World Tribal Day - History, Significance, Theme

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 14, 2022, 5:15

Out of the 7.9 billion people living in the world today, the tribals or the Indigenous Peoples comprise 6.2% of this number, according to the United Nations. While these peoples practice their own socio-political structure autonomously, ultimately, they fall under the authority of the central governments.

In order to recognise their significance and to preserve and protect their rights, the World Tribal Day, or the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed on the 9th of August every year.

Highlights of World Tribal Day

  • The date of World Tribal Day was fixed when a meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations was convened in Geneva, August 9th 1982
  • It wasn't until 1994 twelve years later that this day began to be observed officially around the world
  • According to the United Nations, the indigenous peoples are three times more likely to be below the line of poverty even extreme poverty as compared to other peoples
  • The informal economy sector (the unmonitored, untaxed economy) comprises over 86% of the global population of the indigenous peoples, which is higher than the percentage of non-indigenous workers in this sector

World Tribal Day Theme

The Coronavirus pandemic of 2020 left the world economy grappling for survival and the ones worst impacted from its aftermath were the poor, poverty-ridden, underprivileged peoples. Even more so, the impact was dire on the world's indigenous population, raising concern for their wellbeing. The inequity in social contract existing in the fabric of these people is what triggered the theme for World Tribal Day of 2021.

  • The theme for World Tribal Day, 2021 was, Leaving no one behind: Indigenous Peoples and the call for a new social contract
  • The social contract is a term that encompasses the inherent cooperation between various societies of the world for mutual benefits societally and economically
  • A social contract is an unwritten agreement; the United Nations recognises a reform is needed in the lieu of how the indigenous peoples in certain countries are treated they are driven out of their lands, they face denigration of culture and language and many more social and political discriminations

Why Recognise the Indigenous Peoples?

Contrary to stereotypes, the indigenous peoples live in organised societies and have defined cultural setup, their own languages, and traditions. Some of the important roles that the indigenous peoples play are:

  • Their agricultural techniques are evolved to be resilient to climate change
  • They work to protect, preserve and restore natural resources like forests, rivers, soil, etc.
  • The territories they occupy and protect comprise 80% of the world's biodiversity
  • Their lifestyle and practices are highly sustainable

They can teach the world a lot of things if the environment is made conducive for them.

Specifics of Indian Indigenous Peoples

  • The total tribal population in India is 1,04,282
  • This is 8.2% of the total population of India
  • The Gond tribe is the largest tribal group of India
  • The Central Tribal Belt holds the highest concentration of tribal population

Constitutional Provisions in India for the Tribal Population

  • Article 15, for the prohibition of discrimination against religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
  • Article 16, for equality of opportunity
  • Article 46, for educational and economic interests of SCs and STs
  • Schedules 5 and 6, for Administration and Control of Scheduled and Tribal Areas

Legal Protections

  • Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
  • Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996
  • Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
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FAQs on World Tribal Day

Q.1) Since when is World Tribal Day being observed?

While the meeting was convened in 1982, it is being observed every year since 1994

Q.2) Where was the convention for World Tribal Day held?

It was held in Geneva, in 1982

Q.3) What is the world's tribal population today?

According to the UN, the world's tribal population today is 476 million people across 90 countries of the world.

Q.4) Which is the largest tribe in the world?

The Guarani tribe, which is a Brazillian tribe, is the largest tribe in the world today, with a population of 51,000.

Q.5) Which is the most popular tribe in the world?

The Red Indians tribe of North America is the world's most popular tribe.