Vanvasis comprise approximately 10 % of Total Indian Population, Spread practically in all the states & Union Territories. There are 73.18 lakh vanavasis in Maharashtra. They are spread over areas, mainly on hilltops. Bhill, Gond Madia, Katkari, Oraon, Warli are the major tribes. Most of them still follow primitive traditions. All these tribes in the state are mentioned in the state schedule. In Maharashtra there are 47 such scheduled tribes.
The peculiarities which set the Vanvasis, apart from other people are their dresses, traditional adornments, their dialect, folklore and customs. Their life style, traditions, customs, their deities, etc. Everything reflects the primitive traits they harbor. Their children are deprived of any formal education due to their unstable life style. Their lives are fossilized in poverty, superstition and ignorance. They have remained backward economically and socially. A Stigma and criminality is unfortunately attached with this section of society since generations. It was a need of an hour for society to respect Vanvasis and their tribal culture.
With the inspiration from Thakkar Bappa, in the beginning, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram was established by Mr. Ramakant Keshav a.k.a Balasaheb Deshpande, on 26th December 1952 at Jashpur in Madhya Pradesh by enrolling 6 children of Oraon tribe.