Page No 116:
Explain why nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another. What are the advantages to the environment of this continuous movement?
Nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another because of seasonal changes. They seek to make effective use of pastures available in different areas. Many factors are taken into consideration to initiate movement to or from an area. These factors are availability of water and pasture, smooth movement through different territories, and cordial relationship with farmers while travelling so that their cattle can be allowed to graze (and in turn manure the soil). This also allows nomadic tribes to practice many occupations such as cultivation, trade and herding.
This continuous movement is advantageous to the environment because the nomadic tribes allow pastures to recover and regain fertility. Also, pastures are not rendered completely barren by exploitative and long use.
Discuss why the colonial government in India brought in the following laws. In each case, explain how the law changed the lives of pastoralists:
- Waste Land rules
- Forest Acts
- Criminal Tribes Act
- Grazing Tax
(a) Waste Land rules: The colonial government considered any uncultivated land as unproductive. If this land could be transformed into cultivated farmland, it would result in an increase in land revenue and production of crops such as jute, cotton and wheat. This is why the Waste Land rules were formulated. However, they sounded the death knell for pastoralists because increase in cultivated land meant an obvious decline in pastures, and a consequent loss of a means of livelihood for them.
(b) Forest Acts: These placed forests in two dominant categories — reserved and protected. Reserved forests were for commercial use only, and were inaccessible to the pastoralists. In protected forests, the movements of pastoralists were severely restricted. Even for this severely limited and regulated access, pastoralists had to rely on government permits. The government enacted these laws because the trampling herds would destroy any young shoots and saplings that were planted for long-term commercial purposes.
(c) Criminal Tribes Act: The British government eyed nomadic people with suspicion and disregard on account of their continuous movement. They could not be tracked down or placed in one particular place, unlike rural people in villages who were easy to identify and control. Hence, the colonial power viewed nomadic tribes as criminal. The Criminal Tribes Act was passed in 1871 and it further ruined the lives of the pastoralists who were now forced to live in notified settlements, and were disallowed from moving out without a government permit.
(d) Grazing Tax: This was introduced in the 1850s to increase the government’s revenue income. The pastoralists were also badly hit by the higher tax that contractors exacted from them in order to make some private profit. Pastoralists could not afford to pay tax on cattle per head, and the only means to enter a grazing tract was by payment. All this led to tremendous losses for them.
Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.
The Maasai community lost its grazing lands because of the advent of colonial rule in Africa. In 1885 itself, Maasai land was cut in half by an international boundary drawn between the two colonies—British Kenya and German Tanganyika. The best pastures were reserved for white settlements, and the Maasai tribes were given arid, small areas in south Kenya and north Tanzania. This lack of good grazing lands and a two-year drought led to loss of almost 60% cattle belonging to the Maasai tribes. Increase in cultivation and promotion of game reserves added to their woes. Thus, with the increasing power of the colonists and their adverse impact on the Maasai’s social life, this community gradually lost all its grazing lands.
There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Write about any two examples of changes which were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Massai herders.
There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Two changes that were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai herders are as follows:
(i) Both communities lost their grazing lands due to the preference given to cultivation.
(ii) Both communities were nomadic, and hence, were regarded with extreme suspicion by the colonial powers governing them. This led to their further decline.