tribal tour of GUJARAT

Gujarat is acclaimed as a hub of scheduled tribes, the origin of them is based on their migration from other countries.


India is a country having many states where we can find numerous tribes who had either migrated to India or are natives of India. Gujarat is one of the 29 states of India which is situated at the extreme west. Gujarat is known as a hub of scheduled tribes as we can find many tribes in this state but there are around 29 main tribes including Gamith, Dhodias, Siddi, Barda, Vasawas etc. The origin of the tribal people of Gujarat is based on their migration from other countries like the Siddis are a group of tribal people who have migrated from East Africa. Similarly, the Rabaris and the Mers are the tribes migrated from the Mediterranean. There is a true belief in the tribal people of Gujarat that all the objects like stones, places and creatures are full of spiritual nature, so they are very religious in nature. The occupations acquired by these tribes are agriculture, fishing, hunting etc.

One of the provinces of India, Gujarat state has an encircling international boundary in the form of Arabian Sea and a common border with Pakistan at the north-western fringe. The two deserts, one north of Kutch and the other between Kutch and the mainland Gujarat are saline wastes. It is one of the fastest growing and richest states of India. With just 5 percent of India’s population it has attained a dizzy height of success within a few decades of its separation from Mumbai in 1960. Gujarat has an impressive track record with development since thousands of years. It was always a front runner in international trade. Its 4500 years old Lothal port is a testimony to this. It has grown rapidly after 1960 when it was carved out of Mumbai State. It is considered one of the most urbanised and industrialised states of India.

In recent times GDP Growth of Gujarat has showed a 12.79 percent, a national best against India's 9 percent growth. Continuous good rainfall year after year in the last decade and innovative programmes and strategies in water harvesting, agriculture extension and awareness campaigns in modern practices has transformed agriculture sector and Gujarat has witnessed 11.2 percent growth rate in agriculture compared to nation’s 2.5 percent. Huge investment has continued to come to Gujarat following biannual Vibrant Gujarat Summits which has drawn attention of the nation and the world. Its track record in Mandays lost is impressive: India lost 46 lakh mandays in industrial output while it was a just 87,000 for Gujarat (0.018 percent) its schemes like Jyoti Gram Yojana has ensured 100 percent Rural Electrification against 82 percent at all-India level. In education it has achieved 100 percent enrolment and was 2.98 percent against Nation's average of 9.36 percent. Its Per Capita Income against the national average of ` 33,283 was ` 45,773. The State has a long coast line of about 1600 km., the longest among all states of the country.

From administration point of view, Gujarat State at present consists of 26 districts having 18,618 villages and 242 towns. The peninsula part of Gujarat is traditionally known as Saurashtra. It is essentially a hilly tract covered with low mountains. Kutch, one of the fastest growing regions of Gujarat after the devastating earthquake, on the north east is barren and rocky and contains the famous Rann (desert) of Kachchh, the big Rann in the north and the little Rann in the east. The 44 mainland extending from the Rann of Kachchh and the Aravalli Hills to the river Damanganga is, on the whole, a level plain of alluvial soil. The Arabian Sea is the part of the Indian Ocean. It was known as the Sindhu Sagar to Indians since the Vedic period of Indian history. It has two important branches: the Gulf of Aden in the southwest, connecting with the Red Sea through the strait of Bad-el-Mandeb; and the Gulf of Oman to the northwest, connecting with the Persian Gulf. Besides, there are the gulfs of Khambhat and Kutch on the Indian coast. Ocean trade routes have crisscrossed the Arabian Sea since the ancient times, linking the Middle East with East Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and China. Historically, sailors in a type of country craft called ‘dhow’ used the seasonal Monsoon winds to cross the sea. The sea forms part of the chief shipping route between Europe and India via the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea. Situated on the west coast of India between 20.6 N to 24.42' N north latitude and 68.10' E to 74.28' E east longitude, Gujarat state came into existence as a separate State on 1st May 1960. It is bounded by the Arabian Sea in the West, by the States of Rajasthan in the North and North-East, by Madhya Pradesh in the East and by Maharashtra in the South and South East. Gujarat has geographical area of 1,96,024 sq. kms and accounts for 6.19 percent of the total area of the country. The rainfall received in the state varies from region to region, and on the basis of rainfall received, the state has been divided into 8 Agro-climatic zones.

The climate of the state is tropical; however, it gets considerably moderated due to the long coast line. The temperature ranges between 1o C to 46o C. Gujarat has a glorious history of once flourishing, the Indus Valley civilization. More than fifty Harappan sites are found in Gujarat. Dholavira, Lothal, Rangpur, Lakhabaval, Rozdi etc., are among some of the important sites. New sites are being found with periodic regularity. The Dravidian tribes were said to be the original inhabitants of this region. Gujarat traders of this area have long history of trade contracts with Sumer, the Persian Gulf and other areas from 1000- 750 BC. Ashoka extended his domain upto Gujarat as indicated by his rock edicts in the Girnar hills in Saurashtra. Influence of Buddhism was at height during the Mauryan rule. The Mauryans also promoted trade and helped spread its culture.

In about 150 BC, the Greeks under Meander is said to have ruled over this region. Till 40 AD, the region had trade contacts with Rome. From about AD 130-390, the Scythians and After 300 AD, the Guptas 45 ruled this region, the later lasting till 460 AD. The Vallabhi had strong presence in this region in between 500-700 AD. After the death of Harshvardhana, the most famous among the Gupta rulers, the Gujjars ruled till 746 AD. In the new millennium, the Solankis, a strong dynasty ruled over Gujarat till 1143. Attacks of Muhammad of Ghazni on Somnath, a temple famous for its riches resulted in the disintegration of this dynasty. The conquest of Alaud-din Khilji, king of Delhi in 1288 also led to their sway over Gujarat from 1298-1392 AD. Ahmad Shah I, the first independent Muslim ruler of Gujarat founded Ahmadabad in 1411. Marathas ended the rule of Mughals of about two centuries (till the mid 18th century). Gujarat splintered into a number of small princely royalties during the 18th century. The British East India Company set up its first trade centre at Surat in India much earlier. In early 19th century, the British set up their administration and consolidated its domination over almost all chiefs of Gujarat.

Gujarat became part of Mumbai state with Saurashtra as a separate state and Kutch as ‘C’ state at the time of independence. It remained so till May 1, 1960 when the state of Gujarat was formed after a protracted Maha Gujarat agitation for a separate state. Gujarat was in the fore front for the struggle for India's independence. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Morarji Desai and K.M. Munshi came from Gujarat. It was also the site of the most popular Satyagrahas (agitations), including Satyagraha in Kheda, Bardoli, Borsad and the famous Dandi March and the Salt Satyagraha. Sabarmati Ashram of Ahmedabad was epicenter of all activities, ideas and movements in the struggle of independence. Important demographic indicators of Gujarat are summarized as follows: The provisional figures, available from Census 2011 as given in Table 2.3, show population at 6.03 crores. Its decadal growth has gone down to 19.17 percent in 2011 from 22.66 percent in 2001. Our study district’s population in 2011 stands at 2.27 lakhs with sharp decrease in decadal growth from 29.59 in 2001 to 21.44 percent in 2011. Table 2.4 shows decadal variation for Gujarat as well as the Dangs. From Table 2.5 which gives literacy figures since 1951, it can be seen that there is almost 10 percent increase in literacy rate in 2011 to 79.31 percent compared to figures of 2001.

Tribes of Gujarat

Entire tribal belt of Gujarat can be divided into three zones, i.e. North Zone, Central Zone and South Zone. While the North Zone comprising of Sabarkantha and Banaskantha districts has 8 percent of total tribal population of the state, the Central Zone comprising of Panchmahal, Dahod and Baroda districts accommodates 36 percent of the total tribal population of the state and the South Zone comprising of Narmada, Bharuch, Surat, Navsari, Valsad and the Dang districts houses 53 percent of total tribal population. Only 3 percent of the tribal population is spread out in the rest of districts of Gujarat. Literacy rate amongst tribal is 36.45 percent as per 1991 census. 14 percent land in tribal areas is cultivable. Similarly, only 25 percent of land in tribal areas is forest land. There are 26.30 percent (6,88,880) tribal families living below poverty line.