The initial discourse on tribal identity was shaped by those who advocated integration of tribals as citizens of a nation state and others who sought their assimilation into the Hindu fold. But identity definition for the tribals in the early post-independent years has been largely a process from without. While the state made efforts to draw tribals into the national sphere, other elements, chiefly right wing groups, advocated measures that would restore to the tribals their ancient heritage. It is in more recent times, with the advent of education and the threat posed to tribal ways of living by other dominant groups and demands imposed by development, that tribal identity articulation has been a process directed from within the tribal community, spearheaded by a growing middle class. Such articulation has not merely been in the form of demands for some degree of political autonomy but has also seen initiatives to ensure the protection and development of tribal language, customs and culture.
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