“I would talk to the people before starting a project”: Tribals youths on traditional way of governance and lifestyle

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What would you like to see for your tribe in the next 10 years?’ the professor askd.

Lakhmara, a tall young tribal from the Garasiya tribe in Rajasthan stood up, cleared his throat and said: “Ten years from now, we want our tribe to be free of the Panchayati Raj system and return to our traditional way of governance. The Panchayats only create divisions and enmities in the community.”

Tribals youths from the five states of western India nodded in agreement. Youths from eight communities, four of them classified by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs as Primitive Tribal Groups, had come to Gandhinagar last week for a 5-day leadership training programme organised by Sony Pellissery, a professor from the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA), Anand; and Actionaid.

The tribes included the Garasiyas of Rajasthan, Bhils of Rajasthan and Gujarat, and Korkus from Maharashtra. The four ‘primitive tribes’ included the Koragas and Jenu Khurba tribe of Karnataka, Kathodis of Gujarat and the Sahariyas of Madhya Pradesh.

The Ministry of Tribal Affairs had identified 75 tribal communities as Primitive Tribal Groups on fixed criterion of pre-agricultural level of technology, very low level of literacy and declining or stagnant population.

The unanimous consensus among the tribals was that the Panchayati Raj System was inferior to their traditional tribal law. […]

According to the 1981 census, there were only 1,098 Koragas in the world, living in the forests of Kerala and Karnataka. In a 1996-97 survey by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, their numbers had increased to 1,349.

But apart from their dwindling population, the Koragas also face other problems as they try to assimilate into the mainstream. “Our women now stay at home and do household work because the men think that way. They think non-tribals are superior, and they copy the wrong things,” said Mathadi. […]

But on the positive changes, most agreed that the women were being empowered; education was picking up, and health services were better, though there was scope for improvement.

But all agreed that the Forest Rights Act, 2006, was not being implemented properly. […]

“Many people of the Jenu Khurba tribe in Coorg were shifted out of the forests because they had no land records. But even after the Forest Rights Act, they still work in the coffee plantations and get very bad pay, without electricity and housing. Some sleep among the coffee plants,” said Mathadi. […]

Shreemati, a Sahariya woman from Madhya Pradesh, who brought along her toddler, said: “If I could decide on the development that took place where we live, I would talk to the people before starting a project.”

But most tribal youths kept harping on the cultural aspect of their tribal lifestyle. […]

Source: “Tribals prefer traditional way of governance over Panchayati Raj” – Express News Service6 September 2009
Address : http://www.indianexpress.com/news/tribals-prefer-traditional-way-of-governance-over-panchayati-raj/513479/0
Date Visited: Thu Mar 29 2012 23:11:28 GMT+0200 (CEST)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

“We shall first have to give up this hubris of considering tribes backward. Every tribe has a rich and living cultural tradition and we must respect them.” – Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on the constitutional obligation to respect the cultural traditions of India’s tribal communities

Gandhiji at Prayer Time, Parnakuti, Poona (1944) by Chittaprosad, the great advocate of the rights of workers and revolutionary artists. | Learn more in “Gandhi, Secularism, and Cultural Democracy” by Vinay Lal >>
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