Dongria Kandh Tribe _ UPSC

Dongria Kandh Tribe | UPSC


Many hands ensure green fields for Odisha’s tribal villages

      WHY IN NEWS:

  • Traditional systems of sharing work sustain communities.
  • The concept of labour cooperatives is still in vogue in almost all tribal communities.
  • This includes the Dongria Kandh, Juanga, Lanjia Saura, Saura, Didayi, Paudi Bhuyan and Kandh in Odisha.


For PRELIMS labour system is very important . Note down different types of labour system in your Prelims Book .

For MAINS make a note on the revolutionary revolt of Dongria’s on bauxite mines and social afforestation methods.



  • The Dangaria Kandha or Dongria Kondh people are members of the Kondhs.
  • They are located in the Niyamgiri hills in the state of Odisha (formerly Orissa) in India.

They sustain themselves from the resources of the Niyamgiri forests, practising horticulture and shifting cultivation.

  • They have been at the centre of a dispute over mining rights in the area.
  • The Dongria Kondh derive their name from dongar, meaning agricultural land on hill slopes.
  • The name for themselves is Jharnia – “protector of streams“.


  • Niyamgiri is a hill range spread over 250

It falls under the Rayagada and Kalahandi District in south-west Odisha.

  • It is an area containing densely forested hills, deep gorges and cascading streams.
  • Its highest point is the mountain known as Niyamgiri or Niyam Dongar, at a height of 1,306m.


  • The Dongria Kondh community numbers approximately 8,000 people, inhabiting about 100 villages.

Dongria are having nuclear,monogamous and patrilineal setup.

  • The community is adapted to the surroundings of Niyamgiri forested hill country, where they have lived for many generations.


  • The people of Niyamgiri use Kui language.
  • Kui language is not written, but it is spoken among the people of Kondh community.


  • The Dangaria Kandha worship Niyam Raja (Niyamraja), the supreme god of the Niyamgiri jungle.

It is believed that Niyam Raja is the source of their essential resources

  • The deep reverence and respect that the Dongria have for their gods, hills and streams pervade every aspect of their lives.
  • Even their art reflects the mountains, in the triangular designs found on village shrines to the many gods of the village, farm and forests and their leader, Niyam Raja.


The socio-political governing and decision-making body of the Dongria Kondh community is also known as the Kutumba.

  • To make the work of the body more efficient the Kutumba is then divided into two groups.
  • One which functions at the level of clan or Kuda Kutumba and one at the level of settlement or Nayu Kutumba.


  • The Dongria women are also given equal status in the society in matters such as widow remarriage etc.

They possess property without the interference of their husbands and sons.


  • The management of each clan is then done according to a more root level division.
  • Each group of people are dedicated to address the religious and political matters of the Dongria Kondh hence four functional groups or punjas are formed.

The punjas of the Dongria Kondhs are jani, pujari, bismajhi and mandal.

  • The kuda kutumba presides over the matha mandal which manages the affairs of a particular clan in a cluster of villages.
  • It presides and solves disputes related to inter-ethnic and inter-religious groups.
  • The Dongria Kondh have adopted a system of imparting cultural and traditional values to the adolescents and youths in their villages through exclusive youth dormitories.


  • The Dongria Kondh family structure depends on which clan the person belongs to as clan exogamy is practised in this community .
  • These exogamous clan group have resulted in existence of dominant clan groups which was due to a process of marriage.


  • The bauxite-capped Niyamgiri hills soak up the monsoon’s rain, giving rise to more than a hundred perennial streams and rivers.

This includes most important the Vamshadhara river

  • These streams provide drinking and irrigation water for those in the plains.
  • Over centuries, the Dongria have helped to maintain the rich biodiversity of their forests, where tigers, leopards, giant squirrels and sloth bears roam.


  • Community members come together to reduce costs as well as ensuring dignity to all members.
  • Through the cooperative, adolescent boys and girls, men, women and the elderly contribute equally in terms of labour towards the village’s fields and orchards.
  • SAHABATI SYSTEM : In the sahabati system, all Dongria households of the village work in turns for a day on the land of one villager.
  • PUNDABATI SYSTEM : In a variation, under the pundabati system, 10 to 15 members of the community are called upon when fewer workers are required in the fields.
  • DAASIBATI SYSTEM : The daasibati is a cooperative of younger, unmarried girls from the village who are called upon to take up less strenuous but tedious work such as weeding, fencing of fields, cleaning or harvesting of crops.
  • DHANDABATI SYSTEM : Their counterparts, the dhangdabati, young bachelors are required to take up work such as felling trees, hoeing, carrying logs and digging pits.
  • Under datarubati, older men help each other for a share of liquor.

Members of the village are also organised into specialised groups depending on the nature of the work.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

  • The Dongria protested against Vedanta locally, nationally and internationally.
  • They held roadblocks, formed a human chain around the Mountain of Law and even set a Vedanta jeep alight when it was driven onto the mountain’s sacred plateau.
  • But as long as the refinery sits at the foot of their hills, they do not feel their mountain is safe.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU | Dongria Kandh Tribe | UPSC

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