The thesis put forward by Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra on the Adivasis (“India, largely a country of immigrants,” Jan. 12) is ground-breaking. The never-ending conflict and wars between the ‘asuras' and the ‘devars,' portrayed in our ithihasas and puranas, were actually the struggle of local inhabitants to safeguard their land from immigrants. Since history was written by immigrants, they assumed the role of heroes and the locals became demons and rakshasas. It is time the Adivasis, as sons of the soil, were given the respect and share in the national wealth due to them.
The judgment should enlighten not only individuals but also governments. Many State governments, in the name of development, have been primarily responsible for the displacement of the tribals. This has caused a lot of cultural, economic and social stigma and suffering for them. Even today, there is no comprehensive rehabilitation and resettlement package or policy for displaced tribals. Our governments should wake up at least now and take care of the voiceless people.
Ramesh Kumar Gollapudi,
The article, an eye-opener, is a rediscovery of history. It urges us to retrospect and undo the atrocities perpetrated on a section of our population, condemned by us to live outside the pale of civilisation. The tribals, never considered part of the social mainstream, are displaced for various development projects — dams, wildlife sanctuaries and IT parks. They have been deprived of their life-support system from the forests and reduced to unskilled and even made bonded labour by rapacious exploiters. The need of the hour is social consciousness.
Pre-independent India was often invaded by outsiders. But we classified people on the basis of caste only after Independence, thanks to our politicians. To say that the Adivasis (who are now Scheduled Tribes) have suffered injustice is one thing. But to say India is a country of immigrants is another. Surely, India cannot be called “a land of immigrants” in the same sense as the U.S. or Australia.
The clash between the haves and the have-nots is more responsible — than caste equations — for the plight of the Adivasis. Vote-bank politics, more than the so-called clash between cultures, has wreaked greater havoc on them.