Forests mean different things to different people: Biologists and conservationists, strategic planners and tribal people – Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand & Odisha

Forests mean different things to different people, for biologists and conservationists, an ecosystem has to adhere to certain scientific norms to qualify it as a forest. For strategic planners, forests are “an administrative category implying a desired land use” whether or not trees are included, but it is useful in making claims to “extend the control of the forest service” (Blaikie and Springate-Baginiski, 2007:9). To tribal people, forests involve habitat and identity (Blaikie and Springate- Baginiski, 2007) and are thus inseparably linked to their lives and livelihoods. Because of this reality, several inter-disciplinarians see forests as something linked to human rights for indigenous communities (Brockington et al., 2006).

Advocates of recent forestry sector policy initiatives such as Social Forestry and Joint Forest Management have “professed a deepening concern” for the livelihoods of forest dwellers; yet, the outcomes indicate that “while forests may be improving under state-initiated, participatory programmes, forest dwellers livelihoods have not improved appreciably” (Dasgupta, 2010:5). The situation has only worsened because of increased regulation and reduced local control and access (Springate-Baginski and Blaikie, 2007). […]

There are three important stakeholders on whom rests the successful implementation of the Act [Forest Rights Act (2006)]. This includes the Gram Sabha itself, the Forest Department and the Ministry of Tribal Affairs (Tribal Department in various states); the Tribal Departments are the nodal agencies responsible for the implementation of the Act. Revenue officers at the District and Block level also have a role to play in the finalization of titles, making changes in the official revenue maps etc. Apart from this an institutional framework has been created at different levels of checks and balances, management and redressed structures from the village to the state level. This involves the Forest Rights Committee at the village level, the Sub-Divisional and District level Committees and a final appellate authority of the State Level Monitoring Committee.

CG-Net Swara:
The Forest Right Act:
Forest Rights Act:
Ministry of Environment and Forests:

Source: “An analysis of the impact of the Forest Rights Act (2006) in three states of India” by Rebecca S . David (Edited version of the author’s MPhil Dissertation at the University of Cambridge, UK completed in the year 2014, pp. 1 & 10
Date visited: 11 October 2020

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Ministry of Tribal Affairs: set up with the objective of integrated socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes (STs), “the most underprivileged of the Indian Society” | Learn more >>

Jawaharlal Nehru >>
Photo © Indian Express

Nehru was fascinated by the spontaneity of tribal culture and their capacity of joy and heroism in spite of their appalling poverty, destitution, and ignorance. […] In Nehru’s view, the process of modernization must not be taken as forcing a sudden break with the tribals past but help them build upon it and grow by a natural process of evolution.” – Dr. Chittaranjan Mishra in “Tribal Philosophy and Pandit Nehru” (Odisha Review, November 2017) | Learn more >>

“The forest was never far away from habitation. For instance, excavations of the settlements at Atranjikhera and Hastinapur, which are not too far from Delhi, have yielded evidence of a large variety of forest trees. The Buddhist Canon states that aside from the village and its outskirts, the rest of the land is jungle. Travelling from one town to another meant going through a forest. Therefore, when in exile, the forest was not a physically distant place, although distant in concept. – Romila Thapar (Emeritus Professor of History, Jawaharlal Nehru University) in “Forest dwellers in early India – myths and ecology in historical perspective” | Learn more >>

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 >>

“Tribal groups (adivasis) in India have often been excluded, marginalized and oppressed by ‘mainstream’ society. In many ways this exclusion, marginalization and oppression is fostered by the way in which ‘mainstream’ society looks at the adivasis – as exotic, dangerous, or ‘primitive’ others.” – Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in A Nomad Called Thief: Reflections on Adivasi Silence and Voice | Classifications in different states >>

“Adivasis are not a homogeneous group; there are over 200 distinct peoples speaking more than 100 languages, and varying greatly in ethnicity and culture.” – Source: World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – India | Learn more | Classifications in different states >>

“Since the Indian Constitution uses the term ‘Scheduled Tribes’ or ‘tribals’ to refer to indigenous communities in India and the colloquial reference used by several indigenous communities themselves is ‘adivasis’ these two terms shall be used interchangeably.” – Rebecca S . David in “An analysis of the impact of the Forest Rights Act (2006) in three states of India” (MPhil University of Cambridge, UK, 2014), p. 1 | Learn more | Classifications in different states >>

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See also

India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress since Independence. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.

Source: States and Union Territories – About India
Date visited: 4 September 2021

Learn more about India’s 28 States and 8 Union Territories – From Andhra Pradesh to West Bengal | Nutrition >>

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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