“Development is invariably a form of change, but not all forms of change can be termed development”: A context for India’s tribal heritage, past and present

A useful analytical framework to study the deprivation and development of Adivasis in the larger Indian context.

THE selection of papers in this volume, presented at the International Seminar on “Adivasi/Scheduled Tribe Communities in India: Development and Change” in August 2009, captures diverse facets of the predicament of Adivasis today. As stated by the editors, development is invariably a form of change, but not all forms of change can be termed development. There are forms of change that lead to deprivation and dispossession, which leave communities at a lower level of well-being than before. In the language of social exclusion, this is a process of adverse inclusion with negative results compared even with the state of exclusion.

Then there is relative deprivation compared with absolute deprivation arising out of growing inequality during a period of rapid economic growth. The editors argue that a discussion on well-being and deprivation and change in the condition of Adivasis necessarily calls for a relational analysis. The Adivasi regions are excluded for provision of services, but they are not excluded for extraction of minerals or exploitation of water resources for electricity generation and irrigation. […]

SOCIAL EXCLUSION AND ADVERSE INCLUSION: Development and Deprivation of Adivasis in India
Author(s): DEV NATHAN & Virginius Xaxa
Hardback 2012, Price: Rs. 750.00

Source: Tribal travails by Madhu Sarin (Frontline Magazine, 21 September 2012)
Address: http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2918/stories/20120921291808100.htm
Date Visited: 9 March 2021

“Is it eccentric to live in beautiful scenery in the hills among some of the most charming people in the country, even though they may be ignorant and poor?” Verrier Elwin quoted by G.N. Devy (The Oxford India Elwin)

Despite their vast differences, anthropologists, including Elwin and Ghurye, as well as Srinivas and other Indian public figures and intellectuals, effectively erased or negated tribes’ worldviews and beliefs. When discussing the materialistic well-being of tribes, many anthropologists and other thinkers have also sometimes perpetuated a “saviour complex,” portraying tribes as bereft of the agency to express their own aspirations, and seeing it necessary to salvage tribal people from the clutches of their insubstantial living conditions without a deep consideration of how their ways of life have thrived in the past.

The word “tribe” itself, in fact, has always been a contentious term. Due to the lack of an adequate term, indigenous people chose to adopt it to identify their place in the world. […]

In Anthropological Perspectives on Indian Tribes, another insightful book published last year, the anthropologist Subhadra Mitra Channa writes that people categorised as tribes are not merely remnants of a static past. She reminds us that tribal religions and customary laws are as relevant as organised religions and institutionalised laws in modern society, and refers to the morungs of the Nagas, the dhumkuria of the Santals and the gotuls of the Gonds as equivalents to schooling systems in mainstream societies. She also suggests that tribes are separate from Hindu society (except for tribes such as the Bhotiya, Rajputs living along the Indo-Tibetan border). Channa argues that implicit to theories such as Sankritisation is an evolutionary approach towards tribes, implying that there is a ladder towards attaining higher status under the fold of caste Hindus. This erases the history of “domination, and of hierarchies within politics,” between tribes and others. […]

Source: “Uncivilising the Mind: How anthropology shaped the discourse on tribes in India” by Richard Kamei (doctoral candidate at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai), Caravan Magazine, 1 March 2020
URL: https://caravanmagazine.in/books/anthropologists-tribes-india
Date visited: 20 March 2021

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 >>

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Tips for using interactive maps

  1. toggle to normal view (from reader view) should the interactive map not be displayed by your tablet, smartphone or pc browser
  2. for details and hyperlinks click on the rectangular button (left on the map’s header)
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  4. explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>

See also

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress since Independence. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.

Source: States and Union Territories – About India
URL: https://knowindia.india.gov.in/states-uts/
Date visited: 4 September 2021

Learn more about India’s 28 States and 8 Union Territories – From Andhra Pradesh to West Bengal | Nutrition >>

Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

Tip: type the name of a tribal community, region or state in the search field seen below. For better results, combine search words of special interest to you: Adivasi, Indigenous or tribal with topics like artist, music, craft, poetry, literature, education, biodiversity, ethnobotany, festival, film, health, nutrition, forest rights or human rights

Try the following in case Google Custom Search window or media contents are invisible here: (1) switch from “Reader” to regular viewing; (2) in browser’s Security settings select “Enable JavaScript”; (3) check Google support for browsers and devices | More >>

List of Indian magazines and web portals covered by the present Custom search engine | To search other sources safely, click here >>

  1. www.indiatoday.in
  2. www.india-seminar.com
  3. www.livemint.com
  4. www.outlookindia.com
  5. www.ruralindiaonline.org
  6. scroll.in
  7. www.sanctuaryasia.com
  8. www.tehelka.com
  9. www.thebetterindia.com
  10. www.theweek.in


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