Women are more affected from poverty: Tackling the “feminisation of poverty” – Jharkhand

For a US student, working among tribal populations, Naxalites and wild elephants in India was unthinkable, but Ryan Ballard wants it all and is back in the country working with Magic Bus, a non governmental organisation. The 25-year-old studied anthropology and global poverty at the University of California at Berkeley, US. […]

Coming face to face with serious structural, social and cultural circumstances that impede progress showed me the realities and challenges of development work. Since health was my subject, my internship at Jharkhand reified that people here need basic health care and food security”, says Ballard. […]

“For two months I stayed in Jamshedpur working under project leader, P.C. Mahapatra, Head of Tata Steel Family Initiatives Foundation. My projects ranged from adolescent sexual health to maternal to child health and family planning services. Through qualitative assessment, background research and session observations, I was able to use my holistic research skills from my anthropology background to understand the array of services offered, their effectiveness and appropriateness given the populations that they served,” he said.

Appalled at the lack of infrastructure affecting day-to-day life for most of the poor in Jharkhand and the withdrawal of the Government from the social welfare of the people, Ballard decided to tackle what he terms, “the feminisation of poverty.”

“Women are disproportionately affected by social issues. They (women) are supposed to be agents of change and have a pivotal and important role to play in society. The scene is very different here, where women are statistically affected from poverty, more so than men,” he said, adding, “The exposure fuelled my interest to work in the realm of poverty alleviation, in India.”

After finishing his internship, Ballard returned to the US to finish his degree. “Promptly afterwards, I applied for and was chosen as a 2011-12 American India Foundation (AIF) William J Clinton Fellow for Service in India and was placed with Magic Bus in Mumbai. I aim to help develop curriculum for their Peer Leader Programme, which teaches underprivileged children important topics relating to health, gender, leadership, education and livelihood through sports,” he said.

Ryan’s two-month experiential internship at the ongoing corporate sustainability projects of the Tata group companies is to be echoed by 18 international students this year. […]

These students will form the 5th edition of the Tata ISES, started in 2008. “The programme is designed with a vision to provide grass-roots level exposure in India while bringing an international perspective to the company projects. In the Tata ISES initiative, the list of identified projects is shared with the Universities who announce this on campus inviting applications,” said a company spokesperson. […]

Ballard added, “I wanted to come back to India and work with these communities since I understand the context of development in India a little better. My internship has grounded me. It also taught me immense patience – one can reason with Naxalites, but not wild elephants.”

Source: “Tata social scheme draws intern back to India” by Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla (The Hindu Business Line, 30 July 2012)
Address: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/economy/tata-social-scheme-draws-intern-back-to-india/article23087445.ece
Date Visited: 1 October 2021

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Posted in Anthropology, Economy and development, Education and literacy, Elephant, Globalization, Government of India, Health and nutrition, Organizations, Press snippets, Rural poverty, Women | Comments Off on Women are more affected from poverty: Tackling the “feminisation of poverty” – Jharkhand

Barao Dance and music – Jharkhand

The richness and variety of the Barao Dance and music is remarkable. The Oraon community of the state, who are mainly concentrated in the Hazaribagh Goomla area, performs this dance. The high table land is thickly dotted with hills and hillocks. The Oraons call themselves Kuruk. The ten lakh strong Oraon population of Jharkhand has folk songs, folk dances, folk tales and some traditional musical instruments, which are their own. Both men and women participate in these community dances. There are different songs and dances for different occasions and seasons. Every village has a Akhada or performing area in which in the month of Baisakh (April – May) all groups of the village organize a jatra (folk theatre) or dance festival. The Barao dance is held during this month. The community offers prayers to Mother Earth for a plentiful monsoon, so that a good harvest season may follow. […]

Source: Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre
Address : http://ezccindia.org/jharkhand.html
Date Visited: Fri Aug 26 2011 00:00:49 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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The tribes and castes in India are communities apart. Those who belong to castes belong to no tribes, and those who belong to tribes are outside the caste pyramid. What brings them together is probably their love for songs.

Ganesh [G.N.] Devy in What unites Indians is a love for songs >>

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Posted in Customs, Eastern region – Eastern Zonal Council, Figures, census and other statistics, Government of India, Music and dance, Names and communities, Organizations, Performing arts, Quotes, Seasons and festivals, Women, Worship and rituals | Tagged | Comments Off on Barao Dance and music – Jharkhand

The unique narrative of shawls worn among 16 major tribes: Reflecting one’s social standing and the younger generation’s changing tastes – Nagaland

Read “Many shawls, many tales”
by Anthony Kuriakose © Deccan Herald >>
Learn more about Naga cultural heritage >>

ANTHONY KURIAKOSE narrates how each Naga shawl is a thing of beauty, mystery, history and eternal appeal. And how each shawl wraps in its folds, a unique narrative.

In the textile history of  India, the warrior shawls of  Nagaland have a special place and  like  their counterpart,  the Scottish kilt,  these  too need to be nurtured as a legacy. We have 16 major tribes in Nagaland and the warrior shawls of each vary a lot.

In the past , it was possible to identify a tribe by simply looking at the shawl of the wearer and occasionally even guess the group of villages he came from, his social status and the number of ritual feasts he had performed.

Even within the same tribe, not everybody is allowed to wear just any type of  shawl as each pattern signifies the social standing of the person. But nowadays  this identification is not possible as Naga elders do not force their young to adhere to the tradition.

One of the common features of a Naga shawl is that three pieces are woven separately and stitched together. In fact, the central stripe is more decorated than the other two, which generally have more or less the same pattern. The Naga designs vary from a formal arrangement of lines to elaborate patterns of diamonds  and lozenge shapes. Simple straight lines, stripes, squares and bands, varying in width colour and arrangement are the most traditional design and motifs.
Each tribe has its own distinct patterns.

Many shawls, many tales

Tsungkotepsu: This is an exclusive male shawl and a most characteristic dress of Ao tribe.  Exclusively for men, this shawl may be worn only by someone who has taken heads in war or offered a mithun (local bison) as sacrifice. […]

Angami: This is a black shawl with thick bold embroidered animal motifs. Worn by warriors of Angami tribe, the shawl carries an entire range of wild animals against a black background divided into horizontal panels by woven bands of colour.

Supong: It is a typical Naga shawl worn by the Sangtam tribe.This is supposed to be used by rich people. The shawl on a black base has four grey bands at the top and another four bands of the same colour at the bottom.

Rongkhim: It is one of the most attractive  shawl worn by Yimchunger Naga tribe. The shawl is in red and black with narrow grey bands at the two edges. This shawl is mainly worn by warriors of great renown.

Tsungrem Khim: It is exclusively meant for women and very popular.

Lotha: This a typical Naga shawl worn by the Lotha tribe. The shawl has several patterns that indicate the number of social feasts given by the wearer.

Khekaisa: This is a shawl to be worn by only the elected public leaders or  the elected public representatives (MP/MLA/MDC), gazetted officers, ordained ministers (Reverend) and social activists. […]

The special shawl for ladies is known as Loukaisa. Naga women are excellent weavers and the colourful shawls, woven by them are extremely popular. A number of traditions and beliefs are also associated with the weaving and wearing of the traditional dress.

A chang cloth requires all the zig-zag lines to fall uniformly, or else the young warrior wearing it  may die a premature death. When a Konyak woman gets married she wears a Shatni shawl which is preserved and later used only to wrap her dead body.

Convention demands that a Rongtu shawl be worn only if the mithun sacrifice has been carried out over three generations. Textile dyeing is a significant art among the hill tribes of the region with each tribe possessing one or two special types of dyes. Superstition and belief also dictates the selection of colour. The weavers believe that if a young woman dyes her clothes red, she is sure to die a violent death and hence only old women dye their yarn red. […]

Of late the Naga elders no longer insist on strict observations of the code for wearing particular shawls, as the era of head hunting and tribal fights to show their valour is no longer  in vogue.

Six years ago, the Sumi Hoho, which is the apex organisation of the Sumi tribe, decided to allow graduates to wear shawls earlier donned only by those who  had offered ceremonial feasts for the tribe.

Not every community elder however approves of the changing mindset. “We altered the rules of educated youth, but we do not want anybody to dilute our  traditions. The shawls that we used to wear only during festivals are now being used whenever one chooses to.

‘‘Warrior shawls, priced at Rs  4,000 are hardly seen,” says Vikto Sema, a senior member of the Sumi Hoho. “Machine woven shawls are more popular than the hand woven ones because these come cheaper. The markets have become villages,
while villages are becoming markets,”adds Vikto.

A plethora of new patterns and motifs has been introduced too, to reflect the younger generation’s  sartorial choices. A women’s co-operative weaving society based in Kohima village set the trend with its progressive designs about a decade ago. “Changes have come about over the years, but the youth still adhere to traditional designs during festivals and important occasions”, says urban affairs minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu, who is from Kohima village.

There is such a great demand from tourists for the Naga shawls that the Indian Chamber of Commerce has filed an application seeking registration of traditional Naga designs with the Geographical Indications Registration System in India. Unfortunately, so far  none of the designs have been certified and retained as an exclusive possession of the tribe. […]

Source: Woven stories by ANTHONY KURIAKOSE (Maharaja Features), Deccan Herald, 31 July, 2010
Address: https://www.deccanherald.com/content/85163/woven-stories.html
Date Visited: 13 October 2021

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Posted in Crafts and visual arts, Customs, Dress and ornaments, Fashion and design, Figures, census and other statistics, Government of India, History, Modernity, Names and communities, Organizations, Photos and slideshows, Press snippets, Revival of traditions, Seasons and festivals, Seven Sister States & Sikkim – North Eastern Council, Storytelling, Tribal elders, Women, Worship and rituals | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The unique narrative of shawls worn among 16 major tribes: Reflecting one’s social standing and the younger generation’s changing tastes – Nagaland

Traditional social structures of Adivasis and the constitutional right to food

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Legally entitled to a full stomach

Fifty percent of the world’s hungry live in India. But India is a democracy, which gives her citizens a lot of rights – for instance, the constitutional right to food. Based on this right, Indian civil society organisations won a series of court battles in the name of the poor. Now a Right to Food Bill is about to be passed. Will this be the end of malnutrition and starvation in India? […]

The Bill is expected to result in multiple advantages like providing food to the hungry, reducing the child mortality rate and improving the public distribution systems. But there are several practical and theoretical aspects that could threaten the success. A practical issue is the identification of the priority groups. Who exactly is below the poverty line is a matter of controversy.

Not all state governments in India have clear criteria for defining the persons in need, and the central government uses parameters based on a survey conducted in the year 2002. It is extremely difficult to differentiate who belongs to BPL-group only through certain laid down criteria. Even if the criteria work, it is hard to ignore the recommendation and influence of political and caste-creed leaders who still play a decisive role in village politics. Another potential difficulty lies in including seasonal migrated laborers or Adivasi (India’s marginalised tribal people) in remote areas, who are often excluded from government help schemes because of their geographical location and way of life. […]

There are also theoretical questions to the Food Bill, such as: What will be the consequence regarding the moral and psychological attitude of people who grow up with subsidised food? Is it morally correct to feed more than half the country’s population by government funds, and for how long? Does it not undermine the human potential and contradict the basic principal of human development, namely, to “help people to help themselves”? Can anyone really live in dignity, eating subsidised food? Such questions might seem insensitive to hungry people, but they matter.

However, preventing hunger is certainly a priority. It is a bitter irony to call India one of the fastest growing economies in the world, while half of her population suffer malnutrition. But before implementing the bill, it is necessary to build up enough food storage, an efficient and transparent public distribution system and an administration with accountability. There should be a mechanism to inform villagers about the rules and regulations of the bill and how to get hassle-free service. Not only the institution of the Panchayati Raj (the elected village councils that serve as the lowest tier of the government), but also rural-level NGOs and the traditional social structures of Adivasis in remote areas can play a vital role in disseminating the government’s ideas and policies. […]

Source: “Indian government wants to enforce right to food with new legislation” by Boro Baski – Development and Cooperation – International Journal.
Address : http://www.dandc.eu/articles/220367/index.en.shtml
Date Visited: Tue Mar 27 2012 09:14:09 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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Dr. Boro Baski works for the community-based organisation Ghosaldanga Adibasi Seva Sangha in West Bengal. The NGO is supported by the German NGO Freundeskreis Ghosaldanga und Bishnubati. He was the first person from his village to go to college as well as the first to earn a PhD (in social work) at Viswa-Bharati. This university was founded by Rabindranath Tagore to foster integrated rural development with respect for cultural diversity. The cooperation he inspired helps local communities to improve agriculture, economical and environmental conditions locally, besides facilitating education and health care based on modern science.

He authored Santali translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s Vidyasagar-Charit and Raktakarabi (Red Oleanders), published by the Asiatic Society & Sahitya Akademi in 2020.

Other posts contributed by Dr. Boro Baski >>

Ghosaldanga Bishnubati Adibasi Trust
Registration under Trust Registration Act 1982
P.O. Sattore, Dist. Birbhum
West Bengal-731 236
India

For inquiries on Santal cultural and educational programs, please contact:
Mob. 094323 57160 or borobaski@gmail.com

[…] There was a time when Adivasi communities in the Nilgiris had easy access to food from the forests. “Adivasis are extremely knowledgeable about the tubers, berries, leafy greens and mushrooms which they collect,” says Mari Marcel Thekaekara, who has been working with Gudalur’s tribal communties for four decades. “They would also fish and hunt small animals for food throughout the year. Most homes would have some meat drying above the cooking fires for a rainy day. But then the forest department began limiting their entry into the forests and finally stopped it completely.” […]

Despite the restitution of community rights over common property resources under the Forest Rights Act of 2006, the Adivasis are not able to supplement their diet with resources gathered from the forest as they did before. The falling incomes in village here are also contributing to the growing malnutrition.

Source: “In the Nilgiris, an inheritance of malnutrition” by Priti David (People’s Archive of Rural India, 1 May 2020)
URL: https://ruralindiaonline.org/en/articles/in-the-nilgiris-an-inheritance-of-malnutrition/
Date Visited: 11 October 2021

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Image © The Hindu for “The Adivasi in the mirror: The lynching of Madhu in Kerala must shock our conscience into recognising the dispossession of India’s tribals” by Nissim Mannathukkaren >>

Casteism is the investment in keeping the hierarchy as it is in order to maintain your own ranking, advantage, privilege, or to elevate yourself above others or keep others beneath you …. For this reason, many people—including those we might see as good and kind people—could be casteist, meaning invested in keeping the hierarchy as it is or content to do nothing to change it, but not racist in the classical sense, not active and openly hateful of this or that group.” | Learn more about India’s caste system and the effects of “casteism” on tribal communities >>

How India compares with the world
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“The tribal food basket has always been diverse and nutritious” >>

“Health spending by the Indian government as percentage of GDP has long been one of the lowest for any major country, and the public health system is chronically dismal.” – Pranab Bardhan in “The two largest democracies in the world are the sickest now” | Learn more: Scroll.in, 24 August 2020 >>

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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
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Date visited: 4 September 2021

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Posted in Accountability, Adivasi / Adibasi, Adverse inclusion, Community facilities, Constitution and Supreme Court, Democracy, Economy and development, Education and literacy, Figures, census and other statistics, Forest Rights Act (FRA), Government of India, Health and nutrition, Misconceptions, Modernity, Nilgiri, Organizations, Press snippets, Quotes, Resources, Rural poverty | Comments Off on Traditional social structures of Adivasis and the constitutional right to food

The term ‘Adivasi’: Neither an equivalent to ‘Tribe’ nor used in the Indian Constitution – Mainstream Weekly

By J.J. Roy Burman, Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 32, July 25, 2009

In India the term ‘Adivasi’ has gained immense popularity in the last few decades to identify the tribes. This term is more commonly brought to use by the NGO circles and activists of the ‘mainstream’ or ‘mainland’ India. The term has also gained currency amongst the tribes mainly belonging to central India. In Kerala too the tribes of late prefer to be identified as ‘Adivasi’. In Hindi the term ‘Adivasi’ means original settlers.

The term Adivasi is not portrayed just for literary reasons. It has a political underpinning. It has often been used to convey the position of exclusion of the tribes (Kumar: 2001: 4052-4054) and their subaltern status (Ekka: 2000-2001: 4610-4612) The term Adivasi has been even used to focus the tribal rights (Dietrich: 2000), their resistance (Pati: 2001), protests (Viswanath: 1997), assertions (Hardiman: 1988, Rahul: 1998), struggles (Raman: 2002) and movements. (Bijoy and Raman: 2003) The term in a way conveys a sense of ‘empowerment’ of the tribes. This empowerment is being asserted by linking with the global indigenous people’s movement.

Bijoy (2003) writes:

The 67.7 million people belonging to ‘Scheduled Tribe’ in India are generally considered to be ‘Adivasi’, literally meaning ‘Indigenous People’ or original inhabitants, though the term ‘Scheduled Tribe’ (ST) is not coterminous with the term ‘Adivasi’. Scheduled Tribe is an administrative term used for the purpose of ‘administering’ certain specific constitutional privileges, protection and benefits for specific section of peoples historically considered disadvantaged and ‘backward’. However, this administrative term does not exactly match all the peoples called ‘Adivasi’. Out of the 5653 distinct communities in India, 635 are considered to be ‘tribes’ or ‘Adivasis’. In comparison, one finds that estimated number of STs varies from 250 to 593.

It must, however, be stated that the Indian Constitution does not use the term ‘Adivasi’ and instead refers to the STs as ‘Anusuchit Jana Jati’. Traditionally ‘Jana’ was the more popular term to refer to the tribes in the Hindi heartland. (Ray: 1972)

One of the prime factors for claiming aboriginal or indigenous status for the tribes is to enable them to gain territorial, land rights and control over natural resources. There are, however, vicious forces in the country who are overtly active in not conceding these rights. The Hindutva forces term the tribes as ‘Vanvasi[vanavasi]. This term not only conveys a sense of primitiveness but also tries to deny the territorial rights. The Gandhians too were not very far from it and they considered the tribes more from a culturological position and referred to them as ‘Vanyajati’.

It is disconcerting that most of the anthropologists and sociologists have either remained indifferent to such developments or have passively supported the ‘Adivasi’ terminology and thus jeopardised the legitimate rights and interests of the tribes dwelling in the regions beyond the Hindi heartland. At the outset it needs to be realised that a nation-state like India is not a cultural but political entity which was borne due to a quirk of history. […]

Thirdly, it is important to note that the tribes in India are not the only group to claim indigenous status. Even many of the Dalit intellectuals have made similar assertions. (Massey: 1994) Next, the Government of India itself refuses to grant indigenous status to the tribes. One of the important reasons for this is that a few Brahmin and Rajput communities like the Jaunsari in Uttarakhand or the Kanaura in Himachal Pradesh have been enlisted as Scheduled Tribe. More importantly, the term ‘Adivasi’ is popularly used in North Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura to refer to the tea plantation labourers—the tribes like Santhal, Munda, Oraon and Ho who had migrated to the region during the British colonial period. The local tribes in these States find it humiliating to identify themselves as ‘Adivasi’. The indigenous Rabha, Mech and Rajbansi tribes/ethnic groups in North Bengal prefer to identify themselves by their own names and not as ‘Adivasi’. […]

The term ‘Adivasi’ therefore, remains a generic name in East and North-East India for identifying the migrant tribal labourers and small peasants from central India. […]

It needs to be reiterated that it would be a gross mistake to consider the term ‘Adivasi’ to be equivalent to the term ‘Tribe’ in India. This could only reinforce the anti-Indian feelings among many of the tribes inhabiting, North Bengal, Sikkim and other North-Eastern States. The term will be considered pejorative and humiliating to most of them. It must be realised that the term tribe itself is a colonial construct and ‘aboriginal’ ‘autochthon’ percepts are outcome of colonial conquests. The so-called ‘friends of tribes’ in India have been amateurishly trying to romanticise the term in the name of radical empowerment. The tribal situation in India is extremely heterogeneous and a unified approach may not do justice to all the communities. It must also be understood that the definition of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ as projected by the UN Working Group for Indigenous Peoples has an European bias […]

To conclude, the term ‘indigenous peoples’ itself appears to be contentious in the Indian context as there are many claimants to it; these include the Dalits (claiming their Dravidian antecedence), the Vaishnavite Meiteis of Manipur and the caste Hindus of Assam. It will perhaps be always better to avoid using the popular NGO nomenclature ‘Advisai’ in the tenors of serious academic discourse when dealing with the notion of indigenous groups in the Indian context.

Source: Adivasi: A Contentious Term to denote Tribes as Indigenous Peoples of India – Mainstream Weekly
Address : https://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article1537.html
Date Visited: Fri Dec 07 2012 21:18:29 GMT+0100 (CET)

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Research the above issues with the help of Shodhganga: A reservoir of theses from universities all over India, made available under Open Access >>

“Tribal men and women mix freely, but with respect for each other [but] caste Hindu society in India is so convinced of its own superiority that it never stops to consider the nature of social organisation among tribal people. In fact it is one of the signs of the ‘educated’ barbarian of today that he cannot appreciate the qualities of people in any way different from himself – in looks or clothes, customs or rituals.” – Guest Column in India Today >>

Image © The Hindu for “The Adivasi in the mirror: The lynching of Madhu in Kerala must shock our conscience into recognising the dispossession of India’s tribals” by Nissim Mannathukkaren >>

Casteism is the investment in keeping the hierarchy as it is in order to maintain your own ranking, advantage, privilege, or to elevate yourself above others or keep others beneath you …. For this reason, many people—including those we might see as good and kind people—could be casteist, meaning invested in keeping the hierarchy as it is or content to do nothing to change it, but not racist in the classical sense, not active and openly hateful of this or that group.” | Learn more about India’s caste system and the effects of “casteism” on tribal communities >>

“The notion of ‘mainstreaming’ needs to be challenged not just because Adivasi culture is being crushed, but also because Adivasi values and ways of life offer insights that the ‘mainstream’ needs. If we are to halt the destruction of ecosystems, we need to understand how closely biodiversity and cultural diversity are intertwined. Perhaps it is time to reverse the gaze and begin to learn afresh from Adivasis.” – Felix Padel & Malvika Gupta in “Are mega residential schools wiping out India’s Adivasi culture?” (The Hindu, 13 February 2021) | More about the role of tribal communities in preserving India’s biodiversity and ethnobotany >>

A constitution which guarantees: “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen” – The Sovereign Republic of India | Learn more >>

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Posted in Adivasi / Adibasi, Anthropology, Colonial policies, Constitution and Supreme Court, Figures, census and other statistics, Gandhian social movement, Government of India, History, Literature and bibliographies, Media portrayal, Misconceptions, Modernity, Quotes, Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Scheduled Tribe (ST), Seven Sister States & Sikkim – North Eastern Council | Comments Off on The term ‘Adivasi’: Neither an equivalent to ‘Tribe’ nor used in the Indian Constitution – Mainstream Weekly