History of Tribal Study

The state of Odisha has 62 ethnic groups enlisted as the “Scheduled Tribes”, 91ethnic groups as the “Scheduled Castes” and more than 100 ethnic groups including religious groups, like the Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain etc. styled as “Other Castes” spread across the length and breadth of the state.

Among them the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) constitute a sizeable chunk of the population of the State. Only next to M.P and Maharashtra this state consists of the largest tribal population in the country. While as per 2011 Census, the Scheduled Tribe communities numbering 95, 90, 756 persons account for 22.85% of the total population of the state and 9.17% of the total tribal population of the country, the Scheduled Caste communities numbering 71, 88, 463 persons account for 17.13% of the total population of the state and 3.57% of the total SC population of the country. Thus the Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Scheduled Castes (SC) constitute 40% of the total population of the state. 
The tribal people of Odisha express their cultural identity and distinctiveness in their social organization, language, demography, rituals and festivals and also in their dress, ornaments, art, crafts and other folk traditions. Each tribal community has distinctive characteristic features reflected in their social, economic, political and religious sub-systems. Each possesses its own unique culture which differentiates one from the other.

Since the good old days, the Scheduled Castes have remained an integral part of the society in the state of Odisha. Most of them live in rural areas and social discrimination as well as economic exploitation remains their most acute problem. They also suffer from rigid caste based hierarchy among themselves.

In the pre-independent times, the STs and SCs were neglected and discriminated for which they suffered from backwardness and deprivation. After independence their plight was duly considered by the democratic welfare state and special provisions and safeguards were made in the constitution of India in their favour. By the policy of reservation in independent India, the “Scheduled Castes” and "Scheduled Tribes” now enjoy a special Constitutional status that entitles them to several benefits of protection, promotion, welfare and development. These benefits are being ensured by a host of legislation, policies and programmes, which have been implemented in the fields of education, employment, public representation, socio-economic discrimination and exploitation. The special provisions and safeguards incorporated in the Constitution of India for the Backward Classes, especially for the SCs and STs, are meant to ensure their systematic and faster development and also to protect them against all forms of injustice and exploitation.

After adoption of Indian Constitution in 1950, the Union Government decided to set up Tribal Research Institutes (TRI) in tribal dominated states to conduct research and HRD programmes for documentation and dissemination of pristine tribal and dalit cultures, study their problems and provide data and advisory services for their welfare and development. Then the first TRI of the country took birth in the State of Odisha.




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