Showing posts with label peoples says. Show all posts
Showing posts with label peoples says. Show all posts

आपल्या सर्वांमध्ये या न त्या रूपाने 'बिरसा' आहेत

आज भगवान बिरसा मुंडा यांची १३८वि जयंती सर्व आदिवासी बांधव दिमाखात साजरे करतील,बिरसा मुंडा यांच्या महान कार्याला सलाम करत अनेक कार्यक्रम आयोजित करण्यात येतील,भाषणे देण्यात येतील दिवसा अखेर सर्व जन आपल्या मनात बिरसांना वंदन करत पुढची जयंती कशी साजरी करावी हे ठरवतील …? करणारच!...  का नाही कारण बिरसा मुंडा हे नावच आपल्या समाजासाठी इतके प्रेरणादायी आहे,मग त्यांची जयंती आपण नाय साजरी करणार तर कोण करणार …?
 आज प्रत्येक आदिवासी तरुण फेसबुक सारख्या माध्यमातून आपल्या मनात 'भगवान बिरसा मुंडा' यांना नमन करताना बघून खूप अभिमान वाटतोय ,आपल्या तरुणात पसरत असलेली हि जागरुकता खरेच समाजाच्या दृष्टीने हितावह आहे.
        भगवान बिरसा मुंडा हे आदिवासींच्या अधिकारांसाठी स्वाभिमानासाठी लढले अमर झाले,मातृभूमीच्या रक्षणासाठी ते झटले. समाजाला गुलामगिरीतून मुक्त करण्यासाठी त्यांनी शस्त्र हाती घेतले.
        आज आपण स्वतंत्र असूनही गुलामासारखे वागवले जातोय,हे पाहून बिरासांनी पुन्हा अवतरावे असे वाटते,परंतु आपल्या एक लक्षात येतेय का कि आपल्यात 'बिरसा' आजही जिवंत आहेत, त्यांच्या विचारांच्या रुपात! आदिवासी समाजासाठी खऱ्या मनाने झटणारा प्रत्येक जण  'बिरसा' आहे . आदिवासींसाठी जागृती करणारा प्रसंगी मोर्चे बांधणी करून पोलिसांचा मार खाणारा,तर ज्ञान रुपी शस्र हाती घेवून कायद्याने आदिवासींसाठी लढणाराही बिरसाच आहे !
       इतकेच काय आपल्या सर्वांमध्ये या त्या रूपाने 'बिरसा' आहेत फक्त त्यांना ओळखणे आपल्यात लपलेल्या या 'बिरसा' रुपी विचारांना कृतीत उतरवण्याची गरज आहे . केवळ आजच्याच दिवशी नाही, तर रोजच बिरासांचे नमन करुयात  ,त्यांच्या विचारांचे अवलोकन रोजच केले तर ती त्यांना खरी सलामी असेल.
        आपल्या तरुण पिढीला बाकीचा इतिहास तोंडपाठ असतो परंतु आपल्या आदिवासी विरांबद्दल फारशी माहिती नसते,आपण शिकलेल्यांनी पुढे येवून जर हा इतिहास पुढे आणला तर, आपल्या आदिवासी वीरांच्या महान कार्याला सलामी ठरेल   येणाऱ्या पिढीला हा ज्ञानकोश उपलब्ध करून देउ  शकतात . केवळ बिरसाच नाही तर असे अनेक क्रांतिवीर होऊन गेले,जे आपल्या समाजासाठी झटले ,त्यांचा इतिहास आपल्याला माहित असणे गरजेचे आहे.
       केवळ आजच्या दिवशी बिरसांच्या कार्याला सलामी करण्यापेक्षा बिरसांच्या विचारांना कृतीत उतरवून त्यांना रोजच सलामी देउयात. बिरासांची आज आपल्या समाजाला खरेच गरज असताना आपल्यातील प्रत्येक जण जर 'बिरसा' झाला तर खरोखरच 'उलगुलान' होईल! आणि 'आपण सुरु केलेल्या उलगुलान चा कधीच अंत होणार नाही' हा बिरसांचा विश्वास सार्थकी लागेल. यासाठी प्रत्येकाने शस्र घेवून मैदानात उतरणे शक्य नसले, तरी जे आपणाकडून शक्य होईल ते आपल्या समाजासाठी करणे गरजेचे आहे .
     भगवान बिरसा मुंडा हे आपले नायक आहेत,आज या नायकाला त्यांच्या १३८ व्या जयंती निमित्त नमन करून आपल्या समाजासाठी बिरसांसारखे कार्य करण्याचा प्रण करूयात !


-    संचिता सातवी

Save Tribals | Bogus Hatavo Adivasi Bachavo

चलो आपण आपल्या मित्र परिवारा सोबत सहभागी होवून आदिवासी एकात्मता मजबूत करूयात 
 
बोगस हटाव आदिवासी बचाव कृती समिती, नाशिक 

सर्व खऱ्या आदिवासींचा विराट मोर्चा

२१ सप्टेंबर, सकाळ ११ वाजता 
स्थळ : गोल्फ क्लब मैदान ते जिल्हाधिकारी कार्यालय नाशिक

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आदिवासी समाजात वाढत असेलेल्या एकात्मता आणि सामाजिक प्रश्ना बद्दल जागरूकता कौतुकास्पद आहे या करिता आपणा सगळ्यांचे सहकार्य अपेक्षित आहे. त्या साठी एकत्रित सकारात्मक आणि सहकार्याची भावना ठेवणे महत्वाचे आहे. आदिवासी युवकांना / संघटनांना एकत्र येवूया आणि आदिवासी एकता या साठी अडथळे दूर करूयात. आणि त्या दृष्टीने जर सकारात्मक आणि सहकार्याची भावना नसलेल्या विचार पासून आदिवासी युवकांनी सावध राहावे !

आदिवासींच्या विकासातील प्रगत आदिवासींची भूमिका


आदिवासींच्या विकासातील प्रगत आदिवासींची भूमिका

जंगलातील फळे, फुले, कंदमुळे आणि शिकार यावर आपली उपजीविका भागवणारा आदिवासी समाज काही प्रमाणात चाकोरीच्या बाहेर जाऊन आपले जीवन जगू लागला आहे.त्याचेच एक उदाहरण म्हणजे आज आदिवासी समाज आणि संस्कृतीचे दर्शन जगाला करून देण्यासाठी अनेकजण पुढे येत आहेत. अनेक पुस्तके, मासिके, वर्तमानपत्रे, इत्यादींमधून अनेकवेळा वेगवेगळे लेख, कविता छापून येतात. त्यातच भर म्हणजे फेसबुकवर सुद्धा आदिवासी संस्कृतीशी निगडीत अनेक ग्रुप आहेत.

देशाच्या एकूण लोकसंखेच्या ८.२ % असलेला हा आदिवासी समाज एका संपन्न लोकपरंपरेचा एक भाग आहे. परंतु इंग्रजांच्या आगमनानंतर आदिवासी जमातींच्या स्वायत्त, संपन्न आणि स्वच्छंद जगण्यावर अनेक बंधने आली. स्वातंत्र्यानंतर गोर्या साहेबांच्या जागी आलेल्या देशी साहेबांनीसुद्धा आदिवासिंचे जगणे असह्य केले. परिणामी आज १० कोटींहून अधिक असलेले आदिवासी आपले स्वत्व हरवून बसले आहेत.

आधुनिकीकारानाच्या, प्रगतीच्या आणि जागतीकरनाच्या नावाखाली आजचा समाज आदिवासिंचा मूळ धर्म, संस्कृती, कला, नृत्य, वाद्य, औषधोपचार अशा सर्व मौलिक गोष्टींचा त्याग करत आहोत. मूळ आदिवासींना प्रगतीचा पुढचा टप्पा म्हणजे पांढरपेशा वर्गासारखे जीवन जगणे असे वाटते, तर अन्य समाजाला या हरवत चाललेल्या आदिवासिपणाची पर्वा नाही असे चित्र आज देशातील सर्वच आदिवासीबहुल भागात दिसतेय. देशभर विखुरलेल्या आदिवासी जमातींमध्ये होत असलेल्या या सामाजिक आणि सांस्कृतिक स्थित्यंतराचे परिणाम भयंकर आहेत.

आदिवासींचा विकास करताना त्यांचे आदिवासीपण जपण्याचा प्रयत्न झाला पाहिजे. अन्यथा न्यूझीलंड, कॅनडा, ऑस्ट्रेलिया, व अमेरिकेतील आदिवासी जसे म्युझियममध्येच पाहायला मिळतात, तशी अवस्था आपल्याकडेही होईल कि काय अशी भीती वाटते.

आज प्रगत आदिवासी बांधवांनी आपल्या आदिवासी लोकांना प्रेम, सम्मान, सहानुभूती, शिक्षण, मार्गदर्शन दिले केले पाहिजे. या आपल्या समाज बांधवांना आपले प्रेम, सम्मान, सहानुभूती, शिक्षण, मार्गदर्शनाची आवश्यकता आहे. जर आपण त्यांच्याबरोबर मैत्रीपूर्ण संबंध निर्माण केले तर ते खूपच आनंदी होतील. जर अशी मानाशिकाता देशातील १० करोड आदिवासींची निर्माण झाली तर हजारो वर्षापूर्वीचा सुवर्णकाळ पुन्हा यायला उशीर होणार नाही.

do something ..its time.

do something ..its time.


By - Yogesh Sapate moderator - Adivasi engineers & doctors community
My Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Great to see you all, highly educated, young, tribal’s gathered here again. This community is going to help you to build your good career, educate you about the current scenario of our community, and give you a platform to share your ideas n thoughts and also help you to implement them. This is the main motto behind creating this community.

When a person is born some identity sticks to him/her since that moment. Those identities are surname, religion, caste and community. We all are here from tribal community and we all know that our community is not much developed yet. It is still facing problem like illiteracy, superstition, etc.

One day you will secure higher position in your field, will achieve success…. Good for you.

After fulfilling your dreams you shouldn’t forget your community. Because in this society you are going to known by your surname and it clearly indicate your community. So you being at a good position and your community at lower position, it does not feel good, isn’t it??

So I am requesting you do something to help our people before it’s too late. I am not asking you to sacrifies lots for this, You’ll have to just ask yourself , ”what can I do for my community ??” and you will surely have a answer at your level . Think over it and then try to implement your ideas and do share it with us so that we also can be of some help to you.

It’s time to do something for OUR people.

So wake up and start working.

Original posted at –[ Adivasi engineers & doctors community ] http://www.orkut.com/Main#CommMsgs?cmm=20561491&tid=5454243599891597887&start=1

adivasi @ http://www.reference.com/browse/adivasi

Adivasi
Ādivāsīs (in Devanagari script: आदिवासी), literally "original inhabitants", comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India. Indian tribals are also called Atavika (forest dwellers, in Sanskrit texts), Vanvasis or Girijans (hill people, e.g., by Mahatma Gandhi).

These autochthonous people, popularly known as the Tribal people are particularly numerous in the Indian states of Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and in extreme northeastern states such as Mizoram. Officially recognized by the Indian government as "Scheduled Tribes" in the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India, they are often grouped together with scheduled castes in the category "Scheduled Castes and Tribes", which is eligible for certain affirmative action measures.

They have their own tribal religions which are different than Islam or Vedic Hinduism but more close to Tantric Shaivism. During the 19th century, substantial numbers converted to Christianity and Brahmoism (modern Hindu sect).

Lord Shiva of the Hindus is believed to have been an Adivasi clan deity originally but was also accepted by the Aryans as a deity. Adivasis also occupy importance in the Ramayan, wherein King Gohu and his tribe help Shri Ram in Chitrakoot. This apart, even in the modern era, a prominent freedom fighter was Birsa Munda, an Adivasi, who was also a religious leader.

Maharishi Valmiki, the author of the Ramayana was a Bhil Adivasi.

Many smaller tribal groups are quite sensitive to ecological degradation caused by modernization. Both commercial forestry and intensive agriculture have proved destructive to the forests that had endured swidden agriculture for many centuries.

Geographic Overview
There is a substantial list of Scheduled Tribes in India recognized as tribal under the Constitution of India. Tribal peoples constitute 8.3% of the nation's total population, over 84 million people according to the 2001 census. One concentration lives in a belt along the Himalayas stretching through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand in the west, to Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland in the northeast. In the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Nagaland, more than 90% of the population is tribal. However, in the remaining northeast states of Assam, Manipur, Sikkim, and Tripura, tribal peoples form between 20 and 30% of the population.

Another concentration lives in the hilly areas of central India (Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, and, to a lesser extent, Andhra Pradesh); in this belt, which is bounded by the Narmada River to the north and the Godavari River to the southeast, tribal peoples occupy the slopes of the region's mountains. Other tribals, including the Santals, live in Jharkhand and West Bengal. Central Indian states have the country's largest tribes, and, taken as a whole, roughly 75% of the total tribal population live there, although the tribal population there accounts for only around 10% of the region's total population.

There are smaller numbers of tribal people in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala in south India; in western India in Gujarat and Rajasthan, and in the union territories of Lakshadweep and the Andaman Islands and Nicobar Islands. About one percent of the populations of Kerala and Tamil Nadu are tribal, whereas about six percent in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are members of tribes.

Criteria of 'Tribalness'
Apart from the use of strictly legal criteria, however, the problem of determining which groups and individuals are tribal is both subtle and complex. Because it concerns economic interests and voting blocs, the question of who are members of Scheduled Tribes rather than Backward Classes or Scheduled Castes is often controversial. Scholarly opinions also remain divided on this matter. In other parts of the world the Adivasis or Indigenous people are those who predate the colonizers. Many scholars, especially the westerners, claim that the Adivasis of India predate other communities of India. Indian scholars remain divided on this issue. If one accepts that Adivasis predate all other mainstream societies one has to accept that other communities, including Hindus, are migrants in India. It would function as proof-text on "Aryan Invasion Theory" which most scholars (being its members) would vehemently deny it. At best, Adivasis have no say about their own identity. It is decided politically as "Scheduled tribe." But even this title is controversial since it accepts as tribe. Will the Adivasis lose their tribe if they lose there Scheduled tribe status? The issue requires further clarification. Despite all these challenges there are specific traits of Adivasis that distinguish them from other Indian communities.
A number of traits have customarily been seen as establishing tribal rather than caste identity. These include language, social organization, religious affiliation, economic patterns, geographic location, and self-identification. Recognized tribes typically live in hilly regions somewhat remote from caste settlements; they generally speak a language recognized as tribal.

Unlike castes, which form part of a complex and interrelated local economic exchange system, tribes tend to form self-sufficient economic units. For most tribal people, land-use rights traditionally derive simply from tribal membership. Tribal society tends to the egalitarian, with its leadership based on ties of kinship and personality rather than on hereditary status. Tribes typically consist of segmentary lineages whose extended families provide the basis for social organization and control. Tribal religion recognizes no authority outside the tribe.

Any of these criteria may not apply in specific instances. Language does not always give an accurate indicator of tribal or caste status. Especially in regions of mixed population, many tribal groups have lost their mother tongues and simply speak local or regional languages. In parts of Assam - an area historically divided between warring tribes and villages - increased contact among villagers began during the colonial period, and has accelerated since independence in 1947. A pidgin Assamese developed while educated tribal members learned Hindi and, in the late twentieth century, English.

Self-identification and group loyalty do not provide unfailing markers of tribal identity either. In the case of stratified tribes, the loyalties of clan, kin, and family may well predominate over those of tribe. In addition, tribes cannot always be viewed as people living apart; the degree of isolation of various tribes has varied tremendously. The Gonds, Santals, and Bhils traditionally have dominated the regions in which they have lived. Moreover, tribal society is not always more egalitarian than the rest of the rural populace; some of the larger tribes, such as the Gonds, are highly stratified.

The apparently wide fluctuation in estimates of South Asia's tribal population through the twentieth century gives a sense of how unclear the distinction between tribal and nontribal can be. India's 1931 census enumerated 22 million tribal people, in 1941 only 10 million were counted, but by 1961 some 30 million and in 1991 nearly 68 million tribal members were included. The differences among the figures reflect changing census criteria and the economic incentives individuals have to maintain or reject classification as a tribal member.

These gyrations of census data serve to underline the complex relationship between caste and tribe. Although, in theory, these terms represent different ways of life and ideal types, in reality they stand for a continuum of social groups. In areas of substantial contact between tribes and castes, social and cultural pressures have often tended to move tribes in the direction of becoming castes over a period of years. Tribal peoples with ambitions for social advancement in Indian society at large have tried to gain the classification of caste for their tribes. On occasion, an entire tribe or part of a tribe joined a Hindu sect and thus entered the caste system en masse. If a specific tribe engaged in practices that Hindus deemed polluting, the tribe's status when it was assimilated into the caste hierarchy would be affected.

Since independence, however, the special benefits available to Scheduled Tribes have convinced many groups, even Hindus and Muslims, that they will enjoy greater advantages if so designated. The schedule gives tribal people incentives to maintain their identity. By the same token, the schedule also includes a number of groups whose 'tribal' status, in cultural terms, is dubious at best.

During the 1990s, a number of political adivasi movements also introduced a more political rather than 'scientific' understanding of the term adivasi, sometimes linking the notion of adivasiness to the international indigenous peoples' movement, sometimes more to Dalit or Dravidian themes (see Gail Omvedt 2006: Dalit voices).

Religion
Adivasi Saints

Saint Buddhu Bhagat, led the Kol Insurrection (1831-1832) aimed against against tax imposed on Mundas by Islamists.
Saint Dhira or Kannappa Nayanar , one of 63 Nayanar Shaivite saints, a hunter from whom Lord Shiva gladly accepted food offerings. It is said that he poured water from his mouth on the Shivlingam and offered the Lord swine flesh.
Saint Dhudhalinath, Koli, Gujarati, a 17th or 18th century devotee (P. 4, The Story of Historic People of India-The Kolis)
Saint Ganga Narain, led the Bhumij Revolt (1832-1833) aimed against missionaries and British colonialists.
Saint Girnari Velnathji, Koli, Gujarati of Junagadh, a 17th or 18th century devotee
Saint Gurudev Kalicharan Brahma or Guru Brahma, a Bodo whose founded the Brahma Dharma aimed against missionaries and colonialists. The Brahma Dharma movement sought to unite peoples of all religions to worship God together and survives even today.
Saint Jatra Oraon, Oraon, led the Tana Bhagat Movement (1914-1919) aimed against the missionaries and British colonialists
Saint Sri Koya Bhagat, Koli, Gujarati, a 17th or 18th century devotee
Saint Tantya Mama (Bhil), a Bhil after whom a movement is named after - the "Jananayak Tantya Bhil"
Saint Tirumangai Alvar, Kallar, composed the six Vedangas in beautiful Tamil verse

Sages

Bhaktaraj Bhadurdas, Koli, Gujarati, a 17th or 18th century devotee
Bhakta Shabari, a Bhil woman that offered Shri Rama and Shri Laxmana her half-eaten ber fruit, which they gratefully accepted when they were searching for Shri Sita Devi in the forest.
Madan Bhagat, Koli, Gujarati, a 17th or 18th century devotee
Sany Kanji Swami, Koli, Gujarati, a 17th or 18th century devotee
Bhaktaraj Valram, Koli, Gujarati, a 17th or 18th century devotee

Maharishis

Maharshi Matanga , Matanga Bhil, Guru of Bhakta Shabari. In fact, Chandalas are often addressed as ‘Matanga ’in passages like Varaha Purana 1.139.91
Maharshi Valmiki, Kirata Bhil, composed the Ramayana. He is considered to be an avatar in the Balmiki community. Furthermore, during Mahatma Gandhi's visit to Delhi, he stayed in a Harijan colony called Valmiki Mandir.

Avatars

Birsa Bhagwan or Birsa Munda, considered an avatar of Khasra Kora. People approached him as Singbonga, the sun-god. He converted even Christians to his own sect. He was against conversions by missionaries. He wanted not only political, but religious freedom as well! He and his clan, the Mundas, were connected with Vaishnavite traditions as they were influenced by Sri Chaitanya. Birsa was very close to the Panre brothers Vaishnavites.
Kirata - the form of Lord Shiva as a hunter. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The Karppillikkavu Sree Mahadeva Temple, Kerala adores Lord Shiva in this avatar and is known to be one of the oldest surviving temples in Bharat.
Vettakkorumakan, the son of Lord Kirata.
Kaladutaka or 'Vaikunthanatha', Kallar (robber), avatar of Lord Vishnu.

Other Tribals and Hinduism
Some Hindus believe that Indian tribals are close to the romantic ideal of the ancient silvan culture of the Vedic people. Golwalkar said:

At the Lingaraja temple in Bhubaneswar (11th century), there are Brahmin and Badu (tribal) priests. The Badus have the most intimate contact with the deity of the temple, and only they can bathe and adorn it.

The Bhil tribe is mentioned in the Mahabharata. The Bhil boy Eklavya's teacher was Drona, and he had the honour to be invited to Yudhisthira's Rajasuya Yajna at Indraprastha. Indian tribals were also part of royal armies in the Ramayana and in the Arthasastra.

Bhakta Shabari was a Bhil woman that offered Shri Rama and Shri Laxmana 'ber' when they were searching for Shri Sita in the forest. Maharishi Matanga, a Bhil became a Brahmana.

Sarna
Strictly speaking Adivasis that are not Hindus, Christians or Muslims have no name for their religion. Some western authors and Indian sociologists called them animists and spirit worshipers. In central India like Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa their religion is called Sarna, a name given from the Sacred Grove which functions as a place of worship.

The tribals have their own way of conscience, faith and belief. Basically, they believe in the super natural spirit called the ‘Singbonga’. ‘According to the belief of the Santhal community, the world is inhabited by numerous spiritual beings of different kind; and the Santhals consider themselves as living and doing everything in close association with these supernatural beings.’ They perform rituals under the Sal trees at a place called ‘Jaher’ (sacred grove). Often the ‘Jaher’ can be found in the forests. They believe in Bonga’s appearance in Sal trees and have named their religion as ‘Sarna’.

The genesis of the ‘Sarna’ religion is interesting. According to the mythology of the Santhal community, the ‘Santhal tribals had gone to the forest for hunting and they started the discussion about their ‘Creator and Savior’ while they were taking rest under a tree. They questioned themselves that who is their God? Whether the Sun, the Wind or the Cloud? Finally, they came to a conclusion that they would leave an arrow in the sky and wherever the arrow would target that will be the God’s house. They left an arrow in the sky; it fell down under a Sal tree. Then, they started worshiping the Sal tree and named their religion as ‘Sarna’ because it is derived from a Sal tree.4 Thus, Sarna religion came into existence. There are priests and an assistant priests called "Naikey" and "Kudam Naike" in every Santhal village.

Tribal system
Tribals are not part of the caste system. This is an egalitarianism society. Christian tribals do not automatically lose their traditional tribal rules.

When in 1891 a missionary asked 150 Munda Christians to "inter-dine" with people of different rank, only 20 Christians did so, and many converts lost their new faith. Father Haghenbeek concluded on this episode that these rules are not "pagan", but a sign of "national sentiment and pride", and wrote:

However, many scholars argue that the claim that tribals are an egalitarian society in contrast to a caste-based society is a part of a larger political agenda by some to maximize any differences from tribal and urban societies. According to scholar Koenraad Elst, caste practices and social taboos among Indian tribals date back to antiquity:

Inter-dining has also been prohibited by many Indian tribal peoples.

Education
Extending the system of primary education into tribal areas and reserving places for tribal children in middle and high schools and higher education institutions are central to government policy, but efforts to improve a tribe's educational status have had mixed results. Recruitment of qualified teachers and determination of the appropriate language of instruction also remain troublesome. Commission after commission on the "language question" has called for instruction, at least at the primary level, in the students' native tongue. In some regions, tribal children entering school must begin by learning the official regional language, often one completely unrelated to their tribal tongue.
Many tribal schools are plagued by high dropout rates. Children attend for the first three to four years of primary school and gain a smattering of knowledge, only to lapse into illiteracy later. Few who enter continue up to the tenth grade; of those who do, few manage to finish high school. Therefore, very few are eligible to attend institutions of higher education, where the high rate of attrition continues. Members of agrarian tribes like the Gonds often are reluctant to send their children to school, needing them, they say, to work in the fields. On the other hand, in those parts of the northeast where tribes have generally been spared the wholesale onslaught of outsiders, schooling has helped tribal people to secure political and economic benefits. The education system there has provided a corps of highly trained tribal members in the professions and high-ranking administrative posts.

Economy
Most tribes are concentrated in heavily forested areas that combine inaccessibility with limited political or economic significance. Historically, the economy of most tribes was subsistence agriculture or hunting and gathering. Tribal members traded with outsiders for the few necessities they lacked, such as salt and iron. A few local Hindu craftsmen might provide such items as cooking utensils.
In the early 20th century, however, large areas fell into the hands of non-tribals, on account of improved transportation and communications. Around 1900, many regions were opened by the government to settlement through a scheme by which inward migrants received ownership of land free in return for cultivating it. For tribal people, however, land was often viewed as a common resource, free to whoever needed it. By the time tribals accepted the necessity of obtaining formal land titles, they had lost the opportunity to lay claim to lands that might rightfully have been considered theirs. The colonial and post-independence regimes belatedly realized the necessity of protecting tribals from the predations of outsiders and prohibited the sale of tribal lands. Although an important loophole in the form of land leases was left open, tribes made some gains in the mid-twentieth century, and some land was returned to tribal peoples despite obstruction by local police and land officials.

In the 1970s, tribal peoples came again under intense land pressure, especially in central India. Migration into tribal lands increased dramatically, as tribal people lost title to their lands in many ways – lease, forfeiture from debts, or bribery of land registry officials. Other non-tribals simply squatted, or even lobbied governments to classify them as tribal to allow them to compete with the formerly established tribes. In any case, many tribal members became landless labourers in the 1960s and 1970s, and regions that a few years earlier had been the exclusive domain of tribes had an increasingly mixed population of tribals and non-tribals. Government efforts to evict nontribal members from illegal occupation have proceeded slowly; when evictions occur at all, those ejected are usually members of poor, lower castes.

Improved communications, roads with motorized traffic, and more frequent government intervention figured in the increased contact that tribal peoples had with outsiders. Commercial highways and cash crops frequently drew non-tribal people into remote areas. By the 1960s and 1970s, the resident nontribal shopkeeper was a permanent feature of many tribal villages. Since shopkeepers often sell goods on credit (demanding high interest), many tribal members have been drawn deeply into debt or mortgaged their land. Merchants also encourage tribals to grow cash crops (such as cotton or castor-oil plants), which increases tribal dependence on the market for basic necessities. Indebtedness is so extensive that although such transactions are illegal, traders sometimes 'sell' their debtors to other merchants, much like indentured peons.

The final blow for some tribes has come when nontribals, through political jockeying, have managed to gain legal tribal status, that is, to be listed as a Scheduled Tribe.

Tribes in the Himalayan foothills have not been as hard-pressed by the intrusions of non-tribals. Historically, their political status was always distinct from the rest of India. Until the British colonial period, there was little effective control by any of the empires centered in peninsular India; the region was populated by autonomous feuding tribes. The British, in efforts to protect the sensitive northeast frontier, followed a policy dubbed the "Inner Line"; nontribal people were allowed into the areas only with special permission. Postindependence governments have continued the policy, protecting the Himalayan tribes as part of the strategy to secure the border with China.

Government policies on forest reserves have affected tribal peoples profoundly. Government efforts to reserve forests have precipitated armed (if futile) resistance on the part of the tribal peoples involved. Intensive exploitation of forests has often meant allowing outsiders to cut large areas of trees (while the original tribal inhabitants were restricted from cutting), and ultimately replacing mixed forests capable of sustaining tribal life with single-product plantations. Nontribals have frequently bribed local officials to secure effective use of reserved forest lands.

The northern tribes have thus been sheltered from the kind of exploitation that those elsewhere in South Asia have suffered. In Arunachal Pradesh (formerly part of the North-East Frontier Agency), for example, tribal members control commerce and most lower-level administrative posts. Government construction projects in the region have provided tribes with a significant source of cash. Some tribes have made rapid progress through the education system (the role of early missionaries was significant in this regard). Instruction was begun in Assamese but was eventually changed to Hindi; by the early 1980s, English was taught at most levels. Northeastern tribal people have thus enjoyed a certain measure of social mobility.

Participation in Indian independence movement
There were tribal reform and rebellion movements during the period of the British Empire, some of which also participated in the Indian freedom struggle or attacked mission posts. There were several Adivasis in the Indian independence movement including Khajya Naik, Bhima Naik, Jantya Bhil and Rehma Vasave.

List of rebellions against British rule
During the period of British rule, India saw the rebellions of several backward-castes, mainly tribals that revolted against British rule. These were:.

Halba rebellion (1774-79)
Chamka rebellion (1776-1787)
Chuar rebellion in Bengal (1795-1800)
Bhopalpatnam Struggle (1795)
Khurda Rebellion in Orissa (1817)
Bhil rebellion (1822-1857)
Paralkot rebellion (1825)
Tarapur rebellion (1842-54)
Maria rebellion (1842-63)
First Freedom Struggle (1856-57)
Bhil rebellion, begun by Tantya Tope in Banswara (1858)
Koi revolt (1859)
Gond rebellion, begun by Ramji Gond in Adilabad (1860)
Muria rebellion (1876)
Rani rebellion (1878-82)
Bhumkal (1910)

Some notable Scheduled Tribes

Andamanese
Bodos
Bhils
Chakma
Dhodia Tribes of Gujarat
Gonds
Khasis
indigenous people of Lakshadweep
Kurichiya
Kurumbar
Tripuris
Mizos
Mundaris
Nagas
Nicobarese
Oraon
Santals
Todas
Maldharis of Gujarat.
Cholanaikkan
Warli
Kisan Tribe
Dongria Kondh
Bonda
Kutia Kondh
Bishapus A'Mishapus

See also

Tribal religions in India
List of Scheduled Tribes in India; according to the constitution
Scheduled castes
Caste system
C. K. Janu
Chakma
Jarawas
shompanes
great andamanies

References
Further reading

The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, by R.V. Russell, 1916 (E book)
Elst, Koenraad. Who is a Hindu? (2001) ISBN 8185990743
Raj, Aditya & Papia Raj (2004) “Linguistic Deculturation and the Importance of Popular Education among the Gonds in India” Adult Education and Development 62: 55-61
Vindicated by Time: The Niyogi Committee Report (edited by S.R. Goel, 1998) (1955)

Christianity is Nationality: the lesson of Nagaland

Christianity is Nationality: the lesson of Nagaland

A careful look at the northeastern Indian states brings to attention certain bold changes in the demography there. The six small states (excluding Assam) have a higher growth-rate of population than rest of the country. The total population of these six states in 1951 was 2.2 million. In 1991, it was 9.1 million. It grew 4.1 times in four decades, while the national average growth was 2.3 times. Nagaland and Tripura have registered highest growth rate of population.

The most striking feature of demographic change in the six states is the continuous decline in the number of Indian religionists (Hindu, Buddhist, and other local faiths) and the rise in Christian population. The census of 1901 recorded 91% people as Indian religionists; while in the 1991 census they remain a meager 56%. In the same period (1901-91), Muslims in this region have decreased from 6.61% to 4.69%. On the contrary, Christian population has grown from 2.22% to 39%.

The state of Nagaland had 0.59% Christians in its population in 1901, which now records (1991) 87.47% as Christians. American Baptist Church claims that more than 90% of the population in Nagaland is Christian. The state of Arunachal Pradesh did not allow entry to Christian missionaries for a long time. In 1971 census, the state had less than one percent Christians in its population. 1981 census recorded 4.32% Christians, while the Christian population galloped to 10.29% in the 1991 census.

99.7% of the population of --the area now recognized as-- the state of Mizoram was Indian religionist in 1901 census. In the population of 82 thousand, only 45 persons were Christians and 206 Muslims. The 1991 census shows 86% Christians in the state's population of 700,000. The states of Meghalaya, Manipur, and Tripura have recorded similar changes. These changes have not happened overnight, nor are they coincidental. They have happened as per planned strategies changing the religious demography of northeastern India to disintegrate the country further. Each northeastern state has a different story to tell.

Nagaland has the most shocking story of perversion, separatism, and foreign-engineered creation of a fake nationalism. A few months ago, Prime Minister Vajpayee was negotiating a peace-deal with the leaders of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) in Bangkok, Thailand. The previous Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao held similar talks in Paris and his predecessor H D Devegowda tried the same in Zurich. Since 1995, such "Prime Minister-level" talks are on. It is ridiculous that the Indian rulers are negotiating with terrorists when there is a legitimate elected government in the state. And this comes as a sequel to the four decades of battle between Indian armed forces and the Naga rebels ("freedom fighters" - to use their term). Still, the Nagaland riddle is unsolved.

Many are hoping that --in the present negotiations-- the Naga leaders will compromise their demand for a separate country. The aging leaders of NSCN (I-M faction) Muivah and Svu --now in their seventies-- are in exile for last three and half decades. They are tired and the Naga people are fed up of violence. 'Negotiate some peace at the earliest' is their likely mindset. It must be clear to them by now that come what may, India is not going to grant them "freedom". But the bone of contention is different now. It is the demand of "greater Nagaland" or "Nagalim". NSCN(I-M) is demanding a sovereign and independent "Nagalim" that shall include the Naga area of Myanmar, Naga-tribes' areas from the states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This makes it further clear that the Naga identity --or the so-called nationality-- is uncertain and it flexes as per the wishes of those who define it. Their intention certainly is not the peace, but the continuation of the problem.Naga who?

Naga leaders are claiming many tribes to be Nagas. There is some tribe every other day, which suddenly rises and calls itself Naga. Interestingly, the only thing common in all such tribes is the American Baptist Church! An even more interesting fact is that the negotiations between two warring factions of NSCN were held in the headquarters of Baptist Church in Atlanta, USA. The web-site of this church (baptistpress.org) has scores of articles supporting Naga 'freedom'. This article will give an idea of how the American Baptist Church created the apparently Naga -- but practically Christian -- nationalism of Nagaland. The next article will explain why they are trying to keep the problem alive instead of helping peace.

Nobody knows the real number of "Nagas". Indian census (since British times) records tribes in their local name; e.g. Tangkhul tribe inhabits the hilly north of Manipur State. Indian census registers this tribe as Tangkhul. But this tribe since its conversion to Christianity calls itself Naga. There are many such tribes that have turned Naga. 'Naga' is not even one language, so the lingual population figures also can not give the number of Nagas. Naga Hoho (the pan Naga organization, dominated by the Church) claims 16 tribes in Manipur to be Nagas. This claim has no reasoning --language, tradition, law-- nothing supports this claim. As anthropologist Robbins Burling points out, Nagas speak 30 different languages.

In a recent article on the languages of northeast India, Burling had to take the trouble to separate the political project of Naga unity from the languages spoken by the people who call themselves Naga. "Today, the people known as 'Nagas' certainly recognize some common 'Naga' ethnicity", Burling writes, "but this recognition may have come only after the British gave them the name 'Naga'. Most of the indigenous people of Nagaland, together with some ethnic groups in the bordering areas of Manipur, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Myanmar are, by general consensus, now accepted as 'Nagas', but this term should not fool us into believing that they must have some linguistic unity". Naga, Burling emphasized, "is not a linguistic label". Particularly striking to Burling was that some groups, "whose language a linguist would, without hesitation, classify as 'Kuki', have declared themselves to be 'Nagas''. Yet, adds Burling, "everyone agrees that Nagas and Kukis are sharply distinct ethnically. Indeed, they have been killing each other from time to time".

John Hutton, the British writer in 1922 mentioned that the expression Naga "is useful as an arbitrary term to denote the tribes living in certain parts of the Assam hills, which may be roughly defined as bounded by the Hokong valley in the north-east, the plain of the Brahmaputra Valley to the north-west, of Cachar to the south-west and of the Chindwin to east. In the south of the Manipur Valley roughly marks the point of contact between the 'Naga' tribes and the very much more closely interrelated group of Kuki tribes -- Thao, Lushei, Chin etc."(Hutton, 1922: xv-xvi) The area that Hutton called 'roughly defined' is now being demanded as independent Nagalim. The 80 years since Hutton wrote this have seen lot of activity that forged a Naga nationality.

The ethnic landscape of the hills, writes James Scott, has always confused outsiders -- states as well as ethnographers. The taxonomies about the hill peoples have been almost always wrong, groups identified as distinct were later found to be not `uniform, coherent, or stable through time'. The ethnic landscape has had a 'bewildering and intercalated gradients of cultural traits'. Whether it was linguistic practice, dress, rituals, diet or body decoration, neat boundary lines had been impossible to draw. Tri-lingualism, for example, is fairly common (Scott, 2000: 21-22). Thus in the case of the Nagas, ethnographers and missionaries engaged in what Julian Jacobs and his colleagues describe as a struggle 'to make sense of the ethnographic chaos' they perceived around them: hundreds, if not thousands, of small villages seemed to be somewhat similar to each other but also very different, by no means always sharing the same customs, political system, art or even language' (Jacobs, 1990: 23).

The funny thing is that Scott and Jacobs and their likes never understood that entire India is made up of villages that are "somewhat similar… but also very different". Language changes every twelve miles and each village has its own Gods and Goddesses. They call it "ethnographic chaos"; we call it diversity. Over plateau and other flatlands, the circumference of similarity is wide, for human communication and exchange of traditions is easier. In mountains, the difficult geography narrows down this circle of similarity. The nomadic groups and those who practiced shifting cultivation naturally had variety of languages and customs. It is the greatness of our culture that despite this variety, even outsiders can feel the "somewhat similar" nature of villages.Christian Missionaries

Christian Missionaries found their way out from these "ethnographic chaos". The first missionary stepped in the Naga areas 100 years ago (1903). According to the missionary records of history, Nagas had the practice of head-hunting. It was believed that unless a fresh human head is sacrificed, farms do not yield good crops. It was natural that even neighboring villages were die-hard enemies as they looked to each other for heads. The villages spoke dialects that were totally incomprehensible to their neighbors. The first few missionaries were beheaded too. But with great courage, they continued coming in. In 1931 census, Nagaland had 12.81% Christians. In next two decades (1951), the percentage of Christians rose to 46. Next four decades (1951-91) saw a record growth of Christians, with their percentage reaching 85. According to historian Richard Eaton it was "the most massive movement to Christianity in all of Asia, second only to that of the Philippines" (Eaton, 1997: 245)

Historian Sanjeeb Baruah writes in Journal of Peace Research: "The single most important development that made the imagining of Nagas as a collectivity possible was their conversion to Christianity… Today Christianity is an essential part of Naga identity. Except for the Zeilongrong Nagas, most Nagas are Christians. Eaton estimates the percentage of Christians to be 90%… and the NSCN-IM puts the figure at 95%. It was the American Baptist Mission that accounted for most of the proselytizing among Nagas; but the conversions of a number of Naga communities happened after the end of colonial rule and even after the Indian government expelled foreign missionaries from India. The profound destabilization of traditional Naga institutions during colonial rule, however, had set the stage for this profound cultural transformation. The village chiefs were the leaders of the community when Naga society was organized on a war footing. But when head-hunting was criminalized by colonial rulers and inter-village warfare ended, the traditional leaders lost their hold over younger warriors and it was these `would-be warriors' who, according to Richard Eaton, responded most readily to Christian teachings."

Missionaries printed the Bible in selected Naga dialects such as Ao, Angami and Sema and in the process gave those dialects a written form using the Roman script. This meant a simplification of the Naga linguistic landscape -- for while the chosen dialects became recognized as standard, many other dialects disappeared. As literacy and education became a key to social mobility, Nagas realized the advantage of learning those standard dialects. Hundreds of young men from different areas, who were trained in the secondary schools and missionary training schools run by missionaries, were able to communicate with each other. To this generation, the idea of Nagas as a single identity became real. Conversion to Christianity separated their identity from the majority Hindu and Muslim populations of rest of India. It was Christianity alone that gave birth to a separate nationality amongst Nagas. The movement for political separatism or 'freedom' was based on their Christian identity concealed under the label Naga. The political and military struggle that Naga rebels carried on was firmly founded on their conversion to Christianity.Naga problem and India

British transferred power to India in 1947. Myanmar acquired some part of Naga Hills, but majority of it remained with India. The leaders of Naga National Council (NNC) met Gandhi-ji, and he assured them that they would not have to join the Indian Union against their wishes. Nowhere in British India or in princely states was anyone given such choice. Nagas did not get any special treatment. Like all other Hindu-majority Indian populations, they were integrated to the Indian union. There were Naga leaders like Queen Gaidenlieu who had fought against the British and firmly supported union with free India. The Christian converts -- who dominated the NNC -- however, thought otherwise and in 1951, conducted a 'referendum'. With American and other foreign missionaries still present and dominating, the result of the referendum was not surprising. (Foreign missionaries were expelled only after 1955.) The way the referendum was conducted was ridiculous. Volunteers of NNC went from village to village and collected thumbprints of villagers on the referendum documents. They declared that 99.99% of the villagers wanted independent nation of Nagaland. A biased agency conducting referendum amidst illiterate people without giving an opportunity for the other side to reach them was not a joke; it was a clever conspiracy to legitimize Naga separatism.

Around the same time, Indian army occupied the sensitive border areas of Naga Hills. Small-intensity conflicts with the Naga rebels began. Common people suffered atrocities from both sides. Popular opinion turned anti-India. The reasoning was simple. The Indians visible to Naga people were mostly soldiers who did not speak their language, were armed, and their goal was to maintain law and order. Christian propaganda added fuel to fire. That gave birth to the NSCN slogan, "Nagaland for Christ". NSCN (National Socialist Council of Nagaland) was not fighting for a 'National' or 'Socialist' cause, they had this clear goal: Nagaland for Christ. Even today, the guerrillas of NSCN carry two essential things: one, a packet of salt (to avoid dehydration at high altitudes) and two, the Bible. NSCN is running a parallel government for last many decades. Nobody -- be it a street-side vegetable vendor, or a federal government official -- can live without paying a 'tax' to NSCN. Before killing a 'traitor', the guerrillas yell "Nagaland for Christ" at him.

Daily Herald recently (May 5, 2003) published a story of a Naga pastor who went to the US as a Baptist missionary. This Naga pastor, Fr. David Jameer came to the US in 1952.. He later organized the handful of Nagas that lived in the US to support Naga freedom. He played a crucial role in negotiations for re-union between rival fractions of NSCN, as well as their negotiations with the Indian government. Fr. Jameer expressed his frustration in these words: "It's as if the Naga church is frozen in time, stuck in a 50-year-old morality… If you take a drink or have a smoke, then it's like you're a bad Christian, but if you pick up a gun and kill people - the church suddenly has nothing to say… 'Nagaland for Christ' what does that mean?"

Jameer after so many years has understood something that all religious nationalists/separatists should understand. Religious fanaticism --be it for any religion-- creates uncontrolled chauvinism and a superiority complex that demeans human respect. Fanaticism corrupts true religion and brings no good. It is unfortunate that -- the people of Kashmir gripped in the 'Jehadi' fanaticism, the people of Punjab under the spell of 'Khalistani' pride, and the people of Nagaland under the heels of 'Nagaland for Christ'-- have learnt this after a costly human sacrifice.

Christian Conversion created the so-called Naga nationality. This is a fact as clear as sunlight. The states of Mizoram, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh are walking on the same "Christian" path. Ignoring the advent of Christianity and Christian proselytism in those areas shall prove suicidal to our national integration. More on this in the next article…


- Milind Thatte (03 May '04)

ORIGINAL AT - http://geocities.com/thattemilind/partitions.html?20071#ch1

Do reservations work? by Tarun Jain

A number of researchers in economics have started to look closely at political reservations. In one recent instance, Professor Rohini Pande of Yale University has found that reservations in state legislatures do increase influence in policy-making for scheduled castes and tribes. Tarun Jain reports.


15 April 2005 - In an editorial last year, India Together argued in favour of reservations for lower castes. In their piece, Ashwin Mahesh and Subramaniam Vincent commented on the reasons we have reservations. Affirmative action policies they argued not only directly benefit lower castes through higher incomes, but have a larger impact on public policies when individuals from lower castes are given a voice in the decision making process. Other commentators on these pages have followed a similar line of reasoning. For instance, when advocating for reservation of Parliament seats for women, Kalpana Sharma writes that "there is a greater chance of mainstreaming women's concerns if there are more women in positions of power from where these concerns can be addressed."

"Are reservations working?" ask Mahesh and Vincent, who say that the impact of reservations on public policy would be most visible in legislatures and panchayats. Despite their arguments, none of these writers are able to provide any evidence that the legislators, once elected, actually behave in ways expected of them. The complexity of the political system means that there are a number of ways in which legislators get impeded in their work. The legal scholar Upendra Baxi argues that SC and ST legislators need to appeal both to upper-caste constituents in reserved jurisdictions and to the primarily upper-caste membership of their parties. Also, the dynamics of political parties and bargaining within legislatures can dull activism of individual legislators in favour of their communities. Or MLAs and MPs might simply concentrate on increasing their own wealth and not care about their constituents at all. Kalpana Sharma, perhaps thinking about the behaviour of Indira Gandhi, Mayawati, Rabri, and other women in power, writes that "there is no guarantee that [women’s reservation] in itself will make a difference to the status of women in the country." These are prescient words, for casual empirics do not explain what has been the actual result of political reservations in India.

When casual empirics fail, perhaps it is time for a more rigorous approach. A number of researchers in economics have started to look closely at political reservations, both for lower castes and tribes and for women in India. In an important paper published in the American Economic Review in 2003, Professor Rohini Pande of Yale University asked if reservations in state legislatures increased influence in policy-making for scheduled castes and tribes. She concluded that they did, and backed up this assertion by presented evidence of targeted redistribution policies passed by SC and ST legislators.

Legal identification of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Selection criteria for scheduled castes

1. Cannot be served by clean Brahmans
2. Cannot be served by the barbers, water-carriers, tailors, etc. who serve the caste Hindus
3. Pollutes a high-caste Hindu by contact or by proximity
4. Is one from whose hands a caste Hindu cannot take water
5. Is debarred from using public amenities such as roads, ferries, wells, or schools
6. Will not be treated as an equal by high-caste men of the same educational qualification in ordinary social intercourse
7. Is depressed on account of the occupation followed and, but for that, occupation would be subject to no social disability


Selection criteria for scheduled tribes

1. Tribal origin
2. Primitive ways of life and habitation in remote and less accessible areas
3. General backwardness in all respects

Source: Constitution of India



For her analysis, Pande exploits a particular feature of the Indian representative set-up. Each state legislature has seats reserved for SC and ST candidates, but the proportion of seats varies by state. There are more seats for states with higher proportion of SC and ST population, and vice versa. Also, between 1950 and 1980, the seat allocations kept changing as new data from the census became available. So these variations allow Pande to compare the policies in states with higher SC and ST representation to those with lower SC and ST reservation.

Increasing SC reservation does not have a significant impact on general spending policies such as total spending, spending on education or land reforms. However, it has a significant impact on targeted spending policies.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
• Women's representation
• The merit of reservations
• Caste: Don't ask, don't tell

Pande's results show that reservations impact different groups differently, depending on the policy. Increasing SC reservation does not have a significant impact on general spending policies such as total spending, spending on education or land reforms. However, it has a significant impact on targeted spending policies. Increasing reservations by 1% increases job quotas for SCs by 0.6%, but does not affect spending on SC welfare schemes. This split between general and targeted policies sits well with the social structure of these groups. Compared to STs, SCs are well educated but geographically distributed, so they rely on individual specific schemes such as job quotas. An SC legislator who advocates group-specific policies cannot be sure that they will actually be used by the community that she or he wants to target.

In contrast, ST reservations have an impact on a broader range of spending policies. Increasing ST reservation by 1% decreases spending on education by 0.4%, but increases spending on tribal welfare schemes by 0.8%. Again, this matches what we know about tribal communities in India. They are remote from the major population centres yet live cohesively. So they are able to take advantage of and prefer group-specific programs over individual-specific ones.

Pande's research is one of the first threads in an emerging literature on the behaviour of elected representatives in office. In 2004, Professors Raghabendra Chattopadhyay of IIM Calcutta and Esther Duflo of MIT published their research on the impact of reservations for women in panchayats, specifically looking at Rajasthan and West Bengal. Their analysis pointed to important differences in policies enacted by panchayats headed by women and men, debunking the myth that women sarpanches are puppets controlled by men. Even in panchayats with "unassertive" women as sarpanches, the presence of a woman in a position of authority often inspired other women in the Gram Sabha to speak up, changing the dynamic of village policy making.

In another 2004 study, Professors Tim Besley, Rohini Pande, Lupin Rahman and Vijayendra Rao found that if the Sarpanch position is reserved for person from a Scheduled Caste or Tribe, then SC or ST households are 7% more likely to have access to a toilet, an electricity connection, or a private water connection via a government scheme.

Do reservations work? by Tarun Jain

A number of researchers in economics have started to look closely at political reservations. In one recent instance, Professor Rohini Pande of Yale University has found that reservations in state legislatures do increase influence in policy-making for scheduled castes and tribes. Tarun Jain reports.


15 April 2005 - In an editorial last year, India Together argued in favour of reservations for lower castes. In their piece, Ashwin Mahesh and Subramaniam Vincent commented on the reasons we have reservations. Affirmative action policies they argued not only directly benefit lower castes through higher incomes, but have a larger impact on public policies when individuals from lower castes are given a voice in the decision making process. Other commentators on these pages have followed a similar line of reasoning. For instance, when advocating for reservation of Parliament seats for women, Kalpana Sharma writes that "there is a greater chance of mainstreaming women's concerns if there are more women in positions of power from where these concerns can be addressed."

"Are reservations working?" ask Mahesh and Vincent, who say that the impact of reservations on public policy would be most visible in legislatures and panchayats. Despite their arguments, none of these writers are able to provide any evidence that the legislators, once elected, actually behave in ways expected of them. The complexity of the political system means that there are a number of ways in which legislators get impeded in their work. The legal scholar Upendra Baxi argues that SC and ST legislators need to appeal both to upper-caste constituents in reserved jurisdictions and to the primarily upper-caste membership of their parties. Also, the dynamics of political parties and bargaining within legislatures can dull activism of individual legislators in favour of their communities. Or MLAs and MPs might simply concentrate on increasing their own wealth and not care about their constituents at all. Kalpana Sharma, perhaps thinking about the behaviour of Indira Gandhi, Mayawati, Rabri, and other women in power, writes that "there is no guarantee that [women’s reservation] in itself will make a difference to the status of women in the country." These are prescient words, for casual empirics do not explain what has been the actual result of political reservations in India.

When casual empirics fail, perhaps it is time for a more rigorous approach. A number of researchers in economics have started to look closely at political reservations, both for lower castes and tribes and for women in India. In an important paper published in the American Economic Review in 2003, Professor Rohini Pande of Yale University asked if reservations in state legislatures increased influence in policy-making for scheduled castes and tribes. She concluded that they did, and backed up this assertion by presented evidence of targeted redistribution policies passed by SC and ST legislators.

Legal identification of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Selection criteria for scheduled castes

1. Cannot be served by clean Brahmans
2. Cannot be served by the barbers, water-carriers, tailors, etc. who serve the caste Hindus
3. Pollutes a high-caste Hindu by contact or by proximity
4. Is one from whose hands a caste Hindu cannot take water
5. Is debarred from using public amenities such as roads, ferries, wells, or schools
6. Will not be treated as an equal by high-caste men of the same educational qualification in ordinary social intercourse
7. Is depressed on account of the occupation followed and, but for that, occupation would be subject to no social disability


Selection criteria for scheduled tribes

1. Tribal origin
2. Primitive ways of life and habitation in remote and less accessible areas
3. General backwardness in all respects

Source: Constitution of India



For her analysis, Pande exploits a particular feature of the Indian representative set-up. Each state legislature has seats reserved for SC and ST candidates, but the proportion of seats varies by state. There are more seats for states with higher proportion of SC and ST population, and vice versa. Also, between 1950 and 1980, the seat allocations kept changing as new data from the census became available. So these variations allow Pande to compare the policies in states with higher SC and ST representation to those with lower SC and ST reservation.

Increasing SC reservation does not have a significant impact on general spending policies such as total spending, spending on education or land reforms. However, it has a significant impact on targeted spending policies.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
• Women's representation
• The merit of reservations
• Caste: Don't ask, don't tell

Pande's results show that reservations impact different groups differently, depending on the policy. Increasing SC reservation does not have a significant impact on general spending policies such as total spending, spending on education or land reforms. However, it has a significant impact on targeted spending policies. Increasing reservations by 1% increases job quotas for SCs by 0.6%, but does not affect spending on SC welfare schemes. This split between general and targeted policies sits well with the social structure of these groups. Compared to STs, SCs are well educated but geographically distributed, so they rely on individual specific schemes such as job quotas. An SC legislator who advocates group-specific policies cannot be sure that they will actually be used by the community that she or he wants to target.

In contrast, ST reservations have an impact on a broader range of spending policies. Increasing ST reservation by 1% decreases spending on education by 0.4%, but increases spending on tribal welfare schemes by 0.8%. Again, this matches what we know about tribal communities in India. They are remote from the major population centres yet live cohesively. So they are able to take advantage of and prefer group-specific programs over individual-specific ones.

Pande's research is one of the first threads in an emerging literature on the behaviour of elected representatives in office. In 2004, Professors Raghabendra Chattopadhyay of IIM Calcutta and Esther Duflo of MIT published their research on the impact of reservations for women in panchayats, specifically looking at Rajasthan and West Bengal. Their analysis pointed to important differences in policies enacted by panchayats headed by women and men, debunking the myth that women sarpanches are puppets controlled by men. Even in panchayats with "unassertive" women as sarpanches, the presence of a woman in a position of authority often inspired other women in the Gram Sabha to speak up, changing the dynamic of village policy making.

In another 2004 study, Professors Tim Besley, Rohini Pande, Lupin Rahman and Vijayendra Rao found that if the Sarpanch position is reserved for person from a Scheduled Caste or Tribe, then SC or ST households are 7% more likely to have access to a toilet, an electricity connection, or a private water connection via a government scheme.

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