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Triumph of traditional values

S. Harpal Singh
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Practices like having a grain bank save tribals from committing suicide

Old school: Tribals bringing cotton to Adilabad markets in bullock carts. — PHOTO: G. RAJESHWARA CHARY
Old school: Tribals bringing cotton to Adilabad markets in bullock carts. — PHOTO: G. RAJESHWARA CHARY

‘Escapism' has never become a part of the cultural ethos of the primitive tribes of Adilabad.

The phenomenon of suicides is, therefore, rare among the Gonds, Kolams or other aboriginals; though they have lived their lives on the margins all through.

Only one Gond figures in the list of 30 cotton farmers who committed suicide during the last three months of 2010 despite the large population of tribal people taking up commercial agriculture in a big way.

Experts opine that a study on the life of these hilly agrarian communities, focussing on the relevant aspect, can come up with a solution to the extremely bothersome issue of farmer suicides.

Ever optimist

The most outstanding facet is the mental toughness of the tribal farmer. Ever an optimist, an aboriginal tribesman looks forward to the next season even as his standing crop gets damaged due to adverse weather,” points out Dr. Todsam Chandu, himself a Gond, about the resolute nature of the members of primitive tribes.

Dr. Chandu works as Additional DMHO (Agency) at Utnoor and is an acknowledged expert on tribal culture. He says that tribal people have evolved certain aspects in their social life that take care of natural adversities.

Old ways

“Before the tribal farmers took to cultivation of commercial crops, they used to pool in their produce in the grain banks. These banks ensured supply of food during crises,” says Dr. Chandu of the old system. Clinging to some of the old practices, perhaps, causes less anxiety among tribal farmers as compared to their non-tribal counterparts. For example, the former continue with the old method of transportation in bullock carts that works out cheaper and suits their easy way of life.

Erosion of values

Commercial farming, especially cultivation of cotton, has not only introduced a kind of insecurity among non-tribal folks but has eroded the agrarian culture. As Kalaratna award winner Guruji Ravinder Sharma points out, “Suicide was considered a sin couple of decades back.”


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