Important Tribes of India – UPSC

In this article, You will read Important Tribes of India (i.e. Famous Tribal Groups) – for UPSC IAS.

Table Of Contents

Tribes in India

A tribe is a social division of a traditional society composed of households connected with a common culture and a dialect by social, financial, religious, or blood connections.

A tribe possesses certain qualities and characteristics that make it a unique cultural, social, and political entity.

The tribal communities in India have been recognized by the Indian Constitution under ‘Schedule 5’ of the constitution. Hence the tribes recognized by the Constitution are known as ‘Scheduled Tribes’.

Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution”.

Article 342

  • The President may, with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a state, after consultation with the Governor thereof by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall, for the purposes of this constitution, is deemed to be scheduled tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory, as the case may be.
  • Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled tribes specified in a notification issued under clause(1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid, a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.
  • Thus, the first specification of Scheduled Tribes in relation to a particular State/ Union Territory is by a notified order of the President, after consultation with the State governments concerned. These orders can be modified subsequently only through an Act of Parliament. The above Article also provides for listing of scheduled tribes State/Union Territory wise and not on an all India basis.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs

  • Ministry of Tribal Affairs is responsible for the overall development of the scheduled tribes in India. This Ministry was set up in 1999 after the bifurcation of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with the objective of providing a more focused approach on the integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), the most underprivileged of the Indian Society, in a coordinated and planned manner.
  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs shall be the nodal Ministry for overall policy, planning, and coordination of programs of development for the Scheduled Tribes. In regard to sectoral programs and schemes of development of these communities policy, planning, monitoring, evaluation, etc. as also, their coordination will be the responsibility of the concerned Central Ministries/ Departments, State Governments, and Union Territory Administrations.

National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST)

  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) was established by amending Article 338 and inserting a new Article 338A in the Constitution through the Constitution (89th Amendment) Act, 2003.
  • By this amendment, the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was replaced by two separate Commissions namely-
    • the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC)
    • the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) w.e.f. 19 February 2004.

Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) strategy

  • The Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) strategy is a Government of India initiative aimed for the rapid socio-economic development of tribal people.
  • The funds provided under the Tribal Sub Plan of the State have to be at least equal in proportion to the ST population of each State or UTs.
  • Similarly, Central Ministries/Departments are also required to earmark funds out of their budget for the Tribal Sub-Plan. As per guidelines issued by the Planning Commission, the Tribal Sub Plan funds are to be non-divertible and non-lapsable.
  • The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes is vested with the duty to participate and advise in the planning process of socio-economic development of STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)

PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. In India, tribal population makes up for 8.6% of the total population.

  • They have declining or stagnant population, low level of literacy, pre-agricultural level of technology and are economically backward.
  • They generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.


In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.

  • In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs, spread over 18 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands) in the country (2011 census).
  • Among the 75 listed PVTG’s the highest number are found in Odisha (13), followed by Andhra Pradesh (12).

In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as PVTGs.

Scheme for development of PVTGs:

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs implements the Scheme of “Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)” exclusively for them.
    • Under the scheme, Conservation-cum-Development (CCD)/Annual Plans are to be prepared by each State/UT for their PVTGs based on their need assessment, which are then appraised and approved by the Project Appraisal Committee of the Ministry.
    • Priority is also assigned to PVTGs under the schemes of Special Central Assistance (SCA) to Tribal Sub-Scheme (TSS), Grants under Article 275(1) of the Constitution, Grants-in-aid to Voluntary Organisations working for the welfare of Schedule Tribes and Strengthening of Education among ST Girls in Low Literacy Districts.

The criteria followed for determination of PVTGs are as under:

  1. A pre-agriculture level of technology.
  2. A stagnant or declining population.
  3. Extremely low literacy.
  4. A subsistence level of the economy.

Important Tribes of India (Statewise)

Andhra PradeshAndh, Sadhu Andh, Bhil, Bhaghata, Dhulia,rona, Kolam, Gond, Thoti, Goundu, Kammara, Savaras, Dabba Yerukula, Sugalis, Nakkala, Pardhan, Gadabas, Chenchus A.k.a Chenchawar, Kattunayakan, Jatapus, Manna Dhora
Arunachal PradeshSingpho, Monpa, Abor, Sherdukpen, Galo, Apatanis
AssamKhasis, Chakma, Dimasa, Gangte, Garos, Hajong, Chutiya
BiharGond, Birjia, Asur, Savar, Parhaiya, Chero, Birhor, Santhals, Baiga
ChhattisgarhNagasia, Biar, Khond, Agariya, Bhattra, Mawasi, Bhaina,
GoaVarli, Dubia, Siddi, Dhodia, Naikda
GujaratPatelia, Bhil, Dhodia, Bamcha, Barda, Paradhi, Charan, Gamta
Himachal PradeshSwangal, Gujjars, Lahaulas, Khas, Pangwala, Lamba, Gaddis
Jammu and KashmirBalti, Garra, Sippi, Bakarwal, Mon, Gaddi, Purigpa, Beda
JharkhandGonds, Birhors, Savar, Mundas, Santhals, Khaira, Bhumji
KarnatakaGond, Patelia, Barda, Yerava, Bhil, Koraga, Adiyan, Iruliga,
KeralaMalai, Aarayan, Arandan, Uralis, Kurumbas, Arandan, Eranvallan
Madhya PradeshKharia, Bhils, Murias, Birhors, Baigas, Katkari, Kol, Bharia, Khond, Gonds,
MaharashtraWarlis, Khond, Bhaina, Katkari, Bhunjia, Rathawa, Dhodia.
ManipurThadou, Aimol, Maram, Paite, Chiru, Purum, Kuki, Monsang, Angami
MeghalayaPawai, Chakma, Raba, Hajong, Lakher, Garos, Jaintias Khasis
MizoramDimasa, Raba, Chakma, Lakher, Khasi, Synteng, Kuki, Pawai.
NagalandNagas, Angami, Sema, Garo, Kuki, Kachari, Mikir, Konyak, Lotha
OdishaGadaba, Ghara, Kharia, Khond, Matya, Oraons, Rajuar, Santhals.
RajasthanBhils, Damaria, Dhanka, Meenas(Minas), Patelia, Sahariya, Lambada(Banjara).
SikkimBhutia, Khas, Lepchas.
Tamil NaduAdiyan, Aranadan, Eravallan, Irular, Kadar, Kanikar, Kotas, Todas.
TripuraBhil, Bhutia, Chaimal, Chakma, Halam, Khasia, Lushai, Mizel, Namte.
UttarakhandBhotia, Buksa, Jaunsari, Raji, Tharu.
Uttar PradeshBhotia, Buksa, Jaunsari, Kol, Raji, Tharu.
West BengalAsur, Khond, Hajong, Ho, Parhaiya, Rabha, Santhals, Savar.
Andaman and NicobarOraons, Onges, Sentinelese, Shompens.
Little AndamanJarawa
North-EastAbhors, Chang, Galaong, Mishimi, Singpho, Wancho.

Most Famous Tribal Groups

Bhils Tribe

  • The Bhils are a tribe found mostly in the mountain ranges of Udaipur and in some districts of Rajasthan.
  • The Bhils are the largest tribes in India.
  • They speak the Bhili language. Their celebrations are the Ghoomar dance, Than Gair-a dance drama, and the Baneshwar Fair.

Gonds Tribe

  • Found in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh and in parts of Maharashtra, Orissa, and Andhra Pradesh, the Gonds are the second biggest tribe in India.
  • They are known for their valor and speak many Indian languages including the Dravidian Gondi language.
  • They have houses of mud walls and thatched roofs in the Gondi forests.
  • Agriculture is their main occupation.
  • Keslapur Jathra and Madai are their festivals.

Munda Tribe

  • This tribe is found in Jharkhand and parts of Chattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, and West Bengal.
  • Their life is simple and basic. They speak the Mundari language. The Mundas were hunters in the past but now are laborers in farms.
  • They follow the Sarna religion owing allegiance to a God called Singbonga.
  • Their language is Killi and Nupur dance is the main entertainment.
  • The Munda tribes celebrate the Mage, Karam, Sarhaul and Phagu festivals.

Santhal Tribes

  • The Santhal tribes are a major tribe of West Bengal. They are also seen in parts of Bihar, Odisha, and Assam and are the largest tribe in Jharkhand.
  • They depend on agriculture and livestock for their living and are great hunters.
  • In addition to traditional festivals like Karam and Sahrai, Santhali dance and music is a major attraction.

Toto Tribe

  • Totapara village in the Alipurdoar district of West Bengal is home to the Toto tribe.
  • Their language has no script and is influenced by Nepali and Bengali.
  • They trade vegetables and fruits to maintain their simple life.
  • They believe in God Ishpa and Goddess Cheima, though they proclaim to be Hindus.

Bodo Tribe

  • The Bodo tribe is found in Assam and parts of West Bengal and Nagaland.
  • They are believed to be the early indigenous settlers of Assam. They speak a Tibetan-Burmese language, the Bodo.
  • The weaving of handloom products is an intrinsic part of their culture.
  • They celebrate the Baishagu festival in spring, dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Angami Tribe

  • The Angami Nagas is one of the major tribes found in the district of Kohima in Nagaland.
  • The men dress in white Mhoushu and black Lohe. The women wear Mechala and ornaments of beads, mask pendants, bracelets, etc.
  • The tribe is best known for the famed Hornbill Festival which attracts crowds from various parts of the world.
    • Hornbill Festival – first started in the year 2000 is celebrated in the month of December every year. It starts on December 1, a day that is celebrated as Nagaland Statehood Day, and it goes on for ten days, ending on December 10. 
    • The 17 tribes that take part in the festival are Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Dimasa Kachari, Garo, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Kuki, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yumchungru, and Zeliang.
  • Their intricate art and woodwork and work in bamboo and cane are beautiful. They speak different dialects like Gnamei, Ngami, Tsoghami.

Bhutia Tribe

  • The Bhutias are mainly found in Sikkim and parts of West Bengal and Tripura.
  • They are of Tibetan ancestry and speak Lhopo or Sikkimese language.
  • They are known for their art and cuisine. The steamed meat dumplings called momos are their staple food.
  • Thukpa, noodles in a broth, is another of their dishes. Losar and Loosong are the festivals celebrated.

Lepcha Tribe

  • Lepcha is a tribe of the Himalayan range lives at the North-East corner of India. They largely resides at Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Darjeeling.
  • Lepchas are Mongoloid tribe. Their language is an admixture of Nepalese and Sikkims languages, which is very familiar with the Indo-Chinese language. They themselves call “Rong”.
  • Lepchas live on rearing a large number of cattle and milch cows besides cultivation of Agricultural and Horticultural crops.
  • Originally Lepchas were the nature worshiper and had beliefs in witch-craftship and spirits. But in due course, they embarrassed Buddhism.
  • In Tripura, they are known as Nepalese and their social and community relationship also bounded with Nepalese.

Khasi Tribe

  • This tribe is mainly spotted on the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and in parts of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The tribe plays plenty of music and a wide range of musical instruments like drums, guitars, flutes, cymbals, etc.
  • Their major festival, the Nongkrem festival is five days long when the women wear a dress called Jainsem and the men a Jymphong.

Garo Tribe

  • Garo tribes are mainly found in the hills of Meghalaya and parts of Assam, Nagaland, and West Bengal.
  • The tribe is one of the few matrilineal societies in the world. Garo architecture is quite unique. Nokmong, Nokpante, Jamadaal and Jamsireng are some of them.
  • The tribal women wear a variety of traditional ornaments. The men wear their traditional dress with a turban with feathers stuck in them.
  • The festival of Wangala is their celebration.

Nyishi Tribe

  • This tribe inhabits the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh with the majority of them from districts of Kurung Kumey, Papum Pare, Upper, and Lower Subansiri.
  • Nishi is the language spoken by them.
  • A good majority of them have converted to Christianity.
 Nishi/Hill-Miri tribesman

Warli Tribe

  • The tribe is found in the Maharashtra-Gujarat border and surrounding areas.
  • This tribe is well known for the Warli Art, where a mixture of cow dung and earth, rice paste, bamboo stick, red ochre are used to create art, paintings, and murals.
  • They conduct the Tarpa dance during the harvest season and the Warli Folk Art Dancing People Festival during March of every year.

Chenchu Tribe

  • This tribe is indigenous to Andhra Pradesh and inhabits the forests of Nallamala Hills.
  • They are also present in the districts of Kurnool, Nalgonda, Guntur.
  • They hunt and trade in jungle products like honey, roots, gums, fruits, and tubers.
  • They speak a language with a Telugu accent and are a very ritualistic lot.

Apatani Tribes

  • Aaptani are a tribal group of people living in the Ziro valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • They speak a local language called Tani and worship the sun and the moon.
  • They follow a sustainable social forestry system.
  • They celebrate major festivals – Dree with prayers for a bumper harvest and prosperity of all humankind and Myoko to celebrate Friendship.
  • The Apatanis practice aquaculture along with rice farming on their plots. Rice-fish culture in the valley is a unique practice in the state, where two crops of rice (Mipya and Emoh) and one crop of fish (Ngihi) are raised together.
  •  UNESCO has proposed the Apatani valley for inclusion as a World Heritage Site for its “extremely high productivity” and “unique” way of preserving the ecology.

Siddis Tribe

  • This tribe of Karnataka is believed to have descended from the Bantu people of Southeast Africa. History says that the people were brought in as slaves by the Portuguese.
  • They are found in various parts of Karnataka.
  • The majority of them are Christians while others follow Hinduism and Islamism. They are fond of ritual practices, dance, and music.

Kodava Tribe

  • This tribe from Mysore, Karnataka is concentrated in Coorg.
  • Well known for their bravery, the tribe is a patrilineal tribe from Kodagu or Coorg.
  • They speak the Kodava language.
  • They are basically agriculturists. The people of the tribe, both men and women, are very passionate about hockey.
  • Kodavas are the only people in India permitted to carry firearms without a license.

Toda Tribe

  • The Todas are found in parts of the Nilgiris mountain in Tamil Nadu.
  • Their livelihood depends on cattle farming and dairy. Their skill in architecture is reflected in the oval and tent-shaped bamboo houses with thatched roofs.
  • Toda embroidery work, Pukhoor, is well acclaimed. Their most important festival is Modhweth.

Irular Tribe

  • The tribe inhabits areas of the Nilgiri mountain in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
  • They are the second-largest tribe in Kerala and are found mostly in the Palakkad region.
  • They are mainly farmers and dependent on the production of paddy, dhal, Raggi, chilies, turmeric, and plantains.
  • They are ritualistic, believe in their own Gods and are known for their skills in black magic.

Kanikaran Tribe

  • Kanikkaran are a tribal community found in the southern parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu states in India.
  • Though they cultivate everything and make agriculture as the main profession, they have a special liking for fishing and hunting.
  • Kaanikkar Nritham is a form of group dance performed as a rural offering.
  • The Kanikkars are semi-nomadic, living in temporary huts of bamboo and reeds. These are generally situated on hillsides.

Kurumba Tribe

  • This is a major tribe found in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. They are one of the earliest settlers of the Western Ghats.
  • They lead a simplistic lifestyle depending on agriculture and gathering of honey and wax.
  • They are adept at formulating traditional herbal medicines.
  • They are well known in the region for their skills in witchcraft and magic.

Jarawa Tribe

  • The Jarawas are an indigenous people of the Andaman Islands in India.
  • They live in parts of South Andaman and Middle Andaman Islands.

List of PVTGs in India

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana1. Bodo Gadaba 2. Bondo Poroja 3. Chenchu 4. Dongria Khond 5. Gutob Gadaba 6. Khond Poroja 7. Kolam 8. Kondareddis 9. Konda Savaras 10. Kutia Khond 11. Parengi Poroja l2. Thoti
Bihar (including Jharkhand)13. Asurs 14. Birhor 15. Birjia 16. Hill Kharia 17. Konvas 18. Mal Paharia 19. Parhaiyas 20. Sauda Paharia 21. Savar
Gujarat22. Kathodi 23. Kohvalia 24. Padhar 25. Siddi 26. Kolgha
Karnataka27. Jenu Kuruba 28. Koraga
Kerala29.Cholanaikayan (a section of Kattunaickans) 30. Kadar 31. Kattunayakan 32. Kurumbas 33. Koraga
Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh)34. Abujh Macias 35. Baigas 36. Bharias 37. Hill Korbas 38. Kamars39. Saharias 40. Birhor
Maharashtra41. Katkaria (Kathodia) 42. Kolam 43. Maria Gond
Manipur44. Marram Nagas
Odisha45. Birhor 46. Bondo 47. Didayi 48. Dongria-Khond 49. Juangs 50. Kharias 51. Kutia Kondh 52. Lanjia Sauras 53. Lodhas 54. Mankidias 55. Paudi Bhuyans 56. Soura 57. Chuktia Bhunjia
Rajasthan58. Seharias
Tamil Nadu59. Kattu Nayakans 60. Kotas 61. Kurumbas 62. Irulas 63. Paniyans 64. Todas
Tripura65. Reangs
Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand66. Buxas 67. Rajis
West Bengal68. Birhor 69. Lodhas 70. Totos
Andaman & Nicobar Islands 71. Great Andamanese 72. Jarawas 73. Onges 74. Sentinelese 75. Shorn Pens

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great sir ji on the day of holi . articles are publishing wow
thnx sir happie holi

Arju Giri

Thank you very Much Sir.. please also provide History & Economic notes ..


Where are pvtg? And all …which are imp
For prelims


Thank you !! Relevant information is provided in all your articles !! Really helping

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