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Gondwana (India)

See Gondwana for the ancient continent and the geologic term.

Gondwana, sometimes called Gondaranya, is a region of central India, and is named after the Gond people who live there (though they can also be found in other parts of India). It has given its name to the ancient continent of Gondwanaland because some of the earliest rock formations of this continent were first investigated in part of the region, in modern Orissa.

As Gonds are spread widely across central India, and are a minority almost everywhere, there is no unambiguous boundary to the region. However, the core region can be considered to be the eastern part of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, the parts of Madhya Pradesh immediately to the north of it, and parts of the west of Chhattisgarh. The wider region extends beyond these, also including parts of northern Andhra Pradesh, and western Orissa.

The region is part of the northern Deccan plateau, with an average height of about 6-700 meters. Much of it is rugged and hilly. Geologically it is mostly Pre-Cambrian rock, with some areas dated to Permian and Triassic periods. Part of it is overlaid with alluvium, and in the west it is overlaid with the igneous rocks of the Deccan Traps.

The climate is hot and semi-arid. The natural vegetation is dry monsoon forest, or monsoon scrub forest. Large parts of it are still forest, and it contains several national parks, including tiger populations.

Gondwana has a relatively high proportion of peoples of the 'scheduled tribes' of India, which include the Gonds. The scheduled tribes are recognised as economically and socially disadvantaged. They form a majority of the population in many districts. A number of old kingdoms were established by, or together with, ruling families of the Gonds and other scheduled tribes in this region. The region is however, like most of India now, dominated economically by 'caste Hindus'. The economic disadvantage to which the tribal people are subject is often ascribed to the Maratha conquest of the region in the 18th century, followed by the British imposition of the permanent settlement in the 19th century. A number of rebellions against British rule took place throughout the 19th century. Some of these rebellions focussed on protection of forests against commercial logging. In their efforts to subjugate them, entire communities were labelled 'criminal classes' by the British.

Political and communal movements directed against the dominant political structure still occur in the region, including the Gondwana Ganatantra Party, founded in 1991 in Madhya Pradesh. Among these movements, there is one to have a new state of Gondwana created within the Indian Union.