Articles on Adivasi culture in Folio Special issue

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”. In the initial period of India’s contact with western nations the two terms were used as synonyms, the difference lay only in the social status of the groups they described. The synonymy was finally shattered through a legal intervention by the colonial rulers when an official list of communities was prepared by them (in 1872) as the list of tribes. A similar list was prepared in the previous year for communities that were mistakenly thought of as ‘criminal’ and were covered by the provisions of an inhuman “Criminal Tribes Act of India, 1871.” Since then the “tribes” are perceived as a distinct segment of Society.

Ganesh Devy in “Rethinking tribals”
ADIVASI Special issue (The Hindu, Folio, July 16, 2000) >>

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“Tribal men and women mix freely, but with respect for each other; they drink, sing and dance together without disgracing themselves. They love flowers; the forests are a part of their lives, they live in harmony with nature. […]
But caste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals. […]
Few bureaucrats have the cultural calibre or the intellectual curiosity to try to understand the nature of the societies over which they rule.” – Guest Column in India Today >>

“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 >>

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ADIVASI Download the complete Folio issue as a single file (PDF, 969 KB) >>

Articles and authors

  1. Rethinking tribals by GN Devy
  2. Call us adivasis, please by Gail Omvedt
  3. A society in transition by Suresh Sharma
  4. To be governed or to self-govern by Smitu Kothari
  5. Strong sense of self and place by Amita Baviskar
  6. Dishonoured by history by Meena Radhakrishna
  7. Curators of biodiversity by KK Chakravarthy
  8. Treading lightly on earth by Ashish Kothari
  9. A symbiotic bond by Mari Thekaekara and Stan Thekaekara
  10. Vicious cycle by Dilip D’Souza
  11. A better quality of life? by Roopa Devadasan and N Devadasan
  12. A history of alienation by Pankaj Sekhsaria
  13. Cultural expressions by Jaya Jaitly
  14. Through Adivasi eyes by Mari Thekaekara and Stan Thekaekara
  15. A Toda friend by S Anandalakshmy

Source: Folio (Special issue with the Sunday Magazine): ADIVASI: JULY 16, 2000 from the publishers of THE HINDU
Address: http://www.hindu.com/folio/fo0007/fo000700.htm
Date Visited: 15 March 2018 (discontinued since)

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“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.”

Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on India’s Constitutional obligation to respect their cultural traditions
Gandhiji at Prayer Time, Parnakuti, Poona (1944) by Chittaprosad, the great advocate of the rights of workers and revolutionary artists. | Learn more in “Gandhi, Secularism, and Cultural Democracy” by Vinay Lal >>
Gandhian social movement | Constitution >>

“Air is free to all but if it is polluted it harms our health… Next comes water… From now on we must take up the effort to secure water. Councillors are servants of the people and we have a right to question them.” – Mohandas K. Gandhi, Ahmedabad address on 1 January 1918; quoted by his grandson, Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in “On another New Year’s Day: Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘khorak’ a 100 years ago” (The Hindu, 1 January 2018)

Image © The Hindu for “The Adivasi in the mirror: The lynching of Madhu in Kerala must shock our conscience into recognising the dispossession of India’s tribals” by Nissim Mannathukkaren >>

Casteism is the investment in keeping the hierarchy as it is in order to maintain your own ranking, advantage, privilege, or to elevate yourself above others or keep others beneath you …. For this reason, many people—including those we might see as good and kind people—could be casteist, meaning invested in keeping the hierarchy as it is or content to do nothing to change it, but not racist in the classical sense, not active and openly hateful of this or that group.” | Learn more about India’s caste system and the effects of “casteism” on tribal communities >>

See also

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