eradication of the problems is yet to be achieved. Many plans have been sanctioned and tried tobe implemented, but there seems to be alag in the improvement of the condition of the tribes, they are being lookeddown, their communities have disintegrated and people have started moving intofor petty incomes in brick kilns , road laying, wage workers, domestic workersand so on. As a part of the population havebecome 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 ofproblems. Their hardwork of gatheringhoney and other forest resources are being encashed for low sums or justsnatched in the name of power.
Beingilliterate from a rural and tribal backdrop a section of tribes are unaware of theGovernment measures, not willing to relocate and not able to sustain in thesettlement. Their protein intake and foodpatterns, health and hygiene have been lowered considerably and the newintruders in the name of money lending have plundered their only valuablewealth ‘land’, because of which some tribes havre started moving toward better livelihood butuntimately landed as bonded labourers, a few later identified, 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 stateliteracy ratio. The foremost of all the tribes, Malayalis have an excellentliteracy and have chosen to become empowered by educating and securing jobsthrough the Government quotas also.
Tribals have taught us what ‘civilized’ is,which if respecting the difference of others and accepting the values of humandiversity, otherwise they would not have flourished under a single headman.They taught us communal living. Tribes and their culture are destroyedgradually because of the intruders, who are not attracted by the tribal cultureor values but by the minerals, the trees and the valuable resources in theforests. But we need to look at the last tribal citizen who inspite of havingevery right to lead a better and fulfilled life is lost amidst the chaos of modernizationand political power and to reach out a helping hand for sustaining theircommunity. If this assurance be giventhen we can proudly say that the tribals are the guardians of our mother natureand we shall find peace by guarding the nature in this digitalized world. Jayakumarand Palaniammal(2016), Socio-Economic status of scheduled tribes in Kalrayanhills, International journal of research-gran Thalayah, vol 04, ISS.3:SE: march 2016.
Sunil Kumar Baskey(2016), A study on theSocio-Economic status of Tribal peoplein the district of Burdwan, West Bengal,Internationaljournal in Management and social science, vol 04, issue-09, sept 2016.Biswajith Pal, Arunasis Goswami and SubhasishBiswas(2015), Socio-economic status of some selected tribals in WestBengal,India, International Journal ofcurrent researchTame Ramya(2014), Socio-Economic status andassociate problems of the tribals, a case study of a village in Kurung Kumaydistrict of Arunachal Pradesh, AnInternational journal of Humanities and social sciences, vol 01, issue 02,September 2014, pp 325-340.Selvakumarand Sivakumar(2014), A study of current socio-economic conditions of the tribalcommunities in Nilgiris district, Tamil Nadu, Asian journal of Business and Management, vol 02-issue 06, Dec 2014.Rajkumar, Pulla,Jayanand(2013), Analysis ofSocio-Economic status of Scheduled Tribes in Andhra Pradesh, International journal of developmentresearch, ISSN:2230-9926, vol 03, issue 11, pp 136-140.Pulla(2013), Socio-Economic status of ScheduledTribes, International Journal ofManagement MERC Global’s, vol 01, issue01, July 2013Pawar, Suresh Krishna(2012), Socio-Economicstatus of Tribal population in Maharashtra, A Geographical Analysis.Dhargupta.
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