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

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 >>

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

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 >>

[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) >>

Dr. Ivy Imogene Hansdak

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 >>

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).

Continue your exploration of India’s tribal cultural heritage by

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

… and deepen your understanding by

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” | Ruralindiaonline.org >>
More about Tribal elders & Women | Success stories >>

“National development and the development of tribal communities are linked to each other” – Droupadi Murmu | Learn more >>

“Tribal communities are a standing example of how women play a major role in preservation of eco historic cultural heritage in India.” – Mari Marcel Thekaekara (writer and Co-Founder of ACCORD-Nilgiris) | Learn more >>

“When you are leaving 60 percent of the people behind, you cannot have the ambition to be an economic power.” – Poonam Muttreja (Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India) >>

“There is no social bias against women in tribal communities such as there exists among the middle castes, especially landed ones. Women can ask for a divorce, and in many communities, money is paid to the girl’s family at the time of marriage.” – Abhay Bang, the award-winning doctor and social activist from Gadchiroli in Maharashtra | Learn more >>

For a list of websites included in a single search, click here. To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find an Indian PhD thesis on a particular tribal community, region and related issues, click here >>

Enjoy a virtual journey across India with the help of an interactive map >>

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Thank you for your interest, suggestions and other feedback!

Credits
Banner photo and art: courtesy Arun VC (Kerala)