Nature Talk


    It is often discussed among the concerned people that the tribal culture must be saved from dilution or extinction. Previously the anthropologists and the national policy makers were leading such discussions, but now many fora and media people are found to be highlighting the issue. So far as India is concerned, the issue has been debated since the mid-twentieth century with Verrier Elwin in the lead. He had very intimate relation with the tribes residing in various parts of India, hence his views were given importance even by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the visionary Prime Minister of nascent India.

    The term ‘tribe’ has been ascribed to some communities, who live with their age-old tradition unruffled by technological development. As acceptance of modern technology requires knowledge, skill and money, which such community could not afford, they continued to live in their own territories leading a nature-dependent life style. They utilized natural resources as per their own requirements and remained ‘poor’ or ‘under developed’ or even ‘primitive’ in the eyes of the other people of the country. As natural population, these communities were subjected to various types of situations like high birth rate, low survivality, less nutrition, etc. Many tribal communities have perished in course of time, many are on verge of extinction and yet many have thrived.

    The invasion on their ancestral territories by the technologically advanced people has led to the closer contact, which, in many ways, snatched their autonomy of using local resources causing threat to their existence. But such contacts have also given them a taste of ‘developed’ life style. Culture contact gives scope of acculturation and now we find many tribal communities are mimicking advanced people in the manner of observing their rituals. That has been the matter of consternation for many people. Can one stop a group of people to introduce change in their life style or observance of rituals to enhance their satisfaction? Culture is a product of mind. So it will change as per environmental situation of the people much to their desire. Of course, at a given time, all members of a society do not like the change. This happens to all societies whether they are ‘tribal’ or ‘developed’. If the aim of tribal development is to induct these people into the main stream of national life, why one should rue over loss of their age-old traditions? But if the change is mutilating their basic qualities of sharing and community feeling, according high status to women, resistance to subjugation, then such change is a matter of concern, which no right thinking person can afford to ignore.


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