Listen patiently to the tribals, with their immense knowledge and creativity: The key to preserving nature while ending widespread exploitation and stigmatization of women

In contemporary practice, the tribal memory is greatly undermined. There is general insistence that tribal children attend schools where non-tribal children attend schools, that they use medicines manufactured for others and that they adopt common agricultural practices. All because the world has very little time to listen patiently to the tribals, with their immense knowledge and creativity. We have decided that what is good for us is good enough for them. In the process we are destroying a rich vein of our cultural heritage. Tribal communities are distinguished by the absence of the caste system or any other form of discrimination, and respect for every member of the community can be seen in every aspect of their lives. Among tribals, widows are not ignored, raped women are not stigmatized and orphans are not left to beg. Tribals do not exploit other people’s labour for the sake of their own avarice, nor do they destroy nature to build monuments to the human ego.

GN Devy’s anthology of tribal literature, Painted Words, quoted by Ivy Hansdak in: Inaugural Speech for “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference 2017) | Read the full speech >>

Adivasi [adibasi] – 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. ‘Tribal’ is a very broad term in the English language, as we all know, and includes all the different indigenous groups of India.” – Dr. Ivy Hansdak (email dated 27 March 2020) | “Who are Scheduled Tribes?” (National Commission for Scheduled Tribes) | Demographic Status of Scheduled Tribe Population of India (Census figures 2011) | Classifications in different states >>

Brought up in a system in which all communications are by word of mouth, and hence used to trusting verbal statements, tribal populations get confused by constant reference to documents and written rules, which increasingly determine all aspects of rural life.

Tribes of India: The Struggle for Survival >>

Watch “The Good Ancestor – The Legacies We Leave” (3 min.): An animation that explores the legacies we might leave for future generations >>

Reports in the Indian press | List of periodicals included in this search >>

Find up-to-date information provided by, for and about Indian authors, researchers, officials, and educators
Search tips: in the search field seen here, type the name of any tribal (Adivasi) community, region, state or language; add (copy-paste) keywords of special interest (childhood tribal education language sacred grove women); specify any issue you want to learn more about (biodiversity ecology ethnobotany health nutrition poverty), including rights to which Scheduled Tribes are entitled (Forest Rights Act Protection from illegal mining UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples) | More search options >>

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

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