Who are the Irula of Tamil Nadu? The Irula population today is concentrated mainly in the state of Tamil Nadu with a total number of 23,116 households (2011 Census of India), where they speak a different dialect of the regional language and form the largest Tamil-speaking Adivasi (aboriginal) group in the region (Ragupaty and Newmaster 2009) The Irula come from a typical hunter-gatherer society with a special appetite for rats (“The Rat Trappers” 2012). They have exceptional skills in mastering the arts of catching snakes and preparing herbal remedies . The Irula have been legally recognized as a scheduled tribe for the last 40 years through The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders Act.. The Constitution refers to them as Irular. In Tamil, the name Irular is associated with darkness or night a name that could refer to the darkness of their skins or to the jungles where they lived. Irula tribals who live in rural areas between the city of Chennai and Pondicherry face severe economic exploitation and caste discrimination. They are the poorest of the poor, often without basic identification cards their access to resources and schooling is problematic. At least 70% of the Irula are not provided with ration cards and voter IDs.. This excludes them from a number of rights that the Indian Constitution mentions as specifically designed for and offered to the scheduled tribes. Benefits of having a community certificate—also referred to as ‘caste certificate’—include having quotas in educational institutions among many others. Accordingly, in case of its dispossession, Irula families are not able to send their children to school. Driven by their poverty, they work as bonded laborers in rice mills, brick kilns, and agricultural fields. Sometimes it takes years to pay off their loans for the Irula, sometimes it might last for a lifetime. These unequal set of circumstances in the Indian context today endangers generations of tribal people’s capacity to develop alternatives to the rights issues that indigenous peoples face all around the world as well as to major environmental changes and challenges that are a current threat to our planet. e And yet this is only half of the story. The real story of the Irula people lives in the shine of their smiles, their humble friendly down to earth nature and their searing honesty and good will.