‘Tribal people have lost their identity’

Gopalakrishnan and Vijayalakshmi, founders of ‘Sarang’ alternative educational system in Attappady, speaking at a discussion on ‘Survival of the Adivasis’ at the Kerala Literature Festival in Kozhikode on Sunday. - Photo: K. Ragesh   | Photo Credit: K_RAGESH;K_RAGESH -

Out of the crores of rupees spent by the governments every year for the Adivasis in the State, only 7% actually reach them. And whatever the government provided them has only managed to turn their culture and health upside down. “They were hard-working people once. Now they just wait for the governments to do everything for them,” Vijayalakshmi Sarang, alternative educationalist from Attappady, expressed her contempt for the system that has converted the tribespeople in the State into a group that finds their own culture alien.

A discussion on the ‘Survival of the Adivasis’ as part of the Kerala Literature Festival on Sunday had a wide spectrum of panellists ranging from an Adivasi writer to activists working among tribal people speaking for the deprived class.

Writer Narayan, coming from a tribal background, explained that lack of honest writing on Adivasis at the time had forced him to be the voice of his community.

Gopalakrishnan Sarang, who runs ‘Sarang’, an alternative educational system in Attappady, along with his wife, Vijayalakshmi Sarang, said the Adivasis in Attappady have lost their identity, be it culture or health or education. “To bring it back, we need good leaders from among the Adivasis, not with any political ambition.” Political parties, religions, timber smugglers and drug mafia have partitioned the Adivasi settlements among themselves. The tribespeople have forgotten their culture due to the influx of modern education, he said.

‘State not tribal-friendly’

K.K. Surendran, who works among the Adivasis in Wayand, lamented that the State was not tribal-friendly in many ways.

Political activist Grow Vasu pointed out that the question of survival of Adivasis was not a separate entity, but part of the survival of the largest mass that lives below the poverty line. Another activist Joseph K. Job called for a detailed investigation into where the funds allocated for Adivasis had disappeared.

The panel received overwhelming response from the audience that comprised a sizeable number of tribal people.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2021 9:00:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/%E2%80%98Tribal-people-have-lost-their-identity%E2%80%99/article17200744.ece

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