NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 4: Tribals, Dikus and Vision of Golden Age YouTube Lecture Handouts

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1895: Birsa From Mundas in Chottanagpur – miraculous powers – could cure disease and multiply grains – to save people from trouble and free them from slavery of dikus (outsiders) – slowly became Bhagwan

Image of Munda Tribe Geographical Location

Image of Munda Tribe Geographical Location

Image of Munda Tribe Geographical Location

Later Santhals and Oraons became his follower

Tribal Features

  • Unique Customs and Rituals

  • Those of same tribal groups thought of sharing common kinship ties

  • Jhum Cultivation was practiced – cut treetops and burnt land, spread ash which contained potash (fertilizer), axe to cut and hoe to scratch soil, broadcast seeds (scattered in field), field to be left fallow – common in NE and Central India

  • Exchanged goods for valuable forest produce

  • Carry load and build roads

  • Moneylenders gave loans by which tribals could meet the local needs – stuck with debt and poverty

Baigas: Central India could not live below the dignity of forest and not converted to laborers

Khonds: community living in Orissa forests – collective hunting and divide meat, ate fruits and roots, cooked food in oil from mahua and sal; used forest shurbs for medicine; local weavers asked them for supplies of kusum and palash flowers to color clothes and leather

Hajang: Tripura and migrated from Assam – women took children to workplace and factories

Pastoralists

  • Van Gujjars of the Punjab hills were cattle herders

  • Labadis of Andhra Pradesh were cattle herders

  • Gaddis of Kullu were shepherds

  • Bakarwals of Kashmir reared goats

Around 19th Century: Tribals started settling down – Mundas of Chottanagpur – land belonged to clan as whole – members were descendants of original settlers

British officials considered settled tribal groups like Gonds and Santhals as more civilized than hunter – gatherers or shifting cultivators (wild and savage)

How Calendar Year Works for Tribals?

1st Year Process

  • Chait: clearing forest

  • Baisakh: firing of forest

  • Jeth: sowing of seeds

  • Asadh to Bhadon: Men worked in the fields

  • Kuar: 1st fruits were ripened

  • Aghan: Crop was ready

  • Pus: Winnowing, dance and marriages

  • Magh: shift to new bewars & hunting and gathering

2nd Year: More time for hunting as only few crops were sown

3rd Year: Diet supplemented with forest products

Map of Tribal Groups

Map of Tribal Groups

Map of Tribal Groups

Effect of Colonial Rule

  • Before British – tribal chiefs were important and had economic power and right to administer control, had own police and management

  • Under British Rule – allowed to keep land and rent it but lost administrative control, were forced to follow laws and pay tribute to Britishers

  • Britishers wanted people to settle down as it was easy to control and administer them – they wanted regular revenue sources and introduced land settlements

  • It was hard to settle jhum cultivators in areas of scarce water and dry soil. Jhum cultivators in northeast continued with traditional practice

Impact of Forest Laws

British extended control on all forests and declared it as state property

Reserved Forest: Produced timber for Britishers only – people were not allowed to move, practice jhum or collect fruits

Since tribals not allowed – where to get the labour to cut logs for railway sleepers

Forest Department established forest villages to ensure a regular supply of cheap labour

Tribal groups reacted against British laws – disobeyed and continued with practice that was declared illegal with open rebellion

  • Songram Sangma in 1906 in Assam

  • Forest satyagraha of the 1930s in Central Provinces

18th Century: Silk was demanded in European market, fine quality silk was valued and exports from India increased & so East India Company encouraged silk production

Cocoon rearing in Hazaribagh (Jharkhand) by Santhals – growers were paid Rs. 3 to 4 for 1,000 cocoons and were exported to Burdwan or Gaya (here they were sold at 5 times the price) – middlemen made huge profits

Tribals recruited in tea plantations in Assam and coal mines in Jharkhand – miserable life and low wages

Tribal Rebellion

Against changes in law

New taxation system

Exploitation by traders and moneylenders

  • Kols rebelled in 1831-32

  • Santhals rose in revolt in 1855

  • Bastar Rebellion in central India in 1910

  • Warli Revolt in Maharashtra in 1940

Birsa Munda

  • Born in 1870

  • Grew in forest of Bohonda

  • Faced extreme poverty

  • Heard tales of Munda uprising & sirdar (leaders of community)

  • They talked of tales of freedom from oppression of dikus – time to restore ancestral rights – were descendants of original settlers

  • Went to local missionary school and heard that it was possible for Munda to attain Kingdom of Heaven & regain lost rights – if good Christians gave up bad practices

  • He spent time with Vaishnav preachers

Image of Birsa Munda

Image of Birsa Munda

Image of Birsa Munda

  • Urged people to give up liquor, clean village and stop believing in witchcraft

  • He turned against Christians and Hinduism

  • He talked about golden age in past – satyug – good life, constructed embankments, tapped natural springs, planted trees and orchards, practiced cultivation to earn their living

  • Britishers were afraid that Birsa would drive out missionaries, moneylenders, Hindu landlords, and government and set up a Munda Raj with Birsa at its head

  • Britishers arrested Brisa in 1895 for rioting and jailed him for 2 years

  • In 1897, Birsa urged people to destroy Ravana (dikus or Europeans) - attacked police stations and churches, and raided the property of moneylenders and zamindars. They raised the white flag as a symbol of Birsa Raj

  • 1900- Birsa died of Cholera

  • He forced Britishers to introduce laws so that land of tribals could not be taken over easily

  • He expressed that tribals can protest against injustice and revolt