Art & Culture Minority Issues

Chin-Kuki-Zo Tribes: The Background of Ethnic Conflict in Manipur

The Manipur Chief Minister resorted to social media to charge a “unnatural growth” in the population of the state’s “Chin-Kuki-Zo” tribes, posing a perceived danger to indigenous communities and national security. 

About Chin-Kuki-Zo Tribes

Chin TribeKuki TribeZo Tribe
Ethnic CompositionMajor ethnic group in Myanmar’s Chin State, recognised for its distinct culture and language.Heterogeneous group in Northeast India, known for its various subtribes.A diverse ethnic group in Northeast India, Myanmar, and portions of Bangladesh.
Geographical DistributionPrimarily in Myanmar’s Chin State, with considerable numbers in Indian states such as Mizoram.Located primarily in Northeast India, but also in Chin State, Myanmar.It lives in northeast India, specifically Mizoram and Manipur, as well as sections of Myanmar and Bangladesh.
LanguageThe Chin language belongs to the Kuki-Chin subgroup of the Tibeto-Burman family.Kuki-Chin languages include several dialects with unique characteristics.Mizo-Kuki-Chin languages are various dialects within the Tibeto-Burman family.
Culture and TraditionsVibrant music, dancing, and festivals commemorate Chin National Day.Rich oral traditions and folk music are celebrated, as are festivals such as Chavang Kut.Chapchar Kut and Mim Kut are celebrated via rich oral literature and spectacular festivals.
LivelihoodPreviously engaged subsistence agriculture; now has varied livelihoods.Historically practiced shifting (Jhum) agriculture; presently involved in a variety of activities.Historically, shifting (Jhum) agriculture was used; today, multiple livelihood patterns exist.
ReligionPredominantly Christian, with some traditional animistic beliefs.Predominantly Christian, with old animistic customs.The predominant religion is Christianity, with traces of traditional traditions.
Socio-Political OrganizationAdvocates for cultural identity and rights, such as the Chin National Front.Promotes Kuki identity through active organisations such as the Kuki National Organisation.Promotes Zo identity, such as Zomi Council and Mizo Zirlai Pawl.

Issues with migration

Manipur’s Chin-Kuki-Zo tribes contribute to the state’s strife for a variety of reasons. 

  • Various tribal tribes have long demanded more recognition and autonomy for their ethnic identity in Manipur.
  • The Chin-Kuki-Zo tribes of Manipur have substantial land ownership and control difficulties. 
Highlights from Newspaper Minority Issues

Shompen PVTGs voted for the first time

  • For the first time in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, seven members of the Shompen tribe, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) of the Great Nicobar Islands, voted for the union territory’s lone Lok Sabha seat.

About the Shompen Tribe:

  • The Shompen tribe lives mostly in the deep interior portions of Great Nicobar Island, the southernmost island in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.
  • According to the 2011 Census, their population was expected to be 229. 
  • Their cultural behaviours include traditional hunting, fishing, and harvesting of forest materials.
  • Pandanus (a tropical shrub indigenous on the islands) is the Shompens’ principal diet, with fruits that resemble woody pineapples.
  • The Shompens differ from the four other PVTGs of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands — Jarawas, Great Andamanese, Onges, and Sentinelese — in that they are the only tribe in the region possessing Mongoloid traits. The other PVTGs have Negroid characteristics.

Society & Culture

  • The Shompen people have their own distinct culture and language, which is related to the Austroasiatic language family.
  • Marriage is one of the Shompen society’s rituals, and it involves collecting women from various tribes and subgroups.
  • They follow a hunter-gatherer subsistence lifestyle.
Minority Issues

Create a new tribal identity

  • Droupadi Murmu, President of India, was presented with a book called Contributions of Tribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle at a National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) ceremony.

Contributions of Tribal Leaders to the Freedom Struggle

  • Santhal Revolution: The Santhal Revolution, led by Buddhu Bhagat, Joa Bhagat, and Madara Mahato, was a major tribal rebellion against British colonial control in 1855. Other tribes, such as the Hos, Mundas, and Oraons, joined the Kols in their war.
  • The Paika Rebellion of 1817 was a tribal rebellion against the British in Odisha. The Paikas were a warrior class fighting for their rights and against exploitation by the British.
  • The Kol Revolt of 1831–32 was a tribal insurrection against the British in Chhattisgarh. The Kols fought for their land rights and against British exploitation.
  • Birsa Munda, a tribal leader from Jharkhand, led the Millenarian Movement against the British in the late nineteenth century. He mobilised the tribal community against the British, forcing them to enact legislation preserving indigenous land rights.
  • Rani Gaidinliu was a tribal leader from Nagaland who led an uprising against the British in the early twentieth century. She was a spiritual leader who battled for Naga rights and against British exploitation.
  • Laxman Naik was a tribal chieftain from Odisha who led an uprising against the British in the early twentieth century. He was a farmer who battled for farmers’ rights and against British exploitation.

Impact of Tribal Revolts during Freedom Struggle: 

  • Tribal revolts during the liberation movement played a crucial role in the British Raj’s hostility. They revolted not against the British, but against their policy towards Indians, which was forced on them without understanding their culture or its meaning. Later, this culminated to the uprising of 1857, which captured the attention of the entire country.


President Droupadi Murmu received the book “Contributions of Tribal Leaders in the Freedom Struggle” at an NCST event, which highlighted significant uprisings such as the Santhal, Paika, and Kol revolts, emphasising tribal resistance to British exploitation and influencing broader Indian agitation.

Governance Minority Issues

Effects of the Pandemic on the Vulnerable Section: SC, ST, and OBC

As a result of the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on SC/ST and OBC communities’ vulnerabilities, which are revealed by a number of social indices.

Impact on Education

Notably, following the epidemic, the promotion rate among students belonging to Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) groups rose significantly. Students from Other Backward Classes (OBC) saw an unbroken increase in the promotion rate.

Repetition rates are declining: During the pandemic years, the rates of pupils repeating classes were too significantly reduced, with only 1% of students in all areas doing so. Notably, after the epidemic, the disparity in repetition rates between SC/ST students and general category students significantly decreased.

Declining learning outcomes: The National Achievement Survey (NAS) exam results for school pupils showed a considerable decline in grades across classes and in the majority of courses, while the promotion rate increased and the repetition rate decreased.

Disproportionate impact: SC and ST students are disproportionately more affected than other groups since they saw the greatest declines in learning results and the greatest increases in promotion rates.

Impact on their livelihood

High likelihood of losing one’s job: The researchers discovered that the likelihood of losing one’s job was three times higher for SC and OBC workers than it was for those from upper castes.

Comparatively higher unemployment: By April 2020, just 32% of upper caste workers were employed, down from 39% in December 2019. The decline was more significant for SC personnel, of whom only 24% remained employed in April 2020 compared to 44% in December 2019. The declines were 40% to 26% and 48% to 33%, respectively, for OBCs and STs.

Research indicates that the upper castes are endowed with more human capital, i.e. educational achievement, and are in occupations that are less susceptible to pandemic disruption. The impact on scheduled caste is three times worse, which is shocking. The pandemic not only revealed the pre-existing injustices, but it also made them worse.

Impact on women

Effect on mental health: Compared to women from high castes, women from low castes may experience lower mental health outcomes and feel more alone.

Prior studies have shown that low-caste women are more likely to experience social isolation, job loss, and healthcare access hurdles, which may lead to worse mental health and increased levels of loneliness.

Rising loneliness: Compared to women in the general caste group, women in the SC/ST and OBC groups will have worse mental health and a higher perception of loneliness. We anticipate that even after taking sociodemographic factors into account, this disparity will remain significant.

Women in general, and women from disadvantaged groups in particular, are victims of various systemic disadvantages, which were made worse by the epidemic. Women in rural areas, particularly female wage laborer’s, experienced severe socioeconomic hardships as a result of the lockdown, which abruptly ended their options for employment.

Visible gendered effects of the pandemic: The gendered effects of the pandemic are not natural, but social norms and behaviour place individuals at higher risk because of ingrained gender bias in the social structure and culture.


The Indian society has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. SC, ST, and OBC were at a disadvantage when it came to vaccinations and healthcare access. Numerous studies and analyses have evaluated the impact of the coronavirus on different castes and projected the dire situation of vulnerable populations. When developing future policies for vulnerable populations, the government must take into consideration all of this statistics.

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