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Essence of freedom: What independence means to tribals of India

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By Kanika Rangray

indianflagOn this 69th Independence day of India, we celebrate the anniversary of the fulfilment of the dream of the many freedom fighters of India; the dream for which they happily laid down their lives, the dream of an “Independent India.”

But the question also arises if this independence is the same for all. What has this independence meant for the tribal society?

The Tribal society of India

For a very long time, the tribal people have been considered as the primitive segment of the Indian society. They have been ear-marked as a community of people who live in forests and hills, and survive on what the forests have to offer them, without any contact with civilisation.

According to the 2011 census, tribal population in India is 104 million, which is 8.6 percent of the Indian population. Majority of the tribal population of India lives in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and some north-eastern states, along with the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

When India became an independent and democratic country, relations between tribes and the more advanced majority communities changed; the tribal people now had rights to vote in general elections for the Parliament and Legislative Assembly of their respective states.

However, this did not have much effect on them, because they did not understand the implication of this right, but local elections did affect them. When some of the most powerful people in their district approached the poorest of the villagers for vote appeal; this alerted them to a fundamental change in the system.

Headman_Kapika_und_sein_Enkel

Till date, tribals continue to occupy the lowest economic strata, their area of habitation least developed in terms of infrastructure and all other aspects of development.

The tribal people in India have been exploited since colonial times. The encroachment upon their land by the non-tribal people hampered not only their lifestyle but also led to uprisings among them.

In order to save the Indian tribes from further exploitation, the constitution provided some safeguards:

  • Article 46 of the Indian Constitution says that the state should promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the tribal people and should protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation through special legislatures.
  • Article 244(2) (Sixth Schedule) provides a self-government to the tribal peoples by making a provision of the creation of autonomous district council, creation of districts and regional councils. The objective of Sixth Schedule was to enable tribal people to live according to their own ways.
  • Article 275(1) provides special grant-in-aid for promoting the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes (ST).
  • Article 330, 332, 335 allocates a reservation of seats for the STs in Lok Sabha and in state legislatures as well as in services

However, these constitutional provisions have done little to help them. Majority of the tribes in India live below the poverty line. The tribes lead simple lives, with most of the occupations being of the primary kind such as hunting, gathering and agriculture, and they are carried out using simple technology. There is no profit and surplus making in such economy, and hence their per capita income is very meagre in comparison to the Indian average. This leads to debt at the hands of local moneylenders and zamindars, and mortgaging or selling off their lands to moneylenders. Ultimate result is displacement on a large level.

Talking about health and nutrition, the Indian tribal population suffers from chronic infections and diseases, the water-borne diseases being life threatening, deficiency diseases. Infant mortality rate is also very high in the tribal population of India. Malnutrition is common. Also, the disturbed ecological balance, caused due to the cutting of trees have increased the distances between villages and the forest areas, thereby forcing tribal women to walk longer distances in search of forest produce and firewood.

In terms of formal education, it has made very little impact on tribal groups. Even though there is an ST reservation quota in most schools and colleges across the country, the penetration of education in the tribal groups is still very low. This low level of education can be accounted to many reasons such as formal education not being deemed necessary to discharge their local obligations. Superstition and myths also play their role for tribals rejecting education. Also, extreme poverty makes it difficult for them to send their children to school as they are considered as extra helping hands. Most disappointing is that formal schools themselves do not hold any special interests for these children, and most of the tribes being located in interior and remote areas teachers do not like to go there.

The government initiated a handful of schemes to help the tribal or scheduled tribes (ST) communities; for their development. But the sort of development which they look forth to is like providing them roads, electricity, pukka houses to live in. But isn’t that equal to destroying their culture and their homes?

independenceThe tribes have made their homes in the forests and the hills, they know it better than anyone else. Just like a man living in a village or city knows how to take care of his home better than anyone else, similarly the forests are the homes of their tribes. They nurture it and take care of it better than a ministry set up by the government could do.

Development in the true sense for the tribals would be in educating them and providing them the technology through which they can nurture the forests. Development for the nation would be when these forests are given to these tribes, by making them their caretaker.

The end result would be a developed and independent tribal society of India, and a better green cover which would take us one step forward in achieving a perfect ecological balance in the country.

This would be independence for the tribal society of India.

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Shoot The Rapist At The Sight

 And which type is contributing more dangerously to the society can easily be measured with our simple plus and minus equation

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This glaring aberration in the world of media is visible as clearly as stars in the darkness of the night.
India is plagued with a disease called Rape. Wikimedia Commons

Salil Gewali

  • India is plagued with a disease called Rape
  • There are no rigorous punishments for rape
  • Rapists openly commit crimes without anny fear

Why the clamour only for the rigorous punishment for rape and other sadistic crimes which have their roots in the mental-degeneration? Apart from the toughest punishment to the perpetrators, let’s go deeper to analyze what could be the possible  “causes”  that push men to commit rape. Why so much mental degeneration that certain individuals can stoop to the gutter being to their status, their position and social values? Well, how to address those issues is certainly a challenge. And that “challenge” certainly calls for a serious brain-storming and a serious self-assessment vise-a vise the environment in which we all are living.

Ranaghat Nun Rape Case
Rape culture in India garnered more spotlight following the Nirbhaya-gang rape, after which the issue has continue to remain a burning topic in the country. Pixabay

True, in the physical world we are highly convinced brag about that healthy environment is a must for our healthy living. Even kids know these days that we can’t breathe well if our surroundings are filled with high levels of  “toxicity”. We have well studied through our academic textbooks that people invite the environmental disaster if they keep on allowing excessive emission of CO2, CO, methane and other dangerous gases into the atmosphere. We have fully acknowledged that each tall and black chimney of the industries and the nozzles of the motor vehicles are here only to mar the beauty of this planet? What kind of damages the toxic gases are doing to our ecosystem are not at all tough job to analyze with modern appliances. Again, a lot amount of books have been published to create the awareness, to inform us about the scientifically tested measures to resolve the environmental concerns.

However, do we have the same amount of literature that pinpoint the “causes” which contribute to turning “males into perverts”? Who else is emitting the “toxic substances” that overpower the inborn sensitivity of the deviant? What are the properties of toxic filth that is polluting the mind-scape of the society? Now we have Donald Trump, the president of the USA, whom many prefer call him a pervert. At this rate, the number perverts are increasing and they have become dangerously ubiquitous. And, all those perverts have brought nightmares to the ill-fated females. We often stage candle march in protest against the rape, but remain blind to the glaring “causes”. Should we still fiddle about and be appreciative of the society that shameless covers itself with the vulgarity — the “toxicity” that might numb the sanity of males? Watch out, dear friends, those perverts have begun to see even “baby girls” as objects of lust!

Please note:  what our sages said:  “What you see that you think, what you think that you do and what you do that become !!!!”

Also Read: Eat Grapes To Ward Off Depression

Again, I would like to draw another similarity with what prompt big people to “rape”/violate the harmony of the Mother Earth. The case is very regularly brought out by the conscious citizens across the country. A senior journalist Patricia Mukhim of Meghalaya has pointedly driven home recently how the “greed for money” has corrupted many leaders who are trying hard to justify the senseless exploitation of the “body” of Mother Earth. Many big shots of big companies struggle to convince the politicians to tweak the laws to grant the permission to perpetually “rape” the country.

In my mind, both are infected with common syndromes! While the one type is interested in the body of the females, the other type has a fetish for the rocky body of the “Mother Earth”. And which type is contributing more dangerously to the society can easily be measured with our simple plus and minus equation.

The rape victims are not getting the justice they deserve.
The rape victims are not getting the justice they deserve.

Let’s assess the issues from another angle, given the advancement of medical science. Till some years back malaria, dengue, cholera, HIV, smallpox were life-taking diseases. But the medical science has pretty successfully eradicated or contained them all. The scientists have correctly identified the causes of those dangerous diseases and recommended the remedial measures. No doubt, that is a very productive achievement. However, why have the modern studies practically failed to “identify the causes”  of the pandemic rise of the horrendous instances of rapes and criminality associated with them? Is it not a strong slap in the face of the modern civilization considering we have not yet spelt out the causes and the characteristic symptoms the  “toxic emitters” who turn decent males into sadists? How long will we endure the depravity which has already strangulated the decency of the society? Should we still wait to work out the tough laws? Should we still hitch to explore for the “causes” and remedial measures? I guess the time is ripe that each morally conscious individual be allowed a shotgun to shoot the “perversion and depravity” of any kind at sight!

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.