COVID-19 and Fourth World People UPSC

COVID-19 and World’s Indigenous People


COVID-19 is lethal for the world’s indigenous peoples

      WHY IN NEWS:

Reverse migration, social discrimination and loss of their homes could have serious effects on the livelihood, health and well-being of indigenous peoples

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1:3:Tribes:Diseases: COVID-19 World's indigenous peoples


This article will enrich your wisdom about the discrimination tribal are facing to find a good meal a day and better healthcare . The article moves around the stigma and stereotypes of our society vs aboriginal community . Let us dive in !


Odisha has the largest number of particularly vulnerable tribal groups in India like the Bonda people. Photo: Vikas Choudhary

Odisha has the largest number of particularly vulnerable tribal groups in India like the Bonda people. Photo: Vikas ChoudharyCOVID-19 & world’s indigenous peoples :Odisha has the largest number of particularly vulnerable tribal groups in India like the Bonda people. 


  • Indigenous peoples in remote areas are extremely vulnerable to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) than other communities.
  • The pandemic may have serious effects on their well-being, livelihood and health.

Brazil, where the state of Amazonas, predominantly inhabited by indigenous communities, has the most cases per capita.

  • “The idea that indigenous people are somehow biologically more vulnerable to new diseases is a myth,” .
  • A new virus enters a population that is immunologically naïve, it spreads rapidly.
  • “Today, vaccines and regular contact with non-indigenous people have boosted indigenous people’s immunity to measles, influenza and other diseases,”


  • According to the United Nations, indigenous peoples experience high levels of maternal and infant mortality, malnutrition, cardiovascular diseases and other infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis.
  • And therefore, they are the most vulnerable group for pandemics.
  • “Their immune system is more vulnerable to all kinds of viruses,”.
  • Social and environmental factors also play a key role in making them more susceptible to outbreaks, believe anthropologists.
  • Congested housing makes it much easier for infectious diseases to transmit from one person to another.”


  • In India’s tribal areas, basic healthcare facilities are extremely poor.
  • Besides, a lack of key information and awareness to effectively deal with outbreaks further add fuel to the fire.
  • The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has categorised 75 indigenous groups as the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTGs), the highest number of which are found in Odisha.
  • PVTGs are the most vulnerable groups within the indigenous communities amid the pandemic crisis.
  • To make the situation worse, no baseline surveys have been conducted among more than half of such PVTGs in the state.
  • Without adequate data, it would be difficult to precisely identify indigenous families and their habitats.

  In this crisis, we need data on the demographic and socioeconomic profile of the indigenous groups. 


  • Reverse migration could destroy indigenous communities in tribal hinterlands. 
  • “The returnee migrants can spread the virus in villages resulting in devastating impacts,”.
  • “It can wipe out indigenous peoples and permanently damage the survival of many communities.”
  • The virus can transmit to villages very easily, in case the migrant worker avoids mandatory quarantine.
  • The poor quality of food provided in the quarantine centres, some family members bring food from their home for their returnee migrant family members.


  • “They often face stigma and discrimination”.
  • “During global pandemics, indigenous peoples become more vulnerable, because they lack access to effective monitoring and early-warning systems.
  • There are hardly any adequate healthcare services available in their areas,”.

  Indigenous communities often hesitate to visit primary health centres, partly because they mostly rely on ‘baidh’ (traditional healers) and partly because they are ill-treated by medical staff. 

  • There is a need for a paradigm shift in the attitudes, knowledge and practices of healthcare providers who work in and around the areas of indigenous people.
  • Prime attention should also be given to ensuring respectful interactions with indigenous patients and their families, as well as providing quality healthcare that attends to their specific needs.


  • Indigenous communities play a vital role in wildlife conservation and environment protection. 
  • The best-conserved territories, in terms of biodiversity and natural resources, are those still inhabited by indigenous people.

  Comprising less than five per cent of the world’s population, indigenous communities protect 80 per cent of global biodiversity on the planet to date. 

  • Regrettably, due to their rich mineral deposits and natural resources, the areas inhabited by indigenous communities have attracted mining, industries, logging, poaching and large scale projects in the name of development.
  • As a result, the influx of outsiders to the indigenous habitats has exponentially increased.
  • With unrestrained and frequent outsiders, comes the risk of deadly infectious diseases as well.
  • Indigenous people in refugee camps, detention centres, migrants in administrative settings, have a higher risk of contracting the novel coronavirus.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 


  • A gender-sensitive approach is a key to a solution for COVID-19 & World’s indigenous community.
  • This means more focused attention should be given to women and adolescent girls during sensitisation and outreach programmes on COVID-19. In order to ensure effective communication, indigenous languages must be used.
  • Key messages on COVID-19 should be shared with the traditional leaders and youth leaders,” .
  • The government, in collaboration with the academic institutions, local civil societies, and indigenous community-based organisations, should collectively strengthen capacities at the community and territorial level through communication materials, urgent health care service centres, with an analysis of region-specific vulnerability and long-term well-being. 
  • “Top priority should be given on prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of all returnee migrants,”
  • “States should acknowledge the cultural, spiritual, and religious rights and responsibilities of indigenous peoples when considering measures to respond to the virus,”
  •  “We should provide culturally acceptable healthcare, food and humanitarian relief without discrimination,” .

  There are more than 370 million indigenous people worldwide, living across 90 countries, belonging to 5,000 different groups, speaking 4,000 languages.

  • In India, the Scheduled Tribe population numbers 104 million people, which is 8.6 per cent of the total population, according to the 2011 Census.
  • “Protecting the rights of indigenous people on their land, forest and water are key to protect nature itself,” .

They are the real guardians of forests and wildlife.

  Without their participation, it is impossible to reduce global warming, loss of biodiversity and curb future pandemics.

     SOURCES:DOWNTOEARTH | COVID-19 and World’s Indigenous People

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