Plight of Nomadic & De-notified Tribes

This blog is written for Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.


Watch Mittal Patel narrating on below mentioned link

Youtube Link:



Every human being born on this earth has an identity. Identity within a family, with the outer world, but there are few people who are meant to be known as wanderers. Sad thing about them was that there is no identity made in livelihood of the people beyond their own community.


Mittal Patel, an journalist and an active member in finding identity of those people who never have. She is a real hero for the community which is she is helping and for the people who has known her.

Taking up the issue of those nomadic and de-notified tribes which exist in our country and accounting to about 8 to 10 % of the population of our country who are still wanderers with no identification for themselves

In today’s world, when technology has developed, but for these people either their art of living has lost, as there is none let to notify them. When entertainment is at our finger tips, none is interested in the art of these communities


Wandering and its Difficulties – Makes their younger one avoiding to schools, as there is no address of their living. The only record about them which can be found was in police registration.

Nearly 50% of the nomadic communities whose population is not less than 50 lakh in Gujarat state living nomadic life

Vadia, is a place in north Gujarat, where a  whole village of a nomadic tribe ‘Sarania’ is involved in prostitution. Even many generation of their families are involved in prostitution and marriage is neer meant in their world.

These are the humans without address and no identity.

Denotified Tribes (DNTs), also known as vimukta jati, are the tribes that were originally listed under the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871, as Criminal Tribes and “addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences.” Once a tribe became “notified” as criminal, all its members were required to register with the local magistrate, failing which they would be charged with a crime under the Indian Penal Code. The Criminal Tribes Act of 1952 repealed the notification, i.e. ‘de-notified’ the tribal communities. This act, however, was replaced by a series of Habitual Offenders Acts that asked police to investigate a suspect’s criminal tendencies and whether his occupation is “conducive to settled way of life.” The de-notified tribes were reclassified as habitual offenders in 1959.

The creation of these categories should be seen in the context of colonialism. The British authorities listed them separately by creating a category of castes or tribes labeled as criminal.

The name “Criminal Tribes” is itself a misnomer as no definition of tribe denotes occupation, but they were identified as tribes doing their primary occupation. The first Census was in 1871 and at that time there was neither consensus nor any definition of “tribe”. The terms “Tribe” and “Caste” were used interchangeably for these communities. In this colonial context, the term “Tribe” connoted the notions of primitiveness and backwardness and hence the assumption that these tribes needed to be civilized or transformed

The UN’s anti-discrimination body Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) asked India to repeal the Habitual Offenders Act (1952) and effectively rehabilitate the de-notified and nomadic tribes on March 9, 2007. There are 315 Nomadic Tribes and 198 De-notified Tribes.


In 2008, the National Commission for De-notified, Nomadic and Semi-Nomadic Tribes (NCDNSNT) of Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment recommended equal reservations, as available to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, for around 11 crore people belonging to the de-notified tribes, nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes in India. Along with the tribes designated as, “Nomadic” or “Semi-Nomadic”, the de-notified tribes are eligible for reservation


The Nomadic Tribes and De-notified Tribes consist of about 60 million in IndiaThe large section of these tribes is known as vimukta jatis or ‘ex-criminal castes’ because they were branded as criminals by birth under the act Criminal Tribes Act 1871, enacted by British rule in India.

After independence of India, this act was repealed by Government of India in 1952.


Vicharta Samuday Samrthan Manch (VSSM) – Formed by Mittal Patel and group

  • VSSM works for the rights and welfare of nomadic (vicharti) and De-notified (vimukta) communities.
  • Their aim is to help mainstream these communities by enabling them to fight for their rights
  • Outreach in 9 districts of Gujarat – 22,000 families are connected with VSSM
  • VSSM runs 26 alternate schools, wherein 1040 childrens are enrolled and 1000 are main streamed.
  • VSSM has put efforts to given an identity to these people, and now there are about 30,000 people who are having either a voter card or a ration card
  • “Mass marriage: escape from prostitution” was conducted by VSSM, wherein 8 girls got married and 12 were engaged from the same village of Vadia. After meeting Mittal Patel, women in those parts of villages have stopped in to the flesh trade.


In the coming days, they have an aim that the communities have social, economical, development and they live a dignified life.

Mittal Patel and her team have taken months together to put an effort for the recognition of these communities.

Every other has an heart of helping, but very few like her come forward and bring a change in the existing system, so that when a country is developing, it’s also important to know that every individual develops.

Saluting Mittal Patel and her team, who is also a boosting for our younger generation, to look forward for the equality among every individual and thereby our country getting rid of the differences.



Image Source: Google Image

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