Recognising the unsung heroes from India’s tribal communities

News: Union Cabinet has approved 15th November as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas to remember the contributions of tribal freedom fighters for the country. This date was chosen as it is the birth anniversary of Birsa Munda who is revered as Bhagwan by tribal communities across the country.

Also read: Remembering Birsa Munda on Janjatiya Gaurav Divas
What are the tribal contributions to the Indian freedom struggle?

Several tribal communities like Paharia, Chuar, Kol, Bhil, Ho, and others fought against British policies which adversely impact their social and economical frameworks and destroy their natural resources. Among the various movements, some are:

Mangarh hill massacre: It is also known as the “Jallianwala Bagh massacre of the Vagad region“. The movement is led by Bhil social reformer and spiritual leader, Govind Guru. On November 17, 1913, the Britishers gunned down more than 1500 Bhils on Mangarh hill on the border of present-day Rajasthan and Gujarat, where the innocent people have gathered here for social causes under the leadership of Govind Guru.

About Govind Guru: He started working with the Bhil community during the great famine of 1899-1900. He advocated systematically fighting social problems such as liquor consumption and intergenerational debt. He initiated the Bhagat Sampradaya (sect) in 1908 to socially and morally uplift the Bhil community.
What Indians should learn from tribal communities?

1)  Preserving indigenous art, culture, environment and forests 2)  Tribals have a better sex ratio (990) than the national average (940). Girl child is more welcome in these communities 3) Dowry is less prevalent.

What are the various mechanisms that exist to safeguard tribal interests?

Fifth and sixth Schedule: For the upliftment of tribal communities. Representation of these communities has been ensured at the parliamentary, assembly, and panchayat levels.

Ministry of Tribal Affairs: Separate ministry has been made in 1999 to expedite the pace of tribal welfare-related work.

Development Programme: Various measures of government like the effective implementation of the Aspirational Districts Programme, provisions for scholarships, a five-fold increase in the number of Eklavya Schools has been introduced for uplifting the tribal communities. The New Education Policy has also emphasised local language as the medium of instruction, which will undoubtedly benefit the tribal youth.

Recognizing shining stars: The government has felicitated many shining stars of the tribal community, such as Tulasi Gowda (Karnataka), Rahibai Soma Popere ( Maharashtra), Lakshmikutty (Kerala), Dutee Chand, Mary Kom and others.

Also read: PM launches multiple key initiatives for the welfare of Janjatiya community at Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas Mahasammelan
What is the way forward?

There is a need to highlight the stories of tribal heroes and heroines from the freedom struggle and introduce them to the new generation so that their sacrifices in the Indian freedom struggle get noticed.

Source: This post is based on the article “Recognising the unsung heroes from India’s tribal communities” published in the Indian Express On 24th November 2021.

Print Friendly and PDF