Tribal Society in India and its Features


India is known to be a vast country with scanty population in the prehistoric age. During this period there were small groups of people scattered throughout the country in different spots having a characteristic look and life style.

A tribe is a group of people, usually staying in jungle areas, in a small locality, absolutely illiterate poor, hardly clad in clothes, usually dark and frail, fully living within their own community whose marriage always takes place among themselves, engaged in hunting and searching for roots, shoots and fruits as their veg food and roasted animals as non-veg food, completely oblivious of the country’s political and economic condition, resisting all efforts of development and have a strong dislike for strangers and educated modern community.

The number of such tribal community is very large e.g. Santhals, Kora people, Kol, etc. most of whom fall under scheduled caste, scheduled tribe and other backward classes. Most of the projects and efforts for uplifting their health, education and economic condition have failed both for their own unwillingness for change and absolute non cooperation as well as lethargy, dishonesty and corruption of the intermediaries.


Characteristics of Tribal Society

The chief characteristics of a tribe are the following:

  • Common definite territory, common dialect, common name, common religion and common culture.
  • They have strong sense of unity and any stranger is attacked with bows and arrows.
  • All tribe members are related by blood, have their own political organization which has a chief who exercises authority over all the members, even recommending marriage of young boys with girls whom they have found suitable for marriage.
  • Each tribe is guided by their own religion which is based on totemism, magic and fetishism i.e. believing in god being embedded in a special piece of stone, a special tree or a peculiar strange animal.
  • A tribe is an endogamous group, as distinct from a clan who is exogamous, have common name and is engaged in worshipping strange objects, hunting of small animals, and resists entry of any outsiders inside their territory.

It remains a great job for the State and Central Government to bring tribes into confidence, educate them, clad them, take health care and arrange for their living by developing skill.

Structure and features of a Tribal Society


1. History: A tribal society is a primitive society which lived in early period of human history but can be found in large number of groups in all countries including India. There has not been any change of tribes in their belief, life style and religion which prevent them from mixing with any outsider or educated community whom they greatly dislike.

2. Economic structure: Tribal people live within nature and absolutely clean environment and this determines their economic activity which consists of hunting small animals and look for food like roots and wild fruits.

They have their own social functions and festivals where they sing and dance in characteristic body movements in the same dress by girls, the males playing on musical gadget like drums, metallic gongs, flutes etc.

They hardly have any transaction because nobody has any currency or coins and do not have any knowledge and experience of organizing market.

3. Social Life: The life style of tribal society is primitive, and depends entirely on their characteristic ways of non-monetary transacted life. The families live within themselves, without knowing about their neighbours in the country who are educated, developed, move in cars, have modern dress etc whom they hate and consider them enemy. The domestic division of labor depends only on age and sex.

Modern Thinking

The objectives of knowing about the backwardness of tribal’s is not to leave them in the same condition as they have lived for ages, but to find out ways and means to

  • Give them ideas about modern life and society by setting up primary schools,
  • To distribute free TV, Cell Phone and Modern Clothes,
  • Show them small films of development and how they can uplift their society.

No doubt these steps won’t be easy but with a strong determination these liabilities should be converted into human resources.


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