Tribal Movement in India, Causes, Phase & List | UPSC Notes

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Bhil Uprising – Tribal Movement in India

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Introduction of Bhil Uprising

The word “bhillu” means “bow,” which is where the name of the Bhil tribe comes from. The tribe’s members were hunters and gatherers by trade, so they were good at shooting and knew how to make bows from real-world experience.

They made their own works of art and used them for war and trade.

People knew that Eklavya, the great archer, was born to a Bhil pair.

The revolt of the Bhils against the British

The Bhil uprising of 1818 was one of the first times that a group or tribe in the country fought against the British.

In Rajputana, the revolt was against British feudalism and imperialism.

The group had lived peacefully for a long time, but the British government and the feudal system brought about changes that made them angry at the government.

Some of the reasons for riots – Bhil Uprising:

When the British took over India, they made some changes to how the country was run.

Before these changes, the Bhil tribespeople had full rights to the land.

All of the Bhil tribal states signed a treaty with the British Administration in 1818.

Now, the British became the real boss because they were given the power to step in and make decisions about both the outside and inside of the country.

Also, the Bhils were not allowed to eat or use many of the things that grew in the forest in large quantities.

In the nearby towns and tribes, it was made illegal for people to buy and sell certain goods.

For example, it was against the law to cut down Mango and Malwa trees.

It was against the law for the tribe’s natives to publicly make spirits in their homes. The states gave the sellers the job of making spirits, which brought in money for the states.

The Bhils had to pay more for things like opium that were easy to get. The British were given sole ownership of the item, so they came up with a whole new way to weigh it.

This made the group angry at the British because they were taking away many of their basic needs.

Also, the moneylenders took advantage of the Bhils economically. When the Bhils couldn’t pay back the loans they took out with high interest rates, the moneylenders would take their land.

In 1879, the Bhils got mad at what these people were doing and killed some of them.

Also, the British government in the country wanted to make sure that trade went smoothly to the Bombay and Surat ports and that troops moved quickly out of the areas where the Bhil people lived.

For this reason, people from outside the group were hired to cut down the trees so that roads could be built. This made the people of the group feel bad.

Overall, their refusal to give up their rights and their desire to stand up to the British government were the main reasons why the Bhil rebelled from 1818 to 1900.

What happened because of the uprising – Bhil Uprising

To stop the 1818 Bhil rebellion, the British government sent in troops to put down the revolt by putting down the dissenters.

The forces forced the Bhil warriors to give up right away, but this failed because it made the Bhils hate the British even more.

The rebels were not fully put down because the forces couldn’t move deep enough into the forest to do so. This was because the forest was getting more and more difficult to move through.

Also, the king of Mewar’s subordinates tried to bring the Bhils to the table of talks, but they failed.

Col Walter, a British agent, finally came to an agreement with the tribesmen that ended the fighting.

The natives got a break on their rights to different taxes and their rights to the land.

Even though the British could say they put down the rebellion, they were never able to keep the peace in the areas where the Bhils lived.

So, the Bhil revolt is an important part of Indian history because it showed how the tribesmen were being used and how outside forces tried to control the locals. During the British colonial rule, the political awareness of the Bhil people against the British made other Indians aware of their rights.

Kol Uprising – Tribal Movement in India

Introduction – Kol Uprising

The Kol uprising was a revolt by the Adivasi Kol people of the Chhota Nagpur area against British policies from 1829 to 1839.

These people have their own habits and cultures that are very different from the rest of the world. They learn to live in the most dangerous places, but they stick together.

The 1831–1832 Kol uprising started because Tribal people were frustrated and angry with the new British government and laws.

Why people rose up – Kol Uprising

Around 1819, the government put a Political Agent in South Bihar and gave away nearby areas, which caused the uprising.

This caused a lot of people to move into these places, which had been home to many Adivasi tribes.

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Before the British came, these groups didn’t have a leader, and their land was split among their families through “parhas,” or conferences.

With the new land rules, outsiders moved into the area and started farming and running businesses, which were not part of the Kols’ culture. This hurt the Kols.

Also, many of the locals’ lands were taken as security for loans that were not paid back.

Another thing that was annoying was that goods, like salt, that used to be free to move were now taxed. After that, corrupt officials and chaos took over.

Because of the things listed above, in 1831, the Kol tribesmen of Chhota Nagpur, who were angry that representatives of the East India Company (EIC) were taking advantage of them, rose up against the EIC.

Buddhu Bhagat, Joa Bhagat, Jhindrai Manki, Madara Mahato, and other people were in charge of the rebel kols.

In 1831, the farm of two Sikh thikadar (contractors) was stolen from and burned down. This was the start of the Kol uprising. In 1832, the armed forces and the tribe Kols rebels fought each other.

The most important thing about the Kol uprising was that the people from the Kol tribe did not fight alone. The Hos, the Oraons, and the Mundas all joined forces with them.

How Britain Reacted – Kol Uprising

In British history books, the Kol outbreak was called banditry.

Even though the Kols put up a very brave fight, they lost in the end.

Rebels were put down by killing thousands of tribe men, women, and children. But Buddhu Bhagat and the other tribesmen who died weren’t for nothing. But this uprising got a lot of people to join it.

Santhal Rebellion – Tribal Movement in India

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Introduction – Santhal Rebellion

There were many groups in the 19th century, but the Santhal revolt was one of the most important ones in India’s fight for freedom.

The Santhal rebelled against the British East India Company (BEIC) and the zamindari system in what is now Jharkhand, in Eastern India.

What led up to the Santhal Rebellion revolt?

After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, when the East India Company started to get stronger, they started putting in place income policies and rules about law and order for the people of India to follow.

In 1793, Lord Cornwallis started the Permanent Settlement in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa, among other places.

Under the permanent revenue system, landlords had permanent and inherited rights to the land as long as they paid the British government a set amount of money. If the peasants couldn’t pay their rent, the British would auction off large pieces of land owned by the Santhals to anyone who would pay them a set amount of money. In this way, many tribal lands were sold.

In this way, the Santhal lost control of the land, and their old tribal systems and governmental structures that had been in place for generations came to an end.

The tribal people who lived in the wild of Rajmahal hills were called Santhals. In 1832, the East India Company separated the Damin-i-Koh from Jharkhand and gave it to the Santhals to live on with the promise that they would not mess with their land.

But as time went on and the number of British people who wanted to live there grew, the rent that the Santhals had to pay went through the roof.

In the end, the Santhals were stuck in a position where their only choice was to rise up against the British and the Zamindars.

People also said that the Santhals rebelled because they used a barter system and had trouble paying the zamindars in cash. As a result, they had to borrow money from moneylenders at very high interest rates, which put them in a cycle that they couldn’t get out of.

The only way for the Santhals to get out of this cycle and keep their culture was to rebel against the British.

The Uprising – Santhal Rebellion

The Santhal revolt, which was also called the Hul uprising, began on June 30, 1855. It was led by Sidhu, Kanhu, Chand, Bhairav, and their two sisters, Phulo and Jhano.

The sad and angry Santhals fought against the British with guerrilla tactics. They formed their own troops, which included farmers, villages, and women.

During this quest, they were able to take over a lot of land, including the Rajmahal Hills, the Bhagalpur area, and Birbhum.

They made more than 10,000 Santhal people join the army. The people in the village set fire to the storehouses and warehouses, and all lines of contact were cut.

The government tried everything it could to stop the movement. In order to stop the uprising, the British used heavy weapons to fight against the Santhals’ bows and arrows.

The owners were on the government’s side, but the people in the area were all for the Santhals.

Sidhu and Kanhu, who were brothers, were caught, and the revolt ended badly.

In 1856, the Santhals were stopped from moving, and the movement was over.

How was Santhal Rebellion different from other rebellions?

Organised action

The Santhal uprising was a well-organized group led by strong leaders. In a short time, it was able to bring about 60,000 people together.

If we look at the other events that happened on their own at that time, we can see that none of them were as well-organized as the Santhal revolt. The British were scared by how united the Santhals were.

How they use tools and plans – Santhal Rebellion

Even though the Santhal used bows and arrows against the Britishers’ guns and artillery, the Santhal won because they used guerrilla tactics, which was a new way for Bihar to fight against the British.

Leaders who are trained – Santhal Rebellion

Sidhu and Kanhu, two of the most important people in the war, were able to get a lot of people to fight against the cause in a short amount of time.

Blow to the British – Santhal Rebellion

The British were hurt by the revolt of the Santhal. It was such a strong movement that the British had to put in place martial rule to stop the Santhals.

Revolutionary nationalism grew over time

The Santhal revolt made the Santhal groups feel more like one group.

People thought it was the start of bigger wars that would free the people from British rule.

This movement led to a sense of nationalism, which helped get people ready for the Revolt of 1857 and other wars.

Who the native people are

The Santhal identity as it is known today began with the uprising.

It also encouraged the tribe people to keep their culture and traditions from being destroyed or changed in any way.

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Successful moving

Even though the Santhals lost, it was clear that the British did realise their mistakes.

Also, after the war was over, the Santhal Paraganas Tenancy Act was passed. This law gave the tribes some safety from the harsh British rule.

This was good at making people feel like they were part of their country.

So, the Santhal uprising is not only a very important event in history. Rather, the rights to tribe lands, which are at the heart of the problem, are brought up. This is important in the present situation. So, history really is a continuum, and it is important to understand the past to make sense of the present and deal with Tribal problems in India.

Jaintia and Garo Rebellion – Tribal Movement in India

The Uprising – Jaintia and Garo Rebellion

After the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826), the British made plans to build a road from Brahmaputra Valley (now in Assam, India) to Sylhet (now in Bangladesh).

The Jaintias and the Garos in North-Eastern India, which is now Meghalaya, did not want this road built, even though it was important for the British to move troops along it.

In 1827, the Jaintias tried to stop working, which caused trouble in the nearby Garo hills.

The British burned down a few Jaintia and Garo villages because they were scared. When the British put in place a House Tax and an Income Tax in the 1860s, they made things worse.

But the British were able to catch and hang U Kiang Nongbah, the leader of the Jaintias, and beat Pa Togan Sangma, the leader of the Garo.

The news – Jaintia and Garo Rebellion

Jaintia and Garo Rebellion

The Indian government honoured U Kiang Nangbah by making the day he was killed a holiday and naming a government college in the town of Jowai after him. This was done in 1967.
Also, in 2001, a postage stamp was made in his honour.

Rampa Rebellion – Tribal Movement in India

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Introduction – Rampa Rebellion

The Rampa Rebellion of 1922, also called the Manyam Rebellion, was a tribe uprising in Godavari Agency, Madras Presidency, British India, that was led by Alluri Sitarama Raju.
It began in August 1922 and went on until May 1924, when Raju was caught and killed.
The Rampa Rebellion of 1879 had nothing to do with this Rebellion.

Background – Rampa Rebellion

The Rampa governmental area was mostly made up of Tribal people and was in the hills of what are now Andhra Pradesh’s Godavari districts. It was about 700 square miles in size.

They had always been able to meet their food needs, especially with the help of the Podu system, in which parts of the bush were burned each year to make room for farming.

The British wanted to take over the forest land so they could use it to build ships and railroads.

Also, the British government wanted to make the land in Godavari Agency, which was known for having a lot of malaria and blackwater fever, more useful for business.

The local tribal people were hurt a lot by this business exploitation because they lost their land for traditional farming.

So, the revolt was mostly against the Madras Forest Act of 1882, which made it hard for tribal groups to move around freely in forest land and stopped them from using their traditional Podu farming system.

Also, the tribal people of the forested hills, who were now starving, had felt for a long time that the law favoured the zamindars and traders of the plains, which had led to the Rampa Rebellion in 1879.

So, the tribal people didn’t agree with the British rules.

At the same time, the muttadars, who had been in charge of collecting taxes and running things in the hills before the British came, were unhappy.

They had done things for the rajas, who were the real masters of the plains.

Later, the British merged them into the colonial government and gave them no real power as employees.

So, both the clan and the Muttadars had the same enemy.

The Rising Up – Rampa Rebellion

Alluri Sitarama Raju, who was a sanyasi and a person with a strong sense of right and wrong, spoke out against the illegal British policy.

He used the native people’s anger to help him fight against colonialism, and he also listened to the complaints of Muttadars who agreed with his goal.

People from tribes were hurt by the greed of colonial masters, and Raju wanted justice for them.

So, Raju led the Rampa Rebellion, which was made up of the group of native people and other people who agreed with them.

Alluri Raju also fought against the British with underground war. He broke into many police stations, including Dammanapalli, Krishna Devi Petra, and Annavaram.

The revolt began in August 1922 and finished when Raju was caught and killed in May 1924.

But there was no group set up to look into the problems the tribes were having and why they were rebelling.

The British said, “The widespread diseases, which the tribal people had grown used to, made it harder for the British to put down the rebellion.”

Subject of news – Rampa Rebellion

Two special postage stamps were made in 2022 to honour the 100th anniversary of the Rampa uprising, which Alluri Sitarama Raju led.

Munda Rebellion – Tribal Movement in India

Introduction of Munda Rebellion

The Munda Ulgulan is one of the most well-known native revolts in the history of Indian Independence.
Even though the outcome wasn’t good, it showed that traditional people know how to raise their voices and how loudly to do so.

Background of Munda Rebellion

The Munda were a group of people who lived in Jharkhand’s Chhota Nagpur and made their living by farming.

The British colonists, Zamindars, and missionaries were all to blame for this rebellion, just as they were for others.

The Mundas used the Khuntkatti System, in which everyone in the group owned the land that could be used for farming.

But as the 19th century went on, people who were not part of a tribe began to move to the land of the Munda and became Jagirdars and Zamindars.

The land that Mundas owned was taken away or lost, and they were forced to work in the fields of Jagirdars and zamindars as landless workers.

They took advantage of these weak tribe people by giving them loans with high interest rates and keeping their money. These actions put the native people in conflict with the Dikus, who were from other places.

Also, big parts of the forest were made into protected forests, which took away their rights to these lands.

Landlords and Dikus, or strangers, tightened their grip on the property of the Mundas and asked for begari, or work without pay.

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The people who owned land were turned into people who owned ploughs.

Because of this, their situation got worse, and they lost control of the land where their ancestors lived.

So, the people of the Munda group needed a leader who could show them how to fight back and take back their land.

The Uprising of Munda Rebellion

At this time, Birsa Munda led the movement of the tribes.

Born in 1875, he began to understand how his tribe’s people were being used against them.

He knew about the Golden Age of the Munda tribe, which happened before the dikus came along and saw the tribe go from wealthy to poor.

He worked for a good political programme, and his goal was to achieve both religious and political freedom.

The goal of the movement was to stand up for the rights of the Mundas, who were the real owners of the land.

Birsa said that this ideal agricultural order would be possible in a world where European officials didn’t have much power.

So, he told the Mundas to fight against superstition, stop sacrificing animals and drinking alcohol, wear the sacred thread, and keep the tribal custom of worshipping in the sarna or sacred grove.

The revolt was mostly a revivalist movement that wanted to rid Munda society of all foreign influences and bring it back to its original state.

Also, by the 1890s, he was getting people together and making the local tribes angry.

In 1894, he said that he was going to rebel against the British and the dikus and make a “Munda Raj.”

In 1899, the villagers were led by him to attack police posts, churches, and government buildings.

On January 9, 1900, though, the rebels were put down. Birsa was caught, and he died in prison. Nearly 350 Mundas were put on trial, and of those, three were put to death by hanging and 44 were sent to prison for life.

How Important Was the Munda Rebellion Movement?

Even though the uprising didn’t have the effect that was hoped for, it had a big effect on the tribal movement in India.

It showed that the tribal people could protest against wrongdoing and show how angry they were about British rule.

The Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, passed by the British in 1908, made it hard for non-tribal people to buy tribe land.

The rights of “Khuntkatti” were acknowledged, and “Beth begari” was made illegal.

So, tribal people got some formal protection for their rights to land.

The most important thing is that Birsa Munda, who died when he was only 25, left a legacy and is known as one of India’s best freedom heroes.

So, the sacrifices, love, and hope that the Munda tribe put into their rebellion have become a part of the history of India.

The news

Every year, on November 15, people celebrate Birsa Munda’s birthday.
On the anniversary of his birth in 2000, the state of Jharkhand was made to honour his role in the national cause.

Khonda Dora Uprisings – Tribal Movement in India

Khonda Dora Uprisings

Introduction of Khonda Dora Uprisings

The Khond are an Indian group that lives mostly in the areas of Orissa, Srikakulam, and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
The clan reached from Bengal to Tamil Nadu, which were both important areas. They are the most important meetings of Orissa’s ancestors.

Things that led to the troubles during Khonda Dora Uprisings

Most Khonds lived in Kalahandi, which was ruled by the Hindu Raja Udit Partab Deo.

To get a lot of money in taxes, the Raja cut the power of the Umraos, or top headmen, by a lot. He also kicked the Khonds out of their villages and gave them to the Kultas, an industrial caste of farmers.

This made the Khonds nothing but useless slaves, and by 1881, they were very unhappy.

The Ghumsar Wars of 1835–1837 and the Khond Wars of 1846–1848 were wars of conquest between the Khonds and the British. The goal of these wars was to expand British colonial power and make it stronger.

From the middle of the 19th century on, this process led to the end of Meriah, or human sacrifice.

Also, there was a change in the way that politics were made to be right.

On the one hand, traditional tribal organisation was based on unity between the Hindu elite who ran things and the Khonds, from whom they got their authority.

Colonial rule not only broke up the Khonds’ relationships with the Hindu elite, but it also made the Khonds work for the British.

Also, colonial conquest in the Khond tracts opened up the vulnerable tribal people to forces from “outside,” which changed the Khond tribal organisation in a big way.

Because of this, the Khond unrest of 1882, which lasted for more than six months, had two parts:

In the first phase, Kulta Villages and their property were stolen from on a big scale.

During the second part, there was a lot of violence and bloodshed.

So, the Khond revolt, which began because of British Colonial practises, was a challenge to British rule. But the unrest didn’t lead to much except for the colonial systems in the state being made stronger.

So, the disturbance became known as a “Agrarian” disturbance in the history of tribal turmoil.

Tana Bhagat Movement – Tribal Movement in India

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Introduction of Tana Bhagat Movement

During the colonial era, there were tribal protests in different parts of India for different reasons. One of these was the Tana Bhagat movement.

At first, this movement was sacred, but as time went on, its goals became more political.

People think of this trend as an extension of the Birsa movement.

The Tana Bhagat movement began in April 1914, when Jatra Bhagat was in charge.

Basically, the Tana Bhagat movement was started to stop the bad things that were happening in the Oraon community of Chotanagpur and to fight against the policies of the Jamindars, who were directly taking advantage of the Oraon people.

Followers of this movement, who were inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, chose nonviolence as their way to make this movement work.

Why people did what they did

In April 1914, Jatra Bhagat said that he had received a direct message from the God of the Oraon community, Dharmesh, to bring back the Oraon religion. He said that some bad practises, such as exorcism, ghost hunting, animal sacrifices for God, and drinking too much, had crept into their religion and should be stopped. In the beginning, the movement was based on all of these religious problems.

Jamindars took advantage of the people in the Oraon village by charging more rent for land. The Oraon society was upset by the way some Jamindars were acting like rebels.

In the village, the job of pahan (priests) and mahto (village leader) was taken over by the Jatra followers, who spoke out against these people because they believed in ghosts and other evil things.

The Oraon people were also pushed by their landlords to do work for free.

The people of the town also had to worry about the government taking away their land.


  • There were no more animal sacrifices.
  • It was against the law to drink alcohol.
  • Superstitious opinion did not get importance
  • People were not required to pay taxes.
  • The followers agreed that they won’t work as coolies or labourers anymore.
  • Calls for self-government

Significance of Tana Bhagat Movement

Later, this movement joined Mahatma Gandhi’s national movement and took on his ideas of truth and nonviolence.

Also, people who were involved in this movement went to congress meetings in Calcutta, Gaya, and Lahore.

Followers of the Tana Bhagat movement joined national protests against British rule in this way. People in the Oraon village still follow Gandhi’s ideas.

This movement was one of a kind because it tried to connect with the national movement and was a big part of India getting its freedom.