Indian tribal woman with traditional nose earrings. The Indian Constitution assigns special status to the Scheduled Tribes. Traditionally referred to as adivasis, vanbasis, tribes, or tribals, Scheduled Tribes constitute about 8% of the Indian population. There are 573 Scheduled Tribes living in different parts of the country, having their own languages, which are different from the one mostly spoken in the State where they live. There are more than 270 such languages in India. According to the 2001 census, the tribal population in India is 74.6 million. The largest number of tribals is in undivided Madhya Pradesh (16.40 million), followed by Orissa (7 million) and Jharkhand (6.6 million).

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