NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4 “Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age” Notes (Free PDF)

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NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4 Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age Notes

NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4: In the introduction of the chapter “Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age” we explore the interactions between tribals and “dikus” (outsiders), investigating their meetings and different perspectives. Using engaging stories and historical facts, we uncover the intricacies of tribal communities, their special traditions, and how colonial interference changed them. The chapter explains the clash of cultures, showing how tribals fought to keep control against outside rules. 

Overall, NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4 Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age wants to help readers understand different cultures better and how people can live together peacefully in a changing world.

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Introduction to NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4 Notes “Tribals, Dikus, and the Vision of a Golden Age”

In the upcoming pages, we will delve into various aspects of the chapter “Tribals, Dikus, and the Vision of a Golden Age.” We will explore the encounters between tribals and outsiders, examining their different perspectives. Through stories and historical facts, we will learn about tribal societies, their unique customs, and how colonialism has impacted them. 

The NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4 will also discuss the clashes between cultures and the struggles of tribals for independence. Overall, it aims to shed light on cultural diversity and the pursuit of harmony in a changing world.


Shifting cultivation involves clearing small patches of land in forests, growing crops, and then moving to another patch of land once the soil becomes less fertile.

1. Shifting cultivation, also known as jhum cultivation, was practiced by some people in India.

2. Practitioners cleared small patches of land in forests for cultivation.

3. They cut the treetops to allow sunlight to reach the ground and burned the vegetation to clear the land.

4. Ash from the burning, which contained potash, was spread to fertilise the soil.

5. Tools like axes and hoes were used to cut trees and prepare the soil for cultivation.

6. Instead of ploughing and sowing seeds in rows, they scattered seeds on the field, a method known as broadcasting.

7. Once the crop was ready, they harvested it and then moved to another field.

8. After cultivation, the field was left fallow for several years to regain fertility.

9. Shifting cultivators were primarily found in the hilly and forested regions of northeast and central India.

10. Their way of life depended on their ability to move freely within forests and utilize the land.

Also Read: NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 3 Ruling the Countryside Notes

How did Tribal Groups Live?

During the nineteenth century, tribal communities across India engaged in a range of activities, reflecting their diverse ways of life and adaptation to changing circumstances.

1. In the nineteenth century, tribal people in various regions of India participated in different activities.

2. These activities varied based on their location, environment, and socio-economic conditions.

3. Tribes engaged in activities such as hunting, gathering, agriculture, trade, and crafts.

4. Their livelihoods were often tied to their natural surroundings, such as forests, rivers, and mountains.

5. Some tribes practiced shifting cultivation, while others relied on settled agriculture or pastoralism.

6. Trade with neighbouring communities and participation in regional markets were common among many tribes.

7. Crafts such as pottery, weaving, and metalworking were also significant economic activities for some tribal groups.

8. The nineteenth century witnessed both continuity and change in the way tribal communities lived and interacted with the larger society.

9. Economic, social, and political transformations during this period influenced the livelihoods and lifestyles of tribal people across India.

Also Read: NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 2 From Trade to Territory

Some were jhum cultivators

The below paragraph discusses the practice of shifting cultivation, also known as jhum cultivation, among tribal communities in certain regions of India during the past.

1. Shifting cultivation, also called jhum cultivation, was common among some tribal communities in India.

2. It involved clearing small patches of land, mostly within forests.

3. Cultivators cut treetops to allow sunlight to reach the ground and burn vegetation to clear the land for cultivation.

4. Ash from the burning, containing potash, was spread to fertilize the soil.

5. Tools such as axes and hoes were used to cut trees and prepare the soil.

6. Instead of ploughing, seeds were scattered on the field, a method known as broadcasting.

7. After harvesting the crops, they moved to another field, leaving the previously cultivated one fallow for several years.

8. Shifting cultivators were primarily located in the hilly and forested regions of northeast and central India.

9. Their way of life relied on unrestricted movement within forests and the utilization of land and forests for cultivation, making shifting cultivation their primary mode of farming.

Some were hunters and gatherers

This paragraph explores the ways in which tribal communities in various regions of India lived, emphasising their reliance on forests for sustenance and their interactions with traders and moneylenders.

1. Many tribal groups in different regions survived by hunting animals and gathering forest produce.

2. Forests were considered crucial for their survival.

3. For instance, the Khonds in Orissa regularly went on collective hunts and shared the meat among themselves.

4. They consumed fruits, roots, and cooked food using oil extracted from the seeds of the sal and mahua trees.

5. Additionally, they utilised various forest shrubs and herbs for medicinal purposes and sold forest produce in local markets.

6. Local weavers and leather workers often sourced materials such as kusum and palash flowers from the Khonds for dyeing their clothes and leather.

7. To obtain rice and other grains, forest people either exchanged goods or bought them with their earnings from odd jobs or labour in villages.

8. Some tribal individuals worked as labourers, but others, like the Baigas in central India, preferred to live solely on forest produce and considered labor beneath their dignity.

9. Tribal groups engaged in buying and selling to acquire goods not available locally, leading to dependence on traders and moneylenders.

10. Traders sold goods at high prices, while moneylenders provided loans with high-interest rates, leading to debt and poverty among tribals.

11. Consequently, tribals viewed traders and moneylenders negatively, seeing them as outsiders responsible for their hardships.

Also Read: NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 1: How, When, and Where Notes

Some herded animals

The paragraph introduces the lifestyle of pastoralist tribal groups who relied on herding and rearing animals for their livelihoods, moving with their herds according to seasonal changes.

1. Many tribal communities sustained themselves through herding and rearing animals.

2. These pastoralist groups moved with their herds, shifting to different areas when the grass in one location was depleted.

3. Examples of such tribal groups include the Van Gujjars of the Punjab hills, the Labadis of Andhra Pradesh, the Gaddis of Kulu, and the Bakarwals of Kashmir.

4. The Van Gujjars and Labadis were cattle herders, while the Gaddis were shepherds, and the Bakarwals reared goats.

5. Each group adapted their lifestyle to the specific environmental conditions of their region.

Some took to settled cultivation

This paragraph discusses the transition of some tribal groups from nomadic lifestyles to settled agricultural practices before the nineteenth century and the perceptions of British officials regarding settled and nomadic tribal communities.

1. Before the nineteenth century, some tribal groups began to settle down and cultivate fields in one place instead of moving.

2. They adopted the use of the plough and gradually gained rights over the land they cultivated.

3. In cases like the Mundas of Chota Nagpur, the land belonged to the clan collectively, with all members having rights to it as descendants of the original settlers.

4. Within clans, power dynamics emerged, with some individuals becoming chiefs and others followers.

5. Powerful individuals often rent out their land rather than cultivating it themselves.

6. British officials viewed settled tribal groups, such as the Gonds and Santhals, as more civilised compared to hunter-gatherers or shifting cultivators.

7. Nomadic tribes living in forests were seen as wild and savage, needing to be settled and “civilised” according to British perspectives.

How did Colonial Rule Affect Tribal Lives?

During British rule, the lives of tribal groups in India underwent significant changes, impacting their socio-economic and cultural dynamics.

1. British rule brought about substantial changes in the lives of tribal groups across India.

2. These changes affected various aspects of tribal life, including their economy, society, culture, and land rights.

3. The impact of British rule on tribal communities varied depending on factors such as geographical location, colonial policies, and interactions with British administrators.

4. Some of the key changes included transformations in land ownership, economic activities, social structures, and cultural practices.

5. These changes reshaped the traditional ways of life of tribal groups and had long-lasting effects on their identities and relationships with wider society.

What happened to tribal chiefs?

Before the arrival of the British, tribal chiefs held significant power and authority within their communities. However, under British rule, the role and authority of tribal chiefs underwent considerable changes.

1. Before British rule, tribal chiefs held important positions, wielding economic power and administering their territories.

2. They had the authority to control land and forests, often having their own police and setting local rules.

3. With the advent of British rule, the functions and powers of tribal chiefs were altered significantly.

4. While they retained their land titles over clusters of villages and could rent out lands, they lost much of their administrative power.

5. British officials in India made laws that tribal chiefs were required to follow, diminishing their autonomy.

6. Additionally, tribal chiefs were compelled to pay tribute to the British and maintain discipline among tribal groups on behalf of the colonial authorities.

7. As a result, they lost much of their influence and were unable to fulfill their traditional roles and functions among their people.

What happened to the shifting cultivators?

The British administration aimed to settle tribal groups and convert them into peasant cultivators, primarily for easier control and revenue generation. However, their attempts faced challenges, particularly regarding the traditional practice of shifting cultivation.

1. The British viewed nomadic tribal groups as difficult to control and sought to settle them as peasant cultivators.

2. Settled peasants were perceived as easier to administer and provided a regular revenue source for the state.

3. To achieve this, the British introduced land settlements, defining land rights and fixing revenue demands for the state.

4. Some individuals were declared landowners, while others became tenants, paying rent to landowners who, in turn, paid revenue to the state.

5. However, efforts to settle jhum cultivators, who practiced shifting cultivation, were largely unsuccessful.

6. Settled plough cultivation proved challenging in areas with scarce water and dry soil, leading to poor yields for former jhum cultivators.

7. In response to protests, particularly in northeast India, the British eventually allowed some tribes to continue shifting cultivation in certain forest areas.

Forest laws and their impact

The lives of tribal groups were intricately linked to the forests, making changes in forest laws significantly impactful. British control over forests led to profound effects on tribal communities, particularly those practicing shifting cultivation. 

Tribal groups across various regions reacted strongly against colonial forest laws, often disregarding the new regulations, persisting with their traditional practices despite their illegality, and occasionally resorting to open rebellion.

1. British authorities extended their control over forests, declaring them as state property.

2. Some forests, classified as Reserved Forests, were earmarked for timber production, restricting tribal activities such as movement, jhum cultivation, fruit collection, and hunting.

3. This restriction severely impacted the survival of jhum cultivators, forcing many to migrate in search of livelihoods.

4. The prohibition on tribal people living inside forests posed a challenge for the British Forest Department, which relied on their labour for logging and transporting timber.

5. To address this, colonial officials devised a solution: allocating small forest patches to jhum cultivators on the condition that they provided labour to the Forest Department and maintained the forests.

6. Consequently, the Forest Department established forest villages in many regions to ensure a steady supply of inexpensive labour for their operations.

7. Many tribal communities opposed the forest laws imposed by the colonial administration.

8. They refused to comply with the new rules, continuing their customary practices that were deemed illegal under the colonial regime.

9. Instances of defiance and resistance included open rebellion against the forest laws.

10. One notable example is the revolt of Songram Sangma in 1906 in Assam, where tribal communities rose up against the forest regulations.

11. Another significant resistance movement was the forest satyagraha of the 1930s in the Central Provinces, where tribal groups protested against the forest laws through nonviolent resistance.

12. These acts of defiance and rebellion were expressions of tribal communities’ determination to protect their traditional way of life and resist the imposition of colonial authority over their forests and livelihoods.

The problem with trade

During the nineteenth century, tribal groups encountered increased interactions with traders and moneylenders in the forests, leading to significant changes in their economic dynamics. One illustrative example is the exploitation of silk growers, highlighting the exploitative practices of middlemen and the detrimental effects on tribal communities.

1. In the nineteenth century, traders and moneylenders began frequenting forest areas, offering cash loans, and seeking to buy forest produce from tribal groups.

2. Tribal communities initially struggled to comprehend the implications of these interactions.

3. An example of exploitation occurred in Hazaribagh, present-day Jharkhand, where Santhals reared cocoons for silk production.

4. Traders sent agents to offer loans to tribal people and collect cocoons, paying minimal prices of ₹3 to ₹4 per thousand cocoons.

5. These cocoons were then exported to markets like Burdwan or Gaya, where they were sold at significantly higher prices, resulting in substantial profits for middlemen who facilitated these transactions.

6. The silk growers received meager earnings, while middlemen amassed substantial profits.

7. Consequently, many tribal groups viewed the market and traders as their primary adversaries, recognizing the exploitative nature of these economic relationships.

The search for work

During the late nineteenth century, tribal communities faced dire circumstances as they were compelled to migrate far from their homes in search of work, particularly in emerging industries such as tea plantations and mining. However, their employment often involved exploitative practices, exacerbating their already challenging situation.

1. In the late nineteenth century, the establishment of tea plantations and the expansion of mining industries created employment opportunities.

2. Tribals were recruited in large numbers to work in tea plantations in Assam and coal mines in Jharkhand.

3. Recruitment was often facilitated by contractors who paid extremely low wages to the tribal workers.

4. These contractors employed coercive measures to prevent tribal workers from returning to their homes, further exacerbating their plight.

5. Tribal workers faced exploitative working conditions and were subjected to long hours of labour with little compensation.

6. The migration of tribals for employment in these industries highlighted the economic vulnerability and exploitation faced by tribal communities during this period.

A Closer Look

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, tribal groups across various regions of India rebelled against colonial laws, restrictions on their traditional practices, imposition of new taxes, and exploitation by traders and moneylenders. 

Several notable rebellions exemplify this resistance, including the Kols rebellion of 1831-32, the Santhal uprising in 1855, the Bastar Rebellion in 1910, and the Warli Revolt in 1940. One significant movement during this period was led by Birsa Munda.

1. Tribal communities across India rebelled against colonial laws, restrictions, taxes, and exploitation by traders and moneylenders.

2. The Kols rebellion occurred in 1831-32, followed by the Santhal uprising in 1855.

3. The Bastar Rebellion erupted in central India in 1910, and the Warli Revolt took place in Maharashtra in 1940.

4. These movements were expressions of tribal resistance against colonial oppression and efforts to preserve their autonomy and traditional way of life.

5. One notable leader of such movements was Birsa Munda, whose leadership symbolised the spirit of tribal defiance and struggle against colonial forces.

Birsa Munda

Birsa Munda, born in the mid-1870s, emerged as a prominent leader of the Munda tribe, advocating for their rights and leading a movement aimed at reforming tribal society. His upbringing amidst poverty and exposure to various influences shaped his vision and actions, ultimately leading to a significant rebellion against colonial oppression.

1. Birsa Munda was born into poverty and spent his childhood around the forests of Bohonda, where he herded sheep, played the flute, and engaged in local cultural activities.

2. As an adolescent, he was exposed to tales of past Munda uprisings and heard community leaders urging rebellion against oppression.

3. Birsa attended a local missionary school, where he encountered Christian teachings emphasising salvation and the need for cultural assimilation.

4. He also spent time with a Vaishnav preacher, adopting certain aspects of Vaishnavism and embracing purity and piety.

5. Influenced by these diverse ideas, Birsa advocated for reforms within tribal society, urging Mundas to abandon harmful practices such as alcohol consumption and witchcraft.

6. However, he turned against missionaries and Hindu landlords, viewing them as external forces threatening Munda culture and way of life.

7. In 1895, Birsa rallied his followers to reclaim their glorious past, envisioning a return to a golden age characterised by honesty, agriculture, and community solidarity.

8. The British officials viewed Birsa’s movement as a political threat, as it aimed to expel missionaries, moneylenders, landlords, and the government, seeking to establish a Munda kingdom with Birsa as its leader.

9. Birsa’s movement gained momentum, prompting British intervention and his subsequent arrest in 1895 on charges of rioting.

10. Released in 1897, Birsa continued to mobilise support, employing traditional symbols and language to rally his followers against colonial oppression.

11. His movement targeted symbols of colonial power, including police stations, churches, and the property of moneylenders and landlords.

12. Despite Birsa’s death from cholera in 1900, his movement left a lasting impact, prompting the colonial government to introduce laws protecting tribal land rights and demonstrating the capacity of tribal people to resist injustice and express their grievances against colonial rule in their own unique way.

NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4 ¨Tribals, Dikus, and the Vision of a Golden Age”

Find the list of important incidents in the history of Tribals, Dikus, and the Vision of a Golden Age.”

Dates and Events Brief of Event 
Encounters with Outsiders
(1600s onwards)
Tribals first encounter “dikus” (outsiders), marking the beginning of cultural exchanges and conflicts.
Colonial Intrusion (1700s-1800s)British colonial rule introduced new systems like the Permanent Settlement and Ryotwari System, impacting tribal autonomy and traditional lifestyles.
Impact of Colonial Policies (1800s)Tribals face challenges from policies leading to economic and social changes, disrupting their traditional way of life.
Clash of Cultures (1800s)Tensions arise as tribal communities resist external authority, resulting in clashes with colonial powers and cultural upheavals.
Movements for Autonomy
Tribals initiate movements and protests against colonial rule, advocating for their sovereignty and cultural preservation.
Forest Laws and Exploitation
British forest laws and exploitation of natural resources lead to further marginalisation and exploitation of tribal communities.
Impact of Industrialization
Industrialization further disrupts tribal livelihoods, leading to displacement, loss of land, and cultural erosion.
Tribal Revolts and Uprisings
Tribals engage in revolts and uprisings against oppressive policies and exploitation by colonial powers and local landlords.
Post-Independence Challenges
(20th Century)
Post-independence, tribal communities continue to face challenges such as displacement, land alienation, and struggles for recognition and rights.
Contemporary Efforts for Harmony
(Modern Era)
Modern initiatives focus on promoting understanding, reconciliation, and inclusive development, aiming for peaceful coexistence and empowerment of tribal communities.


Q.1. What are some key challenges faced by tribal communities during colonial rule?

Ans: Tribal communities faced various challenges during colonial rule, including the imposition of new policies that disrupted their traditional way of life, such as the Permanent Settlement and Ryotwari System. They also struggled against exploitation by outsiders, loss of land, and cultural erosion due to colonial intrusion.

Q.2. How did tribal communities resist colonial authority?

Ans: Tribal communities resisted colonial authority through various means, including movements, protests, and uprisings against oppressive policies and exploitation. They fought for their autonomy, sovereignty, and cultural preservation, engaging in revolts to reclaim their rights and dignity.

Q.3. What efforts are being made to address the issues faced by tribal communities today?

Ans: Today, efforts are being made to address the challenges faced by tribal communities, including initiatives focused on promoting understanding, reconciliation, and inclusive development. These efforts aim to empower tribal communities, recognize their rights, and ensure their participation in decision-making processes for a more harmonious coexistence.

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