Out of 437 varieties
of Tribes in India, 64 belong to the state Odissa. Linguistically,
tribal population is divided into 4 categories;
(1) Austric speakers,
(2) Dravidian speakers, (3) Tibeto-Burmese speakers, and (4) Indo-Aryan
Except the Tibeto-Burmese
speakers, rest of the varieties are present in Odissa. Major portion
of tribes dwell in the hilly and the forested regions. Their Subsistence
economy is mainly based on a combination of hunting and collecting
with shifting cultivation (e.g., the Juanga,, Hill Bhuyan, Lanjia
Saura, Kandha etc.) or collecting, hunting and fishing (e.g., the
Birhor, Hill Kharia). Today with rampant industrialization and mining
operations, uprooting of tribal villages has resulted in millions
of nomads deprived of their natural habitat surroundings. They have
lost their traditional occupation, agricultural land, homes. With
increase urbanization, their simple life has been affected by unequal
access to resources, inadequate educational opportunities, persistent
and increasing burden of poverty and inequalities in access to health.
Odissa each tribe is identified by a unique trait ;
(1) In Northern
part the Juanga and Bhuyan, and in southern part the Kandha,
Saura, Koya, Parenga, Didayi, Dharua and Bonda practise shifting
cultivation. They supplement their economy by food-gathering and
(2) The Koya belongs
to a cattle-breeder tribal community. This tribe inhabits the
Malkangiri District and has been facing crisis for lack of pasture
in the recent past.
(3) The Mahali
and Lohara tribe practise crafts like basket weaving and blacksmithery
respectively. The Loharas with their age old skills and primitive
tools manufacture iron and wooden equipments. Like wise the Mahalis
earn their living by weaving baskets.
(4) The Kharia,
Mankidi, Mankidia and Birhor tribes live in the forests of Mayurbhanj,
Keonjhar and Sundargarh districts. They primarily depend on forest
resources for their livelihood. They also practise hunting, gathering
and collecting. Their entire lifestyle revolves around the forest.
Their survival is fully in harmony with the forest eco-system. Socio-politically
they have remained inarticulate and in comparison to others they
have remained in a relatively more primitive stage, and are extremely
They say its
not the stone that killed Goliath. The abominable ecological
crime (Mine Blasting, deforestation etc) could wipe out the
biodiversity and the cultural richness of Odissa. We need
to gird our loins before it too late !!! A quote I couldn't
stop jotting down-
the last tree has been cut down,
only after the last river has been poisoned
only after the last fish has been caught..
only then will you know
that money cannot be eaten.
Author: Priya Naresh Kumar - I am based in Singapore.
Professionally, work for an IT MNC as a Business Controls Analyst.
Writing is a passion that quench my thirst for continuous learning.