Kozhikode

Museum for tribal freedom fighters on KIRTADS campus

The ethnological museum and cultural centre already functioning on the KIRTADS campus in Kozhikode are being developed using the ₹16-crore Central grant.   | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

The foundation stone has been laid for a museum in memory of freedom fighters from tribal communities at the Kozhikode-based Kerala Institute for Research, Training, and Development Studies of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (KIRTADS), even though activists and academics had opposed it in the past.

The project is part of a Central scheme to shed light on the heritage of freedom fighters among Scheduled Tribes and highlight their contribution. The Union government had asked States to submit proposals and the one given by KIRTADS got the approval around three years ago. KIRTADS functions under a separate directorate under the Department for the Welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The ethnological museum and cultural centre already functioning on the KIRTADS campus are being developed using the ₹16-crore Central grant. Interactive Museum of Cultural History of Kerala (Keralam Museum) is the nodal agency.

A.K. Balan, Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, who laid the foundation stone for the project on Sunday, said that tribal communities had played a remarkable role in the freedom struggle. The efforts of people like Thalakkal Chanthu, who fought alongside Pazhassi Raja against the British East India Company, were a class apart.

Activists, however, had objected to the idea of the museum from the beginning, pointing out that the attempt was to reduce tribespeople to only “museum pieces”. They had claimed that it was part of an upper class mindset that saw tribal communities as “relics of the past” without addressing their current needs such as land, education and representation in governance. They had also highlighted the apparent lack of sincerity in protecting the interests of the community. A similar museum was already functioning in Kochi at a time when their students were finding it difficult to get accommodation in that city, the activists had said.

A note from the Directorate of KIRTADS said the museum had been conceived both as a memorial for freedom fighters from the community as well as a place for the conservation of their culture. Along with the normal concept of a museum, the centre would also strive to enrich tribal languages, music, culinary practices, and skill development. The note said the participation of community members would be ensured in the construction of the museum and the research.


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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 4:16:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/museum-for-tribal-freedom-fighters-on-kirtads-campus/article33897913.ece

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