Tribes in Madhya Pradesh

A large segment about 40 percent of Madhya Pradesh’s population is tribal. Its four agro-climatic zones have resulted in a most interesting mix of peoples and lifestyles.

There are three distinct tribal groups; the largest chunk being that of the Gonds, who once ruled most of the state and after whom Gondwana, the central portion of the state, is named. Western Madhya Pradesh is inhabited by the Bhils, a colourful group of warriors and hunters.

The eastern side of the state is dominated by the Oraons, most of whom have now converted to Christainity. Population is pretty sparse in the tribal areas as the terrain is hilly and difficult. This poses a big problem as far as communications, transport and medical facilities are concerned. Despite the efforts of the government benefits from development programs have been slow to accrue.

What is interesting, however, is that the tribals have managed to retain their ethnic identity, customs and rituals despite modernization – this is largely thanks to successive governments that have been extremely sensitive in their dealings with them.

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