Nearly 476 million indigenous people live in 90 countries across the world. (Representational)
Every year on August 9, the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples is observed. Nearly 476 million indigenous people live in 90 countries across the world. They account for 6.2 per cent of the world's total population. India, on the other hand, is home to around 104 million of these indigenous people, which makes them 8.6 per cent of the country's total population. According to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), 705 ethnic groups have been officially recognised as "Scheduled Tribes". There are several other groups considered "scheduled tribes", but not officially recognised, says IWGIA.
Unique cultures, traditions, languages, and knowledge systems define the world's indigenous peoples. The United Nations says that they have a special relationship with their lands and have a different way -- based on their worldview and priorities -- of looking at the development.
The theme for this year's International Day of Indigenous Peoples is “Leaving no one behind: Indigenous peoples and the call for a new social contract”. The people around the world, the United Nations says, must raise their voice and demand indigenous peoples' inclusion, participation and approval in the constitution of a system with social and economic benefits for all.
On December 23, 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People will be observed every year on August 9. On the same date in 1982, the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations had convened its first meeting. On December 10, 1994, the UNGA also proclaimed the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The main objective of the First International Decade was to solidify international cooperation to solve problems in the areas, including human rights, the environment, development, education, and health. The focus remains on strengthening international cooperation towards solving problems of the indigenous population across the world.
The day serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to do much more than what we have done so far for indigenous people. Worldwide, people are encouraged to spread the United Nations' message of protection and promotion of the rights of indigenous people.