The original settlers lived in the forest, hills and isolated regions that are rich in mineral resources. Their identity was conditioned by the ecological factors of the places they live. The history of these communities differ from that of others.

The cultural values and systems of each of them define their identity, which is different from other tribes. The economic condition of each tribe varies from others, even though the government categorise all of them as Scheduled Tribes. They have very little contact with other people. They are unaware of many things that can make their life easy.

Tribes’ people are the keepers of the nature. It is of great significance to have such groups existing in the world. They should not be marginalised, underestimated and ill-treated. They have got their own identity and they preserve ethnic knowledge and lofty heritage of the bygone ages. I am proud to talk about them because I am one among them. It doesn’t make me assert that I am a tribal.

Being a tribal, it was not that easy for me to reach at this stage where I stand now. But from the bottom of my heart, I feel grateful that I am a tribal. Tribes are companions of nature. They never harm anything in this world for their selfish needs.

All the same, they have been victims of exploitation by the modern world. They are exploited because they guard the serene beauty of this world- the nature. They lie in the lap of the nature and are nurtured by it. They guard against the exploitation of natural resources and extermination of wildlife. They are a threat for the destructors of earth.

It is a reality that there hardly is any tribe untouched by the modern world. Almost all the tribes, who have survived the centuries of assault on them by outsiders, have gone through the pangs of transition. Change, as inevitable as it is, happens at all stages of life. There is a point of limit for every being or community to build a socio- cultural life by totally insulating itself from thee influences of the surrounding.

Issues faced by Tribal people:

Poverty and Indebtedness

Majority of the tribes even today live under the poverty line. They follow many simple occupations based on their amazing skills. Most of them eke out a living by gathering fruits and roots and practising subsistence farming.

Health and Nutrition

In many parts of India, tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases, out of which water borne diseases is life threatening. They are also stunted by deficiency problems. The Himalayan tribes suffer from goitre due to lack of iodine. Leprosy and tuberculosis are also common among them. Infant mortality was found to be very high among some of the tribes. Malnutrition is common and has affected the general health of the tribal children as it seriously dents the ability to resist infection, leads to chronic illness and in many cases to brain impairment.


Lack of proper education leave many of them illiterate. Due to illiteracy, they fail to know about the government benefits to which they are entitled. Even If they were given the minimum level of education they could lead a better life. These people are blessed with exceptional skills, handed down through generations. But it is sad that they are unaware of how to utilise them. Education is a major means which will ensure a better life for the tribal.

In Migration and Problem of separatism

The ecological devastation caused by outsiders like massive felling of trees is forcing tribal women to trek longer distances in search of forest produce like honey, herbs and medicines and firewood. Many tribal regions and states having large tribal pollution have been experiencing the problem of heavy in-migration of non-tribals, resulting from the pressures of development.

Cultural Problems

Due to increasing engagement with outsiders, the tribal culture is undergoing a revolutionary change. For instance, the problem of bilingualism has developed leading to indifference towards the tribal dialects. The tribal people are imitating western culture in different aspects of their social life, leaving behind their own culture. It has led to degeneration of tribal life and tribal arts such as dance, music and a variety of craft.

Social values

Caught in the vortex of change, they are even forced to renounce the values their forbears have guarded for generations. Marriages take place at tender ages. Tribal women are exploited.

Modern invasion in the tribal world

The divide and rule policy adopted by the British did a lot of damage to the tribal communities of India. The British superimposed their own administrative patterns on the tribal areas and deprived them of their traditional methods of interacting with the people. The Criminal Tribes Act, which the British introduced, gave an impression that the tribals were either born criminals or anti socials.

Modern world invaded into the tribal life with the claim to solve problems of poverty and indebtedness, health and nutrition, education, cultural problems, social values, concept of private property, in-migration and separatism etc. The impact of modernisation has left the tribes in a dilemma — whether to stick on to their own life or to accept the changes being taught to them?

The modern world is finding tribes as a safe place to dump all its negativities. They are exposed to alcohol, Ganja, drugs, technologies and the greed for wealth. These influences together make an adverse impact on them.

The tribals who reserve their culture, beliefs and traditions are taken away from their values. They are exploited by the modern world in order to plunder their resources. The sanctity of the tribe has lost somewhere between the woods and the roads.

Is this how they must be influenced by the modern world? Should the tribes be looted and made homeless? Where do they stand in our society? Why are they not treated as one among us? Why do they come across identity crisis? Who is responsible for all the problems the tribes are facing today? How can we solve their dilemma? What do they prefer- Modern world or their Forest life?

My mind is full of questions that I have to find answers. Here is my humble effort to be their voice and their face.

#alpushpa #jagalur #pushpalakshmanaswamyjagalur

My journey begins here…

(Part 1 of 4) To be Continued…

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