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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Traditional Adivasi Institutions and Development Processes in Malkangiri district of Orissa.


This work is based on a piece of research centering round the problem of ‘Traditional Adivasi Institutions and Development Processes in Malkangiri district of Orissa’, which in other way reflects the spurt of ethno-cultural consciousness among certain adibasi communities. Institutions are the starting point for defining ethno-cultural identity and launching of socio-economic development and socio-political or socio-cultural movement. Such study findings are the devices to exert pressure and assert the natural rights of the adibasi people over their traditional resources. Some of the adibasis feel that their resource base is being steadily eroded, and in order to protect their traditional rights over land, forest and water resources they have to keep their flock together by revamping their ethno-cultural identity and solidarity. At the same time in the planned development intervention they have to participate for maximization of their benefits.

Koya, Paraja and Kondhs are living in Malkangiri district of Orissa. Establishment of two hydro-power projects in early periods of independence and rehabilitation of the refugees from Bangladesh in the Koya habitat in 1960s has encouraged the in-flow of outside forces into the district. Increase of population in the area conversely depleted the traditional natural resources of the Koyas and other adibasi communities of the district, and thus they have been affected. Bangladeshi refugees possess higher agricultural technology and they have expertise in wet-rice cultivation. Through rice cultivation the refugee settlers have become prosperous. On the other hand, the Koya economy is in shambles. Traditionally Koyas were a pastoral-cum-agricultural tribe. Their method of cultivation was crude. The Government converted their traditional pastures to agricultural land for the Resettles. The Koya pastoral economy suffered a major set back for lack of adequate pasture. Thus, the Koyas are hard pressed economically in their own habitat.

During first four Five Year Plan periods, planned development experience among the Koya was few and far between. Consequent upon the introduction of TSP strategy during Fifth Five Year Plan and establishment of I.T.D.As in tribal sub-plan areas, the Koyas and other adibasi communities derived some benefits as their habitat came within the jurisdiction of Malkangiri I.T.D.A. in Orissa. The I.T.D.A. launched multi-sectoral development programmes from 1974-75 onwards, mainly for income generation and infrastructure development in the area. It cannot be said that nothing has been achieved so far, but there is still a conspicuous hiatus between aspirations and achievements among the Koya and other adibasi communities. They have to participate fully for successful implementation of projects/schemes for sustainable socio-economic development. Over couple of years the entry of market forces into the adibasi regions has affected their life and livelihood. This has immense impact on the traditional skill base and guiding forces at the community level. In many situations the adibasis not finding the mainstream as a viable and sustaining process for their livelihood earning many times feel suffocated.

The present study report emphasizes on the operational viability of these institutions. The scope of this report covers three studies relating to the Traditional Institutions and Livelihood, Traditional Healing System and Gender and Development. Orrissa is intellectually indebted to the two advisers Prof.P.Panda, Sambalpur University and Dr.N.Panigrahi, ICSSR Center, Bhubaneswar, for their relentless anthropological inputs during the study period as and when required. The partner agencies rendered their all co-operation to carry out the studies. The findings may help the development professionals while working in the field and making policy supports in the process.



 The present study “Traditional Adivasi Institutions and Development Processes in Malkangiri District of Orissa” is a part of the larger action project “Community Development Programme for Indigenous Communities” supported by DC, Irelands through Trocaire, Ireland.

 It is a product of a district level workshop organized by ORRISSA on 30th April 04 at Malkangiri. Couples of issues identified in the workshop by the participants were further adopted for exploration of the ground realities.

 The study focused on three major issues. They are viz: a) Adivasi Institutions and Livelihood; b) Traditional Healing System; c) Gender and Natural Resource Management.

 The collaborating agencies involved in this network study are SDS, Parivartan, UNWSDS, Harmony while ORRISSA as pioneer agency coordinated the whole exercise to bring this form.

 The major objectives of this study are as follows:
a. To identify the active traditional Adivasi Institutions and their contribution in development processes.
b. To study various gender roles in the development processes.
c. To find out the prospective areas to strengthen traditional Adivasi Institutions.

 The study basically collected primary data from 10 selected villages distributed over 6 C.D. Blocks and 6 Gram Panchayats of Malkangiri District of Orissa.

 The report is divided into four chapters. The first chapter describes on the concept of indigenous and/or traditional Adivasi institution, the role in sustainable development while the second half deals on the research methodology adapted to carryout the study. The second chapter explains briefly about the indigenous Adivasi people of Orissa and particularly of Malkangiri district. The third chapter deals with three major sub-studies covered under the research project while the last chapter deals about the major findings and suggestions to strengthen the functional roles of indigenous institutions of the Adivasis of Malkangiri district.

 The livelihood system of the Adivasis is more or less self-generating due to diversified pattern of production, which minimized complete failure of the livelihood system. The low carrying capacity of these livelihood systems was feeding a smaller size of population and geographical area. Different social institutions guided by their customary practices were influencing the use and over use of natural resources.

 Over the time the livelihood sovereignty of Adivasis came in conflict with the outside forces, which are established in the name of state, market, legal framework etc. In spite of the fact the indigenous institutions in Adivasi societies play crucial role in the management of common property, resources of the state, which contains 63 Scheduled Tribal communities spread over 118 (37.3%) CD Blocks and distributed over 44.21 percent geographical areas of the state.

 Malkangiri district is one of the scheduled districts of the state contains 15 number of Adivasi communities. Among them Koya, Bonda, Didayis are autochthonous by nature. The district has witnessed many development made by Government agencies whose impact is seen in the socio-economic life of the local Adivasis as well as the local region.

 The first study on the ‘Functioning of Traditional Institutions among the Koyas’ reflects that both secular and sacerdotal leaders play a major role in the village through the traditional village council which effectively manages the inter and intra-village disputes and issues, gives punishments and rewards. The community fund maintained in the form of both cash and kind and circulated on low interest reflects the community trust and management skills. The functioning of seed bank and grain bank not only meets the requirement of the villagers but also function as the gene pool and ensures food security of the village.

 The second study on the ‘Status of Traditional Healing System’ was analyzed from various dimensions like personal hygiene, eating habits of the villagers, traditional status of their food system, disease pattern, length of illness and sources of treatment. The modern allopathic health service delivery system is still yet to reach the access nets of the local Adivasis both at physical, economic and knowledge levels. The study also established that the traditional healing institutions among the Adivasis are still performing their roles and reaching the unreached at their doorstep. However the modern health institutions have always doubts on the strength of the local institutions to deliver the service.

 Koya traditional authority structure gives little scope for the women to participate in decision-making process both at household and community levels. Koya women contribute a lot in the household activities, agriculture, livestock management, procurement, management and value addition of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), agriculture surpluses and collection of fuels. Encroachment of forest resources and alienation of community land has restricted the scope of their participation in the livelihood.

 The extension services rendered by different line department in agriculture, animal husbandry, health sector, education, soil conservation and horticulture are inadequate in content and context. Wide gaps have been observed in the delivery mechanisms, skill up gradation approaches, technologies adopted at provider’s levels, while the villagers reflected their strong adherence to traditional knowledge base practices and technologies. This has minimized the impact of various programmes on the life and livelihood of the Adivasi s.

 The study findings reflect a couple of new areas for developing action programmes at various levels like programme approach, technologies and programme of activities. This may be developed through core group exercises on various issues for further development. This will find new paths for People’s organizations and their development.

Please contact us for the exhustive report of the study