Tribal people in Odisha and neighbouring States are currently facing an invasion and dispossession of their lands unprecedented in the history of the subcontinent. Obviously, the East India Company set the dominant models of privatizing land and taking it over on the pretext of “pre-eminent domain”, as well as top-down, hierarchical power structures. But what is happening now can only be called invasion and takeover, by a multitude of companies and vested interests, too often in collusion with state agencies and full backing of a police force that exists, supposedly, to serve the people, but too often serves corporate interests.
Sometimes the prevalent ways of writing about adivasis and the dire situations they face, even in Tribal Tribune, seem part of a depersonalized relic of colonial-era discourse – a discourse of implicit domination, that adds insult to injury, and fails to analyse the situation honestly or holistically. Adivasi voices need to be heard a lot more widely, not just in English, the language of elite education and discourse, but also in adivasi and state languages, from women and children as well as men, from the North-East and South as well as Central India.
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