The Bhils, a proud and ancient ethnic group: On the descendants of some of the original inhabitants of India – Madhya Pradesh

Bhil husband and wife in the Fürer-Haimendorf Collection
Bhil husband and wife – click on the photo to learn more

The Bhil tribe is a proud and ancient ethnic group inhabiting the Western part of Central India with the highest concentration in Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh State. | Read more >>

The western region is home to a wide variety of people with different religious ‘s and cultures, most of whom have distinctive traditional textiles. They include Jains, Parsis, Hindus and Muslims, as well as tribal groups such as the Bhils and Mina. This region’s propensity toward colour has deep roots, for it is here that the Indus Valley civilization developed cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies. From at least the early second millennium AD, western India has traded dyed textiles to the Middle East, South-East Asia and the Far East, and later to Europe and the Americas, although most local communities maintained their own textile designs. | Learn more about western India’s cotton-growing and -dyeing technologies >>

The Bhils are probably the descendants of some of the original inhabitants of India known as the ‘aborigines’ or Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis), who now comprise only about eight per cent of the population of India. The rest, 92 per cent, consists of descendants of immigrants. Thus India is broadly a country of immigrants, like North America. […]

India was a veritable paradise for pastoral and agricultural societies because it has level and fertile land, with hundreds of rivers, forests, etc., and is rich in natural resources. Hence for thousands of years people kept pouring into India because they found a comfortable life here in a country which was gifted by nature. | Excerpt from a Supreme Court judgment published by The Hindu >>

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The Community Forest Resource (CFR) rights provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (also known as the Forest Rights Act) is a revolutionary tool in forest governance. It visualizes statutorily backed devolution of forest management authority to Gram Sabhas, and full transfer of rights over non-timber forest products to them. The CFR provision gives local communities the right to protect, regenerate or conserve or manage any community forest resource which the communities have been traditionally protecting and conserving for sustainable use. It further has the potential to bring about a transformative change in the economic and social conditions of the local people, and improve the management of the forests.

Besides North-east India, the highest concentration of Scheduled tribes is in Central India. Additionally, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand are among the top ten states with respect to forest areas. But, barring Maharashtra the CFR [Community Forest Resource] implementation status is very poor in these neighboring states. To address this lack of large-scale on-ground implementation of CFR provisions, this study will try to identify the major hurdles and enabling factors in CFR implementation and CFR management in Maharashtra and other Central Indian states, develop policy recommendations and guidelines to remediate it and further suggest better CFR management practices.

Source: Project description titled “Action Research and Policy Support on Community Forest Resource management in Central India” by Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)
URL: https://www.atree.org/projects/action-research-and-policy-support-community-forest-resource-management-central-india
Date Visited: 5 July 2021

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For more details (some with hyperlinks), click on the map button seen on the left top; scroll and click on one of the markers for information of special interest. | Explore India’s tribal cultural heritage with the help of another interactive map >>

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