In the management of renewable resources, forests have undeniably a vital role and today, as never before, their conservation is an urgency. In view of this dire necessity, the series Man and Forest tries to highlight the relevance of indigenous knowledge of various South Asian tribal communities in the sustainable management of forests/local resources - more specially against the growing challenges of economic development visa-vis environmental hazards and a rapidly declining resource base. A scientific inquiry into indigenous knowledge is an effort to discover/ rediscover the tribals' traditional modes of production and conservation. For them it is the only source to cope with the problems of modernity affecting their lives and precarious environments. Forest Tribes of Orissa: The Dongaria Kondh is the second book in the series of monographs of Man and Forest, and the first focussing on a tribal community today caught in the transition between an autochthonous lifestyle and fragments of modernity. The authors attempt to document the Dongaria's traditional knowledge of their natural environment; how they classify trees, plants, hills, forests, crops, and soils; and how so far they have been managing their forests. Also meticulously delineated, as a backdrop to this study, are the Dongaria's geographical landscape, economy, socio-political organisation, oral traditions, belief cosmos, and other relevant socio-cultural aspects. The present book is, as most of the volumes in the series, the outcome of nearly ten-year's research venture involving an interdisciplinary, intercultural team of sociologists, ethnobotanists, social anthropologists and other social scientists.
With this account of the forest world of the Juang of Juangpirh in Kendujhar District, by number one of the smaller forest dwelling tribes of Orissa, a rather encompassing scholarly work is released to the public. It is the third volume of the tribal monographs within the series "Man and Forest". Since the end of this ethnographical survey in 1999, the environmental and social conditions of the Juang have slightly but not substantially changed. Thus, most of the findings of this investigation into the life and world of one of Orissa's ethnic communities dwelling in the forests are still valid.
What seems to be a classical record of social anthropology following the tradition of McDougal, Elwin and an earlier account by N. Patnaik, has actually been done in a new scientific perspective. A hermeneutic approach, such as this had already been applied in the previous studies on the Dongaria Kondh and the Kuttia Kondh. Reveals how the Juang perceive their forest world and environment. It investigates the impact these perceptions have on their culture and the use and management of their immediate surroundings today. Their agricultural practices, ethno-botanical knowledge and social organization as well as their lore, myths, religious beliefs and practices have been recorded and interpreted according to their views and outlook on life. Whenever possible, a view from inside the Juang's world-view was targeted. The material and spiritual culture was taken up as a testimony of indigenous knowledge in times of transition from a traditional society living a rather secluded life from a constantly modernizing Indian mainstream society. These scholarly tasks were done by multidisciplinary teams comprising junior and senior social and natural scientists. Although interdisciplinary work was sometimes only to achieve with difficulties, it has always been a guiding principle of this venture into the forest world of an Indian tribe.
More than fourteen years have passed since this manuscript appeared on my desk for first time. It had been submitted to the editions of the publication series Man and Forest in the context of a joint research venture to which the late Dr Nityananda Patnaik refers in his preface. Dr Patnaik’s research work on the tribal communities of Odisha that he performed over several decades became legend. Still in the later years of his life he was very much concerned about the destiny and development prospects of the various ethnic groups of Odisha, and the so-called primitive ones in particular. He was enthusiastic about being able to contribute to the betterment of their quality of life and likewise full of vigour to record their respective knowledge wealth and cultures.
It was very sad for us all who were involved in this research project for more than five years in Odisha and cooperating with the Social Science and Development Research Institute (SSADRI) at Bhubaneswar that was established by N. Patnaik and presided as Director and depressing for those knew Dr Patnaik personally to learn that he had passed away after a stroke several years ago. The manuscript that was submitted by the SSADRI team could, for various reasons, not be edited and published earlier and after Dr Patnaik’s death the question arose who could update and edit the first of it. Most of the collaborators who were part of the research team in the late 1990s were not available anymore and no funds at hand to facilitate this laborious takes. Furthermore many things had changed in the area where the research work was done; environmental, societal and political changes demanded a careful and thoughtful revision and updating of the earlier manuscript. After so many years it seemed necessary to me to update the manuscript in several aspects and correct some error that had crept into it.
In order to supplement and make the text of this manuscript more appealing to the reader with photographs of Kendujhar taken recently, I had to undertake a field visit together with my former team leader, Dr Mihir Kumar Jena, a distinguished Indian ethnobotanist then working in snother research group that was very active in the tribal areas of central Odisha at the same but in different regions and doing research on different tribal communities. He has become a collaborator and senior officer of the renowned Indian NGOO "Foundation for Ecological Security (FES)" Still working in what has recently been changed to Odisha (formerly Odisha). In the late month of December 2012 we could tour parts of Odisha, and make a bit of a survey in selected regions of the Kendujhar District and take some valuable photos providing the reader with an idea of the local conditions.
Apart from updating in the wake of the editing process, new policies had come into scope at the and Indian Union level during the decade and of course they could not be omitted. So the task that was taken up by Dr Jena an me to do the necessary or refresh the account on the Bhuinya without committing mistakes or misinterpretations on the earlier material. We did our best to do justice to both the authenticity of the earlier research findings preserving the then livelihood and environmental conditions of the Bhuinya of Banspal Block and relating it to the present social and political conditions that are featuring in everyday life in the second decade of Systematic Botany, University of Zurich, Switzerland, for checking, updating and, wherever necessary, correcting the biological terminology.
HUMAN existence in subtropical forests such as those of Orissa in eastern India brings about an extraordinary richness of knowledge about trees and plants and likewise shows a remarkable and rich forest lore. The forests of Orissa make a world in which 63 tribes dwelled over centuries and still continue to live on forest resources to a large extent. The life of the Dongaria Kondh, the tribe which is referred to in this monograph, is, despite all influences from the outside world, more or less continuing along the lines of its traditions and is by and large based on shifting cultivation that slowly turns to horticulture. However, its integration into the Indian mainstream society is an ongoing process and linked to a loss of cultural identity and self-determination, but also with the achievements of civilisation that contribute to improvement of the living standard of the local village communities. These are a patchwork of subsistent foragers, shifting cultivators and horticulturalists with connections to the local markets through the mediating role of the Dombs, an untouchable caste group that coexists with the Dongaria Kondh in symbiosis. The Dongaria Kondh who live in the remote Niyamgiri hill range area in the vicinity of Bissamcuttack have been selected to be studied for various reasons, such as to cover the major linguistic groups of Mundari (e.g. Juang, Saora, Bhuinya) and Dravidian (e.g. Kuttia Kondh, Dongaria Kondh) and the cultural zones of south and north Orissa. In 1991, the idea was launched to do research among the more numerous ethnic groups of Orissa as, for instance, among the Kondh and among some smaller and less prominent groups as the Bhuinya and the Hill Kharia and Mankidia, the Juang and the Saora. The short title of this research venture was decided to be called Man and Forest, referring to the famous Indian anthropological periodical Man in India, itself being a reference to one of the world's most famous anthropological journal Man.
The larger Kondh group divides into, among others, the Kuttia and the Dongaria Kondh and it was decided to compare these two with the same research approach and objectives. These objectives were the documentation of indigenous local knowledge with particular reference to the use and management of forests and renewable natural resources in general. The interrelationship between man and forest was the overall goal of an inquiry into the life world of the tribes and became the motto of a ten years research venture of an interdisciplinary and intercultural team of social and natural scientists. The research project was started as a joint venture between the Council of Cultural Growth and Cultural Relations, based at Cuttack (Orissa), the German GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit, Section for Tropenwaldforschung and later on the Ranking Programme for Tropical Forest Research) and the Chair of Forest Policy and Forest Economics which initiated the venture and selected the locations and research partners in India. The wider range of research partners comprised colleagues from the Central Arid Zone Research Institute in Jodhpur (Rajasthan), Seva Mandir, a renowned non-governmental organisation operating in southern Rajasthan and several others who took an interest what was a rather new field of forest research in the early 1990s. This co-operation expanded into a larger network including partners and research activities in Nepal and Bhutan from 1994 onwards. Except the project leader, being a German sociologist, all other members of the research team in India are from this country, although not all of them from Orissa. It consisted of a junior botanist, who became an ethnobotanist in due course of time and did his PhD in the wake of this research and a senior lady botanist, who particularly committed herself to the research project after retirement. Social sciences were represented by a junior lady social anthropologist, a senior social anthropologist and a sociologist. Most of them are the authors of this volume. Furthermore a specialist for the cultural history of Orissa guided the field research team in a certain phase of the research project. The personal composition of the team changed over the years, except as the three members of the core group are concerned who did most of the field research over the eight years period. More scholars were actively involved for a certain time and some were partners for discussing the problems as well as the findings and were thus helpful in contributing to the overall success of an ambitious collaboration with modest financial means.
Human existence in subtropical forests such as those of Orissa in eastern India brings about an extraordinary richness of knowledge about trees and plants and a remarkably rich forest lore. Some of this rich knowledge has been recorded and published within this series on forests or will be done so in the subsequent years. The forests of Orissa make a world in which 63 tribes dwelled over centuries and some of them still continue to live on forest resources to a large Went. Richness of cultural life and spiritual imagination of the tribal cultures is, more often than not, combined with a deplorable poverty, sometimes persecution and often paternalism by merchants, government administrators and Forest Department officials.
This is volume 6 of the series on forests, and in this second volume of the tribal monographies within this series, the Kuttia Kondh, a Dravidian speaking ethnic group of central Orissa, is dealt with. It is a venture into their forest world that tries to approach the livelihood system of this Scheduled Tribe in an encompassing way as much as possible by using a hermeneutic method bawd on the fundamental ontological approach of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. This was a daring and unusual undertaking as all Indian colleagues of our research team were academically trained and raised in a positivistic tradition of empirical social research.
The research project was conducted from 1992 until 1999 as a joint venture between the Council of Cultural Growth and Cultural Relations, based at Cuttack (Orissa), the German GTZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit, Section Tropenwaldforschung and later on the Flanking Programme for Tropical Forest Research) and the Chair of Forest Policy and Forest Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich,
Switzerland. The latter initiated the research project and selected the location and research partners in India Except the project leader, who is a German sociologist, all other members of the research team in India were from Orissa. It consisted of an ethnobotanist who did his PhD in the wake of this research under a senior lady botanist, who particularly committed herself to the research project after retirement. Social sciences were represented by a junior lady social anthropologist, and a senior social anthropologist. Most of them are the authors of this volume. The composition of the team changed over the years, except as far as three Indian authors are concerned, who did most of the field research work more or less continuously over a period of ten years.
The institutional backing and support provided by the research partners as well as by the Forest Department of Orissa and various other govermment services was highly valuable and often a prerequisite for tasks that were sometimes challenging, often dangerous and always trying and hazardous to health as the climatic and hygienic conditions and the tremendous heat of the Indian summer, the remoteness of the research locations and loneliness were a burden for fieldwork. Co-operation of a development agency, academic institutions and non-governmental agencies with different cultural backgrounds, interests and aspirations was not always easy and smooth. Yet, the common goal of a long-term research in difficult natural and political environments was achieved.
War BACK in the year 1994, Dr Klaus Seeland suggested a research project to be taken up in a few selected tribal areas in Orissa with focus on the role of indigenous knowledge in traditional modes of forest use and management. My association with the Chair of Forest Economics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland began with my participation in a seminar on Indigenous Knowledge and Forests organized by Dr K. Seeland in collaboration with the German Technical Co-operation (GTZ) and the Chair of Forest Policy and Forest Economics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ) which was held in New Delhi in March 1995. An agreement was signed for research co-operation between ETHZ and the Social Science and Development Research Institute (SSADRI), and a three-year research project was taken up among the Juang and the Paudi Bhuinya of Kendujhar District of Orissa with focus on the topic "Local Management of Forests as Determined by Environmental Perception and Traditional Knowledge in the Wider Himalayan Context." I am extremely thankful to the project leaders Prof. Dr K. Seeland and Prof. Dr Franz Schmithusen for providing all necessary financial assistance and scientific support to conduct this research project. The Research Coordinator, Mrs N. Ottiger, extended valuable help. I also thankfully acknowledge the help and financial co-operation extended to us by the GTZ.
Prof. B.P. Choudhury, Professor of Botany, PG Department of Botany, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar who is in association with us from the very beginning of the research project spared his valuable time in giving us guidance and providing laboratory facilities for the identification and preservation of plants. He has taken pains in making field trips to the study area and helping the team on various academic matters. I gratefully acknowledge and thank him for this help and guidance. The seminar librarian in-charge of PG Department of Botany deserves thanks for his help in allowing us to have access to books on botany, ethnobotany and other reference literature of interest for the study.
At the field level we received necessary help by way of providing accommodation and data on people, forests, and development programmes pertinent to the study areas. I express my thanks to the special officer and staff of Juang Development Agency (JDA) and the State-level and the local-level officers of the Forest Department. Thanks are also due to the Sarpanch of Gonasika Grampanchayat, staff of the Tribal Development Cooperative Corporation (MCC) and Primary Health Centre at Gonasika, teachers of the High School and Primary School at Gonasika and the President of Village Development, Cottage Industries Organizations (NG0s) located at Gonasika for the, help on various matters required from time to time by the investigating staff of the project.
The administrative staff of the Institute Shri M. Patnaik and Ms N. Das have helped in logistics and co-ordinating the various steps of the work. The stenographers Shri S K Patra and Shri F. Samal were engaged in typing out the draft septet which was a very meticulous job. Shri L. Panda devoted his time 5 computerize the whole text of the report using his speed l skill in formatting and arranging the data in proper places of the report. I record my sincere thanks to them all for rendering their respective service 5 bring the work to the form of a manuscript. The corrections and editing of the manuscript were gratefully done by Prof. Seeland with the help of Mrs P. Kilchlinq.
The research project relatin to the indigenous knowledge, environmental perception and traditional management system of forest dwelling tribes and non-tribal village communities in selected regions of India cover the Bhuyapirh of Banspal Block, Kendujhar District, Odisha. The research project is a part of the internation research project on "Local Management of Forest as Determind by Environmental Perception and Tradition Knowledge in a Wider Himalayan Contex" which was co-financed by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and the German Technical Cooperation (GTZ - now GIZ). The study of the Bhuinya was part of the project the was undertaken in the late 1990s by the Social Science and Development Research Institute (ssadri) located in Bhubanewar, Odisha, India. The field investigating data among the Bhuiya of Bhauinyapirh was taken up in the early periods of the year 1996. After the fieldwork was over the data gathered from the Bhuinya was tabulated, analysed and the final report of this study was prepared in the early part of the year 2000.
The research team comprised Dr N. Patnaik, Director SSADRI; Prof. B.P. Choudhury, Projessor of Botany, Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, Consultant; Dr Alok Rath (Coordinator); Shri Pramod Kumar Senapati (Research Scholar, Ethnobotany); and Mr. D.B. Giri, Ms Minakshi Mishra and Ms Pratiti Mohanty (Research Scholars, Ethnosociology).
Keeping the objectives of the study in view both ethnographic data and those related to the project were collected with the help of observation, interviews, statistic, and the case history method as methodologies of data collection. Moreover, cosmogonic myths were interpreted by hermeneutic approaches and applied in the study of the ontology relating to evolution various elements of the universe through the study of the Bhuinya myths, legends, folklore, folk takes, metaphors, riddles and other forms of oral folk lore.
The study of the Bhuiya in their particular ecosystem which relates to their relationship with any element of natural phenomena, be it forests, mountains or inanimate objects, is related to terms of the respective cultural perceptions that the Bhuinya have developed over the ages. The research question which have been tried to answer by the research project are as follows:
1.how are trees are forests perceived by the Bhuinya who represent one of the most primitive forest-dwelling communities of Odisha?
2.How is the social-cultural life of their cultural mosaic interwoven with the forest and other elements of their ecosystem?
3.What types of management systems do they have to upkeep the ecosystem on which they subsist?
4.What role does their indigenous knowledge play in their prudent management practices?
The resource-rich area of the Bhuiyapirh has undergone considerable depletion of biodiversity during the latter part of the twentieth century. With the massive onslaught on the forests and other elements of the ecosystem which has accentuated in the wake of mining operation, rehabilitations of displaced persons, infiltration of nontribal into the area, expansion of agriculture and commercial forestry. The Bguinya may not be putting a large pressure on the local resources, but the general population growth both of human being and animals largely responsible for fast depletion of fuel wood, fodder use for subsistence has changed to indiscriminate made of resource use subsistence changed to indiscriminate exploitation production. As a result, the cohesive ties of the local communities have undergone disintegration. Market economy has to a major extent replaced the traditional barter economy resulting in massive exploitation of resources. Many other developmental measures such as monoculture plantations and plantation of exotic plants, development projects, construction of dams, and iron-ore and bauxite ore mining are contributing to the reduction of forests and the quality of their richness in biodiversity.
With the diminishing cohesiveness in the tribal community, con-flicts between the villagers and officers of the Odisha Forest Department as well as of other state department, and between villagers and commercial forces have resulted in fierce encounters between aggrieved stakeholders and government agencies. Except sporadic attempts to stall the processes of disintegration in the form of afforestation any serious measures have been taken by the government.
Based on the objective of the project, the study consists of eight chapters, each dealing with a spect of Bhuinya’s environment and livelihood system.
After an introduction to the study area, an overview on the applied methodology is provided. Chapter 1 deals with aspects of the habita and salient features of the Bhuiya of the study area. Chapter 2 describes and analyses the social organization of the Hill Bhuiya which is followed by Chapter 3 that elaborates on their religious universe. Chapter 4 gives the reader a comprehensive picture of the biodiversity, natural resource and related indigenous knowledge to make use of the study area’s environment. This includes wild as well as domesticated plant and animal species, and covers the ethnobotany of the field crops. This chapter also highlight the genetic erosion especially of plant species in the study area. Chapter 5 is based the emic perception of natural phenomena and their classification from different angles of the Bhuinya woeld-view. The Bhuinya do have a broad-based knowledge of their immediate environment and are able to distinguish between and within phenomena according to their various utilities. The chapter discusses all the ethno-perceptions in relation to the scientific classification of the same features. Chapter 6 deals with the various indigenous uses of wild forest resources. It reveals the dependence of the Bhuinya on the forest resources for their livelihood. The entire dietary habits of the Bhuinya are reflected in Chapter 7 where the requirements for survival are recorded. It deals with the food availability calendar of the forest and their way to control its use and management. The natural and the supernatural worlds for the Bhuinya forest dwellers are almost the same and are reflected here. The concept of cultural ecology is discussed in this context as well as the occurrence and significance of wildlife in Bhuinya oral tradition and their world-view with particular reference to their surrounding biosphere. This man-plant-animal nexus is now considerably disturbed of infiltration and transgression of external forces into the Bhuinyapirh. The state’s role forest management, in controlling and protecting forest resources through forest laws is extensively discussed together with the impact of development measures on the social-economic life of these forest dwellers in Chapter 8 as this final chapter gives a broad picture of the Bhuinya life and culture as interlinked with the ecosystem and the problems that arise as a result of the impact of the external forces. It also includes suggestions to possibly achieve a long-term sustainability of resource use in their livelihood system.
(All the botanical and zoological names have been italicized whereas Bhuinya terms have been italicized and underlined).
Over the ages, societies have developed their notions of what forests mean to them. Whatever forests represent to the members of a particular society, they will certainly have a different relevance to what others see and understand in the domain of their own cultures. The forests of today show how people have been, and still are, dependent on them, and how they make use of, and interpret their environment. The transformation of forests that is occurring all over the world, indicates specific social needs, cultural values, and changing economic and technological processes. Forests represent a legacy, and are also a testimony of the evolution of societies and their 'respective perceptions of nature. Human activities have an impact an forests, that is difficult to assess, however. Some of the changes are immediate and occur in the short term, while others, and often the more important ones, are indirect, and are to be understood in historical dimensions. The spatial distribution of forests, and the degree d their transformation by humans are the result of physical conditions and of varying cultural patterns.
The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Stockholm in 1972 has put forests and forestry on the international political agenda. The preparatory stages as well as the follow-up processes to this conference, represented by the work of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, show that considerable disagreement on many issues continues to exist, in spite of a growing public awareness that forests are part of our common Ladd-heritage. Large-scale deforestation in the tropics and sub-tropics los he to social and economic problems for many people living in arse regions. The protection of forests, sustainability of uses and preservation of biodiversity are important challenges in countries like India. The conflicts that arise are part of international controversies on social justice, self-determination and sovereignty, local political participation and democratic decision-making, as well as symptoms of the unbalanced economic development between different parts of the world.
In this context research into indigenous knowledge and the meaning of trees and forests in different cultures matters. It is necessary in order to show the many needs and values associated with forests at a given locality, as well as to show the importance of forested areas for the survival of indigenous people and their cultures. Research findings bring to light concrete facts, which result in political decisions on the utilisation of natural resources, and are a strong argument for increased efforts in protecting forested areas and considering local uses. These findings also demonstrate the confrontation between customary performances in sustainable resource management, developed from experiences and adjusted to difficult living conditions, and the development activities of modern states.
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