- As a nation Bharath is the most ancient, culturally rich and diverse civilization. There are over 630 indigenous groups (Tribals or Vanavasis) constituting over 10 crore population living in remote hills and forests across the width and breadth of our nation.
- Vanavasis are our brethren who live in the remote forests (vana) and hilly areas of our nation. They are known as Janajatis in the constitution of India. They constitute nearly 9% of India’s population and their existence is in every state but the majority is in Northeast part of India.
- Vanavasis worship the nature – animals, the Sun, trees, forests, idols, stones, various Gods and Goddesses, and even the formless God. They have deep cultural values emerging in them.
- They have been victims of foreign conspiracy since the British rule. There were legendary heroes among the Vanavasis who fought against foreign aggressors, including British, for centuries .
- In spite of independence, industrial development and globalization, the living conditions of the Vanavasis are pathetic compared to the “Nagaravasis” (city dwellers) and “Gramavasis” (villagers) of India.
Current Challenges of Vanavasis
- Tribal communities in India suffer from a lack of both education and proper health care facilities due to various factors and a large number of Janajathi brothers and sisters are still illiterate. Janjathi areas are either neglected or geographically isolated from the rest of the society, resulting in their condition of being economically backward.
- More than 50% of their villages don’t have access to basic amenities including but not limited to safe drinking water, health facilities and educational institutions. Other amenities like roads and electricity can rarely be seen.
- Their small plots of land have been subject to large scale encroachment resulting in further degradation of their social status. The government has declared large proportions of land as forest lands that are to be conserved and hence cannot be occupied by anyone.
- Large scale infrastructure and mining projects lead to the displacement of these communities and improper and unsatisfactory compensation leaves many of them landless and unemployed.
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