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Adivasi

(Sanskrit: Nepali: Hindi: आिदवासी; ādivāsī)

is an umbrella term for a

heterogeneous set of ethnic and tribal groups claimed to be the aboriginalpopulation of India. They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India. The word is used in the same sense in Nepal as is another word janajati (Nepali: जनजाित; janajāti), although the political context differed historically under the Shah and Rana dynasties. Adivasi societies are particularly present in the Indian states of Kerala, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Mizoram and other northeastern states, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Many smaller tribal groups are quite sensitive to ecological degradation caused by modernization. Both commercial forestry and intensive agriculture have proved destructive to the foreststhat had endured swidden agriculture for many centuries.[4] Officially recognized by the Indian government as "Scheduled Tribes" in the Fifth Schedule of theConstitution of India, they are often grouped together with scheduled castes in the category "Scheduled Castes and Tribes", which is eligible for certain affirmative action measures.

Adivasi Tribes
Scheduled tribes
The Constitution of India, Article 366 (25) defines Scheduled Tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the scheduled Tribes (STs) for the purposes of this Constitution". In Article 342, the procedure to be followed for specification of a scheduled tribe is prescribed. However, it does not contain the criterion for the specification of any community as scheduled tribe. An often used criterion is based on attributes such as: Geographical isolation - they live in cloistered, exclusive, remote and inhospitable areas such as hills and forests.  Backwardness - their livelihood is based on primitive agriculture, a lowvalue closed economy with a low level of technology that leads to their poverty. They have low levels of literacy and health.  Distinctive culture, language and religion - communities have developed their own distinctive culture, language and religion.  Shyness of contact – they have a marginal degree of contact with other cultures and people.[9]

[edit]Primitive

tribes

The Scheduled Tribe groups who were identified as more backward communities among the tribal population groups have been categorised as 'Primitive Tribal Groups' (PTGs) by the Government at the Centre in 1975. So far seventy-five tribal communities have been identified as 'primitive tribal

groups' in different States of India. These hunting, food-gathering, and some agricultural communities, who have been identified as more backward communities among the tribal population groups need special programmes for their sustainable development. The primitive tribes are awakening and demanding their rights for special reservation quota for them.[10]

Food Crisis
: The last of the huts were destroyed in January 2005 by the Maharashtra. State Farming Corporation (MSFC) employees. Since the crops and huts of the adivasis were destroyed in the previous cropping season, the adivasis had to look for their livelihoods elsewhere. The MSFC employees took advantage of this and destroyed the majority of huts while the adivasis were working outside the area. The community was unable to put up the huts again because they were busy working as cultivators in other fields. This was not the case earlier, before the corporation destroyed over 1,000 acres of their farming land. Previously the adivasis could easily provide foodstuff for their entire community with their own food stuff. During this season however, only 16 people could cultivate their land. Further, the crop supply was under frequent threats by officials, and once by police. However, the adivasis managed to protect their crop.

Changes in their lives
Arrival of "money" and all it can bring has changed the lives of Adivasi forever. Now, with new houses, they need money to buy the fired bricks and tiles. They also find that their life pattern has changed to suite a new way of life. It is no longer possible to "live outdoors" as before. Now that each room has a "unique function" and furniture that goes with it, they have to work hard to provide the beds, tables and cabinets that make up their new house. The village itself has had to relocate to be closer to the main road that runs to the nearest town. This has brought them away from their traditional source of food and water. Due to constant traffic, children can no longer play out-doors. Dust, pollution and noise from the road make life more dirty and stressful. Often new diseases are introduced into the local population by foreigners. Their own herbal medicines can't cope with these and so they have to rely on "new medicines" of the westerners.

Background and history
Adivasis are some of the earliest inhabitants of the sub-continent and once inhabited much greater areas than at present. However little is known of their history although it appears that many were pushed into the hill areas after the invasions of the Indo-Aryan tribes 3,000 years ago. Tribals were not integrated into Hindu caste society; they stood outside it but nevertheless there were many points of contact. Tribal religious beliefs contain many aspects of Hinduism (and vice-versa); Tribals traded with settled villages on the plains and sometimes paid tribute to Hindu rulers. In turn some Tribal rulers conquered and ruled over nontribals and some Tribals permanently settled and entered caste society.

Adivasis of India
The Adivasis (original inhabitants) is the collective name used for the many tribal peoples of India. Officially they are termed “Scheduled Tribes” but this is a legal and constitutional term which differs from state to state and area to area and therefore excludes some groups who might be considered tribal. Adivasis are not an homogenous group — with over 200 tribes speaking over 100 languages, which vary greatly in ethnicity, culture and language; however there are similarities in their way of life and generally perceived inferior position within Indian society. There are over 50 million Adivasis constituting 7.5% of the Indian population, thus making it the largest tribal population in the world.

INDIA: Hindu festival poses threat to adivasi identity, culture and religion; violence feared
I am writing to express my deep concern that violence will be unleashed againstadivasis in the Dangs District of Gujarat during the Kumbh Mela, a Hindu festival that will be held from 11 to 13 February 2006. Reports that I have received indicate that about 500,000 Hindus from throughout India will be mobilised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other Hindu fundamentalist groups to descend on the Dangs for this festival. Hindu materials already being circulated in the Dangs speak of the “reconversion” of adivasis to Hinduism, a religion that is foreign to most adivasis, as they traditionally are animists. With a population of 186,000, most of whom are adivasis, local people in the Dangs will be outnumbered by Hindus attending the Kumbh Mela. Moreover, threats and violence have already been reported against adivasis in the district, especially against Christian adivasis. In addition, Hindu fundamentalists have taken photographs of the homes of Christian adivasis and Christian institutions, such as schools, indicating that they may be targets of attacks during the Kumbh Mela.