Tribe in News: Siddi Community


  • Recently Shantharam Budna Siddi, one of the five newly nominated MLCs by Karnataka’s government, is from the Siddi community — a small group of the community believed to be descendants of the Bantu people from Southeast Africa.
  • He is also a participant of the Appiko Chaluvali, a southern version of the Chipko movement that was started by Pandurang Hegde in 1983 to save trees in the Western Ghats in Karnataka.

Back to Basics

About the Siddis

  • The Siddis are spread along the coast of Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh.
  • According to Shantaram, the Siddi community is an ethnic African group brought to India in the early seventh century by the Portuguese, to work for them.
  • The community is included in the list of the Scheduled Tribes in Karnataka. About 50,000 Siddi people reside in India today, of which, more than a third live in northern Karnataka.
  • Their mother tongue is called Siddi Basha and many are fluent in Kannada.
  • The people from the Siddi community are also into athletics. In the late 80s, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) launched an ambitious talent hunt, calling it the Special Area Games Programme.
  • The first Siddis are thought to have arrived in India in 628 AD at the Bharuch port. Several others followed with the first Arab conquest of the subcontinent in 712 AD.
  • In the Delhi Sultanate period prior to the rise of the Mughals in India, Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut was a prominent Siddi slave-turned-nobleman who was a close confidant of Razia Sultana.
  • Siddis were also brought as slaves by the Deccan Sultanates. They also served in the Navy of Shivaji Maharaj.
  • Several former slaves rose to high ranks in the military and administration, the most prominent of which was Malik Ambar.
  • They are distinct on account of their features- they have largely married within their groups. They follow Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. Regardless, their intra-community bonds are strong.
  • They are included in the Centre’s list of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs).

Constitutional Provisions

  • The Rajya Sabha passed “The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order (Second Amendment) Bill, 2019” by a voice vote. The Bill seeks to include the Taliwara, Parivara and Siddi tribal communities in the Scheduled Tribes (ST) list, which will ensure that they get reservation and other benefits provided by the government in Karnataka.
  • Beda, Nayaka and Valmiki, communities that are already included in the ST category in the state of Karnataka.

Source: Indian Express, Wikipedia, Financial Express

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