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Preserving Tribal Culture

 There are about 300 million tribal people globally, and 150 of them are in Asia alone. The tribal and folk art forms have been an integral part of our culture. Tribal artforms have a unique sense of beauty and a different perspective of aesthetics. These are the traditions that are transmitted from generation to generation among the tribes. 


Institutions to preserve tribal culture


In India, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs looks after the preservation of tribal culture. Under the ministry, there are Research Institutes and Tribal Welfare Departments to find out ways and techniques to preserve the tribal heritage in the different parts of the country. 


There are a number of tribal groups in India, such as Mundas, Oraons, Santals, Gonds, Khonds, Mizos, Nagas, etc. There are also some schemes in India, such as Institutional support for development and marketing of Tribal products, Special Central Assistance to Tribal Sub-Scheme, and Marketing of minor forest produce.   


 The UN Human Rights council in 2006, recognized the rights of the indegenous people and emphasized that “indegenous knowledge, culture and traditional practices contributes to sustainable and equitable development and proper management of the environment.”


Need to preserve Tribal Heritage


The tribal culture has an extremely rich heritage, traditions, folk songs, folk dances and other artforms. For example, Warli painting is one of the famous tribal artforms, its origin can be traced back as early as the 10th century A.D. They have a unique set of cultural traditions and social customs.


 But with the rapid growth of industries, and hydroelectric projects, the forests are being cleared. These forests are the home to many tribal people. They get displaced from their original habitat due to clearing of forest areas, which threatens their identity and culture. 


As many of the tribal groups reside in or near forest areas, they play a key role in conserving the forest ecosystem. Forests play a crucial role in their daily lifestyle, therefore they efficiently conserve and manage the ecosystem. Many of the tribes believe in nature worship and revere the sacred groves and trees. They have immense knowledge about the edible plants and medicinal properties of them. 


The world is gradually turning towards organic farming, and other eco-friendly ways of farming. The tribal culture has great knowledge about surviving by solely depending on nature, without the use of any harmful chemicals or technology. Often the tribal culture is suppressed by the dominant culture of a country. The cultures with such deep knowledge should not be suppressed in the wake of development and modernity. 


It is important to strike a middle path, where development can take place without displacing and destroying the tribals and their cultural heritage.


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