On the basis of technological achievements into consideration, Majumdar has attempted an economic classification of Indian tribes.
1. Tribes hunting in forests:
The main tribes engaged in hunting in India are Chenchu and Chandi of Andhra Pradesh, Kadar, Malapatram and Kurumba of Kerala, Paliyan of Tamil Nadu, and Onge, Jarawa, Senteneles of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The Raji of Uttar Pradesh, Hill Garo of Meghalaya, Birhor, Korwa, Hill-Kharia of Chotanagpur, and Juang of Odisha.
2. Tribes engaged in hilly cultivation (Shifting Cultivation or Jhuming):
Most of the tribes living in the hilly areas of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura are dependent on shifting cultivation (Jhuming). Some tribes of Odisha, Asur, Gond, Baiga, Munda, of Madhya Pradesh are also engaged in this type of cultivation. Apart from shifting cultivation, these tribes are also engaged in cottage industries.
3. Tribes engaged in cultivation in plain areas:
Bodo, Miri, Xaxa of Assam, Gonds of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.
4. Simple artisan tribes:
Asurs of Bihar, Agariya of Madhya Pradesh, Kolam of Maharashtra are traditional mat-weavers, and the Irula of Tamil Nadu make beautiful mats and baskets on bamboo.
5. Pastoral tribes:
Bakarwals, Gaddis (fammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh), Maldhan (Gujarat), Todas (Nilgiri Mountains in Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Nageshia of Madhya Pradesh, Maldhan of Gujarat some of these tribes trade milk, while the others rear cattle like sheep, goats for selling them in the market.
6. Tribes living as folk artists:
There are some tribes who earn their livelihood by performing dances, acrobatics, snake charmers, etc., and hence they are termed as ‘folk-artists’. The Nuts (Nats), and Saperas of Uttar Pradesh are good examples of this category. The Mundupptu of Odisha, are expert acrobats, the Kota of Tamil Nadu are snake charmers.
7. Agricultural and non-agricultural labour oriented tribes:
Among the tribes engaged in agriculture labour are those which are traditionally agriculturists, but due to their landlessness they work as agricultural labour on others land. According to one estimate about 20 per cent of the total tribal population is engaged in agriculture as wage earners.
Non-agricultural tribal labour force include those tribal’s who are working in local factories and mines of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, etc., and tea plantation in Assam and West Bengal.
8. Tribes engaged in service and trade:
Comparatively, a small percentage of the tribal population is engaged in government and semi-government jobs. Tribes in this category include the Meenas of Rajasthan, Khasi, Mizo and Nagas of North-East India.
It may be seen from Table 11.2 that the highest percentage of tribal population is found in Lakshadweep (94.51%) followed by Mizoram (94.50%), Nagaland 89.15% and Meghalaya 86 per cent.
The states of Arunachal Pradesh and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli also have more than 62 per cent of their population as tribal. Contrary to this, the states of Goa, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have less than 0.1 per cent of their population as the tribal population.