Highlight the steps taken by government of India for integrating the tribals into the mainstream. Also discuss the challenges faced in integrating them.

India is an ancient civilization, yet there are certain groups living in the subcontinent which were not part of the so called mainstream. They are called the tribals or scheduled tribes.


  • Distinct way of life.
  • Hesitant in contacting outside world.
  • Poor literacy & health facilities.
  • Apprehension of outsiders.
  • Issues related to land alienation & forest rights.
  • Dealing with customary laws.
  • Primitive technology, many are hunter-gatherers.

Approaches in integrating tribals into mainstream:

  1. Assimilationist approach – it was led by G.S. Ghurye.
    • Tribals were initially part of mainstream but went to forest, hence got disconnected.
    • Need to further assimilate them as isolation is the cause for their lack of development. More the better.
  2. Isolationist approach – it was led by Verier Elwin.
    • Contact with outsiders has devastated tribals.
    • Need to isolate them in “National Parks” to protect them.
  3. Integrationist approach – It was favoured as a comprise of the above two approaches by Nehru.
    • Allow tribals to develop along their own lines.
    • No over administering them.
    • Respect customary laws & their forest rights.


Finally, both Elwin & Ghurye reached a compromise & the integrationist approach was followed. It is reflected in reservations, PESA act, FRA 2006, 5th & 6th schedule. It has led to upliftment of tribals.


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