“Historical experiences of land encroachment, acquisition of forest land by the Government and tribal displacement”: Group inequality, development status & the position of women – Kerala

In the matter of poverty, group inequality is still a matter of concern for Kerala as we see in the following chapter: Absolute deprivation continues to be largely concentrated among the marginalised communities, such as the tribals (adivasi) and fishing community […] and the hiatus between the Scheduled Castes and non-Scheduled Castes is a distressing symptom of a still uncured aspect of horizontal inequality in the State. […]

[G]iven the historical experiences of land encroachment, acquisition of forest land by the Government and tribal displacement, the STs [Scheduled Tribes] remain vulnerable, the proportion of households with more than one hectare declining over time.

Source: Human Development Report 2005 Kerala, Government of Kerala (2006), pp. 57-61
URL: https://niti.gov.in/planningcommission.gov.in/docs/plans/stateplan/sdr_pdf/shdr_kerala05.pdf
Date visited: 10 March 2021

The development discourse, critiqued by scholars and peoples movements, continues to expand and encompass all aspects of Adivasi life. Studies show that the development projects exclude and alienate Adivasi communities in India and they describe the history of Adivasi development in India in terms of material deprivation and cultural marginalisation. While the socio-political and cultural exclusion is acknowledged as a universal feature of Adivasi life, the everyday experience of their exclusion differs among different Adivasi communities. This is reflected in their development status and the socio-economic stratification among them. Existing research attributes the differential development outcomes to certain historical advantages and disadvantages. By exploring the experiences of development of two different Adivasi communities in Wayanad in Kerala, this study attempts to understand the differential development outcomes, the processes of marginalisation and the reproduction of historical advantages and disadvantages. Two Adivasi communities with contrasting development status and historical features have been selected: the Paniyas with a history of slavery and landlessness and currently with a low educational and health status, and the Kurichias who were matrilineal and landed, with relatively better educational and health status.

Specific Objectives 1. To understand the Paniyas and Kurichias access to land, forest and other material resources. 2. To analyze how the two select Adivasi communities perceive and utilise development programmes for education, health and employment. 3. To understand and analyze the Adivasis perception of the idea of development vis-à-vis that of the state. 4. To analyze the Paniyas and Kurichias everyday experience of the development process and their individual and collective struggles. 5. To examine the position of women in the two communities and to analyze the consequences of development on gender relations.

Source: Abstract for PhD thesis by Leena Abraham “Perceptions and experiences of development: a study of two tribal communities in Wayanad district, Kerala” (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 2013)
URL: http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in:8080/jspui/handle/10603/17821
Date visited: 23 March 2021

Uravu | More about tribal education and customs in Wayanad >>

Kocharethi the Arya Woman
by Narayan >>

The slow erosion of cultural identity, the absence of agency for some sections of society, the increasing erasure of various communities from the supposed democratic space of citizenship, the questionable route ‘modernity’ and ‘development’ take, and the effects they have on men and, differently, on women are all woven into Narayan’s novel. Kocharethi calls upon us to ethically engage with it, to question our complicity in the systemic conditions that produce these lives, to reflect on our own reactions to the tale, to our expectations of the form and genre and to unlearn our frames of understanding. | Learn more >>

About 49 per cent tribal houses in the State do not have toilets. As many as 24,289 families do not hold ration cards. Hundreds of graduates and post graduates among the tribal communities are job less.

A survey conducted by the Kerala Institute of Local Administration in association with local bodies and the Scheduled Tribe Welfare Department reveals pathetic living conditions of the Scheduled Tribe Communities in the State.

There are 33 Scheduled Tribe communities in the State. Of the 40,1401-strong tribal population, ‘Panian’ community is the largest.

The total population of the five primitive tribal groups – Koraga, Kattunayakan, Cholanaikan, Kurumba and Kadar – is 26,273.

There 4614 landless tribal families in the State. More than 55 per cent live in dilapidated houses. In all, 39,850 houses do not have kitchen and 49 percent does not have toilets.

Half of the population deprived of pure drinking water and 1252 tribal hamlets are not electrified. More than 1300 tribal settlements face threat from wild animals.

The survey shows that there are 887 unwed mothers and 20,301 widows among ST women. Only 17 per cent of them are getting pension.

Many of the families do not have any access to medical care. Among them 4,036 are differently-abled and 2386 are mentally-challenged. The community has 40,323 chronic patients.

The literacy rate among the scheduled tribes is 72.77. Most of them used to drop out from schools at the primary level itself. Poverty and lack of access to educational institutions are the major reasons.

According to the survey, 77,680 people in the age group of 15-59 are unemployed. This includes 2112 graduates, 200 postgraduates and 2066 with professional qualifications.

Almost half the population of the community has taken loans, mostly from private institutions or individual money lenders.

The survey started in 2008 was completed in October 2011.

Source: “Census reveals poor status of tribal communities in the State”, The Hindu, 1 December 2011
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/kerala/article2678251.ece
Date Visited: Wed Mar 07 2012 18:12:12 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

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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
URL: https://knowindia.gov.in/states-uts/
Date visited: 16 April 2020

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

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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  6. scroll.in
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