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About Shompen Tribe


The Shompen tribe, one of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), recently participated in the democratic process by casting their votes in the Andaman and Nicobar Lok Sabha constituency.


Facts for Prelims

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Shompen Tribe
  2. Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG): Characteristics and Government Initiatives

About Shompen Tribe

  • Isolated Semi-Nomadic Lifestyle: The Shompen tribe is known for their highly isolated, semi-nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle. They reside in the Great Nicobar Island, where they have limited contact with the outside world.
  • Population Size: According to the 2011 Census data, the estimated population of the Shompen tribe was 229 individuals. Their population size is relatively small compared to other tribal groups.
  • Unique Language and Dialects: The Shompen tribe has a distinctive language consisting of various dialects. These dialects are understood only within specific bands or groups of the tribe.
  • Patriarchal Social Structure: The social structure of the Shompen tribe is patriarchal, with the eldest male member typically overseeing family affairs. While monogamy is common within the tribe, polygamy is also permissible in certain cases.
  • Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in Andamans: The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to several Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs), including the Great Andamanese, Jarwas, Onges, Shompens, and North Sentinelese.
  • Origins of PVTGs: Originally labelled as Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) by the Dhebar Commission in 1973, these tribal groups were later renamed as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) by the Government of India in 2006. This designation highlights their unique cultural and socio-economic vulnerabilities, requiring special attention and protection from the government.

Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG): Characteristics and Government Initiatives

Vulnerability Within Tribal Groups:

  • PVTGs are identified as the more vulnerable segments among tribal communities, facing distinct challenges that require special attention.

Resource Allocation Disparities:

  • As more developed and assertive tribal groups often receive a significant share of tribal development funds, PVTGs face the need for dedicated resources to address their unique developmental requirements.

Declaration and Recommendation:

  • In 1975, the Government of India, based on the recommendation of the Dhebar Commission, declared 52 tribal groups as PVTGs.

Current Status:

  • Presently, there are 75 PVTGs out of the total 705 Scheduled Tribes in India, spread across 18 states and one Union Territory according to the 2011 census.

Characteristics of PVTGs:

  • Population: Stagnant or declining
  • Technology: Predominantly pre-agricultural
  • Literacy Level: Extremely low
  • Economy: Operates at a subsistence level

Government Scheme for PVTGs:

  • The Ministry of Tribal Affairs oversees the ‘Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)’ scheme.
  • This Centrally Sponsored Scheme provides 100% Central assistance to 18 states and the Union Territory of Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Objective of the Scheme:

  • The scheme aims at comprehensive socio-economic development for PVTGs while preserving their distinct culture and heritage.

Implementation and Projects:

  • State Governments, as part of the scheme, undertake projects tailored to sectors such as education, health, and livelihoods specifically designed for the holistic development of PVTGs.

-Source: The Hindu

May 2024