“We have much to learn from their culture”: Deriving hope and inspiration from the rich tradition of democratic living in Adivasi society

Cultivating the elements of adivasi way of life in the society at large is the need of the hour, opined renowned development economist Jean Dreze on Wednesday

BHUBANESWAR: Cultivating the elements of adivasi way of life in the society at large is the need of the hour, opined renowned development economist Jean Dreze on Wednesday. Addressing the 31st Gopinath Mohanty Memorial Lecture here on the topic ‘The Adivasi Way of Life: Relic of the Past or Wave of the Future?’ the Belgian-born Indian economist argued that “adivasi way of life is a wave of the future may sound like wishful thinking but failing that there may be no future at all.”

“If we are to develop the culture of cooperation and solidarity, we need to take a leaf out of the tribal way of life. The rich tradition of democratic living in an adivasi society is a useful source of hope and inspiration,” he said.

Stating that democracy is a mode of associate living, he said the democratic principles are already there in the adivasi communities of Eastern India. “They are freedom loving people who do not submit to arbitrary authority. We have much to learn from their culture,” Dreze said and added that Gopinath Mohanty himself drew people’s attention to this in his writings.

Dreze also said that apart from being a great writer and an inspiring thinker Gopinath Mohanty was a public spirited administrator who spared no efforts to understand, befriend and help adivasis of southern Odisha during his early years as an officer of Odisha Administrative Service in Koraput and Rayagada.

He studied their way of life, learnt their languages and shared their joys and sorrows. Culture Secretary Madhusudan Padhi said late Mohanty worked extensively for the tribals in Koraput and other parts of Odisha. “As a writer he played a great role in popularising modern Odia literature in India and abroad,” he said. Former BPUT VC and Mohanty’s son Prof Omkarnath Mohanty also spoke.

Source: “Society must take a leaf out of tribal way of life: Dreze”, New Indian Express, 21 April 2022
URL: https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bhubaneswar/2022/Apr/21/society-must-take-a-leaf-out-of-tribal-way-of-life-dreze-2444667.html
Date Visited: 8 April 2024

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“Mother Earth is pregnant with problems and only the tribal way of life can save it from decay. Global warming, unpredictable climatic changes, melting of glaciers, tsunamis, famines and floods are the consequences of man’s unthinking mindful interference with nature and if one has to escape them, the only way is to take to the primitive way.”

This was the gist of conclusions reached by delegates at the end of the two-day 24th Aadivasi Sanskritik Ekta Mahasammelan on Sunday here at Dakan Kotda village, close to Udaipur city.

The event, organized by Aadivasi Ekta Parishad, was attended by more than 60,000 tribal people from various states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Dadar& Nagar Haveli. The mega event focused on issues related to tribal communities in India.

“This is an annual event held by the organization in various places to spread awareness among the community and to inform them about prevalent tribal customs in other states. Contrary to the popular notion, tribals are not conservative at all. Women are held in high esteem, child marriages are not prevalent while widow remarriage has always been encouraged by tribes,” said Mahaveer Kharadi, secretary of the organizing committee. During the two days, participants were seen in the colourful tribal attires and traditional head gear. […]

Some of them played musical instruments like drums, pipes, brass plates and bugles. “The delegates attracted everyone with their dressing, simplicity and cheerful spirit,” said Hemendra Chandalia, an activist.

Young participants carried placards which had slogans against exploitation of natural resources, suppression of the Adivasis, environmental degradation and appropriation of tribal land by corporates. […]

Source: ‘Save earth, adopt primitive way of life’, Times of India, 18 January 2017
Address: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/jaipur/save-earth-adopt-primitive-way-of-life/articleshow/56633496.cms
Date Visited: 11 October 2022

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“The great diversity of music in India is a direct manifestation of the diversity and fragmentation of the population in terms of race, religion, language, and other aspects of culture. […] The songs vary in detail, not only from one region to another, but also within a region among the different strata of society.” – NA Jairazbhoy in “Tribal, Folk and Devotional Music” >>

“Religion is a personal matter and should not be politicised.” – Invitation by the Bharat Jodo Abhiyan (BJA) – a civil society platform involving organisations from across 15 states – extended to all like-minded citizens “who take pride in our progressive, inclusive civilization and are committed to our constitutional values of fraternity, liberty, equality and justice” | TheWire (2 January 2024) >>

Great news – The Hindu has pledged to no longer describe tribal peoples as ‘primitive’.

Following our complaint about an article which used the word ‘primitive’ twice to describe a Chenchu tribal man, The Hindu issued a correction and advised all reporters not to use ‘primitive’ while referring to tribal people. The Office of the Readers’ Editor recommended an ‘exercise of caution’ in this regard.

This is the second major success of the Proud Not Primitive campaign. Following complaints by supporters of the campaign, the editor of India’s Business Standard apologised for the use of the term ‘primitive’ in an article about the Dongria Kondh in July, 2013, which has since been corrected.

Several journalists from renowned Indian publications have also endorsed the movement, including Kumkum Dasgupta of the Hindustan Times, Nikhil Agarwal of the Press Trust of India, and V Raghunathan of the Times of India.

However, there is still a long way to go. Many Indian papers are still using this language:

‘Junior tarzans are children of the Birhor community, a primitive tribe, which has been residing in the jungles for years. […] It took a while but they slowly started understanding the ways of the civilized world and started behaving decently.’

Times of India, May 20th 2013
Together we can stop this prejudice. Please write to the editor of the Times of India and call for it to pledge not to use the term ‘primitive’ too.
Please write a letter to the editor of The Times of India (or a paper of your choice) calling for it to pledge not to use derogatory language to describe tribal peoples. Please click on this link or copy and paste the email below to [email protected]

Dear Editor,

I am writing to draw your attention to the way that tribal peoples are often described in your paper. They are regularly called by the offensive and derogatory terms ‘primitive’ and ‘backwards’. These words are not only offensive, they are also dangerous; they are used to imply that the way that tribal peoples choose to live their lives is not ‘modern’. This idea in turn justifies the theft of tribal peoples’ land and efforts to force them into the mainstream in the name of ‘development’.

The Hindu has recently pledged to no longer describe tribal people as primitive. I urge you to ensure that The Times of India takes the same stand. Please amend your paper’s editorial guidelines to ensure that such pejorative language is not used in the future.

May I also remind you that, as well as being offensive, the term ‘primitive tribal group’ is out-dated. The government has replaced the term with ‘particularly vulnerable tribal groups.’

Yours faithfully,

Source: [email protected] Newsletter 26-11-2013

For how long will I have to
Bear the pain of development
Or is it that I will be done to death
Before attaining development?

Ram Dayal Munda in “The Pain of Development” (Vikas Ka Dard) courtesy Dr. Ivy Hansdak >>

Usage in legal and historical records

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[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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