Difference between SC and ST – Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Difference Between SC and ST: The main difference between Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is that the Scheduled Castes belonged to that section of the community which was considered to be untouchable and the Scheduled Tribes were the ones that lived in the tribal areas. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have been officially recognized in the Indian constitution and have their mention in various articles.

Another difference between SC and ST is that the Scheduled Castes always faced oppression and were known as the “Depressed Class” during the rule of the Britishers. They were not able to receive the basic amenities of life as well and were restricted from many places. Whereas the Scheduled Tribes usually reside in the interior forest areas and have always faced discrimination based on their origin, race, and religion.

Difference Between SC and ST

The SC and ST categories have been identified in the Constitution of India and date back the British rule in India. Another difference between SC and ST is that the Scheduled Castes are dealt with in the Article 341 of the Indian Constitution whereas Article 342 deals with the Scheduled Tribes.

There have been several instances till now where the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have demanded the rights and opportunities that they deserve. Often such instances have resulted in violent protests and casualties. The violence continues to date in one form or another. Let us look into the major differences between Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Difference Between Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

Difference Between SC and ST

Scheduled Castes (SC)

Scheduled Tribes (ST)

SCs form 16.6% of the Indian population as per the 2011 Census.

As per the Census, 8.8% of India’s population belongs to the STs.

The Indian Constitution deals with the identification and definition of SCs in Article 341.

Article 342 of the Indian Constitution deals with the definition of Scheduled Tribes.

There are a total of 1108 Scheduled Castes across the country existing in 28 states, as per the Scheduled Castes, 1950.

There are reportedly 744 tribes as per the Scheduled Tribes, 1950 in 22 states of India.

The responsibility of protecting the rights of SCs has been taken over by the Scheduled Castes National Commission.

It includes educational, cultural, and economic rights.

Similarly, the rights of STs are safeguarded by the Scheduled Tribes National Commission.

It was established at the time of the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003.

Punjab accounts for the highest percentage of the SC population around 32%.

Lakshadweep & Mizoram have almost 95% of their population under Scheduled Tribes.

Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

A significant difference between SC and ST is that in earlier times, the Scheduled Castes were mainly called by the term ‘Dalits’ whereas the Scheduled Tribes were mostly denoted as Tribal groups or ‘Adivasis’. Unfortunately, the Scheduled Tribes have been prohibited from entering mainstream society and they have been facing this discrimination for a long time.

What is a Scheduled Caste?

‘Scheduled Caste’ is an officially recognized title given to the lowest castes in India which are considered to be untouchables. These are people who are not considered ‘fit’ as per the social norms and can be considered underprivileged. The Scheduled Caste meaning has been clearly provided in the Indian Constitution under Clause 1, Article 341.

The Scheduled Castes have been facing discrimination for a long time and their mention has been given in the Hindu scriptures as well. They are depicted as the backward castes which has been a result of the practice of untouchability since older times. This practice has led to the SCs becoming backward in social, economic, and educational terms.

Scheduled Tribes in India

The term ‘Scheduled Tribe’ made its first appearance in the Indian Constitution in Article 366 which gave its complete definition. Article 342 further provides power to the President to identify certain tribes as Scheduled Tribes in connection to certain union territories or states. The STs mainly dwell in the Central and North-Eastern states of India.

The people belonging to the Scheduled Tribes live in far-reaching forest areas and have been totally cut off from society. They are not accepted in mainstream society due to their backwardness. Due to living in the tribal areas, they become more and more detached from the present societal norms and behave as tribals living on whatever natural resources they can get. They are also economically backward and sometimes resort to violent techniques in their protests.


Key Difference between SC and ST – Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes

The key difference between SC and ST is that SC refers to the Scheduled Castes that were traditionally oppressed by the upper Hindu castes since the old times. Whereas ST refers to the Scheduled Tribes that are very much aloof from the social setup and live in the far-flung forest areas called tribal areas.

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