Find answers, ask questions, and connect with our
community around the world.

Activity Discussion History Tribals survival Reply To: Tribals survival

  • Priyal

    June 17, 2023 at 1:30 pm
    Not Helpful

    By the nineteenth century, tribal people in different parts
    of India were involved in a variety of activities.

    1} Jhum cultivation

    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.

    2}Hunting and Gathering

    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
    Sal – A tree
    Mahua – A flower that
    is eaten or used to make
    alcohol. 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

    3}Herding 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

For Worksheets & PrintablesJoin Now