Category Archives: Health and nutrition

“The nation’s ‘primary conservers’ – often tribal farmers – are now seen as ‘guardians of biological diversity’ and therefore entitled to protection under the law known as Biodiversity Act.” – Video message by scientist M.S. Swaminathan whose research foundation (MSSRF) was founded with proceeds from the First World Food Prize (1987) and remains committed to the livelihoods of rural communities.

“In addition to rice, North East India is also home to the cultivated species of bananas known by their genus name, Musa.” – Dhrijyoti Kalita reviewing Prehistory and Archaeology of Northeast India by Manjil Hazarika (, 3 March 2019)

“Farmers on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border have been sending organic produce to Bengaluru even during the lockdown [2020].” – Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh (Pune-based NGO)

“India’s worrying ranking in the Global Hunger Index: 101 out 116 (and behind Bangladesh, Nepal and Pakistan).” – Nissim Mannathukkaren (Dalhousie University) in “How Hindu Nationalism Enables India’s Slide Into Inequality” (The Wire, 28 December 2021)

“[T]he terrible neglect in public delivery of healthcare must not be allowed to continue.” – Brochure for the report titled “Living World of the Adivasis of West Bengal: An Ethnographic Exploration”, issued on the occasion of the Kolkata International Book Fair 2020

“Despite South Asia’s promising social inclusion processes, staggering social and health inequalities leave indigenous populations largely excluded. Marginalization in the South Asian polity, unequal power relations, and poor policy responses deter Adivasi populations’ rights and opportunities for health gains and dignity. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to result in a disproportionate share of infections and deaths among the Adivasis, given poor social conditions and exclusions.” – Chundankuzhiyil Ulahannan Thresia, Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas, Katia Sarla Mohindra, Chettiparambil Kumaran Jagadeesan in “The Health of Indigenous Populations in South Asia: A Critical Review in a Critical Time” (free access in SAGE Journals, August 2020)

“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.” – Nutrition expert Bal quoted in “Rage Of A Silent, Invisible Killer Called Malnutrition – Why Shining India Is In Grip Of An Epic Calamity” (Outlook Magazine, 14 August 2019)

“About 40 per cent of under five tribal children in India are stunted, and 16 per cent of them are severely stunted.” – Programme report on Tribal nutrition: “UNICEF’s efforts to support the tribal population, especially children who suffer from malnourishment”

“’Deprivation’ refers to the inability of individuals in a society to achieve basic human functionings. Among these are the ability to live a long and healthy life free from avoidable disease and hunger, and the opportunity to be educated and to have access to resources needed for a socially acceptable standard of living.” –  Asian College of Journalism: “Covering Deprivation” (course-related information)

“[W]e don’t die like we used to before” and “we are not afraid like we used to be before.” – Dr Shylaja Devi quoting members of Gudalur’s Adivasi communities on the biggest difference Ashwini has made to their lives in “The wealth of wellness” (Tata Trusts, 3 June 2012)

“Adivasis are extremely knowledgeable about the tubers, berries, leafy greens and mushrooms which they collect. […] They would also fish and hunt small animals for food throughout the year. Most homes would have some meat drying above the cooking fires for a rainy day.” – Mari Marcel Thekaekara quoted by Priti David in “In the Nilgiris, an inheritance of malnutrition” (People’s Archive of Rural India, 1 May 2020)

“India’s healthcare spending, including both private and public, has been around 3.6% of GDP for the past six years [with] fewer than 10 doctors per 10,000 people, and in some states the figure is less than five.” – Vikas Pandey in “Coronavirus: How India descended into Covid-19 chaos” (BBC News. 5 May 2021)

“It was assumed that tribal people have same health problems, similar needs and hence the uniform national pattern of rural health care would be applicable to them as well, albeit with some alteration in population: provider ratio. The different terrain and environment in which they live, different social systems, different culture and hence different health care needs were not addressed. Not surprisingly health and healthcare in tribal areas remained unsolved problems.” – Preface by Abhay Bang, Chairman, Expert Committee on Tribal health “Tribal Health in India: Bridging the Gap and a Roadmap for the Future” (Report of the Expert Committee on Tribal Health, undated)

“The adivasis pity the Dilliwallahs. They find us under-nourished, anorexic and weak. They think it is an urban disease to believe that money can buy everything. They also pity us for being addicted to our computers and mobile phones.” – Nandan Saxena (co-director of National Award-winning documentary “I Cannot Give You My Forest”) quoted by S. Ravi (The Hindu, April 24, 2015)

“Adivasi communities traditionally depended on the forest for all their nutritional needs. They subsisted mainly on fruits, vegetables, tubers, fish, small game as well as the occasional crop they grew, predominantly coarse grains. However, as time passed and the nature of, as well as their access to, forests changed, their diet started becoming deficient. Certain tribes, such as Paniyas, forced into bonded labour saw a paradigm shift in their dietary practices due to their dependence on their exploiters for their sustenance needs. This deficiency started manifesting in the form of rampant malnutrition, among adults and children alike, underweight babies as well as high maternal mortality. Another consequence was increased susceptibility to Tuberculosis among the Adivasis.” – Blog post “Gardening their way to Good Health” by ACCORD – Action for Community Organisation, Rehabilitation and Development

“As more people migrate to cities and towns in search of better employment and education opportunities, one tends to take up food habits that are convenient and less time-consuming. […] Sadly, this is the story of most villages in India that have bid adieu to not just its people but its age-old regional cuisines that were high on nutritional values too.” – S. Lekshmi Priya on a campaign by two women – illustrator Tanya Kotnala and nutritionist Tanya Singh – to revive the local art and culture of Uttarakhand in “With Art and Science, Two Women Are Reviving Uttarakhand’s Nutritional Delicacies” (7 September 2017)

“Dams, irrigation and factory farms are linked to 25% of infectious diseases in humans. Travel, transport and food supply chains have erased borders and distances. Climate change has contributed to the spread of pathogens. […] To prevent future outbreaks, we must become much more deliberate about protecting our natural environment.” – Inger Andersen (Under-secretary general and executive director of the UN Environment Programme) quoted in “Coronavirus: Fear over rise in animal-to-human diseases” (BBC News, 6 July 2020)

“The eco fragile region calls for a more sustainable path. Unfortunately, most of the large dams don’t have disaster management plans in place. According to the Central Water Commission, there are 5,334 large dams in India besides 411 under construction. A report of the Auditor General in 2017 found that only 349 of these dams had disaster management plans in place. Indeed a matter of grave concern!” – Charanjit Ahuja in “Was the Uttarakhand tragedy waiting to happen?” (Tehelka, 15 February 2021)

“And when all of a sudden all these non-urban communities couldn’t feed themselves, how would that create a crisis? It’s a crucial part of the puzzle to make sure that those community remain as sustainable as they can and continue feeding themselves.” – Rick Knecht (University of Aberdeen) in “Green Thinking: Climate Justice” (BBC Radio 3 Arts & Ideas, 10 November 2021)

“Traditional farming systems in India have received a major boost at a time when Indian agriculture is struggling to come to terms with modern technologies. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations has accorded the status of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) to the traditional agricultural system being practiced in Koraput region of Odisha.” – “Jyotika Sood in “UN heritage status for Odisha’s Koraput farming system” (Down To Earth, 4 January 2012)–35627

“Who, if anyone, is excluded—or adversely included—from equitable access to public goods […] resulting in intense dispossession, sexual and economic exploitation, alarming health and nutrition declines as well as precarious survival. […] The picture that emerges from the report is in many ways grim and troubling.” – “The India Exclusion Report 2015: A comprehensive, annually updated analysis on the exclusion of disadvantaged groups in India” (First Edition, New Delhi 2016,, supported by UNICEF, UNFPA and UN Women)

“Health spending by the Indian government as percentage of GDP has long been one of the lowest for any major country, and the public health system is chronically dismal.” – Pranab Bardhan in “The two largest democracies in the world are the sickest now” (, 24 August 2020)

“The per capita consumption of alcohol for India is 4 litres […] Alcohol related diseases are growing leading to high occupancy of hospital beds in hospitals.” – Human Development Report 2005 Kerala, Government of Kerala (2006), pp. 57-61

eBook | Online resource: “Tribes of India: The Struggle for Survival” by Christoph Fürer-Haimendorf

This book tells of observations among Indian tribal populations spanning the period from 1940 to 1980. Ever since 1936, when a study of the Konyak Nagas marked the beginning of my career as an anthropological field-worker, I have maintained contacts with Indian … Continue reading

Posted in Accountability, Adivasi / Adibasi, Anthropology, Childhood and children, Colonial policies, Commentary, Cultural heritage, Customs, De- and re-tribalisation, eBook eJournal PDF, Economy and development, Figures, census and other statistics, Government of India, Health and nutrition, History, Literature and bibliographies, Names and communities, Organizations, Photos and slideshows, Press snippets, Quotes, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Rural poverty, Scheduled Tribe (ST), Seven Sister States & Sikkim – North Eastern Council, Success story, Tips, Tribal identity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on eBook | Online resource: “Tribes of India: The Struggle for Survival” by Christoph Fürer-Haimendorf

Quality education and health for children from marginalized families: Vidyodaya & Thulir – Tamil Nadu

Vidyodaya School, located near Gudalur in the Nilgiris, TN, teaches mostly tribal children. […] Vidyodaya is more than just a school. It is a major education programme to ensure that over 3500 tribal children in the Gudalur Block of the … Continue reading

Posted in Community facilities, Economy and development, Education and literacy, Figures, census and other statistics, Games and leisure time, Globalization, Health and nutrition, Languages and linguistic heritage, Organizations, Quotes, Rural poverty, Southern region – Southern Zonal Council, Women | Comments Off on Quality education and health for children from marginalized families: Vidyodaya & Thulir – Tamil Nadu

“Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Ethics” – The Kaani of Tamil Nadu and Kerala

By Davidson Sargunam Indigenous peoples are ethnic groups native to a land or region. Usually they have a close relation to the land and live in consonance with nature. They believe that land and people are inseparable and interdependent. It is this aspect of their lifestyle-the intertwining of their … Continue reading

Posted in Accountability, Community facilities, Customs, Democracy, Ecology and environment, Education and literacy, Government of India, Health and nutrition, Homes and utensils, Modernity, Music and dance, Nature and wildlife, Photos and slideshows, Quotes, Success story, Tribal elders, Western Ghats - tribal heritage & ecology, Women, Worship and rituals | Tagged | Comments Off on “Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Ethics” – The Kaani of Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Admirable demographic regime of India’s tribes thanks to living in tune with the natural resources of their environment

By Arup Maharatna, Mainstream […] Thus, the relatively low infant and child mortality (vis-à-vis adults) in the tribal population, if true, could provide a clue simultaneously to their relatively high CWR on the one hand and a stability of their relative … Continue reading

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Video | Synopsis: “Have you seen the arana?” Documentary by Sunanda Bhat – Kerala

Director: Sunanda Bhat | Producer: Songline FilmsGenre: Documentary | Produced In: 2012 | Story Teller’s Country: India Synopsis: The film interweaves contemporary narratives with an ancient tribal creation myth to explore the effects of a rapidly changing landscape on lives and … Continue reading

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