“Many voices of history … are what well known historian Romila Thapar brings out in her works. In this exclusive interview, she talks about changing trends in research, corruption in society and why she refused the Padma Bhushan.” – Excerpts from an interview by Pushpa Chari for The Hindu in 2012:
Today, environmental history or understanding history through environmental change, is gaining ground. Have you built it into your work?
Environmental history is being researched in a much bigger way than before. This is apparent in discussions on the decline of Harappan cities. What caused the decline? Today we know that invasions and conquest are very often really quite marginal. More likely factors could be deforestation, possible changes in climate at that time, changes in sea level and the silting up of settlements, flooding, changing river courses like that of the Satlej or the disappearance of the Hakra, and the proximity of settlements to particular ecologies.
I wrote a paper called “Perceiving the Forest‘ where I’ve tried to look at the way people observed and wrote about the forest at different times, and to see how over time it changes. It starts off as the wilderness which is the unknown, and full of demons, the unexpected, feared. And then slowly it changes with settlements and with routes cutting through it, and gradually the forest is not feared, and becomes a part of the cultural scene. […]
Languages develop, expand, become sub-languages or incorporate languages. We don’t know what language the Harappans spoke. Subsequently, the most widely used language was Prakrit up to the early centuries AD and later was replaced by Sanskrit in northern India. Still later the regional languages came into use. In the south an early form of Tamil was current from the start and then the regional languages. To argue that there was always a single language is historically problematic. […]
The resentment against present day corruption is its magnitude and its omnipresence. The citizen has absolutely no resort to getting anything done without conceding to a corrupt practice of some sort.
When corruption becomes so rampant, we must recognise that we are living in a society which is founded on immorality and an absence of ethics. This is not what makes for a civilisation.
Source: “Many voices of history” by Pushpa Chari, The Hindu, 31 March 2012
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/arts/magazine/article3261226.ece
Date Visited: Tue Apr 03 2012 19:21:24 GMT+0200 (CEST)
Sati [widow self-immolation] was likely alien to the Harappans, but in the mixed culture that arose later, it gained a foothold among the various elites and became part of the Indo-Aryan cultural legacy in the subcontinent. […] was likely alien to the Harappans, but in the mixed culture that arose later, it gained a foothold among the various elites and became part of the Indo-Aryan cultural legacy in the subcontinent. […]
Many modern Hindus revere their Sanskritic Vedas as the fountainhead of their religion, but the Harappan substrate that lives on today its both older and arguably more pervasive, especially in what we might call ‘folk Hinduism’, with its mother goddesses, guardian deities, reverence for certain trees and animals and perhaps even spiritual meditative practices. […]
The Harappans invite us to ponder the deepest questions about human nature and culture. Facing ecological challenges as we do today, Dholavirans responded with immense creativity and resolve. Perhaps it is their vulnerability and struggles that make them more endearing to us. Given the looming climate crisis, will our modern age last longer than their mature period of 700 years?
Source: Indians: A Brief History of a Civilization by Namit Arora (Gurgaon: Penguin/Viking, 2021), pp. 37-39
In recent decades, deforestation and landscape change from the construction of dams, intensified agriculture, timber plantations and mining for bauxite and other minerals in the Northern Eastern Ghats has negatively impacted communities. It has resulted in non-availability or decrease in availability of forest produce. This has manifested in the lack of trees for building houses, unavailability of gum karaya Sterculia urens, kunkudukaaya Sapindus emarginatus, and honey as the larger gum and nut yielding and beehive preferred trees like Adina cordifolia and Dalbergia sissoo have been cut down. They now need to travel greater distances to access bamboo and other forest produce. The death of toddy palm trees, because toddy tapping was no longer practiced, has also been observed by communities.
Source: “Displaced from the hills: Livelihoods of tribal communities in Eastern Ghats under threat” by Vikram Aditya (Down to Earth, 24 February 2021)
Date visited: 23 March 2021
[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]
Find up-to-date information provided by, for and about Indian authors, researchers, officials, and educators | More search options >>
Search tips: in the search field seen here, type the name of any tribal (Adivasi) community, region, state or language; add keywords of special interest (childhood, language, sacred grove, tribal education, women); consider rights to which Scheduled Tribes are entitled (FRA Forest Rights Act, protection from illegal mining, UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, right to education, Universal Declaration of Human Rights); specify any other issue or news item you want to learn more about (biodiversity, climate change, ecology, economic development, ethnobotany, ethnomedicine, global warming, health, nutrition and malnutrition, rural poverty)
For a list of websites included in a single search, click here. To search Indian periodicals, magazines, web portals and other sources safely, click here. To find an Indian PhD thesis on a particular tribal community, region and related issues, click here >>
- Use the above search field to learn more about India’s tribal cultural heritage
- Combine the word “tribe”, “tribal identity” or “Adivasi culture” with the name of a state or region (e.g. “Kerala scheduled tribe”, “Orissa tribal”, “Odisha tribe”, “Meghalaya literature”, “Nilgiri tribal custom”, “western ghats biodiversity”)
- Type the name of any tribal community with a topic of special interest (e.g. “Santal music”, “Gond art”, “Khond ecology”, “Narmada Bhil”, “Toda customs”)
- A constitution which guarantees: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen”
- Adivasi (Adibasi) | Usage in legal and historical records, in textbooks, scholarly papers and the media – Classifications in different states
- Ambedkar is not just the answer to a quiz question. He was more than the drafter of the Constitution
- Colonial policies
- Constitution and Supreme Court
- eBook | “Where the mind is without fear”: Tagore, Gitanjali and the Nobel Prize
- Education and literacy | Right to education
- Gandhian social movement
- Jaipal Singh Munda
- Misconceptions | “Casteism” and its effect on tribal communities
- Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG)
- Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- Romila Thapar
- Tagore and rural culture
- “Time now to undo the historical injustice” in accordance with the United Nations’ Rights of Indigenous Peoples: New column by Adivasi publicist Ruby Hembrom – The New Indian Express