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II. 6.3.3 Impact of urbanization on tribal populations

  • Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural areas to urban areas, the decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which each society adapts to this change.
  • It refers to the increasing number of people that live in urban areas. It predominantly results in the physical growth of urban areas, be it horizontal or vertical.
  • Urbanization is the process of social and cultural change in which the tribal and rural India is gradually changing towards urban centres. The migrants introduce influences of urbanism back to their areas and affect the tribal folk.
  • This process has started during British period and it has been continued because of the planned change induced by the five year plans after Independence.

With the establishment of British rule, every remote area in India became a part of the widest political community.

  • The various policies of British which broke the isolation of tribal areas from mainstream are:
  1. Construction of Roads and development of communications
  2. Uniform civil and criminal law
  3. Measures taken to improve the public health systems
  4. Western Education
  5. Extension of the economic network

Urbanization has its impact on the lifestyle, religion, political, social and economic life in tribal India


  • Hereditary leadership is replaced by rational leadership.
  • The leadership is based on legality and authority
  • The voting choice is given to people.


  •  The traditional occupation has been replaced by non-agricultural occupations in the urban setting.
  • with the coming in contact with urban centres, tribals often foresake their traditional means of livelihood like agriculture and allied activities in lieu of better prospects in industry.
  • They are exposed to new urban commodities in rural market.


  • Urbanisation makes them tolerant towards other religions.Hence religion is less primitive and more rational.
  • Individualism replaces collective conciousness
  • Change in the status of women as they acquire social and economic independence.
  • Changes in the institution of Marriage like inter caste marriages.
  • Family Structure- presently the joint family  system could not retain its preponderance and the nuclearization of family type is happening
  • The traditional patriarchal family system remains more or less the same
  • Inheritance of Property-urbanization is changing the customory tradition inheritance of property
  • Marriage- the growth of inter-community marriages so as to retain their social identity in the midst of urbanization and modernization.
  • In the kitchen, the urban tribals have significantly come-up to use L.P.G in cooking instead of their traditional hearth
  • Tribals  have adopted the urban housing pattern in the changed situation.
  • Major changes of dress pattern are seen among the young boys and girls. the new generation is modernizing fast whereas the old generation is continuing their traditional dresses.
  • Tribals living in the town are literate and currently they seem to be inclined to
    higher education.
  • The print mass media and the electronic media are also used to keep themselves aware about all the current happenings in the town
  • they are organizing their efforts in a formal manner for collective development and self awareness.

Urbanization also has many detrimental effects on the tribal life:

  • Loss of traditional working capabilities
  • Development of slums because of scarcity of living accommodation.
  • Increased incidence of crimes
  • Decline in social sympathy and fellow feeling. This is due to decline in social control (family, religion)
  • Breakdown of joint family.

A state of psychological preparedness towards achieving higher education both in academic and technical fields is now distinctly noticeable among the urban tribals. Their whole life reflects a combined impact of education, occupation and mass media exposure in the urban setting. The attitudinal change among the people owes ultimately to the reservations of seats for the Scheduled Tribes (plains) in the educational institutions and the Government jobs. The protective discrimination offered the ground for mutual reinforcement between education and occupations. The family economy improved over the generations and therefore the new generation is coming up in the modern houses, with modern dresses, ornaments and food with largely Englisti education and orientation for higher education.

The urban tribals s are undergoing multidimensional changes on the one hand, and are continuing tradition with some adjustments and re-adjustments in the new situation. There is perceived a significant continuity in the non-material culture and a significant change in the material culture among the urban tribals. Occupations, household items, house type, dress and ornaments, food and beverage are changing in a profound manner. Besides, uses of modern medical facilities and health consciousness are the non-material aspects which are changing in a big way among the urban tribals. The rate of change in the material culture is slow in comparison of the change in the material culture. The continuity of tradition is carried along by the middle and old generations whereas the new generation is adopting new elements in non-material cultures. Though Urbanization is essential but it is required to be taken up with planning and anthropological insight and strategies.

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