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Evanescing Tribalism and Gandhism

03 Mar 2021

With the aid of modern science and technology, the modern state given to the twin cycles of modernization and globalization has become a measure of civilization and evolution. New research and technological growth have been an end in and of itself. Nowadays, scientific temperament treats traditional and religious developments as superstitious and unnecessary. These new processes have only contributed to the pace at which the tribal populations are going to witness their doom.

The Gandhian model of social and economic development existed during our independence struggle and there is still only one alternative, where all three elements, namely wealth, tribes and the state, may have a cordial and harmonious relationship with each other so that one can contribute to the other’s growth and well-being. This growth model would save both the tribal people and their wealth from the corporations.

Mahatma’s ideology of village India was completely consistent with the tribal and village life. He always said that India lives in villages and that India will also suffer if its villages perish. Instead of towns and big cities that simply were a snare and a useless burden and that people would not be happy with them, that there would be gangs of thieves and robbers, prostitution and vice flourishing in them and that poor men would be robbed by rich men. We should therefore improve our villages further. He advocated that only at the village level with decentralized administration and judicial system could true democracy and justice be dispensed with. Mahatma Gandhi advocates in one of his well-known books, ‘Hind Swaraj’,

“My conception of Village Swaraj is that it is a full republic, independent of its neighbours for its essential reasons, and yet interdependent with many others for whom dependency is a must... The panchayat of five individuals annually elected by adult villagers, male and female, with minimum specified qualifications, will be administered by the government of the village. They would have all the necessary authority and jurisdiction. In the agreed context, because there will be no scheme of punishment, this panchayat will be the merged assembly, judiciary, and executive to work for its tenure in office... There is a true democracy founded on human liberties here. The man is his own government`s architect here. He and his village can defy the might of a world.”

Therefore, in every tribal group, the gram panchayat was truly effective in the form of tribal or Kabila panchayat needs to be strengthened. It has always been very effective and worked from the village to a region at different levels. Tribal administration and Gandhi`s formula are very much consistent with the perspective of Rousseau: Democracy presupposes “many daunting conditions to unite”: a small state, a simple lifestyle, a large measure of rank and wealth equality and “little or no luxury”. But Gandhi`s views were neither respected by Nehru nor by Ambedkar.

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that, for human wants, nature has everything, but not for her greed. The notion of a modern state is based on this greed itself. He had made a paradigmatic revolution in that era by criticizing Western culture. But there were no takers and supporters to his novelty, even those very nearest and near to him. It is our misery and a catastrophe for the indigenous and tribal people. He advocated: "Civilization does not consist of multiplication in the true sense of the word but is the intentional and voluntary reduction of desires... If someone appropriates more than he wants in actual, he reduces his neighbour to poverty. The founder of modern sociology, Max Weber, also notes: "A man does not want to earn more and more money by nature, but simply to live as he lives and as he is accustomed to living, and to earn as much as he needs to do so. It is assumed that there is a tribal root to the ideology of voluntary poverty or non-ownership of goods, aparigraha as woven by Gandhi into his doctrine of non-violence. As observed by our ancient sages and thinkers who had a holistic view of reality, it must be a theorization of their real lives in which nature-the storehouse of materials required for every sort of life was to be feared and valued and not controlled and abused, as is the custom of modern society and its science and technology.

 It can also be argued that, theoretically, ideologically, and functionally, the current modern state is pitted against the tribes. Rather, its actions facilitate physical dislocation and social decimation. On the opposite, the benevolent state is given to protecting all-natural resources for the good of its people and their posterity, thereby distributing them with themselves only based on ‘each according to one’s needs.’ If such existence and character are assumed by the modern state, then the whole debate would become irrelevant between the two models of tribal advancement based on `isolation` from and `integration` with mainstream society. In letter and spirit, harmony shall prevail everywhere, thus realizing swaraj.


                                                                                                                                     - By PRATIK KARMARKAR


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