In the Ayodhya of the Ramayana , when Lord Rama is exiled from the kingdom of Ayodhya, and reaches the northern bank of the Ganga at Sringaverapura, he is received by the king of the neighbouring kingdom of Nishadha, Guha (a Tribal leader). Rama treats the tribal leader, Guha, as his own conscience.
In the Mahabharata , Arjuna’s travels in the Northeast lead to his encounter with Ulupi, the princess of the Naga tribe, who he marries and has a son with, Iravan.
History is replete with examples of richness, significance and harmonious relationship of Tribals with nature.
Context where they should be considered as a single category
1. Indication of Primitive Traits: Believing in superstitions or their mode of economy is very rudimentary, primitive and subsistence.
2. Distinctive Culture: They can have animistic culture or believe in a common ancestor.
3. Shyness of Contact with the Community at Large: They prefer to be mostly isolated. Ex: the sentinelese tribe of Andaman and Nicobar.
4. Geographical Isolation: Cut off from the modern forces of development. Ex: Adi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh or the Shompens of Andaman and Nicobar.
5. Backwardness: Colonial land and revenue policies made tribes suffer under the hands of officials, moneylenders and zamindars. Ex: Santhals of Chotanagpur.
6. Extinction of Tribal languages: the Mahali language in eastern India, Koro in Arunachal Pradesh, Sidi in Gujarat and Dimasa in Assam are facing extinction
‘Janjatiya Gaurav Divas’ (the birthday of Bhagwan Birsa Munda) is a part of the steps being taken to secure the culture and welfare of India’s tribal communities. It will also ensure that the heritage, culture and the values of the 705 tribal communities (Scheduled Tribes) that constitute approximately 10% of our population is protected and is made accessible across the nation.