Category Archives: Colonial policies

“Tribal population was spread all over India and most of them occupied wild tracts, hilly and forested areas, away from more civilized centers. In 1880 their population was estimated at about seventy million. They had existed for centuries with their own social traditions and beliefs and subsisted on natural resources. They had preserved their near isolation and way of life until the British administration and policies made inroads into their territories.” – Subha Johari in “Tribal Dissatisfaction Under Colonial Economy of 19th Century”

“Munda’s rebellion had shaken the foundations of the British empire, fighting the British army’s advanced weapons with bow and arrows. He died under mysterious circumstances in the Ranchi jail, and has, since then, been remembered as a martyr.” – Sushmita in “In Photos | Warli Adivasis Recall Birsa Munda in Fight to Save Aarey” (The Wire, 20 November 2019)

“The British Raj enacted the Criminal Tribes Act 1871 through which a tribe, gang, or class of persons addicted to the systemic commission of offences were notified. The Criminal Tribes Act was later repealed in 1949 once our Constitution was enacted, and the tribes were ‘de-notified’.” – Supreme Court Judge Justice D.Y. Chandrachud quoted in “Members of De-Notified Tribes Picked Up to Cover Up Shoddy Investigations” (The Wire, 7 December 2021)

“Slowly India recovered from the after-effects of the revolt of 1857-58. Despite British policy, powerful forces were at work changing India, and a new social consciousness was arising. The political unity of India, contact with the west, technological advances, and even the misfortune of a common subjection, led to new currents of thought, the slow development of industry, and the rise of a new movement for national freedom.” – Jawaharlal Nehru in The Discovery Of India (1946, OUP Centenary ed. 1989, p. 329)

“The Brahmanical ideology of control through caste made myth and superstition a part of India’s historical heritage. Over millennia, they injected the fear of education within the Shudra, Dalits and Adivasis. They fostered the psychology of fearing education, which confined all—except them—to local languages or oral traditions and prevented them from reading and writing even in colonial times.” – Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd (political theorist, social activist and author who campaigns for English medium education) in “How English Language Initiated the Idea of Nationalism in India” (, 1 Apr 2022)

“In many formerly or currently colonised regions like South Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, the American South and Native America, there has always existed a rich, vibrant tradition of oral storytelling, one that was marginalised, often violently, through an imposition of an allegedly modern, white Western language and culture.” – Janice Pariat in “Decolonising creative writing: It’s about not conforming to techniques of the western canon” (, 4 July 2021)

“[The ideology of] primitivism] has justified the subjugation of populations and places described wild, savage or, simply, primitive’.” – Political scientist Uday Chandra, quoted by Richard Kamei in “Uncivilising the Mind: How anthropology shaped the discourse on tribes in India” (Caravan Magazine, 1 March 2021)

“Ever since the Portuguese travel writers and missionaries decided to describe the vast variety of ethnic and occupational groups and sects of the Indian subcontinent in terms of ‘caste’ and ‘tribe’, the terms have stuck to society as long-worn masks that start becoming one’s real personality. The result is that today no Indian describes society without taking recourse to the categories ‘caste’ and ‘tribe’.” – Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in “Rethinking tribals” (ADIVASI Special issue, The Hindu, 16 July 2000)

“The ancient tribal communities that lived here in the Andaman Islands […] have lived and flourished here for at least 40,000 years., but the end could well be round the corner. […] It definitely began with the British and their policies, which have been kept up with clinical efficiency by modern, independent India [which] was already on course to becoming a colonizer itself. […] In the late 1960s, an official plan of the Government of India to ‘colonize’ (and this was the term used) the Andaman and Nicobar Islands was firmly in place. The forests were ‘wastelands’ that needed to be tamed, settled and developed.” – Pankaj Sekhsaria in Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story (Harper Litmus, 2017), p. 4

“If contemporary India is finding it so difficult and even offensive to swallow the idea of secularism, supposing it to be a foreign import from the West that colonized the country and still colonizes our imagination, might it find some succour in the idea of ‘cultural democracy’? It is perhaps time that we started thinking about how the language of “cultural democracy” [envisaged by Gandhi] could be harnessed to furnish all Indians, and especially aggrieved Hindus, with the assurance there is another way of forging a nation without shedding the past.” – Vinay Lal (Professor of History & Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles UCLA) in “Gandhi, Secularism, and Cultural Democracy” (2 October 2020)

“Coloniality is a dynamic we need to be alert for as much in the present even within so-called independent, decolonized countries.”– Priyamvada Gopal on the rights of indigenous peoples including Adivasis (“Ideas” on CBC radio, 10 October 2019)

“Despite the objections that ultra-nationalists raise about our colonial past, they are torchbearers for the British idea of uniform. Many argue that the school uniform enables equality. How? Irrespective of the common colour in pants, shirts, skirts or salwars, schools are cesspools of casteism and patriarchy. Clothes do not hide differences or equalise students; our social markers are far more insidious.” – T.M. Krishna in “Does uniformity bring about equality? Think again” (Deccan Herald, 13 February 2022)

“Hunters [paving the way for settler colonialism] equated buffalo with the indigenous tribes of the region, and made war on the animal, as they made war on the people of the plains, to weaken the people and erode their way of life.” – Alexandra Kleeman in “Bolder Reimagining” (55 Voices for Democracy: “Bolder Reimagining” by Alexandra Kleeman, 31 December 2021)

“In 1871, the British passed the ‘Criminal Tribes Act.’ It notified about 150 tribes around India as criminal, giving the police wide powers to arrest them and monitor their movements. The effect of this law was simple: just being born into one of those 150 tribes made you a criminal.” – Dilip D’Souza (Bombay based freelance journalist) in “Vicious cycle” in Folio “Adivasi” (Special issue with the Sunday Magazine of The Hindu, 16 July 2000)
Read or download the full issue here:

“The Government of India Act [1935] introduced a new framework for the governance of ‘Scheduled Areas,’ i.e. those regions inhabited predominantly by ‘tribal’ peoples” – Daniel Rycroft in Abstract: ANTHROPOLOGICAL ARCHIVES AND ‘CHIASMIC’ TIME IN MODERN INDIA

“At the time of independence in 1947, twenty-three lakh [2.3 million] people were reportedly suffering as Criminal Tribes. Pertinently, while the targeted communities were Hindu castes, the British maliciously labelled many of them as ‘tribes’ […] thereby gaming them for ‘civilising’ missions.” – Indian Police Service (IPS) officer M Nageswara Rao in “Scheduled Tribes: Who are they? How to mainstream them?” (Times of India, 16 May 2020)

“The colonial category of “criminal tribes” may have been “denotified” but many communities remain unclassified. History has a way of leaving unfortunate legacies. “If the Local Government has reason to believe that any tribe, gang or class of persons is addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences, it may report the case to the Governor General in Council, and may request his permission to declare such tribe, gang or class to be a criminal tribe.” Hence, a register for Criminal Tribes, not to forget eunuchs.” – The “Criminal Tribes Act (CTA) of 1871” quoted by Bibek Debroy in “An unfortunate legacy” (Indian Express, 5 January 2017)

“[O]wing to old colonial practices of ‘plantation’, the indigenous Mannan people lost their land and were rendered dependents on the activities pertaining to cultivation of cardamom. The ‘development’ of their land as cardamom plantation continued even after Independence; the colonial model of plantation development was in totality adopted by the nation-state, and it marked a cultural onslaught on the tribal people. The development model alienated tribals from their land, their culture and diluted their worldview.” – Anu Krishnan in “Plantation Development and Tribes: Experiences of Expropriation of Land, History and Identity-A Case of Mannans” (National Conference Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative, New Delhi, 27-28 February 2017)

“Is tribal identity relevant in today’s world?” Inaugural Speech for “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference 2017) – New Delhi

Dr. Ivy Hansdak – Assistant Professor, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia University New Delhi (27th February 2017) Dear and respected Vice-Chancellor of Jamia, Prof Talat Ahmad, respected Guest of Honour, Prof. T.K. Oommen, respected Keynote Speaker, Prof. Virginius Xaxa, respected … Continue reading

Posted in Accountability, Adivasi / Adibasi, Adverse inclusion, Childhood and children, Colonial policies, Commentary, Community facilities, Cultural heritage, Customs, Education and literacy, FAQ, Modernity, Networking, Organizations, Quotes, Revival of traditions, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Seasons and festivals, Storytelling, Tribal identity, Women | Comments Off on “Is tribal identity relevant in today’s world?” Inaugural Speech for “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference 2017) – New Delhi

Switching over to a more sustainable farming approach in the Western Ghats – Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Terming the expansion of commercial plantations in Western Ghats as the reason behind its ecological “degradation”, an expert panel has recommended urgent curtailment in the “disastrous” farming practice in the ecologically sensitive zone. The expert panel, which was set up … Continue reading

Posted in Biodiversity, Colonial policies, Ecology and environment, Government of India, Health and nutrition, Nature and wildlife, Networking, Press snippets, Western Ghats - tribal heritage & ecology | Comments Off on Switching over to a more sustainable farming approach in the Western Ghats – Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala

Down To Earth – science and environment fortnightly published by India’s Society for Environmental Communications

Down To Earth is a product of our commitment to make changes in the way we manage our environment, protect health and secure livelihoods and economic security for all. We believe strongly that we can and must do things differently. … Continue reading

Posted in Accountability, Adivasi / Adibasi, Biodiversity, Colonial policies, Commentary, Democracy, Ecology and environment, Education and literacy, Globalization, Health and nutrition, Modernity, Nature and wildlife, Networking, Organizations, Quotes, Resources, Rural poverty, Tribal culture worldwide | Comments Off on Down To Earth – science and environment fortnightly published by India’s Society for Environmental Communications

Audio | Birsa Munda (1875-1900), the young, charismatic healer: “The only Adivasi whose portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament”

Prof. Sunil Khilnani profiles Birsa Munda, the young, charismatic healer who led his tribal community in revolt against the British and whose life, more than a century after his death, poses the question: ‘Who owns India?’ | Listen to the … Continue reading

Posted in Adivasi / Adibasi, Audio resources - external, Colonial policies, Democracy, Eastern region – Eastern Zonal Council, Forest Rights Act (FRA), Government of India, History, Media portrayal, Names and communities, Quotes, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Storytelling | Tagged | Comments Off on Audio | Birsa Munda (1875-1900), the young, charismatic healer: “The only Adivasi whose portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament”

Video | Tribal culture and natural resources: The Chota Nagpur (Chotanagpur) plateau of eastern India – Jharkhand

Chota Nagpur [Chotanagpur] plateau is in eastern India, in Jharkhand state. The plateau is composed of Precambrian rocks (more than 540,000,000 years old). Chota Nagpur is the collective name for the Ranchi, Hazaribagh, and Kodarma plateaus, which have an area … Continue reading

Posted in Adverse inclusion, Chotanagpur, Colonial policies, Cultural heritage, Eastern region – Eastern Zonal Council, Ecology and environment, Economy and development, Globalization, History, Media portrayal, Music and dance, Networking, Organizations, Quotes, Resources, Storytelling, Video resources - external, Websites by tribal communities | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Video | Tribal culture and natural resources: The Chota Nagpur (Chotanagpur) plateau of eastern India – Jharkhand