Significance of Tribal Culture in Sustainable Development

  • IASbaba
  • February 21, 2023
  • 0
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Context: Recently the Prime Minister remarked that the world can learn a lot about sustainable development from Adivasi culture and it can be a solution to global problems like climate change and global warming.

  • India comprises 6% tribal population, has access to an enormous indigenous knowledge which through recognition, adoption, and mainstreaming has the potential to provide sustainable solutions to concerns related to
    • falling agricultural productivity and soil quality,
    • biodiversity loss,
    • water scarcity, pollution, and
    • Climate Change challenges.
  • Sustainable Development refers to a way of achieving economic growth and development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

About Constitutional Provisions:

  • The Constitution of India does not endeavour to define the term ‘tribe’, however, the term Scheduled Tribe’ was inserted in the Constitution through Article 342 (i).
  • It lays down that ‘the President may, by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within the tribes or tribal communities or parts which shall, for the purposes of this Constitution, be deemed to be Scheduled Tribes.
  • The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution provides for the setting up a Tribes’ Advisory Council in each of the States having Scheduled Areas.

About Tribal Cultures:

  • Communal living: Many tribal communities in India have a strong emphasis on communal living and sharing resources.
    • They live in close-knit communities and often make decisions collectively.
  • Self-Sufficiency: Tribe is a synonym for a self-reliant community, a tribe is a relatively closed society and its openness is inversely related to the extent of its self-sufficient pursuits.
  • Connection with nature: Tribals have a strong connection with nature, with traditional beliefs and practices that revolve around the forests and animals.
  • Folk arts and crafts: Tribals are known for their unique art forms, including pottery, weaving, and jewellery making.
    • These crafts often have spiritual or cultural significance and are passed down through generations.
  • Spiritual beliefs: Tribals often have their own unique spiritual beliefs, which may involve the worship of ancestors, nature spirits, or deities.

Tribal Lifestyle and Sustainable development:

  • Respect for the natural environment: Tribal traditional practices, such as using natural materials for housing, food, and medicine, and living in harmony with the cycles of nature.
  • Community-based decision-making: Collective decision-making considers the needs of the community as a whole and ensures that decisions are made in a sustainable and equitable manner.
  • Promotion of biodiversity: Tribals have developed practices to protect and promote diversity which includes traditional methods of agriculture, such as intercropping and seed-saving, as well as the protection of sacred sites that are important for the preservation of biodiversity.
  • Conservation of natural resources: Sustainable practices involve limiting the use of resources to ensure their long-term availability, such as rotational farming or allowing forests to regenerate before harvesting timber.
  • Emphasis on intergenerational knowledge sharing: Passing down knowledge to the next generation includes traditional knowledge of the natural environment and sustainable practices for managing resources.
  • Protection of water resources: Tribal communities rely on water resources and have developed practices that can help to ensure that water is available for future generations, and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Regenerative agriculture: tribal communities have been practicing regenerative agriculture for centuries, which involves practices like crop rotation, intercropping, and regenerating soils with organic matter.
    • These practices help to sequester carbon in the soil, which can help to mitigate climate change.
  • Use of renewable energy: They have traditionally used renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and hydropower which can be expanded and modernized to provide clean energy for more people.

Challenges faced by tribals in performing their lifestyle

  • Discrimination: Tribal communities often face discrimination and prejudice from the dominant society, including limited access to education, healthcare, and other basic services.
  • Land rights: Tribal communities have been displaced from their traditional lands due to industrialization, and mining which has resulted in the loss of cultural identity, and social and economic marginalization.
  • Climate change and environmental degradation: Climate Change, such as changes in rainfall patterns, increased frequency of natural disasters, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, pollution, and loss of habitat, has negatively impacted their traditional livelihoods and ways of life.
  • Socioeconomic marginalization: Many tribal communities have limited access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, which can result in poverty and social exclusion.
  • Lack of political representation: Tribal communities often lack political representation and may not have a voice in decision-making processes that affect their lives.
  • Health challenges: Tribal communities often face challenges in accessing quality healthcare, which can result in higher rates of disease, malnutrition, and other health issues.
  • Cultural assimilation: Many tribal communities face pressure to assimilate into the dominant culture, which can lead to the loss of traditional knowledge, language, and cultural practices.

Government initiatives to conserve tribal culture:

  • National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation (NSTFDC), an apex Organization under the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in 2001 was brought into existence with the sole aim of economic upliftment of the Scheduled Tribes by way of extending concessional financial assistance to the target group under its various schemes.
  • TRIFED’s Initiatives For Tribal Population:
    • The Government plans to establish 50,000 Van Dhan Vikas Kendras, 3000 Haat Bazaars, etc.
    • Central Sector Scheme: Institutional Support for Development & Marketing of Tribal Products / Produce.
    • Tribes India Outlets: The outlets will showcase tribal products from all over the country and the outlets will have a specific geographical indication (GI) and Vandhan corners.
  • Support to Tribal Research Institutes (TRIs) and Tribal Festivals, Research Information, and Mass Education
  • Pradhan Mantri Van Dhan Yojana: It is a market-linked tribal entrepreneurship development program for forming clusters of tribal Self Help Groups (SHGs) and strengthening them into Tribal Producer Companies.
  • Scholarships for pre-matric, post-matric, and overseas education
  • Support to National Scheduled Tribes Finance and Development Corporation
  • Development of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs): The scheme covers activities like housing, land distribution, land development, agricultural development, animal husbandry, construction of link roads, etc.
  • Vocational Training in Tribal Area: The aim of the Scheme is to develop the skills of the ST youth for a variety of jobs as well as self-employment and to improve their socio-economic condition by enhancing their income.
  • Centrally Sponsored Scheme: The mechanism for Marketing of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) through (MSP) and Development of a Value Chain for MFP’ as a measure of social safety for MFP gatherers.

Way Ahead

As India celebrates its 75th year of Independence with ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahostav’, Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas would be a thoughtful gift for our tribal community and a recall to Ram Rajya — where the likes of Guha are given due respect, their cultural diversity is respected, and their contributions celebrated.

Tribal lifestyles can offer solutions to climate change and global warming through sustainable practices that protect and preserve the natural environment. Overall, tribal lifestyles can provide valuable lessons for sustainable development, particularly in areas with high levels of biodiversity or where development threatens the natural environment.

Source:  The Hindu

Previous Year Questions

Q.1) Which one of the following has been constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 ? (2022)

  1. Central Water Commission
  2. Central Ground Water Board
  3. Central Ground Water Authority
  4. National Water Development Agency

Q.2) In the context of India, which of the following is/are considered to be of practice(s) of eco-friendly agriculture? (2020)

  1. Crop diversification
  2. Legume intensification
  3. Tensiometer use
  4. Vertical farming

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

  1. 1, 2 and 3 only
  2. 3 only
  3. 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q.3) With reference to India, the terms ‘Halbi, Ho and Kui’ pertain to (2021)

  1. dance forms of Northwest India
  2. musical instruments
  3. pre-historic cave paintings
  4. tribal languages


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