Tribal communities are often identified by some specific signs such as primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness to contact with the community at large and backwardness. Along with these, some tribal groups have some specific features such as dependency on hunting, gathering for food, having pre-agriculture level of technology, zero or negative growth of population and extremely low level of literacy. These groups are called Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups.

These groups are among the most vulnerable section of our society as they are few in numbers, have not attained any significant level of social and economic development and generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support. 75 such groups have been identified and categorized as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

The need for identification: 

  • PVTGs are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. Due to this factor, more developed and assertive tribal groups take a major chunk of the tribal development funds, because of which PVTGs need more funds directed for their development.
  • In this context, 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 out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 17 states and one Union Territory (UT), in the country (2011 census).

The characteristics of PVTGs:

  • In 1973, the Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
  • In 2006, the Government of India renamed the PTGs as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  • PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mold, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change, etc.

Population:

  • In India, the tribal population makes up 8.6% of the total population. Tribal people live in about 15% of the geographical area of the country.
  • The places they live vary from plains, forests, hills, inaccessible areas, etc.
  • PVTGs are scattered in different geographical areas of the country.
  • According to the 2001 census, the PVTGs population is approximate 27,68,322.
  • There are 12 PVTGs having a population above 50,000 and the remaining groups have a population of 1000 or less.
  • The PVTG of Sahariyas has the highest population of 4,50,217, while the PVTGs of Sentinelese and Andamanese has a very small population of 39 and 43, respectively.

Social conditions and declining population:

  • The cultural practices, systems, self-governance and livelihood practices of PVTGs have a lot of variations, depending on the group and locality.
  • These tribal groups are widely different culturally. The level of inequalities in social and economic conditions is very high amongst PVTGs.
  • Their problems are also very different from group to group. The growth of PVTGs’ population is either stagnating or declining, compared to the general population growth, particularly in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the declining rate is very high.
  • There are five PVTGs in the Andaman islands such as Great Andamanese, Jarawas, Onges, Sentinelese and Shom Pens.
    • In 1858, the Great Andamanese were estimated at nearly 3500, in 1901 their number declined to 625.
    • According to the 2001 Census, the Great Andamanese stood at just 43, Jarawas are 241, Onges are 96, Sentinels are 39 and Shom Pens are 398.

Livelihoods:

  • PVTGs depend on various livelihoods such as food gathering, Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP), hunting, livestock rearing, shifting cultivation and artisan works. Most of their livelihoods depend on the forest. The forest is their life and livelihood.
  • They collect various NTFP items such as honey, gum, amla, bamboo, shrubs, fuelwood, dry leaves, nuts, sprouts, wax, medical plants, roots, and tubes. Most of the NTFP items they gather are for consumption and they sell the remaining to middlemen.
  • But due to the shrinking forests, environmental changes and new forest conservation policies, their NTFP collection is getting hampered. Because of the lack of awareness about the value of NTFP produce, PVTGs have been exploited by the middlemen.

Health conditions:

  • The health status of PVTGs is in an awful condition because of multiple factors like poverty, illiteracy, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitary conditions, difficult terrain, malnutrition, poor maternal and child health services, unavailability of health and nutritional services, superstition and deforestation.
  • The diseases like anemia, upper respiratory problems, malaria; gastro-intestinal disorders like acute diarrhea, Intestinal protozoan; micronutrient deficiency and skin infection diseases are common among PVTGs.
  • Many of these diseases can be prevented by providing nutrition food, timely medical facilities, and health awareness. The condition of education is also very poor, with an average literacy rate of 10% to 44% in PVTGs.

Scheme for PVTGs:

  • The Scheme for Development of Primitive Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), came into effect from April 1, 2008.
  • The Scheme defines PVTGs as the most vulnerable among the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheme, therefore, seeks to prioritize their protection and development. 
  • The Scheme seeks to adopt a holistic approach to the socio-economic development of PVTGs and gives state governments flexibility in planning initiatives that are geared towards the specific socio-cultural imperatives of the specific groups at hand.
  • Activities supported under the scheme include housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, cattle development, construction of link roads, installation of non-conventional sources of energy, social security, etc.
  • Funds are made available only for activities essential for the survival, protection, and development of PVTGs and not already funded by any other Scheme of the central/state governments.
  • Each state and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands’ administration, is required to prepare a long term Conservation-cum-Development (CCD) plan, valid for a period of five years for each PVTG within its territory, outlining the initiatives it will undertake, financial planning for the same and the agencies charged with the responsibility of undertaking the same.
  • The CCD Plan is approved by an Expert Committee, appointed by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. The Scheme is then funded entirely by the Central government.

Challenges faced by PVTGs

  • Incoherency in identification:
    • The process of identification of PVTG adopted by the states differ in its methods.
    • The spirit of the direction made by MoTA was loosely considered as a result there has been no uniform principle adopted in identifying the PVTGs.
  • Outdated List:
    • The Anthropological Survey of India observes that the list of PVTG is overlapping and repetitive.
    • For example, the list contains synonyms of the same group such as the Mankidia and the Birhor in Odisha, both of which refer to the same group.
  • Lack of baseline surveys:
    • Base line surveys are done to precisely identify the PVTG families, their habitat and socio-economic status, so that development initiatives are implemented for these communities, based on the facts and figures
    • The Anthropological Survey of India observed 75 PVTGs, base line surveys exists for about 40 groups, even after declaring them as PVTGs.
    • Lack of baseline surveys hinder effective implementation of welfare schemes
  • Unequal Benefits from welfare schemes:
    • In some cases, a PVTG receives benefits only in a few blocks in a district, while the same group is deprived in adjacent blocks.
    • For example, the LanjiaSaora are recognized as a PVTG across Odisha but the micro-projects are established only in two blocks. The rest of the LanjiaSaora are treated among the Scheduled Tribes (STs) and do not receive benefit from these projects.
  • Impact of developmental projects:
    • In 2002, a Standing Committee formed by the MoTA to review the ‘Development of Primitive Tribal Groups,’ shared that the tribal people, especially PVTGs, are worst affected by developmental projects like dams, industries and mines.
  • Denial of land rights:
    • PVTGs have faced systematic alienation from their resources due to conservation purposesdeclaration of Reserved Forests and Protected Forests.
    • For example: In 2009, 245 Baiga families were forced out from the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, when it was notified so under the Project Tiger
    • Further, despite Forest Rights Act (2006) in place, habitat rights of PVTGs are still being forfeited in many instances.
    • For Example: Mankidia community of Odisha are denied habitat rights in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR) by state’s forest department
  • Livelihood issues:
    • Due to shrinking forests, environmental changes and forest conservation policies, their Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFP) collection is affected.
    • They lack awareness about market value of NTFP and are exploited by middle men.
  • Health Issues:
    • PVTGs suffer from many health problems like anaemia, malaria; gastro-intestinal disorders; micro nutrient deficiency and skin diseases due to poverty, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitation, lack of health services, superstition and deforestation
    • Uncontacted tribal group such as the Sentinelese tribe of Andaman are also at the very high risk of contracting diseases in case of contact with outsiders
  • Illiteracy:
    • Though literacy rate among many PVTGs have increased over the past years, it still remains low at 30-40%. Further, poor female literacy is a major concern
  • Vulnerabilities of tribes in Andaman and Nicobar:
    • The fragile tribal communities have been facing expropriation of their ecosystem by outsiders.
    • The outside influences are impacting their land use patterns, use of the sea, overall biodiversity leading to material and non-material changes.
    • Although India’s Supreme Court in 2002 ordered that the The Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) through the Jarawa’s reserve should be closed, it remains open – and tourists use it for ‘human safaris’ to the Jarawa.

Way forward for PVTGs

  • Along with the Census, a proper survey should be conducted to comprehensively capture the data on PVTGs- population enumeration, health status, nutritional level, education, vulnerabilities etc. This would help implement welfare measures better
  • Of the 75 PVTGs, those groups whose population is declining should be clearly identified and survival strategy should be devised
  • PVTGs threatened with relocation of wildlife areas or development projects should be identified and actionable strategies should be devised to prevent the same
  • It is important to recognise the innate connection between PVTGs and their lands and habitats. Therefore, a rights-based approach for development of PVTGs should be adopted
  • Effective, preventive and curative health systems should be developed to address the health issues plaguing PVTGs
  • A massive exercise in creating awareness about PVTG Rights, amongst communities, officials and civil society groups, is needed. It is important to respect their culture, traditions, beliefs and sustainable livelihoods.
  • The government needs to revamp its priorities towards protecting the indigenous tribes of A&N islands from outside influence. India needs to sign the 1989 convention of the ILO, and implement its various policies to protect the rights of the indigenous population.
  • The govt. should also make efforts to sensitise settlers and outsiders about PVTGs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands

The principles of Tribal Panchsheel must be followed while working for the welfare of PVTGs and they must be allowed to catch up with the mainstream at their own pace. An enabling environment must be created in which communities are empowered to make their own life and livelihood choices and choose their path of development.

PVTGs State-wise:

State / UT NamePVTGs Name
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
12. Thoti
Bihar and Jharkhand13. Asurs
14. Birhor
15. Birjia
16. Hill Kharia
17. Konvas
18. Mal Paharia
19. Parhaiyas
20. Sauda Paharia
21. Savar
JharkhandSame as above
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 and
Chhattisgarh
34. Abujh Macias
35. Baigas
36. Bharias
37. Hill Korbas
38. Kamars
39. Saharias
40. Birhor
ChhattisgarhSame as above
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 Islands71. Great Andamanese
72. Jarawas
73. Onges
74. Sentinelese
75. Shorn Pens
  1. The Dhebar Commission created Primitive Tribal Groups as a separate category, who
    are less developed among the tribal groups.
  2. Odisha has the highest number of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).
  3. Jarawas and Onges are some of the PVTGs in Odisha.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

a. 1 and 3 only
b. 2 only
c. 1 only
d. 1 and 2 only

Answer: d. 1 and 2 only


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