“We are strong and industrious people”: Migration in a region suitable for tribal settlement, the cultivation of paddy and pulses, and rich in forest products – Odisha (Orissa)

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Neoliberal Development, Displacement and Resistance movement: The Case of Kalinga Nagar Industrial complex, Odisha, India | To read the full paper by Dinabandhu Sahoo and Niharranjan Mishra (NIT Rourkela), click here >>

The tribals of Kalinga Nagar have been migrated from different districts of Chotanagpur in the last part of 19th century and early 20th century. Lack of irrigation facilities and frequent drought in tribal areas of Chotanagpur region left no option for the tribals but to migrate to other places like tea gardens of Assam and Coal fields in the nearby area (Miri, 1993). The shortage of labour in the tea gardens of Assam during colonial times particularly in the 2nd half of the 19th century caused a large scale migration of the Santhals, Munda, Oraons and Hos from the villages of Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana to Assam. Similarly, the establishment of industries in these areas led to a large scale displacement of tribals resulting into their alienation from land (Prasad, 1988:78). Land alienation due to different purposes like hydro-electric project, administration, industrial and mining projects, reservation and conservation of forests, business and other institutions like schools, colleges and technical training institutions etc. in Chotanagpur in colonial and postcolonial period pushed the adivasis of the region to migrate to other areas (Prasad, 1988:77-99). The mining industries near Chotanagpur also attracted the Hos as well as other tribes as labour force. In a similar vein in 1877 due to severe drought in Saraikala region (Present day Jharkhand), people migrated to Sukinda valley (Near the present day Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex) (Sahu, 2007).

Similarly an adivasis of Kalinga Nagar Mansingh Purty (age about 74) vehemently stated the other cause of Adivasi migration to Kalinga Nagar area: 
We are strong and industrious people. Our forefathers came here from Ranchi areas as contractual labour by the colonial British ruler to construct the Rail road in Eastern Odisha in the last half of 19th century. Since then we are living in this region. The then Sukinda king (Zamindar) permitted us to live here and make land by cutting forests and cultivate it. He gave some people patta and we were giving Khajana (Tax) in the form of Gotti (bonded labour) to the king”. (Interview 15.12.2014)

In fact it can be concluded that environmental degradation and climate change not only induced tribal migration but also economic opportunity acted as a pull factor for tribal migration to Sukinda/Kalinga Nagar area. 

The topography of the area was also suitable for tribal settlement. The topography of the area consists of undulating landmass with small hills and forests. Small streams, low waste lands and Patas (wetlands) were the main source of water supply to the area. Streams and Patas provide a large quantity of varieties of fishes and crab to the local people. In Khapuria-Kumbhiragadia area there was a large grazing land which supports hundreds of milkman families for cattle rearing. The main livelihood of the local adivasis consists of agriculture, especially rain-fed agriculture i.e. paddy cultivation. After harvesting rice, some people grow pulses like black and green gram, Khesari, maize, kulthi and vegetables. The nearby forests and hills play an important role of supplying firewood and minor forest products like ground nuts, kendu fruits, mango, tamarind, jack fruits, various kinds of leafy vegetables and besides meats of various wild animals and birds. These provided health and wellbeing of the tribal populations in the area. Some rare species of medicinal herbs were found in the nearby hills. Besides these economic values, forests and hills also had religious and aesthetic values for the local tribals. Some  people in the area also worked as agricultural or other wage labourers in the nearby mines and quarries.  […] 

The paper looks at the problems of development-induced displacement and resistance movement in Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex in Odisha, India. While analysing the problems the paper considers some of the important variables such as livelihood risks, past resettlement policy and implementation, increase in consciousness about displacement and consciousness of opportunities and differentiation both among local people and outsider to argue how these factors initiated conflict and mobilized resistance movement against displacement in Kalinga Nagar Industrial Complex. It also argues how differentiation, fragmentation and consciousness of opportunities helped for split and decline of the movement. Based on the theoretical premises of political economy and new social movement and following ethnographic fieldwork the paper broadly explicates the political economy of development and dispossession, causes and emergence of collective mobilization and demands and strategies of resistance movement.

Source: “Neoliberal Development, Displacement and Resistance movement: The Case of Kalinga Nagar Industrial complex, Odisha, India” by Dinabandhu Sahoo [PhD Scholar] and Niharranjan Mishra [Assistant Professor], Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, NIT Rourkela, Odisha, pp. 250-1
URL: https://www.academia.edu/34043372/Neoliberal_Development_Displacement_and_Resistance_movement_The_Case_of_Kalinga_Nagar_Industrial_complex_Odisha_India?email_work_card=view-paper 
Date visited: 14 June 2020

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Learn more: Bondage | Bonded labour | Human trafficking | SlaveryZamindari >>

Adivasi and “tribal” are not interchangeable as explained by Dr. Ivy Hansdak:

Tribal” is a very broad term in the English language, as we all know, and includes all the different indigenous groups of India.
Adivasi” – which is derived from Sanskrit – is applied to the dark-skinned or Austro-Asiatic indigenous groups of India (usually those from Eastern India). It is a commonly-used term in Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and Odisha. It is also used by the local Mongoloid tribes of North Eastern India for the migrant workers who were brought in as indentured labourers to work in tea plantations during the colonial period. 

Source: personal message (email dated 27 March 2020)

See also

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Tip | Health and the nutritional value of indigenous grains, seeds and millets: “The tribal food basket has always been ­diverse and nutritious” >>

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