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) | Classifications in different states >>

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

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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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