The Census department has released figures which show that the fastest growing demographic groups among tribals in the country are Christians and Muslims.
- According to the Census, there has been a 63 per cent rise in Christian tribals. While there were 63.90 lakh tribal Christians in 2001, in 2011 Census they numbered 1.03 crore.
- Similarly, Muslim tribals have grown by 51.6 per cent from 12.25 lakh to 18.58 lakh.
- The number of tribals following the Hindu faith have risen by 39 per cent from 6.04 crore to 8.41 crore.
The total number of tribals in the country stands at 10.4 crore which is an increase of 23.36 per cent over its population of 8.43 crore in 2001.
So who’re declining? The animists – the traditional believers among the tribals. Animism is the belief that all natural objects and the universe itself have common souls.
Their numbers have declined from 1.64 crore in 2001 to 0.78 crore in 2011. With 21.57 lakh, Meghalaya has the highest number of Christian STs, followed by Nagaland with 16.80 lakh. Jammu and Kashmir has the highest number of Muslim STs with 1.32 lakh adherents followed by Maharashtra with 1.12 lakh.
There are a total of 645 distinctive tribes India. Right wing groups allege that the tribals are a ripe target for proselytizers because of their economic backwardness.
Who are Scheduled Tribes?
Article 366 (25) of the Constitution of India refers to Scheduled Tribes as those communities who are scheduled in accordance with Article 342 of the Constitution. Article 342 lays down who can include or exclude a group from Scheduled Tribes. The criterion, not spelt out in the Constitution but has become well established, followed for specification of a community as scheduled tribes are: indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness.