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ADIVASI AND THEIR NEEDS IN THE MODERN AGE FOR PROGRESS AND PROSPERITY

Dr Dhuni Soren, “Boarijore”33 Longmeadow Road, Knowsley, Liverpool L34 0HN. UK

Email; dhuni@adivasi.com

Adivas (tribal people) are known for their simplicity, sincerity, honesty, trust worthiness, straight forwardness, easy going and enjoyment of simple life with traditional songs, dances and home brewed Haria (Beer).

Adivasi people rightly pride in these virtues and are happy and contented with whatever little they have. The non- tribal look at these as their weaknesses and take advantage of their simplicity to exploit them in every possible way.

To appreciate these we have to go back briefly to nearly 250 years of the history of Adivasi and Jharkhand region. Here I would like to concentrate in the plight of Adivasi of the newly created state of Jhrakhand. Although the same principles apply to all Adivasi living in other parts of India and beyond.

1765; Santal Pargana was brought under British Rule by military might.

1771-1819; British attack on Palamau and Chero revolt.

1780-85; Tilka Manjhi led tribal revolt injuring British Army Chief and he was hanged to death in Bhagalpur.

1797 and 1800-02 Munda revolts under Vishnu Manaki and Bhukan singh respectively.

1824; Damin-E-Koh established

1832-33; Kherwar revolt under the leadership of Bhagirath,Dubai Gosal and Patel Singh.

1855-1860; Santal Hul under the leadership of Sido and Kanhu brothers

1895- 1900; ULGULAN under Birsa Munda.

1908; Introduction of Chotanagpur Tenancy Act.

1912; Bihar separated from greater Bengal.and some parts of Chotanagpur merged with Bengal.

1947; India became Independent and the British Raj came to an end.

1949; Santal Pargana land Tenancy Act introduced to prevent the sale of land to non-tribal.

Dr, Dhuni Soren

Apart from these and other revolts by the tribal people, many social and political groups sprang up under various tribal leaders to campaign to preserve and promote tribal customs, traditions and heritage and for their rights. Some of these leaders are Pal Dayal, Thebale Oraon, Joel Lakra, Jaipal Sing Munda, N.E. Horo, Bodra, S.K. Bage, Debi Soren and Shibu Soren.

1929 was a land mark year when for the first time a memorandum was submitted to the Simon Commission for separate state of Jharkhand.

25th November 2000; At long last a new separate state of Jharkhand was curved out of Bihar. In spite of this and nearly 250 years of struggle and revolts, there has been very little progress and prosperity of tribal people in Jharkhand. The central and state governments have spent lot of money and time in the name of the development of Adivasi people. But unfortunately they have not reached the people it was supposed to help due to mismanagement and poor implementation by the government agencies and the indifference of the people who work in them as most of them are non- tribal from outside the area.

As regards the tribal people themselves, the majority of them have very little or no education at all and are not aware of their rights and are unable to speak up for themselves. The long exploitation and subjugation has made them weak, helpless and apprehensive. They have lost self- respect and have no confidence in themselves. A culture of dependency has crept in to their culture and expects that governments would do most of the things for them.

A time has come for the tribal people to think long and hard to come out of the traditional comfort zone and change their attitude and mind set to survive and compete with the mainstream community in the modern world. This can be done without forgetting the virtues, customs, traditions and cultural heritage.

Apart from the progress in the fields of EDUCATION, LIFE STYLE, HEALTH CARE, SANITATION and LIVELIHOOD, they need to be encouraged and inspired in the following mental and psychological spheres:

1. Activism; Adivasi people have more or less been static for last couple of centuries except occasional bursts of revolts under heavy pressure of exploitation and subjugation. They need to get out of this mode and be on move working hard with bursting zeal to keep pace with the rest of the mainstream communities.

2. Dynamism; They need to develop energetic, forceful and go-ahead attitude in all aspects of their life.

3. Innovation; Develop new, changing and innovative work pattern to cope with the rapidly changing world.

4. Inventiveness; They need to explore and try new ways and means of livelihood rather than sticking to the primitive ways of agriculture and cultivation.

5. Competitiveness; In this age of globalisation and technology where the fittest survives, they need to develop the sense of competitiveness to excel and win to survive.

6. Forward looking; Traditionally tribal people have been backward looking and priding in their past glories and heritage. This has to change and a new culture of forward looking and foresight ought to be embraced without forgetting their traditional virtues.

7. Compassion; Traditional kindness, fellow feeling and helping each other in the community do not need to be forgotten to achieve progress and prosperity which will in fact enhance the human values.

8. Motivation; They should not only hunger for food but also for ambition, desire and drive to move forward to better themselves and their children and future generations.

9. Dedication: They need to encourage and practise commitment and devotion for the progress and prosperity of their family, friends and community at large..

10. Entrepreneurship; To develop a sense of adventure with caution to try new ways and means of income generation to keep up with the rapidly changing modern trends and methods.

11. Hopes; So far the tribal people have had very little hope but disappointment, isolation and desperation. They need to get out of the deep hole created over the years and start thinking big with high hopes.

12. Aspirations: It’s about time, Adivasi people awake from the deep slumber and start thinking and dreaming big and aspire and aim for high living and prosperity.

Once they achieve these attributes of life and daily living, their way of thinking, outlook and life style will change. They will be empowered and will have a voice of their own and can stand on their own feet and speak up for themselves. That will be the day when they will be listened to by the mainstream community and the governments. The Adivasi people will then walk tall with their heads held high with pride and dignity without losing their customs, traditions, culture, heritage and identity.

The tribal intelligentsia and their educated people have an important role to play in this connection by inspiring and setting examples. They need to spare some of their valuable time to help their community to achieve these where their social and political leaders have dismally failed over the years.

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