NCERT Textbook - Tribals, Dikus and The Vision of a Golden Age Class 8 Notes | EduRev

History for UPSC (Civil Services) Prelims

UPSC : NCERT Textbook - Tribals, Dikus and The Vision of a Golden Age Class 8 Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


39
Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of
a Golden Age
4
In 1895, a man named Birsa was seen roaming the forests
and villages of Chottanagpur in Bihar. People said he had
miraculous powers – he could cure all diseases and multiply
grain. Birsa himself declared that God had appointed him
to save his people from trouble, free them from the slavery
of dikus (outsiders). Soon thousands began following Birsa,
believing that he was bhagwan (God) and had come to solve
all their problems.
Birsa was born in a family of Mundas – a tribal group that
lived in Chottanagpur. But his followers included other
tribals of the region – Santhals and Oraons. All of them in
different ways were unhappy with the changes they
were experiencing and the problems they were facing under
British rule. Their familiar ways of life
seemed to be disappearing, their livelihoods
were under threat, and their religion appeared
to be in danger.
What problems did Birsa set out to
resolve? Who were the outsiders being
referred to as dikus, and how did they enslave
the people of the region? What was happening
to the tribal people under the British? How
did their lives change? These are some of the
questions you will read about in this chapter.
You have read about tribal societies last
year. Most tribes had customs and rituals
that were very different from those laid
down by Brahmans. These societies also
did not have the sharp social divisions that
were characteristic of caste societies. All
those  who belonged to the same tribe  thought
of themselves as sharing common ties
of kinship. However, this did not mean
that there were no social and economic
differences within tribes.
Fig. 1 – Women of the
Dongria Kandha tribe in
Orissa wade through
the river on the way to
the market
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


39
Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of
a Golden Age
4
In 1895, a man named Birsa was seen roaming the forests
and villages of Chottanagpur in Bihar. People said he had
miraculous powers – he could cure all diseases and multiply
grain. Birsa himself declared that God had appointed him
to save his people from trouble, free them from the slavery
of dikus (outsiders). Soon thousands began following Birsa,
believing that he was bhagwan (God) and had come to solve
all their problems.
Birsa was born in a family of Mundas – a tribal group that
lived in Chottanagpur. But his followers included other
tribals of the region – Santhals and Oraons. All of them in
different ways were unhappy with the changes they
were experiencing and the problems they were facing under
British rule. Their familiar ways of life
seemed to be disappearing, their livelihoods
were under threat, and their religion appeared
to be in danger.
What problems did Birsa set out to
resolve? Who were the outsiders being
referred to as dikus, and how did they enslave
the people of the region? What was happening
to the tribal people under the British? How
did their lives change? These are some of the
questions you will read about in this chapter.
You have read about tribal societies last
year. Most tribes had customs and rituals
that were very different from those laid
down by Brahmans. These societies also
did not have the sharp social divisions that
were characteristic of caste societies. All
those  who belonged to the same tribe  thought
of themselves as sharing common ties
of kinship. However, this did not mean
that there were no social and economic
differences within tribes.
Fig. 1 – Women of the
Dongria Kandha tribe in
Orissa wade through
the river on the way to
the market
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 40
How Did Tribal Groups Live?
By the nineteenth century, tribal people in different
parts of India were involved in a variety of activities.
Some were jhum cultivators
Some of them practised jhum cultivation, that is, shifting
cultivation. This was done on small patches of land,
mostly in forests. The cultivators cut the treetops to
allow sunlight to reach the ground, and burnt the
vegetation on the land to clear it for cultivation. They
spread the ash from the firing, which contained potash,
to fertilise the soil. They used the axe to cut trees and
the hoe to scratch the soil in order to prepare it for
cultivation. They broadcast the seeds, that is, scattered
the seeds on the field instead of ploughing the land
and sowing the seeds. Once the crop was ready and
harvested, they moved to another field. A field that had
been cultivated once was left fallow for several years,
Shifting cultivators were found in the hilly and
forested tracts of north-east and central India. The lives
of  these tribal people depended on free movement within
forests and on being able to use the land and forests
for growing their crops. That is the only way they could
practise shifting cultivation.
Some were hunters and gatherers
In many regions tribal groups lived by hunting animals
and gathering forest produce. They saw forests as
essential for survival. The Khonds were such a
community living in the forests of Orissa. They regularly
went out on collective hunts and then divided the
meat amongst themselves. They ate fruits and roots
collected from the forest
and cooked food with the
oil they extracted from
the seeds of the sal and
mahua. They used many
forest shrubs and herbs
for medicinal purposes,
and sold forest produce in
the local markets. The
local weavers and leather
workers turned to the
Khonds when they needed
supplies of kusum and
palash flowers to colour
their clothes and leather.
Fallow – A field left
uncultivated for a while
so that the soil recovers
fertility
Sal – A tree
Mahua – A flower that
is eaten or used to make
alcohol
Fig. 2 – Dongria Kandha women
in Orissa take home pandanus
leaves from the forest to make
plates
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


39
Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of
a Golden Age
4
In 1895, a man named Birsa was seen roaming the forests
and villages of Chottanagpur in Bihar. People said he had
miraculous powers – he could cure all diseases and multiply
grain. Birsa himself declared that God had appointed him
to save his people from trouble, free them from the slavery
of dikus (outsiders). Soon thousands began following Birsa,
believing that he was bhagwan (God) and had come to solve
all their problems.
Birsa was born in a family of Mundas – a tribal group that
lived in Chottanagpur. But his followers included other
tribals of the region – Santhals and Oraons. All of them in
different ways were unhappy with the changes they
were experiencing and the problems they were facing under
British rule. Their familiar ways of life
seemed to be disappearing, their livelihoods
were under threat, and their religion appeared
to be in danger.
What problems did Birsa set out to
resolve? Who were the outsiders being
referred to as dikus, and how did they enslave
the people of the region? What was happening
to the tribal people under the British? How
did their lives change? These are some of the
questions you will read about in this chapter.
You have read about tribal societies last
year. Most tribes had customs and rituals
that were very different from those laid
down by Brahmans. These societies also
did not have the sharp social divisions that
were characteristic of caste societies. All
those  who belonged to the same tribe  thought
of themselves as sharing common ties
of kinship. However, this did not mean
that there were no social and economic
differences within tribes.
Fig. 1 – Women of the
Dongria Kandha tribe in
Orissa wade through
the river on the way to
the market
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 40
How Did Tribal Groups Live?
By the nineteenth century, tribal people in different
parts of India were involved in a variety of activities.
Some were jhum cultivators
Some of them practised jhum cultivation, that is, shifting
cultivation. This was done on small patches of land,
mostly in forests. The cultivators cut the treetops to
allow sunlight to reach the ground, and burnt the
vegetation on the land to clear it for cultivation. They
spread the ash from the firing, which contained potash,
to fertilise the soil. They used the axe to cut trees and
the hoe to scratch the soil in order to prepare it for
cultivation. They broadcast the seeds, that is, scattered
the seeds on the field instead of ploughing the land
and sowing the seeds. Once the crop was ready and
harvested, they moved to another field. A field that had
been cultivated once was left fallow for several years,
Shifting cultivators were found in the hilly and
forested tracts of north-east and central India. The lives
of  these tribal people depended on free movement within
forests and on being able to use the land and forests
for growing their crops. That is the only way they could
practise shifting cultivation.
Some were hunters and gatherers
In many regions tribal groups lived by hunting animals
and gathering forest produce. They saw forests as
essential for survival. The Khonds were such a
community living in the forests of Orissa. They regularly
went out on collective hunts and then divided the
meat amongst themselves. They ate fruits and roots
collected from the forest
and cooked food with the
oil they extracted from
the seeds of the sal and
mahua. They used many
forest shrubs and herbs
for medicinal purposes,
and sold forest produce in
the local markets. The
local weavers and leather
workers turned to the
Khonds when they needed
supplies of kusum and
palash flowers to colour
their clothes and leather.
Fallow – A field left
uncultivated for a while
so that the soil recovers
fertility
Sal – A tree
Mahua – A flower that
is eaten or used to make
alcohol
Fig. 2 – Dongria Kandha women
in Orissa take home pandanus
leaves from the forest to make
plates
© NCERT
not to be republished
41
From where did these forest
people get their supplies of rice
and other grains? At times they
exchanged goods – getting what
they needed in return for their
valuable forest produce. At other
times they bought goods with the
small amount of earnings they
had. Some of them did odd jobs
in the villages, carrying loads or
building roads, while others
laboured in the fields of peasants
and farmers. When supplies of
forest produce shrank, tribal
people had to increasingly
wander around in search of work
as labourers. But many of
them – like the Baigas of central
India – were reluctant to do
work for others. The Baigas saw
themselves as people of the
forest, who could only live on the
produce of the forest. It was
below the dignity of a Baiga to
become a labourer.
Tribal groups often needed to
buy and sell in order to be able
to get the goods that were not produced within the
locality. This led to their dependence on traders and
moneylenders. Traders came around with things for
sale, and sold the goods at high prices. Moneylenders
gave loans with which the tribals met their cash needs,
adding to what they earned. But the interest charged
on the loans was usually very high. So for the tribals,
market and commerce often meant debt and poverty.
They therefore came to see the moneylender and trader
as evil outsiders and the cause of their misery.
Some herded animals
Many tribal groups lived by herding and rearing animals.
They were pastoralists who moved with their herds of
cattle or sheep according to the seasons.  When the grass
in one place was exhausted, they moved to another area.
The Van Gujjars of the Punjab hills and the Labadis of
Andhra Pradesh were cattle herders, the Gaddis of Kulu
were shepherds, and the Bakarwals of Kashmir reared
goats. You will read more about them in your history
book next year.
Fig. 3 – Location of some tribal
groups in India
TRIBALS, DIKUS AND THE VISION OF A GOLDEN AGE
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


39
Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of
a Golden Age
4
In 1895, a man named Birsa was seen roaming the forests
and villages of Chottanagpur in Bihar. People said he had
miraculous powers – he could cure all diseases and multiply
grain. Birsa himself declared that God had appointed him
to save his people from trouble, free them from the slavery
of dikus (outsiders). Soon thousands began following Birsa,
believing that he was bhagwan (God) and had come to solve
all their problems.
Birsa was born in a family of Mundas – a tribal group that
lived in Chottanagpur. But his followers included other
tribals of the region – Santhals and Oraons. All of them in
different ways were unhappy with the changes they
were experiencing and the problems they were facing under
British rule. Their familiar ways of life
seemed to be disappearing, their livelihoods
were under threat, and their religion appeared
to be in danger.
What problems did Birsa set out to
resolve? Who were the outsiders being
referred to as dikus, and how did they enslave
the people of the region? What was happening
to the tribal people under the British? How
did their lives change? These are some of the
questions you will read about in this chapter.
You have read about tribal societies last
year. Most tribes had customs and rituals
that were very different from those laid
down by Brahmans. These societies also
did not have the sharp social divisions that
were characteristic of caste societies. All
those  who belonged to the same tribe  thought
of themselves as sharing common ties
of kinship. However, this did not mean
that there were no social and economic
differences within tribes.
Fig. 1 – Women of the
Dongria Kandha tribe in
Orissa wade through
the river on the way to
the market
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 40
How Did Tribal Groups Live?
By the nineteenth century, tribal people in different
parts of India were involved in a variety of activities.
Some were jhum cultivators
Some of them practised jhum cultivation, that is, shifting
cultivation. This was done on small patches of land,
mostly in forests. The cultivators cut the treetops to
allow sunlight to reach the ground, and burnt the
vegetation on the land to clear it for cultivation. They
spread the ash from the firing, which contained potash,
to fertilise the soil. They used the axe to cut trees and
the hoe to scratch the soil in order to prepare it for
cultivation. They broadcast the seeds, that is, scattered
the seeds on the field instead of ploughing the land
and sowing the seeds. Once the crop was ready and
harvested, they moved to another field. A field that had
been cultivated once was left fallow for several years,
Shifting cultivators were found in the hilly and
forested tracts of north-east and central India. The lives
of  these tribal people depended on free movement within
forests and on being able to use the land and forests
for growing their crops. That is the only way they could
practise shifting cultivation.
Some were hunters and gatherers
In many regions tribal groups lived by hunting animals
and gathering forest produce. They saw forests as
essential for survival. The Khonds were such a
community living in the forests of Orissa. They regularly
went out on collective hunts and then divided the
meat amongst themselves. They ate fruits and roots
collected from the forest
and cooked food with the
oil they extracted from
the seeds of the sal and
mahua. They used many
forest shrubs and herbs
for medicinal purposes,
and sold forest produce in
the local markets. The
local weavers and leather
workers turned to the
Khonds when they needed
supplies of kusum and
palash flowers to colour
their clothes and leather.
Fallow – A field left
uncultivated for a while
so that the soil recovers
fertility
Sal – A tree
Mahua – A flower that
is eaten or used to make
alcohol
Fig. 2 – Dongria Kandha women
in Orissa take home pandanus
leaves from the forest to make
plates
© NCERT
not to be republished
41
From where did these forest
people get their supplies of rice
and other grains? At times they
exchanged goods – getting what
they needed in return for their
valuable forest produce. At other
times they bought goods with the
small amount of earnings they
had. Some of them did odd jobs
in the villages, carrying loads or
building roads, while others
laboured in the fields of peasants
and farmers. When supplies of
forest produce shrank, tribal
people had to increasingly
wander around in search of work
as labourers. But many of
them – like the Baigas of central
India – were reluctant to do
work for others. The Baigas saw
themselves as people of the
forest, who could only live on the
produce of the forest. It was
below the dignity of a Baiga to
become a labourer.
Tribal groups often needed to
buy and sell in order to be able
to get the goods that were not produced within the
locality. This led to their dependence on traders and
moneylenders. Traders came around with things for
sale, and sold the goods at high prices. Moneylenders
gave loans with which the tribals met their cash needs,
adding to what they earned. But the interest charged
on the loans was usually very high. So for the tribals,
market and commerce often meant debt and poverty.
They therefore came to see the moneylender and trader
as evil outsiders and the cause of their misery.
Some herded animals
Many tribal groups lived by herding and rearing animals.
They were pastoralists who moved with their herds of
cattle or sheep according to the seasons.  When the grass
in one place was exhausted, they moved to another area.
The Van Gujjars of the Punjab hills and the Labadis of
Andhra Pradesh were cattle herders, the Gaddis of Kulu
were shepherds, and the Bakarwals of Kashmir reared
goats. You will read more about them in your history
book next year.
Fig. 3 – Location of some tribal
groups in India
TRIBALS, DIKUS AND THE VISION OF A GOLDEN AGE
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 42
A time to hunt, a time to sow, a time to move to a new field
Have you ever noticed that people living in different types of societies do not
share the same notion of work and time? The lives of the shifting cultivators and
hunters in different regions were regulated by a calendar and division of tasks
for men and women.
Verrier Elwin, a British anthropologist who lived among the Baigas and
Khonds of central India for many years in the 1930s and 1940s, gives us a picture
of what this calendar and division of tasks was like. He writes:
In Chait women went to clearings to ... cut stalks that were already reaped;
men cut large trees and go for their ritual hunt. The hunt began at full moon
from the east. Traps of bamboo were used for hunting. The women gathered
fruits like sago, tamarind and mushroom. Baiga women can only gather roots
or kanda and mahua seeds. Of all the adivasis in  Central India, the Baigas
were known as the best hunters … In Baisakh the firing of the forest took
place, the women gathered unburnt wood to burn. Men continued to hunt,
but nearer their villages. In Jeth sowing took place and hunting still went on.
From Asadh to Bhadon the men worked in the fields. In Kuar the first fruits of
beans were ripened and in Kartik kutki became ripe. In Aghan every crop was
ready and in Pus winnowing took place.
Pus was also the time for dances and
marriages. In Magh shifts were made to
newbewars and hunting-gathering was
the main subsistence activity.
The cycle described above took place
in the first year. In the second year there
was more time for hunting as only a few
crops had to be sown and harvested. But
since there was enough food the men
lived in the bewars. It was only in the
third year that the diet had to be
supplemented with the forest products.
Adapted from Verrier Elwin, Baiga (1939) and
Elwin’s unpublished ‘Notes on the Khonds’ (Verrier
Elwin Papers, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library)
Source 1
Fig. 4 – A Santhal girl carrying firewood,
Bihar , 1946
Children go with their mothers to the
forest to gather forest produce.

Activity
Look carefully at the tasks that
Baiga men and women did. Do you
see any pattern? What were the
differences in the types of work
that they were expected to perform?
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


39
Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of
a Golden Age
4
In 1895, a man named Birsa was seen roaming the forests
and villages of Chottanagpur in Bihar. People said he had
miraculous powers – he could cure all diseases and multiply
grain. Birsa himself declared that God had appointed him
to save his people from trouble, free them from the slavery
of dikus (outsiders). Soon thousands began following Birsa,
believing that he was bhagwan (God) and had come to solve
all their problems.
Birsa was born in a family of Mundas – a tribal group that
lived in Chottanagpur. But his followers included other
tribals of the region – Santhals and Oraons. All of them in
different ways were unhappy with the changes they
were experiencing and the problems they were facing under
British rule. Their familiar ways of life
seemed to be disappearing, their livelihoods
were under threat, and their religion appeared
to be in danger.
What problems did Birsa set out to
resolve? Who were the outsiders being
referred to as dikus, and how did they enslave
the people of the region? What was happening
to the tribal people under the British? How
did their lives change? These are some of the
questions you will read about in this chapter.
You have read about tribal societies last
year. Most tribes had customs and rituals
that were very different from those laid
down by Brahmans. These societies also
did not have the sharp social divisions that
were characteristic of caste societies. All
those  who belonged to the same tribe  thought
of themselves as sharing common ties
of kinship. However, this did not mean
that there were no social and economic
differences within tribes.
Fig. 1 – Women of the
Dongria Kandha tribe in
Orissa wade through
the river on the way to
the market
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 40
How Did Tribal Groups Live?
By the nineteenth century, tribal people in different
parts of India were involved in a variety of activities.
Some were jhum cultivators
Some of them practised jhum cultivation, that is, shifting
cultivation. This was done on small patches of land,
mostly in forests. The cultivators cut the treetops to
allow sunlight to reach the ground, and burnt the
vegetation on the land to clear it for cultivation. They
spread the ash from the firing, which contained potash,
to fertilise the soil. They used the axe to cut trees and
the hoe to scratch the soil in order to prepare it for
cultivation. They broadcast the seeds, that is, scattered
the seeds on the field instead of ploughing the land
and sowing the seeds. Once the crop was ready and
harvested, they moved to another field. A field that had
been cultivated once was left fallow for several years,
Shifting cultivators were found in the hilly and
forested tracts of north-east and central India. The lives
of  these tribal people depended on free movement within
forests and on being able to use the land and forests
for growing their crops. That is the only way they could
practise shifting cultivation.
Some were hunters and gatherers
In many regions tribal groups lived by hunting animals
and gathering forest produce. They saw forests as
essential for survival. The Khonds were such a
community living in the forests of Orissa. They regularly
went out on collective hunts and then divided the
meat amongst themselves. They ate fruits and roots
collected from the forest
and cooked food with the
oil they extracted from
the seeds of the sal and
mahua. They used many
forest shrubs and herbs
for medicinal purposes,
and sold forest produce in
the local markets. The
local weavers and leather
workers turned to the
Khonds when they needed
supplies of kusum and
palash flowers to colour
their clothes and leather.
Fallow – A field left
uncultivated for a while
so that the soil recovers
fertility
Sal – A tree
Mahua – A flower that
is eaten or used to make
alcohol
Fig. 2 – Dongria Kandha women
in Orissa take home pandanus
leaves from the forest to make
plates
© NCERT
not to be republished
41
From where did these forest
people get their supplies of rice
and other grains? At times they
exchanged goods – getting what
they needed in return for their
valuable forest produce. At other
times they bought goods with the
small amount of earnings they
had. Some of them did odd jobs
in the villages, carrying loads or
building roads, while others
laboured in the fields of peasants
and farmers. When supplies of
forest produce shrank, tribal
people had to increasingly
wander around in search of work
as labourers. But many of
them – like the Baigas of central
India – were reluctant to do
work for others. The Baigas saw
themselves as people of the
forest, who could only live on the
produce of the forest. It was
below the dignity of a Baiga to
become a labourer.
Tribal groups often needed to
buy and sell in order to be able
to get the goods that were not produced within the
locality. This led to their dependence on traders and
moneylenders. Traders came around with things for
sale, and sold the goods at high prices. Moneylenders
gave loans with which the tribals met their cash needs,
adding to what they earned. But the interest charged
on the loans was usually very high. So for the tribals,
market and commerce often meant debt and poverty.
They therefore came to see the moneylender and trader
as evil outsiders and the cause of their misery.
Some herded animals
Many tribal groups lived by herding and rearing animals.
They were pastoralists who moved with their herds of
cattle or sheep according to the seasons.  When the grass
in one place was exhausted, they moved to another area.
The Van Gujjars of the Punjab hills and the Labadis of
Andhra Pradesh were cattle herders, the Gaddis of Kulu
were shepherds, and the Bakarwals of Kashmir reared
goats. You will read more about them in your history
book next year.
Fig. 3 – Location of some tribal
groups in India
TRIBALS, DIKUS AND THE VISION OF A GOLDEN AGE
© NCERT
not to be republished
OUR PASTS – III 42
A time to hunt, a time to sow, a time to move to a new field
Have you ever noticed that people living in different types of societies do not
share the same notion of work and time? The lives of the shifting cultivators and
hunters in different regions were regulated by a calendar and division of tasks
for men and women.
Verrier Elwin, a British anthropologist who lived among the Baigas and
Khonds of central India for many years in the 1930s and 1940s, gives us a picture
of what this calendar and division of tasks was like. He writes:
In Chait women went to clearings to ... cut stalks that were already reaped;
men cut large trees and go for their ritual hunt. The hunt began at full moon
from the east. Traps of bamboo were used for hunting. The women gathered
fruits like sago, tamarind and mushroom. Baiga women can only gather roots
or kanda and mahua seeds. Of all the adivasis in  Central India, the Baigas
were known as the best hunters … In Baisakh the firing of the forest took
place, the women gathered unburnt wood to burn. Men continued to hunt,
but nearer their villages. In Jeth sowing took place and hunting still went on.
From Asadh to Bhadon the men worked in the fields. In Kuar the first fruits of
beans were ripened and in Kartik kutki became ripe. In Aghan every crop was
ready and in Pus winnowing took place.
Pus was also the time for dances and
marriages. In Magh shifts were made to
newbewars and hunting-gathering was
the main subsistence activity.
The cycle described above took place
in the first year. In the second year there
was more time for hunting as only a few
crops had to be sown and harvested. But
since there was enough food the men
lived in the bewars. It was only in the
third year that the diet had to be
supplemented with the forest products.
Adapted from Verrier Elwin, Baiga (1939) and
Elwin’s unpublished ‘Notes on the Khonds’ (Verrier
Elwin Papers, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library)
Source 1
Fig. 4 – A Santhal girl carrying firewood,
Bihar , 1946
Children go with their mothers to the
forest to gather forest produce.

Activity
Look carefully at the tasks that
Baiga men and women did. Do you
see any pattern? What were the
differences in the types of work
that they were expected to perform?
© NCERT
not to be republished
43
Some took to settled cultivation
Even before the nineteenth century, many from within
the tribal groups had begun settling  down, and
cultivating their fields in one place year after year,
instead of moving from place to place. They began to
use the plough, and gradually got rights over the land
they lived on. In many cases, like the Mundas of
Chottanagpur, the land belonged to the clan as a whole.
All members of the clan were regarded as descendants
of the original settlers, who had first cleared the land.
Therefore, all of them had rights on the land. Very often
some people within the clan acquired more power
than others, some became chiefs and others followers.
Powerful men often rented out their land instead of
cultivating it themselves.
British officials saw settled tribal groups like the
Gonds and Santhals as more civilised than hunter-
gatherers or shifting cultivators. Those who lived in
the forests were considered to be wild and savage: they
needed to be settled and civilised.
How Did Colonial Rule Affect Tribal
Lives?
The lives of tribal groups changed during British rule.
Let us see what these changes were.
What happened to tribal chiefs?
Before the arrival of the British, in many areas the
tribal chiefs were important people. They enjoyed a
certain amount of economic power and had the right to
administer and control their territories. In some places
they had their own police and decided on the local rules
of land and forest management. Under British rule,
the functions and powers of the tribal chiefs changed
considerably. They were allowed to keep their land titles
over a cluster of villages and rent out lands, but they
lost much of their administrative power and were forced
to follow laws made by British officials in India. They
also had to pay tribute to the British, and discipline
the tribal groups on behalf of the British. They lost the
authority they had earlier enjoyed amongst their people,
and were unable to fulfil their traditional functions.
What happened to the shifting cultivators?
The British were uncomfortable with groups who moved
about and did not have a fixed home. They wanted tribal
Bewar – A term used
in Madhya Pradesh for
shifting cultivation
TRIBALS, DIKUS AND THE VISION OF A GOLDEN AGE
Fig. 5 – A log house being built in
a village of the Nishi tribals of the
Northeast.
The entire village helps when log
huts are built.
© NCERT
not to be republished
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