This website is all about “Showcasing new initiatives in education”, inspired by a fundamental commitment to human rights by India’s founding fathers:

India is a secular state with a constitution committed to the unique demography, history and culture of each state and union territory – Constitution of India >>

The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them. – Constitution of India & National Human Rights Commission >>

In Nehru’s view, the process of modernization must not be taken as forcing a sudden break with the tribals past but help them build upon it and grow by a natural process of evolution. – Chittaranjan Mishra in “Tribal Philosophy and Pandit Nehru” >>

This view is being upheld by leading educators to this very day:

“The goal is to prepare some model students in our villages, so that others will be inspired to follow them.” – Santal educationist Dr. Boro Baski >>
Usage in legal and historical records

We live in a world of rapid development in the media and everyone has different influences from where they live and change in different directions. – Santali poet, scholar and translator Dr. Ivy Imogene Hansdak >>

[T]he primary identity of every citizen of India, over and above all other identities of religion, caste, language, race and suchlike, is that of an Indian. – Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) >>

While commemorating 150 years of the Mahatma Gandhi, the Vice President of India referred to a necessary and long overdue step, in India as in the rest of the world: “we shall first have to give up this hubris of considering tribes backward. Every tribe has a rich and living cultural tradition and we must respect them […] not only social courtesy to respect their cultural traditions but it is also our Constitutional obligation. As we are looking for ways of sustainable development, these groups can teach us lessons in sustainable development. […] There can’t be a better example of Unity in Diversity.”

On similar lines, it is worth paying attention to a special video message by M.S. Swaminathan – India’s foremost authority on food security – who reminded his fellow citizens that the nation’s ‘primary conservers’ often are tribal farmers. This fact explains the motivation of scientists working for the pioneering foundation he established keen on letting the world know why these ‘guardians of biological diversity’ are entitled to protection under the law known as Biodiversity Act (published by the National Biodiversity Authority). Whether or not they remain in a position to fulfil this important role depends on the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act passed in 2006, commonly known as the Forest Rights Act (FRA).

“We have to write our own stories, about our issues, from our own perspectives.” – Abhay Xaxa, a “Fiercely Unapologetic Adivasi Scholar-Activist” | Read more >>

“We are so much more than that. We follow a tradition rich in music, dance and love.” – Author Swarnalatha who runs an NGO that works for the upliftment for people of her Irula community >>

Continue your exploration of India’s tribal cultural heritage by …

taking a guided tour of this website

browsing what’s new and interesting

listening to music (both traditional and contemporary)

exploring other audio resources and video contents from various sources 

reading and discussing books on tribal culture

making good use of (open access) eBooks and eJournals

downloading the free Background guide for education

enjoying a virtual journey across time and space: from the Indus Valley Civilisation to modern India and beyond

getting inspired by success stories 

getting a better understanding of India’s tribal heritage by paying attention to those who actually carry it forward

… and deepen your understanding by

immersing yourself in the storytelling traditions valued among tribal communities

searching for Indian publications by and about members of tribal communities

asking questions like “How many ‘Scheduled Tribes’ are there in India?”; and “What distinguishes them from other communities?” (‘tribal’ or otherwise)

understanding the intentions of India’s founding fathers: Gandhi & Nehru

deriving inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore and his vision of rural culture – even in the face of poverty and deprivation

finding posts with information about a particular community

using an interactive map to find museum collections across India

The tribal food basket has always been ­diverse and nutritious, including maize, minor millets like kodo and kutki, oil seeds like ramtila, along with fruits, leaves, ­rhizomes, mushrooms, meat and fish. […] We have pushed them out of their complementary relationship with ecology, way of life and time-tested nutrition >>

“In his play Muktadhara (The Waterfall), Tagore robustly employs this element of freedom. The play relates the story of an exploited people and their eventual release from it. [Today, when] tribal populations across India are being uprooted with impudence Tagore’s message of freedom, in all its shades, is of utmost relevance.” – Bhaswati Ghosh in Freedom in Tagore’s Plays | Learn more >>

Take a moment to contemplate what it means to become a “free person” – to begin with, girls and boys no longer deprived of their childhood, proper education in their own mother tongue, food or health care:

“He who has not surrendered his free will and abdicated his intelligence and independent thinking, who does not blindly act on the teachings of others, who does not blindly accept anything without critically analysing and examining its veracity and usefulness […] I call him a free man.” – Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar who was more than the “drafter of the Constitution” quoted in Journal of People’s Studies >>

Shanthi Kunjan with mother © Priti David in 
“The forest in Shanthi Teacher’s classroom” on >>
More about Tribal elders & Women >>
Success stories >>
Enjoy a virtual journey across India with the help of an interactive map >>
More tips

Tips for teachers and students

Resources for the classroom

Tips for visitors and lovers of Indian culture

Fact checking

Thank you for your interest, suggestions and other feedback!

Banner photo and art: courtesy Arun VC (Kerala)