A general definition of a Nomad can be coined in the following words; ‘Nomad is a member of a community without fixed habitation which regularly moves to and from the same areas. Such groups include hunter-gatherers, pastoral nomads and trader nomads.
Hunters were the primordial stage of Nomadic culture. After the discovery of stone tools, they developed into hunter-gatherers over some time. During the agrarian phase, they mastered the art of using cattle for the purpose. Such nomads were labelled as ProducerNomads. People involved in service were branded as Servicing Nomads and the entertainers as Entertaining Nomads. Over some time many nomadic categories were devised and set the trend for their future development.
The nomadictribes in Maharashtra follow a similar pattern. Loading their belongings on small horses, donkeys etc., they keep shifting their bases, looking for places where they can sustain themselves. Dombari-s, magicians, fortune-telling, dispensing herbal medicines are some of the professions that they undertake while on the move. Apart from these permanent nomads some of the tribes follow a season-based trail. These people have their permanent base, with their home and agricultural land. They take on the nomadic mantle after the harvesting season is over, spend the in-between period where they can sustain themselves doing some agricultural activity and return to their base to prepare themselves for the next harvesting season.
Modernization has crippled the traditional ecosystem of the rural landscape, with everything being decided in terms of printed money. This has affected the lifestyles of the nomadic communities to a great deal. Due to modernization, the traditional areas earmarked for the nomadic settlements, like forests, pastoral greens etc., have been destroyed or on the verge of destruction and has compelled the nomadic tribes to adapt to the situation by looking for newer areas for their activities or become a part of the system by taking on newer professions. Though it has not affected their cultural traits so far.
The Central and State Governments have constantly been watching over the development of the nomadic tribes are constantly pursuing various economic and cultural schemes for their upliftment since independence. Some of these include providing a permanent settlement, pastoral land, financial aid for their housing, medical facilities. It also encourages co-operative activities like milk and wool production, mention in the census reports, creation of a network of NGOs working for their welfare, creating vocational training institutes, providing major financial provisions for such schemes in the budgetary provisions are some of the measures which are the part of the concerted efforts and have started bearing fruits.