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Title: Tribal Dissatisfaction Under Colonial Economy of 19th Century
Authors: Johari, Subha
Keywords: Indian tribal population
forest products
Santhal rebellion
Rampa coastal area
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Vidyasagar University , Midnapore , West-Bengal , India
Series/Report no.: Vidyasagar University Journal of History;2013-2014
Abstract: Tribal population was spread all over India and most of them occupied wild tracts, hilly and forested areas, away from more civilized centers. In 1880 their population was estimated at about seventy million. They had existed for centuries with their own social traditions and beliefs and subsisted on natural resources. They had preserved their near isolation and way of life until the British administration and policies made inroads into their territories. The tribal population was totally unprepared for the colonial economy. British land revenue policies and Forest Law directly affected their means of livelihood. They had been practicing shifting cultivation and were heavily dependent on forest for their day-to-day lives. Permanent land settlements gradually took away the land from them that they had been using for their mode of cultivation as common communal property. Forest Law and monopolization of forest wealth severely restricted the availability of forest for fulfilling their needs. Commercialization and exploitation displaced the tribals from the tracts they had been occupying for generations. Traders, money lenders and revenue farmers took advantage of British land settlement policies to exploit the simple-minded people. The forest produce became a source of government revenue. Not able to comprehend the government policies, the tribal people saw the penetration of "outsiders" into their territories as threat to their survival and a series of spontaneous uprisings occurred at various places in the country. The government took steps to remove bad practices and bring them into the mainstream. Mariah sacrifice or human sacrifice was stopped. Government agencies and various religious missionary organizations tried to educate and "civilize" them. But these well-meaning efforts were not sufficient to stop the uprisings. The uprisings were spontaneous reactions from the tribal communities that were directed towards government and "outsiders". In extreme cases the agitation took the form of armed rebellion with their primitive weapons. All such agitations were ruthlessly countered by the government forces using modern weapons. Santhal rebellion of 1855-56 was launched by about 60,000 Santhals who had been affected by permanent land settlement. They attacked mahajans and zamindars, railway property, police stations, post offices etc. The rebellion was put down by government forces in which about 15,000 Santhals were killed. Another rebellion was launched in Rampa coastal area of Andhra Pradesh that affected about 5000 square mile area. This was suppressed by Madras Infantry. This paper elaborates on how tribal population was affected by colonial administration of 19th century and highlights some of their numerous uprisings.
Description: 103-110
ISSN: 2321-0834
Appears in Collections:Vidyasagar University Journal of History Vol 1 [2012-2013]

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