“Adivasi” literally means: original (“adi”) inhabitants (“vasi”).
Adivasi indicates the people who were populating India before the arrival of the Indo-Aryans and the Dravidians.
Over the centuries, Adivasi have defied attempts of submission and assimilation from different invaders by seeking refuge in the inner isolated parts of India. They have succeeded in preserving their autonomy by living in a symbiotic relationship with the Nature . Their living habits included: subsistence agriculture, hunting, wild fruits picking and small handicraft. Moreover, they have accumulated precious knowledge on forests, plants, herbs and their use as food and medicine.
Currently, there are approximately 100 millions Adivasi in India, representing the 8% of the total population. Most of them lives in the Central and Eastern States of the Federation. They are divided into communities with different languages, history and culture. The Indian Constitution officially recognizes 212 of these communities, which are classified as “scheduled tribes”. In reality there are more than 400 groups.
The failure of economic development in the Northern and North-Eastern regions of India, which are characterized by an high density of Adivasi inhabitants, is a grave social issue still not solved by the Government.
This situation is even aggravated by juridical and political conflicts for the ownership of land. The Indian regions included in the so called “Red Corridor” are well known among international companies for their huge mineral resources. However, those lands belong to the adivasi people who have always lived there and now are facing unfair expropriations.