ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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On Janjatiya Gaurav Divas


Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently declared 15 November as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas honouring Birsa Munda’s birthday. Munda’s struggle against British authority was widely publicised in the media as the tribal’s most significant contribution to India’s independence. Yet, it is critical for us to understand what tribal uprisings like Munda’s were really about.

The most well-known tribal uprisings, such as those by Munda, Komaram Bheem, and others, reflect the efforts to protect tribal rights and autonomy. These popular uprisings essentially had two underpinnings—one, to rule out the British’s dominance, and the other, to end non-tribal authority over tribal lands. Before the arrival of the British and non-tribals on tribal territory, tribals had their own way of controlling their lives and forests. As the forest was their sole source of livelihood, they revere and worship it as a nature god. For productivity and seasonal reasons, they employed shifting agriculture with unstructured territorial arrangements. They always insisted on sharing everything equally with the objective of survival and equality in mind. As a result, the notion of community property rights or community control of forestland evolved.

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