New light on hunter-gatherers in Narmada Valley, Indus Valley Civilisation and modern India’s cultural and linguistic diversity: Anthropological Museum Kolkata – West Bengal

Shiv Sahay Singh, The Hindu, Kolkata, February 20, 2017
To read the full article, click here >>

A new museum in Kolkata tells the tale of how modern humans in the Indian subcontinent evolved from ancestors who arrived about 12.3 million years ago from Africa, during the Pleistocene era. Set up by the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI), the museum traces the history of human evolution in this part of the world through displays of tools, replicas of artefacts and models. […]

Prehistoric animal remains from Nitenkheri and Hathnora sites in the Narmada Valley include rhino, elephant and buffalo molars. Photographs and installations of cave paintings from Bhimbetka and Chambal valley of Madhya Pradesh, Singhanpur and Karmagarh in Chhattisgarh, along with the rock art of Jharkhand, also throw light on humans as hunter-gatherers.

Artefacts, pottery and other articles of everyday use from the Indus Valley Civilisation – around 5,500 years ago – are recreated.

“It is through this evolution that we have come to the present. However, the enormous cultural and linguistic diversity of contemporary India cannot be overlooked,” says Kakali Chakrabarti, Head, Eastern Regional Centre of AnSI.

Ms. Chakarabarti said AnSI has identified as many as 4,635 communities, of which 635 are indigenous. […]

A separate corner in the museum is dedicated to linguistic diversity, which comprises four major groups – Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, Indo-Aryan and Tibeto-Burman – and their spread. At present there are about 750 dialects in the four major groups.

Cultural attributes are reflected by, among other things, tools. “For instance, bows and arrows used by indigenous people in the Andamans rely more on wood, because it is readily available, whereas tools from central India have more metal because the region is rich in minerals,” says Worrel Kumar Bain, Committee member of the Eastern Regional Centre of Anthropological Survey.

Source: A 12.3 million-year-old story of Indians – The Hindu
Date Visited: 12 January 2022

Narmada Basin Map © Narmada Control Authority | For full size, click here >>
Memories of life in a remote Bhil hamlet on the Narmada river >>
“Those displaced, who are the Scheduled Tribes, belong to the Bhil, Bhilala, Pavra, Tadvi, and Vassawa ethnic groups [of] Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.”
Source: Development and Dispossession in the Narmada Valley >>

Welcome to Anthropological Survey of India – On The Path of Excellence

Anthropology as is being practiced in the Anthropological Survey of India is unique with a truly holistic flavour. From very early on, it endeavored to bring in multi-disciplinary teams recruiting Anthropologists of both Cultural/Social and Biological varieties along with Linguists, Human Ecologists, Biochemists, Psychologists and Statisticians who collaborate with each other and with the National and State level institutions, while interacting with the renowned scholars of other countries to study man in all his entirety, not just for the sake of study but to create a human concern for one another and to help tackle problems of contemporary relevance.

Source: Antropological Survey of India
Date Visited: Sat Mar 18 2017 12:24:22 GMT+0100 (CET)

The Anthropological Survey of India (A.S.I.) launched a project on the People of India on 2 October 1985. The objective of the project was to generate a brief, descriptive anthropological profile of all the communities of India, the impact on them of change and development processes and the links that bring them together. This was in accordance with the objectives of the A.S.I., established forty-five years ago in December 1945. The A.S.I. has been pursuing bio-cultural research among different population groups from its eight regional centres. Its objectives have been redefined in the policy resolution adopted in 1985, which commits this organization to the survey of the human surface of India. […]

Source: People of India | Antropological Survey of India
Date Visited: 12 January 2022

Adivasis: India’s original inhabitants have suffered the most at its hands

Mohan Guruswamy, (Opinion), Jan 20, 2016 | To read the full article, click here >>

Their presence in India pre-dates the Dravidians, the Aryans and everyone else. Yet they have no political power and most of them live below the poverty line.

Tribal people, accounting for 8.2% of India’s population, are spread all over India’s states and union territories. Even so, they can be broadly classified into three groupings. The first consists of populations who predate the Indo-Aryan migrations, and are termed by many anthropologists as the Austro-Asiatic-speaking Australoid people. The Central Indian adivasis belong to this grouping. The other two groupings are the Caucasoid and Sino-Tibetan or Mongoloid tribal people of the Himalayan and North Eastern regions who migrated in later periods.

Article 366 (25) of the Constitution defines scheduled tribes as “such tribes or tribal communities or part of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to the Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution”. The criteria for classification being geographical isolation, backwardness and having distinctive culture, language, religion and “shyness of contact”. […]

There are some 573 communities recognised by the government as scheduled tribes and, therefore, eligible to receive special benefits and to compete for reserved seats in legislatures, government and educational institutions. […]

Even before Independence, the legendary adivasi leader Jaipal Singh, while welcoming the Objectives Resolution in the Constituent Assembly on December 16, 1946, stated the tribal case and apprehensions explicitly and succinctly:
“As a jungli, as an Adivasi, I am not expected to understand the legal intricacies of the Resolution. But my common sense tells me that every one of us should march in that road to freedom and fight together. Sir, if there is any group of Indian people that has been shabbily treated it is my people. They have been disgracefully treated, neglected for the last 6,000 years. The history of the Indus Valley civilization, a child of which I am, shows quite clearly that it is the new comers – most of you here are intruders as far as I am concerned – it is the new comers who have driven away my people from the Indus Valley to the jungle fastness… The whole history of my people is one of continuous exploitation and dispossession by the non-aboriginals of India punctuated by rebellions and disorder, and yet I take Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru at his word. I take you all at your word that now we are going to start a new chapter, a new chapter of independent India where there is equality of opportunity, where no one would be neglected.”

Source: Adivasis: India’s original inhabitants have suffered the most at its hands
Date Visited: 12 January 2022

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]


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