Many traditional cultures of the Third World are dying under the pressure of current globalization and industrialization. In this age of increasing urbanization, tribal or tribal cultures are the whole heritage of the whole world due to the reasons to maintain a natural and healthy environment alive even today. Since time immemorial, these human communities have expanded their cultures according to their ecological systems. To earn a living, these traditional cultures developed a simple way of life based on the principle of symbiosis in proportion to nature’s ability to reproduce.
The process of colonization based on colonial thinking by the British in the Terai-Bhabar region of Uttarakhand and the settlement of other people groups in the Terai areas by the Government of India in independent India resulted in the traditional way of life of the local tribes and the economic basis of living and their environment. The harmony that has been going on for centuries has completely changed and disintegrated. Hurt by the conflict of tradition and change, it is a difficult task to separate the original tribal tribes Tharu and Buxa tribesmen of this region from the present general population of the Terai region. Because most of the tribal populations have started, or have adopted, the non-tribal cultural way of life. These people are still not completely away from the traditions of their past in spite of much interference from outsiders in the Terai-Bhavar. The Tharu and Buxa tribal communities settled at different places have been affected to a lesser or greater extent by the intensity of environmental destruction of the particular place as well as by the culture of the out-dwelling and non-migrant human communities. Certainly the original tribal culture of these people is now endangered, but some elements of the original culture have continued to exist even today.
The process of change was started keeping the logic of development and modernization of agriculture in front of Terai-Bhabar region. As a result, the tribal ecological system of the Terai region was almost completely disintegrated. The society of the tribal groups disintegrated and the culture also got scattered. Majority of the people of tribal society have been unable to connect with a society whose relationship with nature is not according to their production capacity but to earn their needs and profit, and maximum exploitation of the fertility of the land. The commercial farming system of Terai-Bhabar is based on exploitation and destruction instead of nurturing and balancing nature. In the eyes of Banavasi, permanent farmers are far away from natural life. In the process of colonization, industrialization and environmental destruction, the Tharu-Buxas of Terai-Bhavar have lost their control over their lands, forests and rivers and streams. This loss is not a right of ownership and control. Because the ideas and philosophies of property ownership and rights were not available in the Banavasi society. This loss is mainly due to the loss of a way of life and philosophy due to the destruction of the nature of production and the ways of using resources. This loss was economic as well as cultural. On a personal level it was a severe blow to both the stomach and the mind.
The traditional economy of the tribal communities Tharu and Buxa is a result of the change in the methods of use of land and other natural resources in the region. The intention behind the colonization of the Terai areas by the British was to make commercial profits by converting the fertile land of the Terai into a systematic agricultural area. Forest lands were converted into permanent agricultural fields by clearing the forests. The adoption of systematic farming in place of traditional Jhum or shifting cultivation by the tribals not only resulted in a change in their relationship with the ecological system of these tribal tribal communities, but this homogeneous community was forced to behave quite differently against their traditional practice among themselves. have also happened.
In the Terai-Bhabar region, the system of modern agriculture has been fully adopted along with the scientific tools of Green Revolution. The Tharu and Buxa of the Terai have been completely ousted by the newcomers from their traditional ecosystem relationship. These tribes have turned away from their environment and culture. Disruption of the resources of their traditional production has resulted in depletion of nutrients and worsening of health and economic conditions. The effect of external change on the tribes of the Terai region started from the year 1860 after the process of colonization was accelerated. The non-existence of forests for shifting cultivation directly affected the production of food grains. The cycle of Jhum cultivation of the tribals came to an end, due to which the production of food grains of the tribals started falling, these people started feeling the lack of availability of food.
For centuries, hunting in the forests and gleaning of minor forest products was the means of their livelihood and sustenance in these tribal communities. Due to the clearing of forests and converting them into settled agricultural land, the supply of wild products also started decreasing. Along with the tuber, there was a severe shortage of animals too. Grain was also available on purchase, due to which there was deficiency in nutrition. The whole process is like loss of health, loss of culture and kicking in the stomach.The cycle of jhum cultivation of the tribals came to an end, due to which the production of food grains of the tribals started falling, these people started feeling the lack of availability of food.
For centuries, hunting in the forests and gleaning minor forest products was the means of their livelihood and sustenance in these tribal communities. Due to the clearing of forests and converting them into settled agricultural land, the supply of wild products also started decreasing. Along with the tuber, there was a severe shortage of animals too. Grain was also available on purchase, due to which there was a deficiency in nutrition. The whole process is like loss of health, loss of culture, and kicking in the stomach.
There were also medicinal plants in these areas which have now either diminished or are on the verge of extinction.
It has been generally argued at the government level that farming, known as Jhum, Podu, Bogodo, Quill, Kateel, Bebar, etc., is a backward, harmful and destructive practice, in which high investment results in low production. But the results of studies conducted in recent years have shown that this type of farming is based on a fairly prudent assessment. In the context of the ecology of the hill dwellers, this process cannot be considered wasteful and a waste of energy. In Jhum cultivation, mixed cultivation grows crops in such a way that the root system of different plants reaches different stages of depth and it is possible for different crops to get nutrition from multiple layers of soil. There is also another benefit from this that if one crop gets spoiled, then profit can be obtained from the second crop, as well as the prevention of soil erosion by jhum cultivation. On the contrary, under a cereal farming system, all the plants get nutrition from the same layer. Since the colonial era, the government viewed shifting cultivation as an activity harmful to forests, so shifting cultivation in the Terai is now a thing of the past. A close economic link between shifting cultivation and food gathering was found in Tharu and Buxa communities. In such a situation, the livelihood and culture of Tharu and Buxa have been disintegrated due to the disruption of the forest-based ecosystem and economic activity.
In the past, the livelihood of these tribal groups depended only on the resources of the forest, earlier there was no shortage of land for agriculture, whatever area of the forest they could cultivate, that land became theirs. Today the situation is quite opposite. For the past century, tribal lands are being grabbed by the newcomers in a haphazard manner. Because of their innocence and illiteracy, today they have lost most of their land ownership.
Change in social values
Today, huge fields of cultivation have been made by cutting the vegetation. Consumers and commerce of various forest products have become sources of profit for capitalism. Whereas the poor tribals are dependent on them only for their livelihood. Commercial agricultural producers own most of the good quality land. They are engaged in growing commercial crops here, while the native poor Tharu and Buxa grow grains for their own needs and work as laborers in the fields of rich farmers in large modern agricultural farms. Due to this, the system of collective shramdan (Donation of labour)in these communities and the tradition of supporting each other for maintenance has completely ended. It is also a problem for them to fill their stomach.
Due to private ownership of property, personal income, and family competition, the poison of privatization has spread in place of community in tribal life and the feeling of loneliness has arisen. The closure of the shifting agricultural cycle means changes in the traditional beliefs and customs of the tribals. Due to such changes, many religious and social practices ended, due to which the values of the society remained strong. Many misconceptions and traditions in the tribal society, which used to protect the forests in the past, are neither remembered nor considered today.
The decline of the social status of women
Systematic agriculture not only created different ecological and nutritional conditions but also introduced a different cultural environment to the region as compared to the traditional tribal society. This system is mainly practiced in the plains. In this system, agriculture is completely dependent on rain or irrigation and it requires less labor. In the plain culture, there is a practice of sharing labor in different ways and land is also not a community property resource. The division of labor is specifically defined. Under this, certain tasks are performed by men and other works by women. Due to the spread of such cultural values, the spread of ownership over the property of men has reduced the social status and prestige of tribal women. In this process, on a statutory scale, a comprehensive change was brought about through well-thought-out policies on the ground during British rule. The growing influence of patriarchy reduced traditional competence. In this way modernity is promoting progress, success, and backward social values.
Forest and law
There were forest laws attached to the land, which were passed by the English rulers. Due to a recognition of forest products as commerce, the forests in Terai-Bhabar were put under the jurisdiction of zamindars and Assamese. Its primary purpose was to clear forest land for agriculture. The first Forest Act was enacted in 1855, which was replaced by the Forest Act of 1865. By this act, the forests were divided into reserved forests, protected forests, and village forests.
The movement of people was banned in the first two types of forests. Strict restrictions were imposed mainly on the reserved forests, which were protected by the British government for commercial exploitation. The section on environmental protection was added in 1894, at a time when the first forest policy was being formulated. In this policy also, special emphasis was given to the benefits of a large population without taking into account the interests of specific tribal communities. In colonial thinking and science, the Banavasis were seen as enemies of their environment and capitalist interests. But the systematic and open expulsion of tribals from their lands and traditions through forest and land laws certainly did not work. Because of the Chotanagpur rebellion in 1900, Andhra Pradesh’s protests against the Muthdars in 1862 are examples of tribal resistance. But as in other parts of India, there was no rebellion against the foreign cultural arrival by the tribals of Terai-Bhabar due to limited population. These simple people kept on tolerating the exploitation silently. Such organized protest could never be articulated in front of the domineering peasant farmers. The weak voices of protest were ruthlessly destroyed.
Even after independence, the policies of entry and settlement of outsiders in the tribal areas of the Government of India have not been sensitive towards the forest dwellers. External visitors were openly encouraged to settle in the tribal area by the government. The migration of non-tribals to the tribal area started intensifying. After the partition in the Terai region of Uttarakhand, a large number of refugees from West and East Pakistan were settled. With the entry of non-tribals in these areas, the process of debt, bonded labor started. It was such a social change, which was in stark contrast to the tribal traditions, that it was introduced here. The humble tribal system was unable to withstand the fast pace of change. The tribal ecosystem is the name of the relationship that tribal people as individuals and as a community have with the natural resources of their surroundings. In the past, the needs of the tribal people were in proportion to the major production capacity of nature. These people were dependent on their natural environment for fuel, fodder, food items, minor forest products, and medicines. Due to their dependence on their natural resources for livelihood, the tribals developed various values, beliefs, customs, and cultural norms, which governed the use of natural resources of the surroundings by the community.
These systems were developed by the tribes not only to earn a living but also to ensure continuity between the individual, community, and nature. Most importantly, the tribal people saw themselves as a part of nature, not separate from it. The approach of Western civilization in them was not a sense of victory over nature, along with human civilization and progress, there has been a continuous change in the relationship between the individual, community, and nature and the distance from the nature of man has increased. In the past, the native tribal societies, which were in a position to hunt for a living, pick up minor forest products and move agriculture between forests, were more closely associated with nature and its management.
Tribal Laws and Environment
In the past, there were laws between these communities that defined the extent and condition of exploitation of a particular natural resource, as well as laws to prevent excessive exploitation of resources and to face sudden natural calamities. These people also had such beliefs and misconceptions about the creation that connected a tribe with nature. In such a situation, natural life and flora could not be harmed. He had immense faith in the invisible forces of nature so that his daily activities were completed within the prescribed limits.
Of particular importance were the arrangements made by the tribal society to define the limits of exploitation of natural resources. The elders of the tribal society used to allot the land as needed to different families for shifting agriculture when needed. Each time a new area for distribution was demarcated on all occasions of land allotment, it would take 30 to 40 years for the communities to return that land to agriculture again. By then, the forests of the area that had been abandoned after cultivation in the East would have grown up completely.
Even today such areas are left as symbols in the forests. However, their area has shrunk. These areas have been considered as the abode of gods and goddesses. In the past, no person could enter such an area without the permission of the deities. Not even a branch of a tree could be plucked without invoking the deities.
Divinely dictated laws and traditions developed as a means of controlling and restricting the excessive exploitation of natural resources by the community. The entire community believed that these traditions emerged from divine power. Violation of these rules and regulations meant inviting the wrath of the gods and goddesses in the form of calamities. The belief of the tribals was so strong that even in times of calamity, this group did not violate the laws or over-exploit the natural resources. In tradition, the context of migration from one place to another was wholly or partly a result of these beliefs, which had to be spatially distributed by the community to more populations. So that over-exploitation of resources can be curbed. The new village was established as a result of this process. But these traditions of protection of environmental nutrition have been considered ridiculous in the eyes of educated and more powerful visitors. Environmental insensitivity is targeted in this empirical knowledge hidden behind the folk culture. This public knowledge should be respected.
The silent cry of the mortifying shock was buried in the dazzling success of the Green Revolution, the driver of capitalist culture and technology. The crushing of weak, backward, and traditional systems under the arrogant heavy footsteps of nature is being considered a natural synonym for the relentless pace of civilization. What has passed cannot come back. According to the evolutionary theory of Darwin’s theory of “survival of the best” and the philosophy of “Veer Bhogya Vasundhara” of the traditional powers, the effect of the backward production and marketing system and the tradition of use of natural resources has been assumed as a natural eternal tradition. This view is supported by determinism and fatalism. Therefore, the forest dweller, who is seeing the rise and fall in nature daily, took it with the same spirit and ease. He does not know that in the legal pursuit of human rights by civilization and elaborate security system, there is no way left to protect the hunter, collector, pastoralist, jhum farming system. The greedy protectors of intellectual property have been making arrangements for the protection of scientific achievements and economic infrastructure, from seeds to fertilizers and chemicals, but there is no arrangement in the hands of civilization for the destruction of the tribal’s way of life. . Their disappearance is considered synonymous with personality development and progress. In fact, it is a violation of the diversity of living systems and the right to natural culture. The looted forest dwellers are landless laborers. His own land is now called Udham Singh Nagar. The surviving traditional tribal civilization and way of life have become living history or a study of cultural fossils. Therefore this reportage of the disintegrating culture of the living people has now become the subject matter of the study of history.