Although the tribal population of India makes up a large part of India’s population, they live on the fringes of society. These tribes live very close to nature and are dependent on natural resources for their livelihood. They find food, water as well as habitat in nature. While modern civilization has moved towards new ways of living, tribal groups in various parts of India are still dependent on forests, rivers and animals.
About 8 per cent of India’s population is tribal and they are present in states like Meghalaya, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Sikkim and Tripura. Tribes of India receive some special privileges for development under the Indian Constitution. Cultural, ecological as well as economic values are assigned to forest resources by tribals.
Fact on Tribal Population and the Environment:
i. Even though tribes depend on forests for sustenance, their activities do not cause harm to nature. Their practices are in line with the requirements of nature.
ii. The tribal population of India is well-versed with the herbal and medicinal value of the plants and herbs in Indian forests. They use these medicinal plants to cure a number of diseases. With industrialization, a number of pharmaceutical firms are looking to gather this traditional knowledge. Such extensive cutting of the flora is harming the natural environment.
iii. The tribals hunt wild animals for food. They also use animals for self-protection as well as for other economic activities. With disappearing forests, tribes are at a look for this important activity of theirs.
iv Tribes use forest produce to undertake their important religious rituals. Again, with the depletion of forests, it is becoming difficult for them to maintain this important ritual in their life.
v. Most tribes worship nature and they are very close to nature’s functions. Therefore, they do not cause much harm to nature.
vi. Tribes retain traditional methods of living. Due to this, they are in harmony with the environment and depend heavily on it for sustenance. If we continue causing harm to the environment with modern practices, it will cause trouble for tribes.
vii. Tribes depend on nature for habitat. With population explosion, we are capturing forest lands for our benefits. This is a serious threat for the existence of the tribes.
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