NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY ODISHA
LEGAL HISTORY PROJECT ON
TRIBAL POLITY WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO SANTHAL TRIBES
Mr. Kapil Sharma
Research Associate cum Teaching Assistant
Ms. Divya Singh Rathor
PRACHI SAHAY (18BBA035)
PRIYANKA PANHOTRA (18BBA039)
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
TOC o “1-3” h z u ACKNOWLEDGEMENT PAGEREF _Toc523030894 h 3REASEARCH METHODOLOGY PAGEREF _Toc523030895 h 4OBJECTIVES: PAGEREF _Toc523030896 h 4HYPOTHESIS: PAGEREF _Toc523030897 h 4RESEARCH QUESTIONS: PAGEREF _Toc523030898 h 4SCOPE: PAGEREF _Toc523030899 h 4LIMITATIONS: PAGEREF _Toc523030900 h 4INTRODUCTION PAGEREF _Toc523030901 h 5CHAPTER 1: A BRIEF ABOUT SANTHAL TRIBE PAGEREF _Toc523030902 h 7CHAPTER 2: THE SANTHAL REBILLION- A CASE STUDY PAGEREF _Toc523030903 h 10CHAPTER 3: CONTEMPORARY PROVISIONS REGARDING TRIBALS IN INDIA PAGEREF _Toc523030904 h 14CONCLUSION PAGEREF _Toc523030905 h 17
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:We would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to our professors, Mr. Kapil Sharma and Ms. Divya Rathor, without whose guidance this project could not have been completed. We thank him for his constant support and for providing us with the outline of the project.
We would also like to thank the University’s administration for the services of the library. We would also like to acknowledge the support and guidance of our seniors, without which this project could not have been made.
Lastly, I would like to thank the almighty and our parents, whose blessings were essential for us.
REASEARCH METHODOLOGY:OBJECTIVES:To know the tribals and their art and culture.
To analyse the current situation and laws with respect to tribes.
Analyse the art and socio cultural aspects of santhals and their history.
To understand their traditional values, myths, beliefs and superstitions.
HYPOTHESIS:Santhals are a native tribe residing in present day Jharkhand and Odisha and reflect a long history of struggle.
Current status of santhal tribe and other tribes in general has improved due to the new laws.
Tribal uprisings like the Santhal Rebillion are still relevant in the modern day world.
What are the positive influence on the development of tribes?
What is the current situation of tribes in India and what are the laws governing them?
What is the relevance of tribal uprisings?
SCOPE:Liberalisation and globalization in terms of trade, economics, commerce, social and cultural.
Increase of populations.
Indian constitution and legal system are going to change.
LIMITATIONS:No social consciousness, social force or social capital for that matter.
No proper education.
No uniformity in means of culture and social rituals.
No or less documentation of literature.
INTRODUCTION*A tribe society is defined as a social group comprising of numerous families possessing similar features. A tribe generally possess some features that makes them unique in all aspects. India is a country with rich culture and heritage and tribes are a great example of that. There are numerous different tribe in india all having different culture. Tribe are generally known as adivasis in our country.
* Constitution of India has recognized tribes under Schedule 5 of our India constitution. Tribe that are recognized under schedule 5 are known as “SCHEDULE TRIBE”. The term TRIBE is nowhere used in the constitution of India. Generally, the term tribe brings the image of hills and forest in the mind of people.
*For the overall development of the tribe’s special provisions and safeguards have been provided by the constitution of India so that they can be provided with the basic facilities of life. Like there are a lot many provisions for them in the field of education.
* The very basis livelihood of tribes includes hunting, collecting forest products that makes them economically and educationally backward. Tribals are considered backward in all sense because even in this busy world they are living an entirely different life following their old traditions and customs that show no importance to other class people. Tribal people live in isolation and are totally dependent upon their groups. They move with their groups from one place to another as they considered each other as the member of the family.
* Initially the tribal people were called as the backward class people but later they were called as the weaker section of the society the reason being that they are somewhere deprived of the basic necessities of life. Like we witness a lot many time that they are living their lives without clothes and are using leaves as substitutes, then they still are dependent upon fruit, wild vegetables and animals to conquer their hunger which seems inhuman nowadays.
*The various features of tribes that makes them unique are:
1) Common territory
2) Collection of families
3) Common name
4) Common language
5) Common ancestor
6) Common religion
7) Common culture
8) Feeling of unity
9) Simplicity and self sufficiency
10) The need for protection
11) Endogamous group
* We witness a lot many times that people living in the same territory or following same culture probably have same religion but it is not how things work for tribal people. Tribes do not necessarily follow one or the same religion they can follow any religion like Hindu, Muslim, etc it is up to their choice and most of us think like that because they are called schedule caste as whole but it is not related to religion it was just how it was recognized by the constitution of India.
*’ Article 366(25) of the Constitution of India says that schedule tribe are the tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribals communities which the Indian president may specify by public notification under Article 342′.
CHAPTER 1: A BRIEF ABOUT SANTHAL TRIBESanthal tribe is one of the largest tribe in India and generally found in states like west Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa. They are third largest tribe in India. They are generally present in north eastern of India. The main activity that they perform are agriculture, fishing, hunting and gathering. Santhal tribe is one of the tribes which is very fond of music and dance and prepare their own musical instrument which they use it occasionally Santhal possess unique skill of art of basketry. They generally make basket, roof of their house, mats etc for the domestic purpose.
*The musical instruments that are generally used by them are:
2) Dhodro banam
3) Phet banam
*There are many characteristics features of santhal tribe and they are listed below:
1) Good temperament: Out of many features that tribes possess santhal tribe may have the best of them like they are honest, frank, open, gentle. Unlike revolting for small issues they believe in a calm and happy life. They are inflexible in nature and they never accept to change themselves or things for anyone and like things their way. They believe in social liberty. They are highly optimistic about their lives and are full of enthusiasm. They have a zeal to work hard with patience and complete effort. They are famous for their patriotic zeal all over the country. They are not much into fighting but believes in solidarity.
2) Love for music and dance: No matter how much we see a male dominating society in the present scenario but we can witness an equal participation of men and women in santhal tribe. Whether it is dance, music, work or any other kind of activity we see an equal amount of participation from both of their sides. They are very of dance and music and make their own musical instruments like tirio, junko, sinka and many others. Their love for traditions and creativity had make them unique among all other tribes.They are also known as musical people because of their affection.
3) Community working: Both men and women have equal participation in the working for the benefit of the society.
4) Drinks habit: HANDI (rice beer) is the main drink in santhal tribe. All their drinks are either made of fruits or plants parts. PARUA (alcohol made out of mohua flower) is also a common drink in santhal tribe.
5) Vegetarian and non-vegetarian: Rice is the staple food of santhal. They generally prefer to have a vegetarian diet and when it comes to non-vegetarian they like to eat, squirrel, pig, bird etc. Sometimes they also eat beef.
6) Variable occupation: Now the santhals are not bound to follow or have the same occupation as earlier. They are now free to choose what they want to do. It was so because earlier they were living a semi nomadic life, which force them to move from one place to another search of food and shelter but now the time has changed and they lead a life of agriculturists and have a settled life.
7) Mud house: Santhals people house are clean and are made of mud, having beautiful paintings of goddess, human flower, and animal figure which make them even more beautiful to look at.
8) Unity: Though santhali people are illiterate, rustic, and semi civilized but the fact is that they are well organized and are also called a ‘MODEL OF CORPORATE LIVING’.
9) Strong religious and superstition faith: Unlike some of the tribal people who only live for food and shelter these people are very religious and are sensitive to these topics.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE:
The political organization and administrative units of the santhal village are mostly governed by councils of elders. The political organization and administrative is generally is democratic in nature. The santhals are governed by their own laws and have their own method of treating different kind of offences. The offices of the political organization were generally hereditary and but now days the offices are conferred by selection of person. These officials are responsible to the community for their functions.
The village council of every santhal village had a headman known as manjhi, who was assisted by their officials. These officials have to perform their functions in accordance with the tribal system which is why they are expected to be well acquainted with the santhal tradition, customs, religious belief and practices.
CHAPTER 2: THE SANTHAL REBILLION- A CASE STUDYThe santhal rebellion is also known as the Santhal Hool. It was a native rebellion in some parts of eastern India, against the British colonial authority and the zamindari system by the Santhal people. It started on June 30, 1855. The martial law was proclaimed on 10th November, 1855. When martial law got suspended, the movement was brutally ended by the British troops. The santhal rebellion was one of the most serious challenge faced by the East India Company.
The main areas of the revolt were the tribal belt of the Bengal presidency. It was essentially a reaction to the despotic British revenue system and the zamindari system. It was a revolt against the oppression of the colonial rule propogated through a distorted revenue system, enforced by the local zamindars, police and courts of the legal system set up by the British.
The Santhals had begun to come into Bengal around the 1780s. The British officials invited them to settle in the Jangal Mahals. The Zamindars hired them to reclaim land and expand cultivation. The Santhals cleared forests and ploughed land with vigour, and, therefore, appeared to be ideal settlers to the British. Impressed by their hardworking attitude, the British allotted them land in the foothills of Rajmahal. This was a large area, demarcated as Damin-i-koh. The motive of the British was to turn them into settled peasants, practicing plough agriculture. The only condition was that atleast one-tenth of the area was to be cleared and cultivated within the first ten years.
After the demarcation of Damin-i-Koh, the Santhal settlements expanded rapidly. The number of villages increased from 40 to 1,473 in a period of 13 years. Over the same period, the Santhal population increased from a mere 3,000 to over 82,000. The expansion of cultivation meant increased volume of revenue for the Company. The Santhals, gave up their earlier life of mobility and settled down. They cultivated a range of commercial crops for the market, and started dealing with traders and moneylenders. However, they soon found out that the land they had bought under cultivation was slipping away from their hands. The state was levying heavy taxes on the land that the Santhals had cleared and the moneylenders (dikus) were charging them exorbitant rates of interest. When the debts remained, they took over the land. Zamindars were asserting control over the Damin area. By the 1850s, the Santhals felt that the time had come to rebel against zamindars, moneylenders and the colonial state, in order to create an ideal world for themselves where they would rule.
A popular 19th century Santhal legend claims that two Santhals, Sidhu and Kanhu, proclaimed that they had seen the vision of Thakur (Santhal god), who called upon them to evict outsiders from the Santhal land. According to the Gazette, “The news of the miracle spread far and wide, and messengers were sent to all the Manjhi of the Damin-I-Koh bearing a branch of Sal tree, which like the fiery cross of the Highlands, was a signal to the people to gather together.” This legend became the precursor to what we know as the Santhal Rebillion of 1855 in the Damin-i-Koh region (present day Jharkhand). The rebellion led to a calculated genocide by the British army who burned down hundreds of villages and killed and raped over 15,000 Santhals in order to quash their resistance.
On 30 June 1855, the two Santhal rebels, Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu mobilized ten thousand people and declared a rebellion against the British. They had planned to run a parallel government besides the British, and had also accumulated people for that purpose. They basically wanted to make laws for themselves and collect taxes. The santhals took to arms soon after the declaration. The Zamindars, moneylenders and operatives were put to death in a number of villages. The open rebellion surprised the British Government. They underestimated the rebellion and initially sent a small contingent of the army. However, when the army remained unsuccessful, they took a major step and sent in a large number of troops assisted by the local zamindar and the Nawab of Murshidabad to quell the rebellion. They also annlounced an award of ten thousand rupees for the arrest of the Murmu brothers. The Britisher’s partial failure and eagerness to suppress the revolt further fueled the spirit of the revolt.
A number of skirmishes occurred after this, which resulted in a large number of casualties for the Santhals. The primitive weapons of the Santhals were no match for the advanced weapons of the British. Troop detachments from the 7th Native Infantry Regiment, 40th Native Infantry and others were called into action. Major skirmishes took place from July 1855 to January 1856, in places like Kahalgaon, Suri, Raghunathpur, and Munkatora. The revolt was brutally crushed, the two celebrated leaders Sidhu and Kanhu were killed. The elephants supplied by the Nawab of Murshidabad were used to demolish Santhal huts. The Britsh committed a number of atrocities in suppressing the revolt. Of the 60,000-odd tribesmen who had been mobilised in the rebellion, over 15,000 were killed, and tens of villages were destroyed.
Insurrection was helped by a large number of non-tribal and poor dikus. Even the general residents of that area showed their support. Gwalas (milkmen) and others helped the rebels with provisions and services; Lohars (blacksmiths) accompanied the rebel bands, keeping their weapons in good shape.
IMPACT AND RELEVANCE:
The santhal rebellion, though brutally crushed, led to the creation of the Santhal Pargana by carving out 5,500 square miles from the districts of Bhagalpur and Birbhum.. the colonial government hoped that the Santhals would be conciliated after creation of a new territory and imposition of some special laws. However, there was mass destruction, and the revolt led to extreme loss of life. The santhals not only lost their leaders, Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu, but also a large chunk of their population. The rebellion was ruthlessly crushed by the British.
The creation of the district of Santhal Parganas was the direct result of the Santhal Rebellion of 1885. The area comprising Santhal Parganas is mentioned in the Schedule to the Act of 1855. By Clause 1 of Section 1 of the Act of 1855, the Santhal Parganas was removed from the operation of general laws and regulations. Act XXXVII of 1855 removed Santhal Parganas from the operation of general laws with certain exceptions and it was laid down that no law should extend to the Santhal Parganas unless expressly mentioned. The Santhal parganas was declared to be a “partially excluded area” under the Government of India act 1935. No Act of any Legislature would apply to it unless the Governor directs so by public notification. Under the present Constitution, the President issued a notification declaring the Santhal Pargans to be a scheduled area excluding Godda and Deoghar subdivisions. The Order is known as “The Scheduled Areas (Part A State) Order,1950”.
Though the impact of this rebellion was overshadowed by the Revolt of 1857, which was on a much larger scale, the Santhal Rebillion still holds relevance as one of the greatest tribal uprisings in history. It stands as an epitome of unity, which was the main factor for failure of the revolt of 1857. What makes the Santhal rebellion special is the spirit of the people and their participation. Their drive to save their land is inspiring, as they stood up in opposition to the british, an opponent much more powerful than them. The people contributed in their own personal way, joining hands for a larger cause. A number of authors have written about this uprising in their accounts. The 1976 film Mrigayaa is based on this rebellion. The santhals celebrate the ‘hool maha festival’ in remembrance of this revolt.
In the words of Charles Dickens- “There seems also to be a sentiment of honour among them; for it is said that they use poisoned arrows in hunting, but never against their foes. If this be the case and we hear nothing of the poisoned arrows in the recent conflicts, they are infinitely more respectable than our civilised enemy, the Russians, who would most likely consider such forbearance as foolish, and declare that is not war.”
CHAPTER 3: CONTEMPORARY PROVISIONS REGARDING TRIBALS IN INDIAThe tribes had been discriminated and suppressed for long. Therefore, the makers of our constitution felt the need to make special provisions for the protection of rights of these communities. They are recognized as Scheduled Tribes and have been provided the right to protect and preserve their culture. There have also some special legislations regarding their rights and ensuring that they are protected.
PROVISIONS IN THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
India is a democracy and is based on the ideals of equality and non-discrimination. Article 15 of the constitution provides against discrimination based on caste. The need for special provisions for tribals was strongly supported by N.G.Ranga and Jaipal Singh during the constitutional debates. Article 15(4) and 16(4) further provide for positive discrimination. Positive discrimination is based on the concept that treating people equally does not mean treating them identically. Since these groups have been discriminated against, there is a need to give them privileges to bring them at par with the rest of the population. This accounts for the policy of reservation of seats for the Scheduled Tribes.
Article 29 and 30 of the Indian constitution provide cultural and educational rights, giving all minorities (including tribes) the right to preserve and practice their culture. Article 164 provides for a minister-in-charge for tribal welfare in Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. These are the states where majority of the tribes reside. Article 330 and 332 provide for reservation of seats for Scheduled tribes in legislative bodies, at the center and the states.
SCHEDULED CASTE AND SCHEDULED TRIBE (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT, 1989
The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences to break the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled caste and tribe community. This includes denial of basic economic, social and democratic rights, exploitation, discrimination and abuse of legal process. The SC/ST Act provides for protection from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation. For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a special court to try offences under this Act in each district. The prime objective of this Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.
NATIONAL COMISSION FOR SCHEDULED TRIBES
The 89th Amendment of 2003 set up the national Commission for Scheduled Tribes under Article 338A of the Indian Constitution. It is a bifurcation of the erstwhile National Commission for Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes. This has been separated to specifically oversee the implementation of various safeguards provided to Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution. The commission consists of a chairperson, a vice chairperson and three full time members, including a female member. Its main function is to act on the complaints registered with respect to atrocities against scheduled tribes. It also actively participates in the planning of socio-economic development of scheduled tribes, and sends regular reports to the government regarding the same.
CHHOTANAGPUR TENANCY ACT
The Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act, 1908 was enacted after the Birsa Movement to govern land issues and prevent land alienation. It is supposed to be the Magna Carta for Tribals. Its operation is effective in North Chotanagpur, South Chotanagpur and Palamau divisions, including areas under various municipalities and notified area committees. Section 46 of the Act restricts the transfer of land belonging to Scheduled Tribes. However, a tribal is allowed to transfer his or her land through sale, gift, exchange, or will to a fellow Scheduled Tribe member or residents of the area coming under the same police station as him/her.
The real estate sector and suppliers of construction material and labourers are negatively affected by these laws. Since a mojor chunk of the land in states like Jharkhand belongs to the backward classes and tribals, it brings construction activity to a halt. Banks have stopped disbursing funds and loans for ongoing housing projects. It is likely that the CNT Act may be amended by the state legislature on the reccomendations of the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC). However, the assent of the President will be required. The act also includes a Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, which specifically describes the customary laws of the Santhals and their inheritance laws.
CONCLUSIONTribes in present day India live peacefully, secured with all rights and privileges. The constitution has adequately provided safeguards for them, and to protect them from discrimination. Attempts are made to uplift them socially and educationally by reservation of seats for scheduled tribes. This comes after years of discrimination and atrocities. Like the santhal rebellion, there have been many tribal uprisings in different parts of the country, opposing the constant efforts of the British to take away their land. Birsa Munda, the Tribal leader of Jharkhand, lost his life fighting for his people. The Ranchi airport has been named after him in his honour.
The tribes have a rich culture, and make all efforts to protect that. Tribal art is promoted by initiatives like cottage industries and self-help groups. In Jharkhand, Tribal art is widely sold under the brand ‘Jharkraft’. Celebration of Tribal festivals like Sarhul and hool are done with a lot of zeal, and wide scale participation is seen. The tribals have preserved their culture for a long time.
Through the course of this project, we have come across the rich past of the tribes of India. We have talked in detail about the Santhals, and their struggle against the British. We have also come across the various laws that govern the tribes today, including the special provisions in the constitution, enactments and statutory bodies, as well as local laws.