Tribal Problems: Isolation Migration and Acculturation

Tribal Problems: Isolation Migration and Acculturation

Various Problems of Tribal Communities in India

  • As per the dictionary, problem means a question to be considered, solved, or answered in a particular way, difficult to deal or control. Social problems are those social conditions identified by scientific inquiry and values as detrimental to human well-being.”
  • Jerome G. Manis, Social problem is an aspect of society that people are concerned about and would like change. Social problems begin with an objective condition, some aspect of society that can be measured or experienced. No. of problems are facing by tribal communities in current scenario.
  • As per Andre Beteille, the tribe as a mode of organization has always differed from the caste-based mode of organization. But tribes are not always easy to distinguish from castes particularly at the margins where the two modes of organization meet.
  • Some tribes have been more isolated than others but at least in the interior areas where the bulk of the tribal population is to found none has been completely free from the influence of civilization. Also we can say that areas wise there are various problems but similarity is there.

Following are the main problems of tribal community

In Indian tribal society concern, the proportion and intensity of the problems are so serious. Each and every step of life there is a chain of problems.


  • After independence this problem has been raised in Indian tribals. Now a day’s tribal’s caught between two lobbies i.e. police authority and naxal persons. Most of the tribal peoples getting suffered and psychological disorder.
  • Naxals directly kill, exploit and threaten for fulfillment of their aims. Another side policemen torture creates doubts to the tribal’s.
  • In this way the tribal persons totally disturb and confused. There are various causes, effects and remedies about this problem.


  • Poverty is a main disease of tribal’s. There are various causes behind this problem. Majority of tribes live under poverty line.
  • Primary occupations, lack of resources and industrialization, derogated social and economic life, illiteracy are the various factors related to it.
  • Due to poverty malnutrition, high crime and death rate, physical and psychological disorders have been facing by tribal’s.

Health related issues

  • Tribal population suffers chronic disease like water and air born, malnutrition, deficiency of iodine and calcium.
  • Tuberculoses, due to alcoholism liver dysfunction, leprosy etc are the common diseases present among the tribal’s.
  • Lack of medical facilities and awareness still after 65 years of independence tribal’s are using their traditional methods, existing superstations and old disease remedial practices which hamper on their social and familiar life and destroy the social construction.

Land Problems

  • Tribal’s totally depend on agriculture and supplementary primary occupations. Tribal’s history is full of land alienation and colonialism. Moneylenders Zamindars and traders are exploited to the tribal’s in various angles.
  • With the concept of industrialization and urbanization the ratio of forest decline speedily. After that tribal’s started to search the jobs at different places like mining, industries and tertiary sectors.
  • Again as per the theory of Karl Marks tribal’s which considered in have not groups were exploited by have groups. Most of the occupation falls into the primary occupations such as hunting, gathering, and agriculture.
  • The technology they use for these purposes belong to the most primitive kind. Therefore when outsiders exploit the tribe’s land and its resources the natural life cycle of tribal ecology and tribal life is greatly disturbed.

Educational Problems

  • Education is very long to tribals. Lack of transport facilities, old mentality, unattraction of administration and government, availability of traditional experience and knowledge etc are the various reasons are responsible for the degraded educational situation.
  • Fears of naxal persons the employees are not ready to go there and perform their duties in remote and tribal communities.
  • Educationally the tribal population is at different levels of development but overall the formal education has made very little impact on tribal groups.
  • Formal education is not considered necessary to discharge their social obligations. Superstitions and myths play an important role in rejecting education.

Cultural and Religious Problems

  • Like other culture, in tribal communities also gives place to ethnocentromocisem concept. Interactions with other culture, the tribal’s going to spoil to their own culture.
  • Due to influence of Christian missionaries the problem of bilingualism has developed which led to indifference towards tribal language. Same situation also for religious problems which create the daily hassles on the way of tribal’s.
  • Unnecessary cultural and religious activities disturb to tribal’s and pulls towards ineptness. Therefore suicide cases, tension, stress, familiar disturbance takes place in these communities.

Women related issues

  • Like other society, tribal’s show the division of labour. The classification of works has been divided between male and female. Generally hard and heavy works done by male and secondary works perform by females.
  • Obisally as per the concept of gender inequality tribal women put on secondary places. Exploitation by husband, excessive load of children, heavy burden and load of work hamper directly to the tribal women.

Problems and exploitation of Childs

  • Child abuse and exploitation are very common in tribal communities. Due to the concept ‘kids are the natural gifts of god’ the number of child is more among the tribal’s.
  • Childs are neglected and avoided from their basic human rights. In spite of education they involve in various types of works with their parents .In that way they corrupt their childhood as well as whole life.

Problems of Administration and Government

  • After independence Government of India has been started various schemes and plans for the upliftment and development of tribal status.
  • But expected success could not get and still there is need of time to frame developmental policies for them. While perusing the study it is noticed that very few officers, employees are interested to give their services in remote tribal region.
  • It has various causes like fear of naxals persons, familiar problems, interior area, transportation problems etc.

Lack of efforts of NGOs, Social reformers and Workers

  • Generally we have been seen in urban and rural society many NGOs and social workers are actively involved in all the sphere of activities.
  • But about tribal society this situation is not favorable and suitable also. Therefore still tribal’s are living in non develop stage.


Various solutions have been presented for dealing effectively with the tribal problems. The tribal problems have been approached from three viewpoints. They are as follows:


  • Assimilation is one of the ways of dealing with the tribal problems. Thus, according to this approach, we cannot deal with tribal problems on the basis of tribal culture and life but by changing them into the frame of new community.
  • According to this solution advocated by the social reformers and voluntary organizations, assisting and encouraging the tribals to assimilate them with the mainstream of national life, can alone permanently solve the tribal problems.
  • The Christian missionaries on the one hand, and the Hindu social reformers like Thakkar Bapa on the other, have been trying to assimilate them into Christian and Hindu community respectively. This approach has its own limitations.
  • Complete assimilation is a difficult task. The tribals are not prepared to give up all of their traditional tribal beliefs, practices and ideas.
  • Any attempt to impose the external cultural practices on them, creates in them guilt feelings, confusions and mental conflicts. This solution may even create economic, religious and moral degradation among them.


  • Elwin have suggested that the tribals must be kept at a distance from the rest of the society.
  • Keeping them in isolation in some “National Parks” or “reserved areas” would solve two problems:
  1. The tribals would be in a position to maintain their independent identity;
  2. They would be free from the exploitation of outsiders.
  • The champions of this approach are of the view that sufficient time must be given to the tribals to assimilate themselves with the rest of the community.
  • The limitation of this approach is that when once the tribals are kept in isolation they are likely to develop vested interests and keep themselves permanently away from others.


  • The third view, which is actively followed in the recent years, is that of integration. The policy of isolation is neither possible nor desirable, and that of assimilation would mean imposition.
  • Hence integration alone can make available to the tribes the benefits of modern society and yet retain their separate identity.
  • This view recommends the rehabilitation of the tribals on the plains along with the civilized people, but away from their native places such as hills, mountains, forests, etc. This suggestion has also been criticized.
  • It is said that this suggestion has been advocated to further the interests of industrialists and capitalists.
  • This solution is not appreciated on the ground that it may create economic and moral decadence to those who are separated from their beloved land to plains.
  • Still, the policy of integration which aims at developing a creative adjustment between tribes and non-tribes has been supported by thinkers and writers like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Tribal “Panchasheela”

  • Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in 1957 in his foreword to Verrier Elwin‟s “The Philosophy for NEFA “, has laid down in five principles, that is, “Panchasheela”, the policy of integration. The tribal “Panchasheela” as has been enunciated by him are as follows:
  1. Nothing should be imposed on the tribal people. They must be allowed to develop along the lines of their own genius. We should try to encourage in every way their own traditional arts and culture.
  2. Tribal rights in land and forests should be respected.
  3. Attempt must be made to train and build up a team of their own people to the work of administration and development. Some technical personnel from outside will be of great help for them in the beginning. But too many outsiders must not be sent to the tribal territory.
  4. Over-administering the tribal areas or overwhelming them with too many schemes must be avoided. We should not work in rivalry to their own social and cultural institutions.
  5. The results of the work must be adjudged by the quality of the human character that is evolved and not by statistics or the amount of money spent.
  • The policy of isolation is neither possible nor desirable, and that of assimilation would mean imposition. Hence integration alone can make available to the tribes the benefits of modern society and yet retain their separate identity.
  • The policy of integration which aims at developing a creative adjustment between tribes and non-tribes has been supported by thinkers and writers

Acculturation and Changes Occurring in Tribal Culture

  • Cultural change is ‘change in knowledge, attitudes, ideas, behaviour, relig­ious beliefs, and moral doctrines of individuals who compose the community or the society.’ Thus, cultural change is a multi-factorial process.
  • Several factors as identified by Raha and Dubash Roy which have brought about changes in the tribal culture are: measures un­dertaken by the government, communication facilities, spread of education, process of urbanisation, occupational mobility, community development projects, frequent contacts with the neighbouring Hindus in the urban areas, construction of dams in the tribal areas, impact of Chris­tianity, facilities of bank credit, modern medicare, cooperative societies, modern legislation, cash and market economy, and reformist movements

The process of undergoing accultura­tion by this tribe is found in the following changes:

  • The structural change in the tribe is found in discarding egalitarianism (with least of functional dependency) and accepting caste system and thereby introducing the system of stratification in the commu­nity.
  • The community is hierarchically divided in four segments on the ba­sis of ritual superiority which resembles Hindu Varna framework. There is functional distribution of occupations among the four divi­sions like the four varnas hunting and fighting, worshipping, cultivation, and dancing and singing respectively.
  • The difference is that while in the Varna system, worshipping occupies the highest rit­ual status, in this tribe it occupies second place in the hierarchy. Secondly, purity and pollution is absent in the Sabaras tribe as it is found in the caste system. Thus, Sabaras are accepted as a separate ‘caste’ and not as a tribe in the village.
  • Like the caste system among the Sabaras too, each sub-caste has its own panchayat which acts as a watch-dog of the community customs and taboos.
  • Each sub-division of the Sabaras claims descent from three Sabaras who figure in Hindu mythologies Mahabharata and Ramayana.
  • The imprint of Hindu culture is prominent on the marriage customs of Sabaras, though inter-caste (inter-segment) marriage is absent. Po­lygamy is a taboo. Bride-price has been replaced by dowry.

If we examine change in the culture of tribes in India, we find six main changes. These are as follows:

  • The lifestyle of tribals, particularly those who live in or near the ur­ban areas or in the midst of the numerically dominant non-tribal population, has changed due to imbibing of a large number of cul­tural traits of advanced Hindus. Many of their traditional traits have been replaced by alien traits.
  • The nature of change is such that the tribes are not losing their iden­tity and also their traditional cultural heritage. They are not being ‘Hinduised’.
  • However, tribals undergoing the process of Hinduisation have been pointed out by Bose, Dutta Majumdar, Deogaonkar, Raha and Debash Ro, referring to the examples of tribes like Pati Rabhas (in Assam), Hos and Juangs (in Orissa), Santhals (in Bihar), Bhumij, Oraon, Munda, and Korkus (in Maharashtra), etc.
  • Our contention is that adopting few cultural traits of Hindus is not undergoing the process of Hinduisation.
  • The fact that these tribes still describe themselves as ‘tribes’ and not Hin­dus is important in our argument and contention of rejecting the process of Hinduisation.
  • In some parts of India, the tribals have adopted some traits of Christi­anity also. Nagas, Mizo, Santhals, Oraon, Munda, Kharia, etc., are some tribes in North East and North West India on which we find marked imprint of Christianity.
  • The evidence is provided by micro- level studies of tribals made by Dutta Majumdar, Sahay, Sachchidananda and Bose.
  • The changes among tribal people from Chotanagpur working as la­bourers in tea gardens of Assam and North Bengal are more visible in their material life than in their religious beliefs and practices.
  • Those who work in industries have developed individualistic outlook due to the economic security provided to them which in turn has made them indifferent towards their traditional life.
  • Agro-industrialisation in the tribal areas has affected the socio-cultural life of the tribals to the extent that changes in the family structure, marriage institution, authority structure, interpersonal relationship and weakening of clan panchayat’s authority have come to be observed.
  • Trade unions also have much impact on the adibasi (tribal) labourers
  • Discarding traditional practices and adopting modern beliefs and values due to the impact of modern forces has not always proved functional for the tribals. Many tribes face the problem of maladjust­ment.
  • Baiga tribe according to R. Joshi is one such tribe whose members earlier were fun-loving and contented, who spent evenings in dancing and drinking mahua, who owned land but had no demar­cated ‘pattas’, whose women wore gold and silver ornaments without worry and fear but have now become very fearful and have come to be cheated by people with vested interests. Happiness has given place to suffering.
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