Context: The impact of the nationwide lockdown is quite visible on the economic front, but in some social circles like Saharia PVTGs in MP, it goes a step ahead to impact their social spheres too.

More on the news:

  • Each spell of migration in April-May to closer districts of Morena and Bhind in Madhya Pradesh and Kota in Rajasthan opens up the prospect of match-making for Saharias, which marries outside the village. 
    • The ongoing restriction on movement has denied them wages and grains for three-four months and frayed familial bonds, breaking in on a pivotal social function performed during the yearly stopover.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)


  • The tribal population in India makes up for 8.6% of the total population inhabiting around 15 % of the geographical area.
    • PVTGs are those groups of tribes which are more vulnerable among the tribal groups. 
    • The Dhebar Commission in 1973, created Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) as a separate category, who are less developed among the tribal groups.
    • The Government of India renamed the PTGs as PVTGs in 2006.
    •  PVTGs have some basic characteristics -they are mostly homogenous, with a small population, relatively physically isolated, social institutes cast in a simple mould, absence of written language, relatively simple technology and a slower rate of change etc.
    • In 1975, the Government of India initiated to identify the most vulnerable tribal groups as a separate category called PVTGs and declared 52 such groups, while in 1993 an additional 23 groups were added to the category, making it a total of 75 PVTGs out of 705 Scheduled Tribes, spread over 18 states and one Union Territory (A&N Islands) in the country (2011 census).

Composition of PVTGs

  • According to the 2001 census, the PVTGs population is approximately 27,68,322. 
  • There are 12 PVTGs having a population above 50,000 and the remaining groups have a population of 1000 or less. 
  • The PVTG of Sahariyas has the highest population of 4,50,217, while the PVTGs of Sentinelese and Andamanese have a very small population of 39 and 43, respectively.

Procedure for Identification

  • The state governments or UT governments submit proposals to the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare for identification of PVTGs. 
    • After ensuring the criteria is fulfilled, the Central Ministry of Tribal Welfare selects those groups as PVTGs.

Criteria for identification 

  • Pre-agricultural level of technology 
  • Low level of literacy,
  • Economic backwardness such as such as dependency on hunting, gathering for food
  • A declining or stagnant population.

Problems in the development of PVTGs

  • Health and Educational Conditions
    • The health status of PVTGs is in an awful condition because of multiple factors like poverty, illiteracy, lack of safe drinking water, bad sanitary conditions, difficult terrain, malnutrition, poor maternal and child health services, unavailability of health and nutritional services, superstition and deforestation.
    • The condition of education is also very poor, with an average literacy rate of 10% to 44% in PVTGs.
  • Habitat Rights
    • PVTGs are mostly dependent on their habitat for livelihood and all other basic needs. 
    • The 2006 Forest Rights Act has provisions for ensuring PVTGs receive habitat rights. Act also provides that  district level committees should play a proactive role in ensuring that all PVTGs receive habitat rights
    • Habitat rights have been identified under Section 3 (e): ‘Rights including community tenures of habitat and habitation for primitive tribal groups and Pre-agricultural communities'.
    • Yet, till date, only two claims of the grant of habitat rights (the Kadar Community in Kerala in 2014, and partly the Baiga Community in Madhya Pradesh in 2015) have been implemented.
    • As an example Abhujmarh, a tribe in Dandakaranya forests are demanding habitat rights under the banner of Pen Patta movement
  • Livelihoods
    • PVTGs depend on various livelihoods such as food gathering,Non Timber Forest Produce (NTFP), hunting, livestock rearing, shifting cultivation and artisan works. Most of their livelihoods depend on the forest. The forest is their life and livelihood. 
    • But due to the shrinking forests, environmental changes and new forest conservation policies, their NTFP collection is getting hampered. Because of the lack of awareness about the value of NTFP produce, PVTGs have been exploited by the middle men.
  • Inequality of development among PVTGs
    • In some cases, a PVTG receives benefits only in a few blocks in a district, while the same group is deprived in adjacent blocks. The reason is that micro-projects extend benefits only within their jurisdiction. 
    • For example, the LanjiaSaora are recognized as a PVTG across Odisha but the micro-projects are established only in two blocks, and the benefits are catered to by micro-projects in these blocks only, while the rest of the LanjiaSaora are treated among the Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Literacy rate
    • Literacy rate among the PVTGs has gone up significantly over the past. From a single digit literacy rate, the figures have increased to 30 to 40 % in many of the PVTGs.
    • However, as is the case with the entire India, female literacy rate is still considerably lower compared to male counterparts.
    • The authors have pointed out a considerable increase in the age of marriage among PVTGs. The incidence of girl child being married while still being a minor, among these tribes has been decreasing.
  • Huge variation in Population
    • There is a huge variation in the number of PVTGs ranging from a few individuals as in the case of Great Andamanese, Onge and Sentinelese and about a little more than a thousand people as in the case of Toda of Nilgiris.
    • Although PVTGs are slowly witnessing decadal increase in their population, quite a few still face stagnation such as the Birhor in central India. Some are declining like the Onge and Andamanese.
    • Smallest population size among the PVTGs are the Senteneles .They still shy away from others. The Great Andamanese (57 persons) and the Onge (107 persons in 2012 as per Andaman Adim Janjati Vikas Samiti) are the dwindling populations


  • The Saharia people of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are the largest among the PVTGs with a population more than 4 lakhs.

Schemes for Welfare of PVTGs

  •  The Ministry of Tribal Affairs administers a scheme namely Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) specifically for the PVTG population. 
    • The scheme covers the 75 identified PVTGs in 18 States, and Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands
    • The scheme aims at planning their socio-economic development in a comprehensive manner while retaining the culture and heritage of the communities by adopting a habitat level development approach. 
    • Under this scheme, financial assistance is provided to the State/UT Governments based on their proposals for development of tribal people.
      • The proposals can be in sectors such as education, housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, animal husbandry, construction of link roads, installation of non-conventional sources of energy for lighting purpose, social security or any other innovative activity meant for the comprehensive socio-economic development of PVTGs and to fill in the critical gaps. 
    • The projects taken up under this scheme are demand driven.

Way ahead

  • There is an urgent need to come up with the exact number of PVTGs. This would do away with overlapping names and go a long way in having a clear idea about the tribes and implementing welfare schemes directed at the communities.
  • Need of Regional and State-specific variations in welfare schemes for PVTGs .While Odisha has established exclusive micro-projects for the PVTGs, there are none such in for the five PVTGs in Gujarat.
  • Monitoring of PVTGs by special centers-In Tamil Nadu, development schemes are being monitored through the Tribal Research Centre, Ooty, and implemented by the State government. However, in Karnataka, all the affairs of two the PVTGs are handled by the Social Welfare Department, which extends some schemes as per their knowledge, barely receiving any professional advice.
  • Millet-farming and supplementing diets with forest foods are examples of practices that can be enabled to increase the nutrition level, and they have significant implications on the wellbeing of the community.

Recommendations of National Advisory Council, 2013

  • Identification of PVTGs and Assessment of their vulnerabilities
    • Tribal ministry should conduct a specially designed census for PVTGs.
    • Their status of health,education and housing needs to be properly identified.
  • Recognition of rights of PVTGs,development approaches and livelihood strategies.
    • The recognition of habitat rights can play a vital role in safeguarding livelihoods and the culture of the PVTGs as well as in reviving traditional forest management practices not recognised under the current governance regime.
    • Awareness generation among PVTGs along with the continuous monitoring of their status should be the way.
    • Develop livelihood strategies and design development programmes that are rights based and takes into account.
  • Institutionalise participatory process placing PVTGs at high priority.
  • Launch a special drive to improve the educational status of PVTGs

Saharia Tribe


  • Most of the population of the Saharia (or Sor) of India live in the state of Madhya Pradesh where they constitute 12 % of their population. 
    • They also inhabit some of the regions of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Rajasthan and the Plains division of Assam.
  • Even though they are significantly populous, the Saharia remain highly exploited and marginalised.

Literacy rate

  • As per the 2001 census, the literacy rate of Sahariya was 28.7% and the female literacy rate was as low as 15.9%.


  • They speak the Munda language that belongs to the Austro-Asiatic language family.


  • The Saharia tribe is divided based on occupation into five sub-tribes.
    • The Arsi are weavers.
    • The Muli are ironworkers.
    • The Kindal are basket makers.
    • The Kumbi are potters.

Social and Economic life

  • Given their low educational levels, patchy land holdings and reduced agricultural opportunities, they are dependent upon manual labour during their seasonal migration.
    • Migration also plays a prominent role in their social functions such as marriage, as they marry outside their village.


State / UT Name

PVTGs Name

Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

1. Bodo Gadaba 

2. Bondo Poroja 

3. Chenchu 

4. Dongria Khond 

5. Gutob Gadaba 

6. Khond Poroja 

7. Kolam 

8. Kondareddis 

9. Konda Savaras 

10. Kutia Khond 

11. Parengi Poroja 

12. Thoti

Bihar and Jharkhand

13. Asurs 

14. Birhor 

15. Birjia 

16. Hill Kharia 

17. Konvas 

18. Mal Paharia 

19. Parhaiyas 

20. Sauda Paharia 

21. Savar


Same as above


22. Kathodi 

23. Kohvalia

24. Padhar 

25. Siddi 

26. Kolgha


27. Jenu Kuruba 

28. Koraga


29. Cholanaikayan (a section of Kattunaickans) 

30. Kadar 

31. Kattunayakan 

32. Kurumbas 

33. Koraga

Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh

34. Abujh Macias 

35. Baigas 

36. Bharias 

37. Hill Korbas 

38. Kamars 

39. Saharias 40. Birhor


Same as above


41. Katkaria (Kathodia) 

42. Kolam 

43. Maria Gond


44. Marram Nagas


45. Birhor 

46. Bondo 

47. Didayi 

48. Dongria-Khond 

49. Juangs 

50. Kharias 

51. Kutia Kondh 

52. Lanjia Sauras 

53. Lodhas 

54. Mankidias 

55. Paudi Bhuyans 

56. Soura 

57. Chuktia Bhunjia


58. Seharias

Tamil Nadu

59. Kattu Nayakans 

60. Kotas 

61. Kurumbas 

62. Irulas 

63. Paniyans 

64. Todas


65. Reangs

Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand

66. Buxas 

67. Rajis

West Bengal

68. Birhor 

69. Lodhas 

70. Totos

Andaman & Nicobar Islands

71. Great Andamanese 

72. Jarawas 

73. Onges 

74. Sentinelese 

75. Shorn Pens

Source: The Hindu