Tribals constitute 8.14% of the total population of the country, numbering 84.51 million (2001 Census) and cover about 15% of the country’s area. The fact that tribal people need special attention can be observed from their low social, economic and participatory indicators. Whether it is maternal and child mortality, size of agricultural holdings or access to drinking water and electricity, tribal communities lag far behind the general population. 52% of Tribal population is Below Poverty Line and what is staggering is that 54% tribals have no access to economic assets such as communication and transport.
These indicators underline the importance of the need of livelihood generating activities based on locally available resources so that gainful employment opportunities could be created at the doorstep of tribal people. Recognizing this need for initiating such livelihood generating activities in a sustained and focused manner, the Ministry of Welfare (now Ministry of Tribal Affairs) established an organization to take up marketing development activities for Non Timber forest produce (NTFP) on which a tribal spends most of his time and derives a major portion of his/her income. In 1987, the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Limited (TRIFED) was set up with an aim to serve the interest of the tribal community and work for their socio-economic development by conducting its affairs in a professional, democratic and autonomous manner for undertaking marketing of tribal products.
Further to achieve the aim of accelerating the economic development of tribal people by providing wider exposure to their art and crafts, TRIBES INDIA, the exclusive shops of tribal artifacts were set up all over India by TRIFED. They showcase and market the art and craft items produced by the tribal people and thus demonstrate the magical mystique of tribal India espousing tribal cause.