Tribes in News

Shompen PVTGs cast their vote for the First Time


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Tribes in News; PVTGs in AandN Islands, Shompen, Jarawas, Onge, Sentinelese

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

For the first time in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 7 members of the Shompen tribe, a particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs) of Great Nicobar Islands exercised their voting rights for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the union territory.

Other two primitive tribes like Onge and Great Andamanese (both PVTGs) too exercised their voting rights like in 2019 Lok Sabha election but seven Shompen did it for the first time out of 98 Shompen voters.

About Shompen Tribe:

  • The Shompen tribe primarily inhabits the remote interior regions of Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.
  • Their estimated population was 229 as per the 2011 Census data.

  • Their cultural practices include traditional hunting, fishing, and gathering forest resources.
  • Pandanus (a tropical plant found in the islands), whose fruits resemble the woody pineapple, is the staple food of the Shompens.
  • What makes the Shompens distinct from the four other PVTGs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands — Jarawas, Great Andamanese, Onges and Sentinelese — is that they are the only tribe in the region with Mongoloid features. The other PVTGs have Negroid features.

Society and Culture

  • The Shompen people have their own distinct culture and language, which belongs to the Austroasiatic language family. 
  • Marriage by capturing women from different groups and sub-groups is one of the customs of the Shompen society (as per the Anthropological Survey of India).
  • They practice a hunter-gatherer subsistence economy.

Who are the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs)?

  • These groups are among the most vulnerable section of our society as they are few in numbers, have not attained any significant level of social and economic development.
  • They generally inhabit remote localities having poor infrastructure and administrative support.
  • 75 such groups have been identified and categorized as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

Origin of the concept

  • The Dhebar Commission (1960-1961) stated that within Scheduled Tribes there existed an inequality in the rate of development.
  • During the fourth Five Year Plan (1969-74) a sub-category was created within Scheduled Tribes to identify groups that considered to be at a lower level of development.
  • This sub-category was named “Primitive tribal group”.
  • In 2006 the government of India proposed to rename as PVTGs.

Features of PVTGs

  • The features of such a group include a:
  1. Pre-agricultural system of existence
  2. Practice of hunting and gathering
  3. Zero or negative population growth
  4. Extremely low level of literacy in comparison with other tribal groups
  • Groups that satisfied any one of the criterion were considered as PTG.



[2019] Consider the following statements about Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) in India:

  1. PVTGs reside in 18 States and one Union Territory.
  2. A stagnant or declining population is one of the criteria for determining PVTG status.
  3. There are 95 PVTGs officially notified in the country so far.
  4. Irular and Konda Reddi tribes are included in the list of PVTGs.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1, 2 and 3

(b) 2, 3 and 4

(c) 1, 2 and 4

(d) 1, 3 and 4

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