(Info) Scheduled Tribe Groups in Bundelkhand



ST Groups

Scheduled Tribe Groups in Bundelkhand

Compared to the India average, Bundelkhand has a low percentage of ST population.

In UP as a whole, ST groups constitute only 0.1% of the population, and the situation is no different in UP Bundelkhand districts.

District-wise largest ST groups

District ST Pop (% of total) Largest ST groups
Jhansi 0.06  
Lalitpur Neg Sahariya*
Jalaun Neg  
Hamirpur Neg  
Mahoba Neg  
Banda Neg  
Chitrakoot Neg  
Datia 1.6 Sahariya
Chhatarpur 3.5 Khairwar, Saur, Gond
Tikamgarh 4.3 Saur, Saonr (Savare), Gond
Panna 15.4 Gond, Bharia Bhumia, Khairwar
Damoh 12.6 Gond, Saur, Bhil
Sagar 9.7 Gond, Saur, Kol
UP state average 0.1  
MP state average 20.3  
India average 8.2  

Source : District-wise Basic Data Sheets of Census 2001. Only groups with population above 1000 listed. Neg= negligible

*Sahariyas of Lalitpur were designated an ST group in 2003

However, it must be pointed out that the Sahariyas of Lalitpur district were designated SCs till 2003, when they were granted ST status, but Kols, who numbered around 40,000 in Chitrakoot district according to Census 2001, continue to be considered SCs in UP, though they are STs in MP.  This anomalous situation is the result of lacunae in the process of 'scheduling' tribes.

In MP Bundelkhand, ST groups formed a significant proportion of the population in all districts, but even in the hilly and forested Panna district, their proportion was less than the state average.

According to Census 2001 figures, Gonds constituted the largest ST group in the region, with a population of over 300,000 across MP Bundelkhand districts; in MP as a whole they were the second largest ST group, after Bhils.

Other sizable ST groups in MP Bundelkhand were Kols, Sahariyas, Saurs, Khairwars and Bharia Bhumias. Of these, the last three did not rank among the major ST groups of MP as a whole.

ST groups have undergone progressive assimilation with mainstream culture and economy over the centuries.

Ancestors of some Gonds were one of the major ruling clans of central India for several centuries and even after the kingdoms perished, they continued to claim Kshatriya status. Consequently, a `caste system’ emerged, with groups called Raj Gonds and Khatolias claiming aristocratic status, above other Gond groups.

Census 2001 reported that over 95% of MP’s ST population were `Hindus’; in Bundelkhand, the proportion would be close to 100%.

However, most ST groups continue to revere their traditional deities. Deities of the Gonds include Thakur Dev, Dula Dev, Narayan Dev, Ghamsen Dev, Nageshwar Dev and Khunta Dev.

ST groups also largely follow their own customs with regard to marriage, child-rearing, death ceremonies, etc.

Among many ST groups like the Kols of Patha, the practice of demanding dowry from parents of the bride is relatively new and had not become the norm.

All ST groups of Bundelkhand have taken to settled agriculture. However, over the years, they have lost much of their land to powerful outsiders, due to debt (or related alcoholism), or their land is of very poor quality, unfit for cultivation.

Without access to good land, suffering low educational attainment and far from development processes, ST households are generally at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. Read a related story about Sahariyas in the ABSSS website.

Courtesy : bundelkhandinfo.org