1523033723390_CONCEPT_OF_TRIBE_IN_INDIA.docx

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CONCEPT OF TRIBE IN INDIA “TRIBE” is the one of the most interesting concept of anthropology and also of this whole human world disregard of the discipline. It is also relatively less explored and confusing concepts in the human history. We can trace its origin but not able to examine it fully. It is very difficult to classify tribes. “Tribes”, although pervasive throughout but dealt always locally. There cannot be universal definitions and doctrines for the tribes. Thi
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  CONCEPT OF TRIBE IN INDIA “TRIBE” is the one of the most interesting concept of anthropology and also of this whole human world disregard of the discipline. It is also relatively less explored and confusing concepts in the human history. We can trace its srcin but not able to examine it fully. It is very difficult to classify tribes. “Tribes”, although pervasive throughout but dealt always locally. There cannot be universal definitions and doctrines for the tribes. This paper examines the concept of tribe in India considering its all dimensions. Introduction: The term, “tribe” srcinated around the time of the Greek city -states and the early formation of the Roman Empire. The Latin term, “tribus”   has since been transformed to mean, “  A  group of persons forming a community and claiming descent from a common ancestor  ” (Oxford English Dictionary, IX, 1933, p. 339, as cited in Fried, 1975, p. 7).   Historically, the designation of a group as either a tribe or a band was often rather haphazard, as the process usually depended upon colonial administrators who had a poor understanding of indigenous  political practices and the fluid nature of traditional social structures. In anthropology, a notional form of human social organization based on a set of smaller groups (known as bands ), having temporary or permanent political integration, and defined  by traditions of common descent, language, culture, and ideology. By the mid-19th century, many anthropologists and other scholars were using the term, as well as band  , chiefdom ,   and  state , to denote particular stages in unilineal cultural evolution . Although unilineal cultural evolution is no longer a credible theory, these terms continue to be used as a sort of technical shorthand in college courses, documentaries, and popular reference works. As an anthropological term, the word tribe  fell out of favour in the latter part of the 20th century. Some rejecting it and some objecting the negative connotations that the word acquired in the colonial context. Thus, many anthropologists replaced it with the designation ethnic group ,   usually defined as a group of people with a common ancestry and language, a shared cultural and historical tradition, and an identifiable territory. Concept of tribe in India: pre-colonial and colonial construct   When it is said that tribe is a modern category, it is not meant that the communities that are right now referred in that way did not exist before modernity.  In 43 tact, what is meant is that these communities have been re-forged and put under one banner tribe during colonial rule  and this bracketing affected not just the identities of the members of the community, but also their destinies in modernity.  Tribe  as we know it today as the category that was officially consolidated in the post-colonial India as the Scheduled Tribes was first categorized by the British. But this does not mean that the native categories were all made from thin air by the colonialists. The British constructions were importantly influenced by the already existing elite constructions in Indian society. Many researchers have focused on the colonial times for studying tribal communities.  Neeladri Bhattacharya blames them for not paying any attention to the pre-colonial experience: “The social lives and practices of forest dwellers and peasants, shifting cultivators and pasturalists, were crucially affected by the way they were seen by state and society, as well as the self-conceptions of their own practice. Research on the theme, limited as it is, has tended to focus on the colonial period, and argumensts about dramatic changes in state attitudes have often been made on the basis of implicit unexplored assumptions about  pre- colonial societies.” This makes it imperative to at least take a quick look at the pre -colonial dominant constructions of the tribes.    Pre-colonial construct: In her work, Romila Thapar examines the image of the barbarian in ancient India. She thinks the image draws its genesis from the curious situation of the arrival of the Indo-Aryan-speaking nomadic 45 pastoralists in northern India who came into contact with the indigenous population (possibly the remnants of the urban civilization of the Indus) and regarded them as barbarians. 13 She adds that the distinction that was made with the indigenous population was a linguistic one (between the Sanskrit speakers and the non-Sanskrit speakers) and to a lesser degree, a racial one. The word that was used to describe the other in Sanskrit was mleccha   By the time of the ‘Mauryan’ Empire, a distinction seems to have emerged about various tribes amongst the dominant culture. Thus, ‘Kautilya’ mentions ‘aranyacaras’ and atavikas.  They were seen to be lower than the people inhabiting janapadas but tamed unlike the atavikas.  Another level of the pre-colonial construction of the tribe also betrayed some grudging respect to the jungle tribes. Thus the atavikas  were seen to be well-organized and  brave, practically autonomous and fond of looting and killing.    Colonial construct: The colonial times saw large scale remoulding of the Indian society. Very often, these changes were talking to and taking from earlier forms of power available in India. It was a dialogue between European constructions of categories and native constructions. Surely, they operated with a power difference between groups evolving the categories. All categories were remoulded to suit modernity. The category tribe was one such.  There were many institutions that were connected to the colonial production of categories. Among others, this broadly includes the colonial State, academic, especially anthropological writings, and missionary writings. The post-colonial Indian State's perception of the tribes was directly connected to the colonial construction of the tribe . Kamat proves this point in the following way : Scheduled Tribes list and Scheduled Tribe areas refer to the Government taxonomy of tribes introduced in 1950, though it is substantially based on the 1936 Census by the British Government  . Therefore, it is quite clear that it is important to look at the colonial administrative category that emerged through their Census to get an idea of what the roots were of the post-colonial administrative category. However, what is argued here is that the tribe with its anthropological and evolutionary meanings of not advanced and lagging behind in the evolutionary scheme developed along with colonization and modernity. In India, the notion of the tribe developed as communities outside caste and there also developed definite notions of primitivity along with it. This has also led to the post-colonial Adivasi identity creation. The Census, especially colonial Census  as discourse that is primarily responsible for constructing the category tribe . Census is the enumeration of people. The idea of people  becoming a population is very much there in the act of Census taking. The governable subject who willingly submits to the mechanisms of the State power is the imagined subject of European Census. But, the Indian Census, though drawing from these roots, does not imagine a hilly formed individual. Instead, what is enumerated is a wealth of communities. The classificatory methods used by the British, angered many a native subject. Thus, the 1881 Census shows that the resistance of the Bhils against the Census operations had to be quelled by the deployment of the army because they were superstitiously against it. Census is not just the data of the number of human beings. It is the data of classification. And this classification gives us an idea about how the people are imagined to be divided. This means that while the British thought they were just recording the groups available in this country, what was happening was that they were defining and constructing through these classifications. They remoulded the communities. This is why I say tribe is a modern category. The Terms Used for Tribes in Various Census Reports Year Term Used for Tribe 1891 Forest Tribes under Agricultural and Pastoral Castes 1901 Animists 1911 Tribal Animists or People Following Tribal Religion”  1921 Hill and Forest Tribes 1931 Primitive Tribes 1941 Tribes     Tribes and Hinduism: Hindu has been defined against Muslim and other religions with Semitic properties in the colonial period. It has been seen as the default religion of the country. The tribes have not  been included in the religion Hindu though constantly there are references to their closeness. In fact, even when the tribes themselves have specifically asked to be included in the category, they have been excluded from the category. Moreover, the brief trial at including the tribe as religion in the 1881 Census also shows that the British Census officials maintained the distinction between the Hindu and the tribes. At the same time, the Dalits have been without any doubt included in the category, Hindu. There are constant references to the indistinguishability between the lower forms of Hinduism and the tribal religions. Concept of tribe since independence: Under the Constitution of India certain tribes have been specified as the  Scheduled Tribes . There are 67.7 million scheduled tribes India. It is to be noted that only those tribes which have been included in the list of Scheduled Tribes are given special treatment or facilities envisaged under the Constitution. The Constitution neither defines nor lays down any criteria  for specifying the Scheduled Tribes. The term Scheduled Tribes first appeared in the Constitution of India. Article 366 (25) defined scheduled tribes as such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution . Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes. The Fifth and the sixth schedule are the specific constitutional schedules which deals with scheduled tribes. Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled tribes specified in a notification issued under clause(1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid, a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification. Thus, the first specification of Scheduled Tribes in relation to a particular State/ Union Territory is by a notified order of the President, after consultation with the State governments concerned. These orders can be modified subsequently only through an Act of Parliament. The above Article also provides for listing of scheduled tribes State/Union Territory wise and not on an all India basis.  
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