1 Genesis of Tribal Problems

The basic features of our constitution indicate direction of change or modernization, if one wants to say, of our society. Ours is a casteless, secular, democratic and socialist polity and society. One may question this type of direction itself, but that could be a separate issue for discussion. So far as this paper is concerned, this type of direction provides point of departure for discussion on how we have formulated tribal problem. The point that follows from this is that we have shaped or we are supposed to have shaped our policies and programmes to realize this type of change. We judge failure or success of our policies and programmes from this point of view. But what is more important here is that our constitution considers – at least formally – every citizen as equal. Legal and administrative framework, institutional network and policies of development in general are also considered suitable for tribals. Of course, tribals are part of the Indian society and general problems of consciously changing or modernizing Indian society are also applicable to them. But they form a special case in this wider framework and the problem is the nature and type of this special category. Perhaps there is no unanimity among sociologists and anthropologists on this point. So the “problem that has been exercising in the minds of thinking persons in India, especially after the attainment of independence, is what should be the place of tribal peoples in the framework of the Indian nation and how they should be developed and brought to a level with the rest of the people – socially, economically, culturally and politically” (DattaMajumdar, 1995:25). There were several debates on this issue at the dawn of independence. Three different approaches – of isolation, assimilation and integration – were put forth. Late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took initiative in accepting the approach of integration (Nehru, 1955: 1-8) for tribal development policy. Thus, “the tribal policy, apart from the constitutional provision, is the contribution of late Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. He (also) advocated five principles, known as the tribal ‘panchshil’ ” (Joshi, 1987:11). Our various policies and programmes of tribal development are supported to have been based on this approach of integrating tribals with the mainstream and bring them at par with rest of the people. Of course, someone may raise question about this so-called ‘mainstream’, and that is a worth raising issue. However, it does not concern us at this juncture. Though it must be agreed that “the Indian experiment of tribal development has been hailed as unique in the Third World perspective of the treatment of the indigenous people, one has to take a balanced view of its processes” (Singh, 1982:1322). On one side, the tribals have become full citizens. They have, by and large, maintained their identity. They have not extinguished and maintained their demographic growth rate. If we consider this as a part of the integration process, why again the question of genesis arose after more than four decades of our experience? Our tribal development policies and programmes assumed that all the tribals will develop and will ‘integrate’ themselves with the so-called ‘mainstream’. This has happened only in a symbolic way. Most of our researchers agree on this point that as a result of the planned tribal development, stratification on secular lines has taken place among tribals and only a small section has been able to take advantage of our tribal development programmes. This being so, the question arises: where did we go wrong? For sometimes people believed that this is because of inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy that the programmes were not

they wanted to call Indian society as a society of various tribes. At some places tribals’ cooperatives of different types were shaped. Experiments of tribal development through voluntary efforts have proved successful only in certain cases and in certain pockets. Latham describes certain groups in Punjab and Sindh as tribes. He describes Lepcha and Kirata as Nepalese tribes. A Ph. Often a tribe possesses a distinct dialect and distinct cultural traits. associated with a territory.15). All these terms with evolutionary approach indicated that the tribals are backward in comparison to other advanced groups. Official and illicit felling of forest trees have benefited outsiders while tribals face loss of their environment. 1923). But their benefits did not percolate to the lower strata of tribals. The tribals lose their land. This would lead us to revisit our basic assumptions about tribal problem.D. when British scholars started studying India. They worked well in the beginning. However. or ‘aboriginal’ people. American. ‘pre-literate society’. In Indian languages we do not have any synonym for the word tribe. thesis of Calcutta University was entitled as ‘Some Kashatriya Tribes of Ancient India’ (Law. This gave a sort of moral tone that the tribals are yet to develop and become civilized. 1979:232). On the other hand. Various anthropologists define tribe as a people at earlier stage of evaluation of society. This means that the tribal – non-tribal categorization did not exist in pre-British era. land alienation pushes the pauperized tribals out of their villages and hordes of tribal seasonal migrants move from place to place in search of work. from simple to complex society and like. Is tribe a special category? If yes. This sort of ideal type was constructed by early British anthropologists of evolutionary school and it fitted well to some of the African. ‘folk society’ or ‘simple society’. It is because of this that they were also known as ‘primitive’. dams have been constructed in tribal areas by involuntary acquisition of their land. the British scholars could not describe entire sub-continent as tribal. An ideal type of tribe can be characterized as a society homogenous unit having its own dialect. they were not sure about identifying particular groups as ‘tribe’ or ‘caste’. But while describing ethnology of Gujarat. The term ‘primitive tribes’ was often used by western anthropologists to denote “a primary aggregate of peoples living in a primitive or barbarous condition under a headman or chief” (Encyclopedia of Social Sciences. Generally. This type of construction suited best to their cultural hegemony and colonial interests. tribal development means a transformation from pre-state to state society. he was not sure whether the . We created special administrative set-up for tribal development and we know that it has not shown better results. Vol.implemented well. The members of which regard themselves as politically autonomous” (Mitchell. causalization and psychological stresses and strains. habitat and milieu resulting into pauperization. of what type? What is the nature of tribal-non-tribal relationship? Why they are backward? Is this tribal backwardness a cultural backwardness? ‘Tribe’ and Its Indian Context The word ‘tribe’ is generally used for a “socially cohesive unit. political and cultural institutions and territory which isolate it from the outside influences. This sort of moralistic overtone was later on reduced by using terms like ‘per-state society’. In this direction. and Australian tribes which they studied in those days. Looking to the cultural diversity of Indian subcontinent and existence of certain highly ‘civilized’ groups according to their own standards. With this background. ‘barbarous’.

So he simply describes them (Latham. at the 1931 census. the Ahir. in his acclaimed work. Nationalists in India charged anthropologists for destroying national identity by creating a category called ‘tribe’ for which there was no synonym in almost all Indian languages. show so much variation that it was extremely difficult. because while pluralism stresses cleavages and discontinuities between the sections of people differentiated by race. But it was not necessary for our scholars and administrators to forcibly fit the characteristics. What is necessary is to define the nature and type of that relationship. Even Enthovan. those of 1901 and 1911. under the influence of their British counterparts.Memon. There is so great variations in their ways of life. It is necessary to remember here that it was only Ghurye who did not accept the category of ‘tribe’ as propounded by the British. 1976: 167-174). almost impossible. Now they view tribals in relations to non-tribals (Dube. and throughout the history they were part of Indian civilizational universe. However. past and present. ethnicity. Tribals were not alien. to evolve one single ideal type of Indian tribals. This being so. to the ‘scheduled tribes’ of India.A. that any attempt to classify them would remain arbitrary in absence of its total understanding. The story of how various social groups were included in the schedule is well known and needs no repetition. social scientists have. we have resorted to arbitrary selection of certain social groups living in forests and hills and we have belied them as ‘scheduled tribes’ for the purpose of some special programmes to be given to them as prescribed by the constitution. accepted the evolutionary definition of tribe (Vidyarthi and Rai. In next two censuses. their isolation was only partial and relative. followed Baines. Tribes and Castes of Bombay Presidency. but substituted the term ‘primitive tribes’ for ‘forest tribes’” (Ghurye. Hutton. the Khoja. interactions and interdependence and sharing of certain common symbols in spite of multifold diversities. today. Ghurye writes: “In the Census Report of 1891. Gait included the so-called animists… Dr. It is not the best example of plural society. he formed a sub-heading and named it ‘forest tribes’. autonomous unit. But one thing is certain that except a few groups all the ‘tribals’ had relations with ‘non-tribals’. Sir Herbert Rieley and Sir E. there was no unanimity. researcher and administrator in tribal affairs. 1943:7). We will deal with this issue in the latter part of this paper. Baines arranged the castes according to their traditional occupations. when it came to determining elements of tribes for the purpose of naming a group as tribe. But most of the Indian academic. 1977). there has been an allpervasive sense of cultural unity. homogenous. 1859: 262-271). especially with reference to their relations with the non-tribals. It was exigency and it was also necessary to immediately select certain groups for providing special programmes. Under the category of agricultural and pastoral castes. religion or culture. The degree and range of differences. the Rabari and several such groups are tribes or not. In the absence of a suitable definition of tribals. described by western anthropologists. does clearly distinguish between caste and tribe. This sort of change in perspective changes our entire view towards tribal problem. at the same time they . India is a very complex society. it should be noted that in India it was not the anthropologist but the colonial officer who played the key role as an adviser. moved away from British anthropologists’ notion of a tribe as an isolate. the Sidi. However. They were part of this wider civilization.

The world ‘social’ has been identified with caste and hence ‘defective caste structure’ is considered to be the genesis of backwardness. land alienation and seasonal migration. Indian social scientists have found the genesis of backwardness in social situations. This kind of evolutionary approach also delineates various stages of economic development on which different civilizations can be placed. They were not part of caste hierarchy in general. and in itself constitutes a colossal problem. On the other hand. But we must recognize that in India economic backwardness is often the result and not the cause of social . The economic backwardness of a large majority is certainly alarming. Not only that but some of the officers believe that they are there to develop tribals. Several anthropologists in India have tried to prepare scale of development and placed various tribal communities somewhere on this scale after measurement. because they are considered to be on lower stage of development. Even Islam and Christianity could not escape the all-pervasive influence of castes. Now. People from ‘civilized world’ become a sort of change agent when they come into contact with tribals. Taking tribals as isolated from the mainstream of Indian culture several people have opined that this isolation should break and cultural contacts with the non-tribals will help them in overcoming their backwardness. All tribal development programmes have a basic assumption that the development administration will help tribals. they will learn and develop. what is the nature of this backwardness? ‘Backwardness’ and ‘tribal backwardness’ have been defined in various ways depending upon the approach that one takes. we should take note of some approaches. there is obvious distinction between ‘primitive’ and ‘civilized’.were different. Nature of the Tribal Problem Tribal problem has a reference to non-tribals. They were also not part of ‘Sanatan Dharma’.” “Many representatives who met us. the question is. and especially those of younger generation. From the evolution of culture point of view. Tribal backwardness is termed as ‘primitive’ in this parlance. the non-tribal intervention has created certain problems like pauperization. This has happened only partially. between ‘simple’ and ‘complex’ societies. between ‘scattered’ and ‘dense’ population and above all between ‘pre-state (autonomous) society and societies that have developed state. All the definitions of backwardness are based on arbitrary points of backwardness and development. they are considered backward in almost all walks of life. It is also believed that if tribals are put in contact with advanced culture. attributed the present plight of a large number of the backward classes to economic backwardness and suggested with a facile logic that the only way to remove social evils was to improve the economic conditions of the depressed and backward classes. However. The Classical anthropological approach defines backwardness in terms of culture. Following paragraphs lucidly describe the genesis of backwardness in terms of caste: “It has been noted already that the problem of backwardness has arisen on account of the defective Hindu social order. Comparatively.

Opposing British policy of isolation of tribals was a part of its anti-British and nationalist ideology. Various such acts were passed to tribal areas from rest of India. Many nationalist leaders supported tribal movements against the British. but on the medieval ideas of ‘varna’. The ground for this approach was prepared by Shri A. caste and social hierarchy (Government of India. with its “simple methods of administration and avoidance of complicated rules and procedure.evils. The British policy tried to separate tribals from the non-tribals. was peculiarly suited to aboriginal race” (Sinha. there were encounters and uprisings. The very development process has created stratification on secular lines within tribal community. This came to be known as ‘non-regulation system’. under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. Of course. Until independence. Thakkar. . In 1874. it naturally considered assimilation of tribals with the non-tribal India. Hence. Hence. 1970: 6). When British entered tribal areas. but unfortunately his British birth came in the way of the better appreciation of his views. Some of his views on tribal problem still have a relevance.V. Our society was not built on an economic structure. it was clear that they were part of the Indian society and they believed that the difference between the tribals and non-tribals would gradually vanish and the tribals will merge in the mainstream. For them. Because it was postulated that the tribes were ‘backward Hindus’—a part of Hindu society and they were to be absorbed in the larger Hindu system with the help of the process of sanskritization. such a separation was arbitrary. It was believed that this system. the Scheduled Districts Act was passed as a result of which civil and criminal justice. opposed the segregation of tribals from rest of India. because there was no clear demarcation between the tribals and the non-tribals. The idea of attributing backwardness to caste system has relevance in terms of tribal backwardness also. Varrier Elwin’s approach should be evaluated in this context. Congress. The Government of India Act of 1935 provided for ‘excluded areas’ and ‘partially excluded areas’ outside the scope of the legislature and under the authority of the Governor. the general trend among sociologists and anthropologists was to study the social and cultural aspects of tribal life. settlement operations and revenue works were given to special officers in this area. the administration of such regions was separated from civil administration. popularly known as Thakkarbapa. They were very clear that the tribals were part of Indian society (or Hindu society as some have put it). However. establish ashrams and prepare them for the national struggle. and some workers of ‘Servants of India Society’ who did pioneering work among the tribes. The question of what to do with the tribes did not bother them much. The British policy of isolation was opposed by the nationalists. The only problem was to speed up this process with as much ease as possible. It asked its workers to go to tribal areas. the process of development that started was a secular one of the linking tribal economy with national economy-that started penetrating in tribal region. 1955:39). The British notion of tribal backwardness stems from their notion of cultural backwardness.

How they became landless labourers is to be seen in their land relations. In British and Gaikwad territories things took a fairly different shape. This was a ‘winner-loser’ or ‘patronage-exploitation’ type of relationship. One of his descendants named Kumar went further interior and established ‘Sunth’ estate in 1255 AD (Parikh. Apart from the mythological stories of tribal-non-tribal relations. These historical records prove that the Bhils (not ‘tribe’ in modern parlance) were either subjugated or driven away in interior forests by invading Rajputs. The Parsis had fled into tribal belt in the 15th and 16th centuries to escape to prosecution at the hands of Sultan of Gujarat (Hardiman. The subjugation or life in forests brought changes in their lifestyle and culture. It was during this period that the Moghuls won over several kingdoms in Rajputana and Rajput chiefs came to Gujarat. Things were not much different in Rajasthan. Vansda and Dharampura in tribal region have similar stories. The hill terrains were not that fertile. Patidars settled here and became legal owners whereas tribals became their agricultural labourers. The economic degeneration and relative isolation took place between the 12 th and the 16th century. Tribal situation in Gujarat has not been studied from this point of view. However. Rajpipla. In Panchmahal Jalamsinh established ‘Jhalod’ village as his capital and subjugated Bhils of the surrounding area. 1985). Ashkaran was a well-known king in his line who was named as ‘Maharana’ by Moghul king Akbar. Gaikwad won the kingdom from a Bhil chief and established his fort which came to be known as ‘Sogandh’ (Desai. Dublas of Valsad and Surat. In almost all cases the Bhil chieftains lost and left the places to settle in interior forest. Around 1437 AD. The states of Baria. Naswati Chhota Udepur. the Rathore (Rajput) chieftain Anand Dev claimed for himself . the recorded history narrates that during Moghul period the land was in abundance and Bhils were living in forest leading as prosperous life as non-tribal rural folks used to live. Kesrisinh of Gabbargah (near Ambaji) killed a Bhil chief and established his rule in Taranga in 1269 AD. Gaikwad invited Patidars from Kheda who cleared forests and settled in tribal areas of Baroda in South Gujarat. Vasavas of Bharuch and Rathwasd of Baroda were traditionally cultivating land in this zone. As a result of the Muslim invasion of Rajasthan. many Rajput warriors fled these areas and came to settle in the Narmada valley.Tribal-Non-Tribal Relationship Historically speaking tribals always had relations with the non-tribals. But it is necessary to remember that this sort of culture is the result of the historical experiences through which they have passed. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Bhils had to run away and settle in hills. 1920). Some of them came to forest areas and won the Bhils in fierce battles. they were not ‘owners’ of land in legal sense of the term because land settlement was not done in this area. They settled in rural South Gujarat and gradually became landowners whereas erstwhile owners Dublas became their ‘halis’ or landless labourers. But the formation of princely states by Rajputs in tribal regions led to a sort of relationship between non-tribal kings and tribal subjects. Gujarat and Malwa that occurred during that time. The Rathwas were known as Rathwa Koli and Koli is a caste. 1979: 133-147).

his kin carving up Phulmal. they were not isolated and politically autonomous people. Almost all dams are located in tribal areas. This location is important because the irrigation helps non-tribals in plains. The non-tribal masters were against any sort of social reform among these tribals and they were harassing those tribals who were doing such activities (Joshi. When we talk of land and tribals. The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 provides for cash compensation. Prior to 1854. Thus. the nontribal peasants came with superior agricultural technology and produced surplus with the help of the tribal labourers. They were already integrated within the administration of British India or within the Indian states where the British kept a watch. there were encounters. there was not much ‘administration’ by native states in interior tribal villages. 1974: 36-45). this sort of master-servant relationship developed in some parts having mixed population. As a result. forest was not a scarce commodity and tribals were traditionally enjoying forest rights. the government took away all the customary forest rights of the tribals. the backwardness of Indian tribes is because of this subjugation and not because of isolation and autonomy. Backwardness of landless labourer tribes should be attributed to this relationship. Thus. but they were kept as bonded laborers by the landowner masters and they had no freedom to choose their fate (Breman. Now. It is assumed that with the compensation in form of cash they receive. Around 1922 when Jugatrarn Dave went to Sarbhon village and started teaching Halpatis. But then forest wood was required to build battleships in England. By the enactment of the Forest Act of 1864. In almost all cases non-tribals who came late became landowners whereas the native tribals became landless labourers. the tribal oustees would purchase land elsewhere and get resettled. while tribals get alienated from their land. They were allowed to cultivate forest land only by paying fines. Same is the case of tribal’s relationship with forests. In Gujarat. .the kingdom of Aliraipur. Native states invited non-tribal cultivators from plains and settled them in not much interior parts. several thousand tribal oustees were deprived in such development projects (Joshi. 1995: 54). he is free in a free market but has no job. The question for him was not only that of liberation but also of empowerment so that he gets his dues. When the British government started cutting forest for this and such other purposes. The special situation of the tribals was not taken into consideration and policy for their rehabilitation was not formulated. 1987: 21-26). land acquisition for development purpose must be kept in mind. 1980: 21). Compared to native tribals. The disintegration of ‘hali’ (bonded labour) system was even more painful for erstwhile servants. when the word ‘tribe’ was coined for forest dwellers. This type of formation of states in tribal regions subjected tribals to the Rajput authority. Not only that. Sondwa and Jobat as their territory (Baviskar. his efforts met with failure because their masters did not allow Halpatis to attend school (Dave. 1975). Though states were established in tribal regions. It was also required to build railway lines.

organized. Special policy and programmes are required to address and redress these differences. in different development programmes. The very meaning of development is unfolding from within. they must have participation in any development decision. If they have to unfold from within. How can tribals participate in their development programmes? They can participate only if they are considered as equals. is a holistic process of social transformation from less creative to greater creative participation of its members at the individual and collective levels. it should not remain ceremonial. the tribals are part of the Indian society. They had relations with people in plains. to my mind. The non-tribals have to work as facilitator for organization-building. they can become only facilitators if they want to do so. The forms of organization could be different depending upon different programmes. So they have to get. take a special note of their different situations and capabilities and provide them facilitation to develop on the line they want to take. in this relationship. But. This is so in many other countries where native tribals have lost to invaders. is accepted in various departmental documents. In this perspective I have tried to raise two conceptual issues with regard to ‘development’: one concerning the econocentric-modernization model of development and the other . Once organized on the basis of felt needs. Individual tribal is too weak to stand as equal against a non-tribal. Conclusion So. the context of tribal society with the non-tribal society is different in India and hence the nature of the problem is different. When tribals’ participation. When we plan for tribal development. But. 2 Parameters of Tribal Development Some Key Conceptual Issues Anand Kashyap ‘Development’ of a society. The tribals and nontribals have been living side by side for centuries.Thus. they have always remained losers and suffered in one way or the other. The command and obey relationship can take place between un-equals only. This means that the tribals have to unfold their capabilities to develop. at the same time they are different. Their felt needs should be transformed in development programmes. we have to regard these differences. they will develop content and programmes for their participation. Nehru did this in slightly different manner when he proclaimed ‘Panchsheel’. tribal backwardness is neither cultural nor social (caste-based) at root. Emphasis on ‘creative participation’ of the members and institutions implies minimization of the entropy or disorderliness in a social system and maximization of ‘creativity’ so as to achieve a symbiotic transformation of ‘man-nature and society’ relationship without generating any antithesis or conflicts between them. Outsiders cannot develop tribals. They were not isolated. homogeneous tribals as viewed by some British anthropologists. They were not completely cut off from one another. instead of being a monolithic and linear process of creating economic abundance.

I am inclined to define ‘development’ as a process of ‘increase in creativity’ and decline in entropy or extent of criminality which is possible only when a holistic and symbiotic process of social transformation could be ensured. Most of the problems confronting a society in general and tribal societies in particular emanate from the prevalent model of ‘development’ which can be characterized culturally as a sterile and economically a monolithic model. power and wealth centralizing. as it happens in the prevalent model of ‘development’. etc. Though the much publicized ‘human face’ of this model projected various welfare schemes but they are nothing more than cosmetics or administering pain-killers instead of providing a genuine remedy to the ailment. criminalization.e. viz. poverty alleviation. a transcendental value. but it does not concern us here. how it is created and what ire its costs. job-oriented smaller projects could have done. The collapse of a well-structured system of Soviet edifice. instead of placing balanced and integral emphasis on both the aspects. ‘Work’ in fact has two aspects or values. It involves a great deal of moral issues as well as the realms of self awareness or consciousness also. Take the case of mega irrigation projects which have aroused a big controversy recently. urban and rural. It is quite an established fact that during the last few decades of such a model of development disparities between the rich and poor. A human action or work has a third dimension also. land alienation. discriminatory. but it also involves questions such as: Is abundance real alternative to poverty? If yes. nature and civilization have increased to a staggering proportion and the centralized mega projects of irrigation and power generation have shown more their inhuman face of displacing the poor tribals and generating revolts than harnessing the creative potentials of the human lots that self-reliant and eco-friendly. Movements launched against such projects by the social activists ... i. the instrumental or the economic value and aesthetic or the expressive value.. quantitative and monolithic ‘deve1opmnt’ with the increase in the extent of alienation at the individual and collective levels both. then. Many problems concerning tribal development like displacement.” Let me elaborate little more on my emphasis on ‘creativity’.concerning pluralism vis-a-vis national integration with special reference to tribal culture. are the resultant effects of such a ‘development’ model of its econocentric perspective. “capital and energy intensive. In my perception therefore. reinforced through well-thought out ideology and institutional mechanisms. i. it will rob the human endeavour of its creative thrust to excel and breed alienation and entropy in realms and levels of social living. only one aspect is emphasized. indebtedness. With regard to such a process of ‘development’ the question is not merely that of creating abundance or prosperity as an alternative to the removal of poverty. and corporate in nature.e. Such an approach can impose a policy decision from above but can never unfold the latent creative potentialities of a society from within resulting into a lopsided. waste-generating and non-regenerative.. If. extractive. health and disease. in fact. who bears them and how the benefits of ‘development’ are distributed or who is benefited by the outcome most: the ‘haves’ or the ‘have-nots’? The problem of distributive justice again is not a simple problem which could be tackled exclusively through some structural-institutional mechanism alone. is not a distant example of human history to support our contention.

Baba Amte and Medha Patkar in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are quite well known. 2 Paradoxically. etc. but rather it is a three-dimensional process involving a take-off stage from the levels of ‘poverty’ and ‘deprivation’ and culminating into the third dimension of evolving a ‘self-reliant’ and ‘creative’ society where ‘development’. is not a simple bipolar or linear process of change from the levels of’ scarcity to that of abundance as in a capitalist society where consumerism is the religion and market functions as God. to my mind. selfreliant. Development. inspired by the writings of Swami Vivekananda. but that proved to be mere window-dressing. in turn brought many outside developments making this small village known in the police records as the village of toughs and goons. But. In a study of largescale projects with regard to the displacement problem it was estimated that during 40 years from 1951 to 1991.200 divided into 220 families (1971 census) which earlier had a declining agriculture and a vanishing forest and as a result to compensate this loss the entire village took to illicit brewing of liquors as the primary industry. 185 lakh people have been displaced--an average of 4. therefore. the tribals who have been the genuine and rightful children of Mother Nature are being projected as inimical to the conservationist policy vis-a-vis the urban elite who in reality are the worst exploiters of the forest culture and its biotic wealth. thus nourishing a culture of criminality. The example of Ralegan Shindi—a small village in Maharashtra. Anna Hazare’s second task was to close down all liquor brewing and alcohol and narcotics. generating self-awareness first with the help of renovating the abandoned and dilapidated village temple called Yadav Baba’s temple and this shrine in turn served as the heart of entire community--a real community centre—of all socio-religious activities (satsang) and moral regeneration programmes. continues unabated. ‘environment’ and ‘culture’ go hand in hand and human face of man is not lost. and an emancipatory process of social transformation which leads a society to become a ‘self-re liant’ and ‘creative’ society rather than merely a ‘developing’ or a ‘developed’ society as such. Generating affluence or abundance is not a sufficient condition of genuine ‘deve1opment’.000 unfortunates every year. Ralegan Shindi is a small village of the population of 1... and the result is alienation and lopsided development. the flow of these resources to urban centres. A paper prepared by the Planning Commission of India states that a large majority of India’s population is being increasingly denied access to natural resources. on the other hand. The enduring and sustainable development. This illegal industry.3 The biggest failure of the modernization model of development is that it has disintegrated the symbiotic holism of ‘man-nature and society’ relationship through its overemphasis on econocentrism and consumerism. need-based and not greed-based. Anna Hazare.and environmentalists like Sunderlal Bahuguna in Garhwal. And. is always a self-generative. three out of every four ousted by such dams are tribals and out of 77 per cent oustees only 29 per cent are rehabilitated. experiencing a holistic development from economic to cultural levels under the selfless and inspiring leadership of Anna Hazare is the burning example.e. i. Instances of such a ‘development’ are though not frequent but not non-existent also. Government and other voluntary agencies like Tata Relief Committee and the Catholic Relief Service brought in medicines and provided financial help also for constructing village wells. took the challenge of upliftment of Shindi and approached this task through cultivating moral awareness. to support luxury consumption.60. a retired military person. tree plantation. The third step was the creation of systems to improve the economy of the village with an emphasis on self-reliance in terms of human .

In this sense ‘Tribal Bhagatism’ served as a bridge between the tribal (jana) and non. the issue of creating unity within diversity with special reference to tribals. Thus. etc. in the similar vein. eating meat. and worship Ram as the true God. i. rich or poor.. upper caste or lower caste. and Kabir who cared for the deprived lot during medieval times. creative spirit of the tribals in history was unleashed through the Bhakti movements spearheaded by Chaitnya who had passed through the Jharkhnand. the basic emphasis of Anna Hazare was to evolve a ‘civil society’ rather than an ‘affluent society’—a society which is responsible to itself and its environment.5 In modern times it was Mahatma Gandhi who could make a creative use of this cultural tradition. Mundas and Bhils. Indian civilization can be characterized as ‘pluralist’ in orientation which not only tolerates contrasts and diversity but even goes a step ahead to seek enrichment from the diversity . His moral preachings. appealed to tribal Bhagat leaders and generated movements like Tana Bhagat movement among Oraons. maintaining purity. S. Singh informs. the first issue concerns with the econocentric and modernization model of development. to tribals as Bhagat. He spoke predominantly in Bhakti idioms of Rama Rajya. efficacy of Ramnam.e.6 Thakkar Bapa worked out quite successfully to transform tribals though Bhil Seva Mandal and Ashrams (residential schools). civil disobedience and ahimsa.tribal (jati) Hindu society. educate children. While to Hindu peasantry he appeared as a Bhakti preacher.4 As K. spin charkha. service to Daridra Narain in his evening prayer meetings which acted as the most effective two-step flow of communication with the masses.as well as natural resources. Thakkar Bappa—a Gandhian--quotes a Bhil bhajan to this effect: Do you know what Gandhi tells you? Give up liquor. Santhals. Among the Bhils of Rajasthan and Gujarat too such an impact of Gandhi was quite evident. It was Gandhi who could infuse into these traditional Bhakti movements political overtone of the freedom movement and ideology of swadeshi and swaraj. value-centric and educational that sought to unfold their creative energies and weld them in the task of nation-building. stealing. Haribaba movement among the Hos and allied tribes and Rajmohini movement among the Gonds. rioting. The second major issue on which I want to share my thoughts is the issue of national integration vis-a-vis pluralism. and responsive to the needs of its members. Unlike government programmes which are predominantly economistic in nature and conducted half-heartedly and interfered selfishly by the politicians. These moral and social reform movements in different saintly orders brought a moral and social reform among Oraons. Thus. Gandhi and other Bhakti-based approaches were primarily cultural. In contrast to many other civilizations like Greeco-Roman and Semetic. teetotalism.

despite differences and minor conflicts. learnt from each other and co-existed without defacing one another’s identity and styles of life. It is only first approach of ‘integral pluralism’ that seeks to develop all ethnic groups and weaker sections as a part of one’s own society and not merely as a marginal group or the other society. This kind of pluralism can be characterized as the ‘integral pluralism’ where cultural diversity and social minorities co-exist within a loosely structured unity and the part enjoys a fair degree of autonomy within the whole.e.through various kinds of acculturative processes ranging from arts and ideas to faiths and philosophies. i. From ‘minority’ status they got the ‘marginal’ status. This is a typical neo-colonialist and hegemonistic approach of the modern capitalist world where pluralism leads to economic exploitation of the Third World countries and exploitation of the weaker or marginal sections by the stronger ones through creating economic dependence upon them. not an integral part of one’s own culture. Thus aboriginals and tribes as ‘minorities’ had traditionally been a part of Indian civilization and their way of life had contributed a great deal in its formation and development throughout the history.. viz. coupled with the increasing state interference and control in every sphere of life. British gave a new form and meaning to traditional ethnic pluralism. ‘Centre and periphery’ thesis has been its dominant ideology. Their existence is justified either as curios to be retained and conserved like museum pieces or proselytized and assimilated into the mainstream hagemonism.. For the latter two approaches tribals constitute ‘other societies’ or ‘other culture’. Political exploitation is done by the political parties through their treatment of the tribals and ethnic groups as vote-bank deposits and economic exploitation in the labour markets by the contractors and industrialists and cultural or religious exploitation by the missionaries and other international agencies. for forest instead of representing a pre- . The third kind of pluralism is the pluralism of ‘market economy’ where instead of cultural values or the political authority as the binding force it is the force of ‘market economy’ that controls and coordinates the co-existence of heterogeneous groups. i.. It is only a few hundred years back that tribals were cut-off from the mainstream and marginalized. politica1. Right from the ancient times the mainstream or the dominant AryoBrahmanic tradition has co-existed with the native aborigines (janas) and. The isolationist policy which envisaged to keep tribal aborigines a separate ethnic identity is an outcome of this approach and lately now the third approach to pluralism i. With the onset of industrialization and urbanization. Indian civilization has been characterized by Rabindra Nath Tagore as ‘Aranyak Sanskriti’.. quintessentially a forest culture. tribals were accorded an isolationist treatment.e. ‘market economy’ approach has also joined hands with the British-initiated authoritarian pluralism which has further marginalized tribals exposing them to double or rather triple exploitation.e. The integral pluralism can be illustrated with the help of ‘oceanic circles’ where each circle is autonomous to a degree but at other levels merges itself into the encompassing ring of waves. This was ‘equidistant’ notion of pluralism which meant equidistanciation of different ethnic groups from the centre of power and authority. deserving some concessions only and not the natural rights. religious and economic exploitation.

. i. instead of the prevalent negative one. ‘primitivism’ has served Indian civilization vigorously as a back-shining of the ‘medal’. As Lannoy has observed. whenever the Great Tradition was at the verge of sterility. to connote the power of vital aestheticism and holistic perception of human existence which the Brahmanic civilization lacked. ‘minority’ societies. Even Ghotul was the prototype of Ashrama. at the instance of politicians and vested interests. Thus. i. Pravrittii and Nivritti one essential component was a contribution of the native cultural traditions. It is in the medieval and modern epochs of Indian history that with the closing of the social ranks and excessive interference of political authority creativity of such an ‘integral pluralism’ was undermined and a hiatus between the ‘heterodox’ and the ‘orthodox’ traditions. In fact. It was in the post-independence India that a planned national perspective of integrating tribals with the national mainstream was envisaged and the five-principles (Panchsheel) of tribal development were evolved but those were hardly practised. like modern metropolis. the dialectic of ‘aestheticism’ vis-a-vis ‘asceticism’. an inevitable facet of the civilization. Forests served as the abode of two paradoxical cultures: one.civilized barbaric stage on the evolutionary scale. has rather been the home of a developed civilization where Vedic hymns were composed and Indian cosmology and different philosophical systems were created. it is mostly applied in a distorted manner thus serving their own interests rather than that of the tribals. The word ‘primitive’ is used here in the positive sense. Thus. 7 In fact. The basic limitation in the practised policies is that instead of utilizing the traditional wisdom and our own cultural idioms as Mahatma Gandhi and other social activists did government policies depend more on bureaucrats and west-trained middle class expertise which lacks in coming to grips with the reality at many points. instead of understanding and deciphering traditional ‘integral pluralism’ carefully.e. The narratives in the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata provide ample testimony of this natural dependence between the ‘primitives’ and the ‘civilized’. the highly enlightened rishis (seers) as the carriers of high culture and second.. has been a contribution of this co-existence of two different cultures. specially with regard to its cultural moorings.. got created.e. Mostly we are metropolitanist in our outlook and looked at the tribals as ‘other people’ rather than as our own brethren. the vitality of Indian Civilization lies in the cultural correspondence between its ‘classical’ and the ‘primitive’ traditions and its ‘integral pluralism’ which nourished diversity to enrich unity. which is a major constant of Indian Civilization. Besides. when asceticism and dry scholasticism threatened the general health of Hindu society waves of fresh energy seem to have coursed upward from the Antepodes. between the castes and the tribes and between the folk and the elite. the aboriginies or tribals (janas) ---the most unsophisticated lot living in the caves and mountains having their own cultural traditions and styles of life. Among various dichotomies like Prakriti and Purusha. The entire approach of according a ‘marginal’ status instead of traditional ‘minority’ status to them reflects this attitude which should be properly examined and reviewed. ancient forests too were the home of contrasts which sometimes opposed one another but were mostly cooperative and dependent upon each other.

as well as flexible adaptation-innovation complexes corresponding to the changing local circumstances. the contemporary imposition of the supposedly universal model of development and the consequent dispossession problematique is of a qualitatively different order. the paradigm of development has treated the rest of the biosphere as an enemy to be defeated and tortured for immediate maximization of exchange value. the basic assumption of reductionism in the modern science being parts are ontologically prior to the wholes. the epistemology of individualism and privatization of resource base have been furiously imposed for the elimination of the very existence of indigenous collective identities. technology and institutions. as the dominant notion of development is gradual triumph of reason. the collective identities are severely impaired and stigmatized. Thirdly. and thereby. rationality and value neutrality. Fourthly. institutionalized the belief that abandoning the traditional cultural and institutional elements is the sine-qua-non of development. built on the unequal socio-political structure. ethics and traditions. the doctrine of individualism and statist ideology being crucial for capitalist and neo-colonialist development. both at national and global levels. the conception and theory of development firmly insists that the motive forces of development of the backward people are external infusion of capital. Secondly. social science literature is by now overburdened with post-modern critique of development history and the appalling results. knowledge systems and the labour for the overtly exploitative market. and usurp their territorial resources. possess a creative capacity for development in accordance with their own internal laws and necessities. And finally. values. and the emphasis on uniformity. Instead of evolving a culturally specific balance between the principles of individualism and corporate existence. Small wonder. it has consistently cultivated a contempt for consciousness. What then are the basic tenets and assumptions of this dominating development paradigm which have direct bearing on tribal people’s problematique? Being deeply rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. separability and homogeneity among the objects generated a context-tree abstraction of knowledge and an obsession for quantification like the GNP and rate of economic growth rather than quality of life.15 Impact of Development Projects on Tribals It is axiomatic that all human societies. at all times. . Whereas neither development nor spatial mobility is unique to modern civilization. holistic and anticipatory equilibrium between nature and culture. This anthropocentric and essentially reductionist perspective of natural world has eroded the ecological resource base of the humanity and destroyed the customary tribal matrix of harmonious. an alibi for neo-colonial hegemony.

conceals the unpalatable whole truth. and elsewhere the adopted method of cadastral survey precludes measurement of land beyond 90 slope. Survey and settlement of land happens to be the prerequisite for conferring individual proprietorship. minorities. Towards the end of the nineteenth century. 12 per cent of the tribals who practice shifting agriculture are treated as illegal encroachers on the ground that the land is not continuously cultivated. the development practices have wrecked the physical.In sum. Development project encompasses a whole gamut of territorial resources taken away by the state. scared away the game. reserved forests. Development has become a label for plunder and violence. of capitalist exploitation and imperialist control. villagification. the colonial administration began the process of conferring legal titles of landownership to individuals in some tribal regions. Consequently. between 40 and 80 per cent of the total land-based resources in tribal regions are snatched away without any compensation whatsoever. devastated the tribal livelihoods. Besides. The increased commercial extraction of timber. customary institutions and values. But large parts of tribal areas still remain unsurveyed. plantations. Agribusiness. biosphere reserves. as well as displacement from one’s own culture. creativity. cultural and cognitive survival of the large masses of the country. Based upon anthropocentric premises of mutilation nature. and/or metamorphosed the chief/headman as the real owner of land. After independence. private enterprises and transnational corporations. statist ideology and reductionist worldview. game sanctuaries. The nexus between dominant development paradigm and adivasi imbroglio can easily be traced to the colonial era. private ownership is institutionalized and massive customary corporate lands and land-based resources are alienated by both the state and private entrepreneurs.. Moreover. between 25 and 40 per cent of cultivated lands of the tribals are derecognized. But this indicates only a partial truth and somehow. depleted the fish stocks and eventually. and treated the rest of the land as res nullius which effectively meant absolute ownership of the state. power and knowledge systems through involuntary superimposition of the values and institutions of the globally and nationally dominant societies. imposition of individualism. refugee settlements. some land reform measures. dalits. highway projects. powerful individuals. by derecognizing the corporate rights over land-based resources on which nearly 15 million tribals currently depend to some extent. Much has been written on the large scale physical displacement of tribals due to mega hydroelectric and mining projects. afforestation by monocultural species. women and children. inadvertently perhaps. polluted water resources. etc. . specially tribals. national parks. though the criticality of their survival is essentially a post-colonial phenomenon. development projects are handed down without any concern for the cultural-historical and ecological complexities prevailing in the tribal regions. community. establishment of numerous forestbased industries and the so-called development projects have mutilated the forests.

The public too denies their recruitment under different pretexts. the World Bank provided $7 billion for such projects in India. etc. wildlife and water resources. Meanwhile.have displaced the tribal people from their survival bases and sustainable use of the forest resources. These projects are intrinsically associated with the predatory activities of giant corporations and profit seeking agencies. Despite intense industrial activity in the central Indian tribal belt. Let us briefly glance at the hydroelectric projects. insecure. the tribal employment in modern enterprises is negligible. heavy engineering concerns. transient and destitute labour market. IBRD. Between 1981 and 1990. Besides. Indeed. The World Bank has directly funded as many as 87 large-scale dam projects in India as against only 58 for the whole of the African continent and 59 for Latin America. forests. It is not a mere coincidence that there is a heavy concentration of industrial and mining activities in the central tribal belt. and the rising power of neo-colonialism through the G-7 directly and the IMF.. At stake is their economic and cultural survival. They are forced onto the ever-expanding low paid. All the massive steel plants. as agencies. That is to say. the recent rapid technological advancement and unrivalled economic and political strength of world capitalism. forced evictions of tribals to make way for mammoth capital intensive development projects have become a distressingly routine and ever-increasing phenomenon. NALCO. 1894 (and the amendment 1984) is indiscriminately invoked to alienate tribals’ lands in the name of public purposes. i. few tribals should have to make sacrifices in terms of surrendering their survival bases and accept the development projects as fait accompli. The Land Acquisition Act. The zealously extracted water and sub-surface minerals accentuated the tribals’ dispossession from their lands.e. Disinformation and suppression of dissent are integral dimensions of these developments. with traumatic results. India happens to be the second most dammed country in the world. exploitation of such poor regions was found both difficult and uneconomic. about 40 per cent of the tribals of central India supplement their income by participating in this distorted and over exploitative capitalist sector. for the greater good of the Indian people. And the process has become acute ever since the adoption of New Economic Policy in mid-1991. there is no stipulation for private or joint sector enterprises to recruit certain percentage of dispossessed tribal workforce. have created favourable conditions for the evasion and extraction of natural resources from the ecologically fragile territories of the tribal peoples. the tribals are forced to live in juxtaposition with alien capitalist relations and cultures. . It invested over Rs. many more are slowly crushed into oblivion in their homeland or in urban slums. But. Apart from the provisions of Apprenticeship Act. Thus. one-fifth of its total funding for 85 countries world over. connected with an undercurrent of authoritarian and ethnocentric values and political institutions. This is nothing short of ethnocide. A common feature shared by most of the tribal habitats is their remoteness and marginal quality of territorial resources. In the past. most river basin development schemes and hydropower projects. 193 billion by 1985 and the figures has probably doubled by now. a chain of forest-based and ancillary industries and an increasing number of highly polluting industries are located in this region..

land rights and natural resources should not be taken away from them” (Art. There is no reliable and complete information on the number of tribals displaced in the country since independence. For each project. It seems a just policy demands political battles for a rule of law even in a democracy. “the right of indigenous people to maintain their traditional structure of economy and culture” and stresses that “their land. abides that when in exceptional circumstances the tribals are displaced. the Indian government sought to have a national policy. it is legally bound by the . The pastoralists. Similarly. Despite the unfathomable gravity of the sufferings of the displaced in terms of economic pauperization. which incidently happened to be the lowest due to the restrictions on land transfer in scheduled areas.Suffice to reiterate that almost all major darn projects in India are intrinsically linked to world capitalism and its obsequious national stooges. separate policies are made in an ad hoc and ephemeral manner. political disempowerment and cultural alienation. the traditional methods of water harvesting and spreading are rendered non-viable.21). poverty. landless artisans. the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights (1966) holds that “in no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence” (Art. the UN Declaration on Racism and Racial Discrimination (1978) specially endorses. Incidently. historical and cultural heritage. The estimates range between 5 and 7 million-. but curiously there are at least three drafts from three ministries in circulation. and of course. illiteracy. Nearly 60 per cent of these large darns are located in central and western India where about 80 per cent of the tribals live. the survival support. calculated on the basis of local market value of land. debt bondage. It is not only the magnitude of involuntary tribal displacement that should attract the special concern but also the sacrifice of collective identity. Even if India does not ratify the revised ILO Convention 169 (1989). forest land cultivators. The ILO Convention 107 on Tribal and Indigenous Population (1957). food gatherers. But hardly a quarter of the tribals displaced have been given alternate dry and mostly infertile lands in exchange of the loss of their private lands. individually and collectively by them. and serfdom among the tribals is markedly higher. The rest received meagre cash compensations in several instalments.mostly by the dams. malnutrition. For instance. forest produce collectors and others who lack individual titles to lands. suitable for their present needs and future development. morbidity. did neither receive any compensation nor alternate employment. followed by mines and industries— or approximately one in every ten tribals has been displaced by different development projects.2). In fact. hunters. shifting cultivators. India--the largest democracy on earth--is yet to formulate a national policy for the relocation and rehabilitation of project oustees. the indiscriminate involuntary displacement of the tribals violates several national and international instruments. But no more than 5 per cent of their lands are assured of irrigation. they shall be provided with lands of quality. Small wonder. constituting at least one-third of the total displaced tribals. The supply of electric power is again a luxury and constitute obvious exceptions in tribal regions. Faced with the national and international pressure. which India ratified in 1962. at least equal to that of the land previously occupied. unemployment. mortality.

Tribal survival and sustainable development depend upon a system of selfdevelopment based on their own creative force. modernization and nation building. however. social reproduction. self-management systems. where the terms of dynamic are defined by the concerned people themselves. The cultural hegemony of the dominant global and national society has eroded the reproductibility of their collective existence—an indication of irreversible ethnocide. The fundamental asymmetry in the decision making process is aggressively articulated through the ideologies of individualism. no legal provision except in the sixth schedule area to recognize group rights of tribals over their land and land-based resources and their cultural and political institutions. This. India happens to be one of the worst countries with regard to the rehabilitation of the displaced. of course. generic and corporate character of land. all other alternatives be explored. the tribal people get marginalized and forced to enter the dehumanized cheap labour market and slum residency. In sum modern development projects not only physically displace increasing number of tribal people from their territorial survival resources and thereby destroy their traditional socio-economic structures but also tend to mutilate their very identity. and that the considered and free opinion of all the potentially affected are ascertained. cognitive heritage. it is not too much to ask from a democratic we1fare state a comprehensive national policy on socio-economic and cultural rehabilitation of the displaced persons through an act of parliament which should include (a) before undertaking any large scale project that displaces persons. an increasing number of conscious and concerned individuals and organizations in search of alternative visions of future tend to support the struggles of the tribal people to defend. art forms. is a political question as well as a historical imperative of our times. Their customary holistic and anticipatory conception of nature. Although published as to serve the common interest of the Indian people. culture. Fortunately. They invariably face recolonization and general economic subjugation. unique socio-cultural-linguistic framework and consensual decision making process are derecognized and castigated resulting in a silent and subtle form of ethnocide. it has provisions like the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition and Development) Act.provision of ILO Convention 107 until it denounces it. and that is not possible before the year 2002. Meanwhile. community oriented values and collective identities. There is. environmental restoration and ecological sustainability of the region should form an integral part of the . (b) the cost or rehabilitation. socio-cultural stigmatization and various degrees of ethnocide. language skills and the just limited autonomy. recuperate and revalidate their customary rights over their land and land-based endowments as well as for protection of their cultures and self-esteem. This is now open to TNCs. of course. 1957 which deny to compensate the displaced people. Meanwhile. these giant monstrosities benefit only a small affluent elite and multinational funding agencies and other obsequious stooges of world capitalism. corporate productive resources and cognitive structures. In fact.

In short. Tomorrow will judge us. carries little significance. cultural and cognitive diversities. The voluntary organizations too need introspection. a paradigm shift. The aforesaid thought at best can only be meaningful through political activism of the system. And. (e) the quantum of compensation be determined in the land of individual and corporate rights over land and land-based survival resources. 1984 amended to prohibit its misuse and define the term ‘public purpose’. the alternative development paradigm must be situated in the matrix of decisive struggles against imperialism and their domestic allies aimed at a viable vision of socioeconomic-cu1tura1 and ecological harmony. and (f) resettlements be in terms of community for oustees present and future socio-economic and cultural survival with dignity in the hostile surroundings. ecologically sustainable and culturally specific model of development need to join. Struggles of the affected persons alone may not have great significance. (d) regulations applicable to non-tribals for alienation of tribal lands be made applicable as far as possible to both public and private national and multinational enterprises. the concerned scientists need to provide the intellectual input and play the advocacy role as is done in several other countries. balanced interdependence between global. for they too are largely sponsored by such funding and sponsoring agencies which have vested interests in the current development projects. and there shall be fair provision of royalty to the displaced on the value of surface and sub-surface resources. Those who look forward to a holistic. autonomy. After all. In the absence of the appropriate articulation of the motive forces. sustainability of use of natural resources and respect of biological. all these activists and academics are inclined to build a model of development based on the principle of satisfying individual human needs and raising the quality of life through greater self-reliance.project. any alternative model of development. The resultant scenario would be the emergence of multiple co-existing civilizations that respect both the people and the nature. regional and local processes as well as participatory democracy at the grassroot levels. (c) the Land Acquisition Act. .

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