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Discuss the Impact of Modernization on Indian Tribals.

Discuss the Impact of Modernization on Indian Tribals.

Course: ba sociology

1 Answer


Baiga tribe of Madhya Pradesh:

One of the most backward tribe of Madhya Pradesh, Baiga tribals are concentrated in the districts of Mandla, Shandol, Sidhi, Balaghat, Bilaspur and Surguja. Traditionally, Baiga practiced shifting cultivation (bewar). They are forced to do plough cultivation. However, certain villages still pursue Bewar cultivation. Their cultural system has not undergone any major change.

  • Men still keep tangled hair and women are tattooed on every part of the body as before.
  • Baiga had been famous as shamans and it has not weakened.
  • Inter-personal conflicts are still resolved by the village council. Despite having a dispensary their faith in shmanistic healing is unshakable.
  • In Baiga Chak, there are primary, middle and secondary schools but very few baiga children attend it. Even when they do, the dropout rates is high.
The changes discerned among the Baigas are:
  • They have started practicing settled cultivation.
  • Some work as agricultural laborers with the Gonds.
  • They work as wage laborers in the jobs provided by the forest department, plantation jobs etc.

Apa Tani and Other North-Eastern Tribes:

Apa Tani of Arunachal Pradesh have remained culturally and geographically isolated for centuries. However, the impact of modernization on them has been tremendous. Modern education is widespread and several Apu Tani tribals hold university degrees, enter into government jobs and some are even qualified doctors. Yet, they have kept their cultural identity intact with the traditional religious and ritual practices.

According to Furer-Haimendorf, Apu Tani exhibits a case of rapid modernization without the loss of their distinct identity. This is because their geographical isolation protected by government measures did not allow the outsiders to take advantage of their local resources. The North-eastern states had always been protected from outsider intervention by the Inner line policy. Outsiders are not allowed to establish business enterprise in these states. Through the Christian missionaries, modern educational institutions were set up, Western lifestyles came about, English language was introduced. Yet, there mission did not uproot the culture of these tribals. In fact Christian holy books and scriptures were translated into local tribal language. Hence despite modernization the cultural distinctiveness of the tribals remained.


Spreading from Western Rajasthan to the Kutch region of Gujarat and in some villages of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, the Rabari are pastoralists who domesticate camels, sheeps, cows, buffaloes and goats. Since they lived in hamlets outside the main village boundary, they remained isolated for long. It is only recently that modem education has come to them. Some have become teachers, government officers, policemen etc. Education as a source of social mobility is making an impact on the Rabari. The Rabari of Gujarat have changed much more than their counterparts elsewhere. They identified themselves with the dominant pastoral caste in Gujarat and become dairymen, hence improving their economic status.


The pastoralist Toda, though still rooted in tradition, are beginning to feel the impact of modernization. The barter system of exchange which existed between the Toda and other neighboring communities has changed to a new economic system. They have developed social and business contacts with other people from the nearby plains and beyond. Their hamlets are source of tourist attraction. These contacts have helped in the spread of modernization among the Toda. A significant impact can be seen in the sphere of religion. There is a distinct orientation towards the South Indian Hinduism. Pictures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are found in many Toda households. However, there is no decline in their indigenous religious practices and rituals. Education, too, has made inroads into the Toda community and sonic have even taken up white collar jobs.

Santal tribe:

The Santals are one of the most important tribes of India and they inhabit a vast area stretching from Bihar to the present Bangla Desh. Santhal Pargana is the center of their land and they speak Mundari dialect. Traditionally, they are very proud of their language and culture and even conversion to Christianity could not destabilize their political unity. They are famous throughout the world for their bloody -armed rebellion against the mighty British colonial rule in 1855-56. It was a fierce mass movement against the alien rulers and-their local stooges landlords, moneylenders and local officials. The British rulers were able to crush the rebellion.

Earlier the Santals had emulated the Brahminic/ Kshatriya values and lifestyles. However these Sanskritic values are being given up under the tremendous impact of the cultural identity movement. Rejection of Hinduism is also because of the exploitation by the moneylenders, landlords who were all Hindus. The setting up of industries in Santal-dominated areas proved to be a significant factor in change and modernization. Both educated as well as illiterate found jobs which were caste and class free with a large number of Santals working in them, their traditional linkages were strengthened.

With the formation of the Jharkhand Party, they revival of their cultural identity was translated into political terms. The party articulated the tribals interest and demanded a separate tribal state. Though aspirations to modernize continue, their ethnic ties and cultural identity is reasserted.

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July 19, 2019