The National Coordinating Institute for Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, IIT Delhi, organised a one-day webinar on 20 June 2020 between 10 AM to 2 PM to understand various modes of Tribal Development Protecting their Indigenous Culture from External Influence.
The key speakers for this programme were Sh. Kiran DM (CEO, ONGC Foundation), Sh. Harsh Chauhan (Co-Founder, Shivganga Samagra Gramvikas Parishad, Jhabua), Sh. Rajiv Ranjan Prasad (Sr. Manager, National Hydropower Corporation, Faridabad), and Prof. Vivekanand Nartam (Dept. of Political Science, Shyam Lal College, Delhi University).
The programme was initiated by Prof. Vivek Kumar (Co-Coordinator, UBA) and convened by Prof. Priyanka Kaushal (Co-Coordinator, UBA). Prof. V K Vijay (National Coordinator, UBA) welcomed everyone detailed about the need and purpose of this webinar as the COVID-19 crisis prevails. He explained how Unnat Bharat Abhiyan can broadly help in achieving the goals of recently launched Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, with a special focus on Aspirational Districts. He highlighted the fact that to solve the problems of tribal people and communities, it is important to understand them first and then make them Atmanirbhar (self-reliant), which is also the very purpose of this webinar too.
Sh. Kiran initiated his talk with the fact that how during lockdown period nature has started created balance that was lost. He mentioned that what we are doing today for nature, tribals have been doing the same for centuries, and now it’s our turn to learn from them how to live with nature and maintain the balance. He emphasised that to understand the tribal knowledge and their culture, we need to work around the strengths of the tribal people. We cannot simply go and impose something in the name of development there. Only then we can look at the areas of possible interventions.
Sh. Rajiv Ranjan Prasad, having great knowledge of the Bastar region (Chattisgarh), informed everyone that how industrialisation impacted the tribal people. Starting from the history of the Bastar region, he focused on the impacts of various revolutions and elaborated various philosophies and tribal cultures of the area. He highlighted the situations prevailing within the Red Corridor area and how tribal culture survived despite various political influences. He briefly talked about Tribal Migration, Madiya tribals, Vanished Ghotul culture, Bailadila Iron ore mines, Eraarbor, Daantewada Bodhghat Pariyojana, Malik Makbooja, Dandkaranya Pariyojana, Tendupatta, Isolation Theory, Naxalism in Bastar, and Human Rights of Tribal people. He was concerned that despite being a very fertile region and full of water capacities, this region is facing issues on agriculture and water sustainability due to less reach of the outer world even after various government interferences. Hence, strategies should not be made at the table, but at the ground level that can directly benefit tribal people. Moreover, we can learn a lot about sustainability from these tribal people.
Moving ahead, Prof. Vivekanand Nartam talked about the behaviour and vision of Indian people towards tribal people that how being Indigenous has created a sense of backwardness, which needs to be changed. He narrated the ILO Convention on Indigenous people and why it was not signed by India. He explained that how imperial colonial expansion harmed the tribal communities that lead to extinction of many of them. Talking about intangible heritage, worshipping on Panchmahabhootas, and mother nature, with examples from Ramayana and Mahabharata, he elaborated the vast culture of India and “Nagarwasi, Gramwasi and Vanawasi – all are Bharatwasi” concept. A few topics he discussed included Forced Conversion, Mass Migrations of Tribal Communities and Human Trafficking of Tribals in Jharkhand. He highlighted that there’s a huge need for social awareness to create a sense of relativity and connect between the people living in urban areas and people living in the forests, and said that Unnat Bharat Abhiyan possesses that potential.
Sh. Harsh Chauhan expressed his happiness on Unnat Bharat Abhiyan achieving the big milestones of reaching every nook and corner of the country and creating a connection between the rural people of India and educational institutions. Talking about the developments done in the Jhabua region by the Higher Educational Institutions, he mentioned that the success of Jhabua depended upon the willingness of its people to develop the region. He appreciated that UBA has developed a sense of social inclusiveness in the students which is driving them to imply their knowledge practically in the areas that are in much need. He talked about Image v/s Reality programme, and how Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana and Ujjwala Yojana did not benefit people at the grassroots level despite having a wider and successful reach. He mentioned that we need to look outside the books and see the real challenges and then come out with solutions that can actually work in coordination with tribal people. He also discussed some of the tribal cultures including Halma Parampara and Matavan that are actually meant to create a bond between nature and people. He highlighted that we should not look at the weaknesses at the initial stages, rather we should focus on the strengths of tribal people and work along by creating curiosity with the sense of empathy. He ended by saying that if the human can count itself as nature, then there will be default enlightenment in saving nature.
Towards the end of the webinar, a few questions were taken from the audience that were answered by the key speakers. Various issues like Implementation of PESA Act, Inter-tribal conflicts, cultural plurality, and rehabilitation were discussed during this session. After that, the webinar was concluded by Prof. Dinesh. Prof. Priyanka Kaushal delivered the vote of thanks to all the participants and key speakers and the webinar ended successfully.
This 4-hour webinar was watched by 300+ people including professors, teachers, researchers, experts, and students LIVE through Unnat Bharat Abhiyan Youtube channel and CISCO Webex virtual platforms. Till now, 6400 people have watched this webinar on Youtube Channel and is still gaining lauds by the audience.