Poet Nitisha Khalkho & short story writer Sunder Manoj Hembrom: Oraon and Santali writers’ meet during “Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative” (National Conference) – New Delhi

Plenary Session 4: TRIBAL WRITERS’ MEET

Chaired by: Prof. Anand Mahanand (Dept of English, EFL, Hyderabad) & Dr. Ganga Sahay Meena (Dept of Hindi, SLLCS, JNU, New Delhi)

Nitisha Khalkho, a poet from the Oraon community has written the poetry collection titled Kalam Ko Teer Hone Do. As she read out some of her poems, her versatility was evident. She spoke about her poems in which she has written about the Adivasi society, the ways in which an Adivasi girl is approached in university politics and various other contemporary issues. She expressed the concern as to why is it expected of the Adivasi writers to write only about a particular theme. She writes most of her poems in Hindi because she has to reach a larger number of people.

Sunder Manoj Hembrom, a prolific short story writer in Santhali language, spoke about the impact of globalization on Adivasi literature. He read out some excerpts from his short story collection, Sengel Buru, which were on themes such as personal turmoil, social transformation of Santhals and their resultant angst. He writes with an aim to document memories, to celebrate his identity and tradition. This Tribal Writers’ Meet brought forward the struggles, the anxieties, and the process of writing of the Adivasi writers.

(Student Rapporteur: Ms. Rajitha Venugopal)

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Source: Report for the ICSSR-sponsored Two-Day National Conference Tribes In Transition-II: Reaffirming Indigenous Identity Through Narrative organised by The Department of English & Outreach Programme Jamia Millia Islamia (New Delhi, 27-28 February 2017)

Courtesy Dr. Ivy Hansdak, Assistant Professor, Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia University New Delhi (email 4 October 2017)

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Putting an end to exploitation: The Halpati women who don’t want financial help from anybody – Gujarat

Saumya at work with the tribal women

Of Spice & Spirit: 24-YO Quits Cushy Job to Double Income of Gujarat Tribe!

Jovita Aranha, The Better India, 3 July 2018

Turn the pages of history, and it will narrate the plight of the Halpatis of Gujarat, one of the most backward tribal communities. For the longest time, they have struggled to break away from a shell that dictates everything they are –landless farmhands under exploitative zamindars. | Read the full report and view more photos here >>

The year is 2018. It is a primary school in the Bardoli taluka of Gujarat. A few parents walk up to the class teacher and say, “Stop teaching these Halpatis. If they get educated, who will toil in our fields?”

No, this is not an imaginary scenario. This is but a glimpse into the oppression faced by the Halpati scheduled tribe at the hands of upper-caste villagers. […]

Soon, two women, 23-year-old Sonamben Halpati, and 27-year-old Sobhanaben Halpati stepped up to become lead entrepreneurs. “They were firm in their resolve that they didn’t want financial help from anybody. And thus, with a small team of five other women as part-time workers and an existing machine, the women began their entrepreneurial journey,” shares Saumya.

They had a machine, they had labour, and they would eventually buy the raw materials, but where would they set up their production unit? […]

“They lacked the confidence and knowledge of running a successful venture. My work is only an attempt to make them aware of the power that lies within the palm of their hands.”

Today these Halpati women proudly claim that they will not be limited to being daily wage labourers. They can turn into entrepreneurs. Looking at the success that Tez Masala has amassed in five months, other groups of women have walked up to Saumya. While some want to set up their stitching unit, others want to run an Anganwadi centre.

Who would’ve thought that all it would take was a group of women armed with spices to spark a revolution in a remote tribal village in Gujarat? These women are doing it every day, and how! […]

Source: Of Spice & Spirit: 24-YO Quits Cushy Job to Double Income of Gujarat Tribe!
URL: https://www.thebetterindia.com/148422/spice-saumya-omer-gujarat-tribe/
Date visited: 29- October 2018

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Video | “Nadi Hudin Khon”: Song 1 from Santali video album “Ale Ato” (Our Village) – West Bengal

1 Nadi Hudin Khon (From Childhood)

[Starting from 1:06]

A daughter tells her mother:
Dear mother, you brought me up from childhood but you were not able to make use of my physical strength. You nourished me as a baby and taught me how to clean the courtyard, catch snails from the pond, collect the vegetables from the forest and firewood from the jungle. Now you married me off, but I know you will remember me and weep silently while taking food and sweeping the verandah. I am so sad that I am leaving you alone at home.

Literary translation

From a small child you grown me up

Where could you use my strength dear mother,

At the end of your life you will realize

You will be sweeping the courtyard by supporting your hip with your hand,

You will be eating rice keeping your hand on your cheek

Tears will be falling on the water bowl.

In the courtyard there is your broom

In the cowshed there is your basket to clean cow dung dear mother,

On the top and bottom of Garshade (raised platform to keep cleaned utensils) there are your utensils and bronze pot,

Now I leave you dear mother.

View the full video album from the beginning >>

Learn more

Courtesy: Dr. Boro Baski © Ghosaldanga Bushnubati Adibasi Trust –


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Video | Inherited knowledge and its value for modern healthcare: “The country can learn much from the beauty of Adivasi social practices, their culture of sharing and respect for all”

Learn from M S Swaminathan – a world renowned scientist – how biological diversity contributes to public health, people’s livelihood and environmental security in addition to food security: his call on Indian citizens to use and share resources in a more sustainable and equitable manner; outlining the long journey from the 1992 Earth Summit to a commitment to foster inherited knowledge through India’s Biodiversity Act and Genome Saviour Award; an award intended to reward those who are “primary conservers” – guardians of biological diversity.


Watch the video message Biodiversity Prof M S Swaminathan and related contents the distinguished scientist’s YouTube channel: MSSRF CAbC WAYANAD https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8zYWZfiEF0FD1IBErLwuFA and his website http://www.mssrf.org to understand the larger context of his mission.

In 1997, MSSRF established its first Community Agro-biodiversity Centre in Wayanad district of Kerala to work on ‘community biodiversity management’ by promoting a coalition of the concerned, notably, government departments and voluntary organizations for the conservation of the genetic wealth of Wayanad and surrounding region. | Learn more >>

Read a report in the Hindustani Times (22 November 2018): “Tribesmen bag plant genome saviour award” (for conserving cereals, millets, spices, tubers, vegetables)

Medicinal Plants Used by Traditional Healthcare Practitioners of Dominant Tribes of Koraput in Odisha

The paper documents the medicinal plants growing naturally in the forests used in traditional healthcare system by major tribal communities inhabiting four southern districts of Odisha, India. In the tribal villages, traditional healthcare practitioners (THPs) are responsible for collection, processing, and administration of herbal medicines acquired through inherited knowledge. We recorded 294 medicinal plants, out of which 34 plants are commonly used by nine dominant tribes though the mode of preparation, plant parts used, and the treating ailments vary within the tribes. Malaria, diarrhea, and skin infections are the most commonly occurring diseases treated with a variety of herbal medicines and the tribes depend strongly on the THPs. Although several medicinal plants utilized in primary healthcare have been recognized, their conservation, sustainable use, and benefit sharing is lacking. A garden of medicinal plants was established to protect the traditional knowledge of tribal communities for Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) under the Biodiversity Act (BD Act), 2002, empowering with modern and mass cultivation methods and market linkage for economic benefi ts and as a part of conservation measures of these depleting resources. – Publication date: 2013

Download site (account required):http://indianmedicine.eldoc.ub.rug.nl/65725/

The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) was established in 1988 as a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987. The Foundation aims to accelerate use of modern science and technology for agricultural and rural development to improve lives and livelihoods of communities. | Learn more>>

Source: http://www.mssrf.org/content/medicinal-plants-used-traditional-healthcare-practitioners-dominant-tribes-koraput-odisha 
Date accessed: 10 January 2019


The term “Adivasis” (original inhabitants) refers to the Indigenous Peoples of India who possess distinct identities and cultures often linked to certain territories. The term is derived from the Hindi word “adi” which means “of earliest times” or “from the beginning” and “vasi” means inhabitant or resident, and it was coined in the 1930s. Officially they are termed as “Scheduled Tribes” (STs) which is a legal and constitutional term specifying the tribal groups with distinctive cultures, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, traditional beliefs and practices, such as indigenous arts of dance and music, unique way of life and nature worshipping, living in unreachable areas. STs also refer to the groups living in unreachable areas with social and economical backwardness and highly depending on forests resources.

Indigenous Knowledge of Adivasis

India’s regional languages such as Oriya, Marathi or Bengali are developed from the tribal languages as the fusion with Sanskrit (or Pali) and virtually all the Indian languages have incorporated words from the vocabulary of Adivasi languages. […]

Adivasis who developed an intimate knowledge of various plants and their medicinal uses played a valuable role in the development of Ayurvedic medicine. In a recent study, the All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) credited Adivasi communities with the knowledge about 9,000 species of plants, including 7,500 used for human healing and veterinary health care. Dental care products like datun, roots and condiments like turmeric used in cooking and ointments are also the discoveries of Adivasi, as are many fruit trees and vines. Ayurvedic cures for arthritis and night blindness owe their origins to Adivasi knowledge.

Adivasis also played an important role in the development of agricultural practices – such as rotational cropping, fertility maintenance through alternating the cultivation of grains with leaving land fallow or using it for pasture. […]

Health Issue

Most Adivasis live in poor hygienic condition resulting in various problems such as low life expectancy, low nutritional intake, high morbidity and high infant mortality rate. The inadequacy of public health care delivery system, poor preventive measures, insufficient income and high consumption of tobacco and alcohol have led Adivasis to an unhealthy life. Comparing to the earnings of Adivasis, the expenditure on health is a heavy burden which keeps Adivasis living in a poor health conditions.

The Role of Adivasis in the Freedom Movement

Adivasi uprisings in the Jharkhand belt were quelled by the British through massive deployment of troops across the region. The Kherwar uprising and the Birsa Munda movement were the most important struggles in late-18th century against British rule and their local agents. The long struggle led by Birsa Munda tackled the British policies that allowed the zamindars (landowners) and money-lenders to harshly exploit the Adivasis. In 1914, Jatra Oraon started the Tana Movement, which drew the participation of over 25,500 Adivasis. The Tana movement joined the [Gandhian] nation-wide Satyagraha Movement (the non-violent movement for independence) in 1920 and stopped the payment of land-taxes to the colonial Government.

During ruling period of Britain, several revolts also took place in Orissa with the active participation of the Adivasis. The significant ones including the Paik Rebellion (1817), the Ghumsar uprisings (1836-1856), and the Sambhalpur revolt (1857-1864).

In the hill tribal tracts of Andhra Pradesh, a revolt broke out in August 1922. Led by Alluri Ramachandra Raju, better known as Sitarama Raju, the Adivasis of the Andhra hills succeeded in drawing the British into a full-scale guerrilla war. As the freedom movement spread, it drew Adivasis into all aspects of the struggle. […]

Many tribal places are in hilly and forest areas and the tribal activities mainly depended on the resources from forests. Forests and tribal have a symbiotic relationship. In spite of being threatened by modernization of the country, some of the tribal continue to live in forest areas. Some of them survive only on the collection of minor forest produce. The tribal have been using forest from generation to generation as their source of livelihood. However, with the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act 1980, their rights to collect minor forest produce and other forest produce has been restricted considerably. […]


The country can learn much from the beauty of Adivasi social practices, their culture of sharing and respect for all – their deep humility and love of nature – and most of all – their deep devotion to social equality and civic harmony. However, in the increasingly industrialized and modernized world, the indigenous peoples always become marginalized with their distinct relationship with the nature. The government and civil society movements should ensure that means of livelihood for indigenous peoples are available to them. The culture and traditions of indigenous people should be protected at all cost. The society at large should be ready to learn from the value system of indigenous people to keep the world with greater sense of equality and fraternity.

Source: Backgrounder on Adivasis in South India
Address : http://www.acpp.org/uappeals/bground/Adivasis%20in%20SIndia.htm
Date Visited: Sun Apr 21 2013 13:47:59 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples is an independent organisation based in Hong Kong with an Asian focus. […]

Source: ACPP- Working for Justice & Peace in Asia
Address : http://www.acpp.org/
Date Visited: Sun Apr 21 2013 13:44:38 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Copies of publications by the above author(s) and/or and title descriptions may be found here:

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Posted in Adivasi, Anthropology, Colonial policies, Constitution and Supreme Court, Customs, Eastern region, Ecology and environment, Ethnobotany, Gandhian social movement, Health and nutrition, History, Hyderabad biodiversity pledge, Languages and linguistic heritage, Maps, Organizations, Quotes, Success story, Video resources - external, Western Ghats - tribal heritage & ecology | Comments Off on Video | Inherited knowledge and its value for modern healthcare: “The country can learn much from the beauty of Adivasi social practices, their culture of sharing and respect for all”

Yelagiri’s traditional architecture: Tribal huts compare favourably with concrete structures – Tamil Nadu

Serena Josephine. M, The Hindu, TIRUPATTUR, January 30, 2013

On a gigantic rock at Pallakaniyur sits an example of Yelagiri’s own piece of traditional architecture, passed on for generations together. The dwelling of Govindasamy, with its unique structural design and construction techniques stands proof of the tribal culture of Yelagiri Hills.

Govindasamy, a coolie, does not know when his house was constructed. “This has been our home for several decades,” he added. The tribal hut follows a set pattern of construction and takes 60 days for completion, Ramasamy, a villager of Pallakaniyur noted.

A ‘thinna’, constructed on either side of the entrance welcomes visitors to this tribal hut. Inside the house is a huge container made of bamboo and soil, further reflecting the tribal culture. This container is used to store grains.

We have certain methods to construct the hut. First, boulders and small-sized rocks are placed on the ground. Wooden logs are kept on these boulders. Then, we use iron rods to crush the red soil. This is soaked in water for some time and mixed by treading. The soil is made into balls and these are raised as walls,” he explained. […]

Lemon grass is used to form the roof of the hut.

A few villagers have constructed similar type of houses but with the foundation on the ground, unlike the traditional huts which use boulders and wooden logs.

To give the annual summer festival held last year a glimpse into the tribal aura of Yelagiri, the district administration had constructed a tribal hut by roping in the villagers near the first hairpin bend leading to the hill. This tribal hut had served as the reception centre for the festival.

“We were roped in to construct the tribal hut down the hill. Nevertheless, such huts are becoming rare in Yelagiri as many villagers now prefer concrete structures. But these tribal huts are much stronger,” he added. […]

Source: Tribal architecture and culture, passed on through generations – The Hindu
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/tribal-architecture-and-culture-passed-on-through-generations/article4359679.ece
Date Visited: Sat Nov 09 2013 11:44:13 GMT+0100 (CET)

Looking at substitutes

A. Srivathsan, The Hindu, August 11, 2013

The demand for sand has crossed sustainable threshold limits, and mindless extraction to keep the supply going cannot continue. Growing environmental degradation caused by mining has buttressed the case for regulating supply. More important, the present crisis imposes a responsibility on the Indian construction industry, which has an annual turnover of about Rs. 384,000 crore, quickly to find substitutes and consider modes of recycling.

Sand is an ubiquitous raw material in construction. It is a cheap and an essential ingredient to create workable mortar and strong concrete. A sturdy floor requires a well laid-out and an even sand bed. Yet, sand is not difficult to replace in this sector; alternatives are available. […]

Source: Looking at substitutes – The Hindu
Address : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/looking-at-substitutes/article5010520.ece
Date Visited: Sat Nov 09 2013 11:53:46 GMT+0100 (CET)

Yelagiri will host the summer festival drawing inspiration from tribal aura of the hills. Arrangements are apace with plenty of cultural festivities, contests and events being lined up. The district administration has come up with a logo for the summer festival this year.

With the festival all set to be held on June 2 and 3, the administration is looking at exploring and showcasing local characteristics of the hill.   […]  

“We want to explore locally available materials. The logo itself carries a tribal hut. We want to display the tribal culture of Yelagiri. In fact, we are looking at the possibility of setting up a reception centre at Ponneri by putting up a tribal hut there. We are also thinking of bringing in food which is unique to Yelagiri in the food court planned for the festival,” Sub-Collector of Tirupattur Shilpa Prabhakar said.  […]  

Source: Summer fete at Yelagiri on June 2, 3
URL: https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/summer-fete-at-yelagiri-on-june-2-3/article3461656.ece
Date visited: 8 January 2019

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