Sujatha Padmanabhan, Sunita Rao and Yashodara Kundaji
This CD contains a Handbook for educators and teachers. Its contents spans issues related to the lives of the Soliga tribal community who live within the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka. The CD also includes information pertaining to the BRT sanctuary and the wildlife within it.
Generously illustrated with drawings, maps, and colour foldouts, the handbook also contains descriptions of over 175 activities. Educational aids like posters, flash cards and game cards specific to the BR Hills have also been developed. The entire package can be used as part of an EE programme for students from Classes 1 to 10. It can be adapted for non-formal learning programmes as well. The book will also be of interest to teachers, environment educators, the Forest Department, wildlife tourists, NGOs and concerned individuals. While the handbook is set in the BR Hills, its contents and activities can easily be modified and used elsewhere in the country and outside.
Over the years, Kalpavriksh’s works have included research and advocacy on environmental social impacts of development projects and activities and the environmental decision making processes for these. Much of this has been published:
The Publications have been broadly categorised as follows:
To find children’s books by Indian publishers, type the name of a tribal community (e.g. “Santal” / “Santhal”, “Warli”), or region (e.g. “Kerala”, “Bastar”, “Gujarat”, “Odisha” / “Orissa”, “West Bengal”), or any related subjects of interest (e.g. “education tribal community”, “Adivasi education) in the search field seen below:
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Tribal narratives of alienation of forest, land and water form one of the core subaltern chapters of Tribal Studies in India. The Bodo movement for grant of autonomy is woven around such demands of safeguard from the exploitation of land and forest resources; it has been an entourage of ideals like autochthony, cultural superiority, ethnic distinction, alienated identity and the contested right to self-determination. However, identity assertion, resource conflict and the demand for grant of autonomy is seldom so modestly unidirectional, as it incorporates questions of power, hegemony and control in a society having multiple tribal communities.
This paper explores indigenous identity in Bodoland, Assam by studying two tribal groups- Bodos and Adivasis; one considered the autochthon for which a Sixth Schedule safeguarding autonomy is granted and the other, considered an ‘outsider’ is continuously subjected to justify their access to the forests and lands of Bodoland and is not even recognised as a ‘Scheduled Tribe’. Such politics of hegemony is centered around the belongingness to a piece of territory where tribal identity is constructed and defined to negotiate the access to forest and land of every tribal community.
The paper focuses on these issues:
a) How have the Adivasis been selectively excluded from the mainstream tribal politics historically to construct them as the ‘other’ in Bodoland?
b) The internalisation of violence with respect to identity- ethnicity- territory to create hegemony within the otherwise exploited tribal communities of Assam.
c) The meaning of territory for tribal communities and the role of territory in ethnic identity assertions assigning the tribes their identity.
The paper is based on an ethnographic survey, with primary data collecting narratives from more than 150 households and 10 focus group discussions from all the four districts of Bodoland- Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.
BIONOTE: Evy Mehzabeen is currently pursuing her PhD at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, SSS, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She may be contacted at the email ID: email@example.com
Courtesy Dr. Ivy Hansdak, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia University New Delhi (email 4 October 2017)
Bodoland, (also Boroland), officially the Bodoland Territorial Region, is an autonomous region in India. It made up of four districts on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. It is administered by an elected body known as the Bodoland Territorial Council which came into existence under the terms of a peace agreement signed in February 2003 and its autonomy was further extended by an agreement signed in January 2020. The region covers an area of over eight thousand square kilometres and is predominantly inhabited by the Bodo people and other indigenous communities of Assam.
Forest dwellers in early India – myths and ecology in historical perspective: 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) | Continue reading: https://indiantribalheritage.org/?p=5851
National Commission for Scheduled Tribes NCST 31 May 2020
The framers of the Constitution took note of the fact that certain communities in the country were suffering from extreme social, educational and economic backwardness arising out of age-old practice of untouchability and certain others on account of this primitive agricultural practices, lack of infrastructure facilities and geographical isolation, and who need special consideration for safeguarding their interests and for their accelerated socio-economic development. These communities were notified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per provisions contained in Clause 1 of Articles 341 and 342 of the Constitution respectively. […] The National Commission for Scheduled Tribes is vested with the duty to participate and advise in the planning process of socio-economic development of STs, and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union and any State. | Learn more >>
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 >>
“India, also known as Bharat, is a Union of States. It is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government.” – Constitution of India
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Since the inceptions of our organization we have been working towards striking a balance between our traditional way of life and modernity. The transition to a modern life should be gradual and not stressful, and allow us to keep rooted in our cultural values. – Boro Baski (Newsletter, 5 January 2019)
Dr. Boro Baski (seen on the right) was a researcher at the Department of Social Work of Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan, West Bengal. Having grown up in Bishnubati, he was the first person from this Santal village to obtain a master’s and doctoral degree. He is member of the Goshaldanga Adivasi Seva Sangha (GASS). He and Sona Murmu (seen at the centre) were among the co-founders of the Rolf Schoembs Vidyashram (RSV). The following article first appeared in Development and Cooperation – International Journal.
India is seen as an emerging major player in the global economy, but this progress has not yet reached the country’s tribal people. They comprise eight percent of the population. Many tribal children cannot cope with the dilemma of either sticking to their own culture or accepting schools’ middle-class values. This conflict results in high dropout rates, low educational aspirations and degraded self-esteem. A non-formal school project run by an NGO of tribal Santals in West Bengal proves that matters need not be that way.
According to the Ministry of Human Resource Development Report of India (2004–05), the dropout rate among tribals in India from class I to X is 79 %. In the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand, both of which have substantial Santal populations (see box), the rate is even higher: 88 % and 89 %, respectively. The figures suffice to gauge where tribals stand with regard to education.
There are several provisions in India’s constitution designed to raise the educational level of tribals. These include free and compulsory education for all until the age of fourteen. The educational difficulties faced by tribals have been addressed through bilingual or multilingual programmes that start with education in the child’s mother tongue, then transit to the regional or state language, and finally progress to the study of English. This three-language formula, however, remains in an experimental stage, and its practice is limited to isolated pilot projects.
The challenges of tribal education are daunting. There are 418 different tribes in India, with even more languages and dialects. Each group is also associated with a specific region through language, food habits, occupational characteristics and geography. To accommodate these diverse and culturally distinct communities with a single educational policy is a mammoth task, verging on the impossible.
Thus, despite good intentions, tribal-education policies are mostly dysfunctional. And when such systematic dysfunction continues for years or even generations, social unrest erupts. Due to extreme dissatisfaction, a large section of the tribals in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal declared a non-cooperation movement against the local establishment last year. The media spoke of a “tribal revolution”. The assessment of The Statesman, a Kolkata-based daily, was accurate: “The ‘Lalgarh incident’ … was the result of years-long ineffectiveness of the government’s development policies in the tribal region.”
Rising to the challenges
One of the main problems in Santal education is the conflict between the state’s policy of assimilating minorities into the mainstream culture and the tribal people’s reluctance to abandon their identity. Santal children face a severe dilemma when they are forced to reject their own culture and accept schools’ middle-class values. This conflict results in high dropout rates, low educational aspirations and degraded self-esteem.
The primary goal of formal education boils down to getting a salaried job through competitive examinations. The Santals, however, live with minimal commodity requirements. Their concept of pleasure differs from the mainstream. They have hardly any urge to compete for success. Santal life is not marked by the sense of formal discipline and punctuality that schools require both at the individual and the family levels. The Santals’ village culture gives more scope for moving around at random than is typical of maistream Bengali life. Hunting, fishing, roaming, drinking, singing and dancing all play a role.
Other problems lie in the medium of instruction, the curriculum, the method of evaluation, a lack of quality teaching and a defective administration. Everything seems set up against Santal children. For example, school tends to become painful for children when faced with a teacher who does not understand Santali and who speaks in a language the children do not understand. Children have to memorise lessons without understanding them. They become bored and, instead of going to school, prefer to look after the family’s cows or goats.
Most teachers are from non-Santal communities. They hail from a middle-class background and are hardly aware of the socio-cultural life-world of the children. This lack of understanding creates serious problems.
Understanding the gravity of these problems, the Ghosaldanga Adibasi Seva Sangha (GASS), a non-governmental organisation, started the Rolf Schoembs Vidyashram (RSV), a non-formal Santal tribal school, at Ghosaldanga village in 1996. It was named after an astrophysicist from Munich, who donated the money needed to start the project in his will. At present, it has five classes – kindergarten to class IV. Moreover, it runs a hostel for secondary school students.
I am a co-founder of the school and continue to teach there. The school is situated about ten kilometres away from Rabindranath Tagore’s university Visva-Bharati in Santiniketan, and 150 kilometres northwest of Kolkata. The RSV is one of the educational projects of GASS, the NGO that was started about 25 years ago by a German writer and Tagore scholar, Martin Kämpchen, along with an educated Santal man, Sona Murmu, and fellow villagers.
Children come to RSV from eleven different villages. The school has a big campus with a playground, a bio-orchard garden, a fishery pond, agricultural land and a bakery. The children are first taught in their mother tongue, Santali, not in Bengali, the dominant regional language. After 18 months of schooling, teaching gradually switches to Bengali. The Bengali alphabet is used right from the start. Learning in their mother tongue at first gives the children confidence to cope with the Bengali and an educational world most of their parents are not familiar with.
We have prepared several Santali primers to teach Bengali letters and numbers through traditional Santal melodies. Santals traditionally learn their customs and rituals from their elders in the family and society through oral and informal methods. Most learning takes places during group activities in a pleasurable atmosphere. We have also adopted dance, music, Santal myths, folklore and history in our method of teaching. School starts in the morning with prayer and meditation in the Santal manner. Then the children study, garden, play, sing, dance, paint, eat lunch and return home.
Our methods of education have drastically reduced the school dropout rate, and children discover a lot of joy in and enthusiasm for learning. While our villages were basically illiterate up to my generation, all children now learn to read and write. Many ex-students of our school are doing very well academically in upper-level schools. Santal villagers are beginning to understand that education makes a difference.
The hostel serves students who graduate from our school with enthusiasm and the dream of progressing in their education. Often, they find it difficult to pursue that dream because of family duties and village customs. Their illiterate parents can neither guide them in studies nor support them financially. There is a lot of farmwork to be done, and village people are engaged in celebrating various kinds of festivals and rituals during the entire year. This environment does not suit serious study.
In light of these problems, we started a “students’ home” in 2006, housing 15 students. The goal is to prepare some model students in our villages, so that others will be inspired to follow them. We are also aware of the problem that educated Santals are often isolated from their community after adopting a different value system through formal education. Therefore, the RSV school and the “students’ home” are situated within one kilometre from the villages, so that the students can go home to spend weekends with their families.
In our government schoolbooks, students read about the lives and work of great Indians like Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi, and in the present generation, Amartya Sen, whose residence is just six kilometres away from our school. We, however, feel that in addition to knowing great national and international figures, it is important to know about the lives of good and successful people in our own community. This will encourage self-confidence and a sense of pride for one’s community and heritage. Santal students need role models with whom they can identify.
The parents of the students have a forum in the school, where they come together once every two or three months to discuss the development of their children and the school. They also tender free service on the school campus, such as cleaning the bio-orchard, working in the vegetable garden or levelling the road and the playground. Parents also pay a small monthly fee. Those who cannot pay in cash may pay in kind with rice, potatoes, vegetables and so forth. Parents also actively take part in the various cultural activities of the school.
The school receives friends and well-wishers from various parts of India and abroad, who come to experience the life of our children. Last year, some former visitors of our two villages and the school formed a registered society, Friends of Ghosaldanga and Bishnubati (Freundeskreis Ghosaldanga und Bishnubati e.V.) in Frankfurt. Many friends, schools and social organisations from Bangladesh, Germany, Austria and the United Kingdom are in regular contact with us. In this way, our very local problems and efforts on behalf of Santal children receive a window that opens up to the wide world around us.
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Watch a brief video clip of Dr. Boro Baski’s presentation at the “little school of Dik Trom” (Dutch ‘Het Schooltje van Dik Trom’) in The Netherlands on 9 juli 2018 on YouTube >> Duration: 4:40
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It was quite a homecoming for ‘Kinnera’ (aka ‘Kinneri’), a stringed music instrument, when it arrived into the Chenchu tribal heartland amid the forests of Mahabubnagar district of Telangana, after decades of wandering. | To read the full article, click here >>
The rare instrument with three resonators, which was popular in the tribe long ago, but disappeared later, was restored to them recently, thanks to the joint efforts by the ‘Telangana Rachayithala Vedika’ (Telangana Writers’ Forum) and the University of Hyderabad.
A team from the Forum and the university, guided by G. Manoja from Palamur University, travelled all the way to the Appapur hamlet in Nallamala forests on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on August 9, to present their exquisite find to the tribe. To their surprise, they were greeted by smiles of recognition, as the instrument was still part of their lore if not lives.
“Though they lost the instrument 50 years ago, a few tribesmen still remember it. In fact, three old-timers could even play it,” says academic and writer Jayadhir Tirumal Rao, who headed the team.
The instrument uses bamboo for the neck, dried and hollowed gourds for resonators, human hair or animal nerves for strings, and pangolin scales for frets which are fixed using honey-wax. According to Mr. Rao, visiting faculty at the Centre for Dalit and Adivasi Studies at the UoH, Chenchus lost the instrument half a century ago when the gourd used for resonator became extinct in this region.
It was inherited by the ‘Dakkali’ nomadic community of the district which was a ‘Madiga’ sub-caste and lived a troubadour for existence. They, however, reduced the number of frets to seven, purportedly in honour of Chenchus.
Obtaining ‘Kinnera’ from Dakkali community was an arduous task for Mr. Rao who stumbled upon the instrument while researching about Panduga Sayanna, a Telangana fighter.
“Dakkali singers sang his praise using ‘Kinnera,’ which egged me on to explore its history. To obtain it, I had to follow the community’s trail for almost three years. Initially they were afraid, but later came round and parted with this rare gift,” Mr. Rao said. And it was from the hands of Dakkali Pochaiah that the tribe received this souvenir.
India, The Chenchus: Jungle Folk of Deccan [silent clip, duration 36:21] The Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf Film Archive is housed at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London where Fürer-Haimendorf was Professor. The 16mm cine footage was digitised by Digital Himalaya Project staff www.digitalhimalaya.org. If you have additional information about the location, date or content shown in this film, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org, referring to the title of the clip in your message. [Original File Name: 10COMP tape #5 films 1&2 OFFSPRING 1]
Source: 22 – India, The Chenchus: Jungle Folk of Deccan, 1940s? B&W, silent URL: https://youtu.be/xigICRF7d6Y Date visited: 10 February 2020
Publications on the above issues may be found here (title descriptions and libraries):
The contents of The Johar Journal will be organized under these eight categories: i.News & Views, ii. Interview, iii. Contemporary Tribal Literature, iv. Tribal Folklore, v. Visual & Performance Arts, vi. Critical Essay, vii. Book/ Film Review and viii. Tribal Lifestyle. It is hoped that scholars from various disciplines and various ideological positions will use a multidisciplinary approach while examining the tribal predicament. Feedback from the general public will be welcomed, though they will also be moderated by the Editors.
Editor-in-Chief: Dr. Ivy Imogene Hansdak (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi) Associate Editor: Dr. Mridula Rashmi Kindo (Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi)
Padma Bhushan Professor T.K. Oommen (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) Professor Virginius Xaxa (Tezpur University, Assam) Professor Joseph Bara (Indira Gandhi National Tribal University, Amarkantak) Dr. Ravi Nandan Sinha (St. Xavier’s College, Ranchi & Editor, The Quest: A Literary Journal) Professor Tiplut Nongbri (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) Professor Esther Syiem (North East Hill University, Shillong) Professor Mukesh Ranjan (Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi) Professor Anand Mahanand (English & Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad)