Change is characteristic of every human society and various forces are at work to make change inevitable. The extent of change varies from society to society. Some parts of India have experienced speedy transformation while in some rural areas change occurs very slowly. The preset study is an attempt to understand the nature and trend of change that has been taking place among the Riang of Tripura, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
Attempts have been made to show the fundamental traditional social aspects of the community and the new ones which have been incorporated into it because of acculturation which ushered in the social changes. The Riang social life has been undergoing a rapid transformation as a result of contact with people, formal education, religion and the new political system.
Ms. Janet Florine Tellis received her M. A. degree from the University of Mumbai securing first position and a gold medal for topping the list of master's degree. Later she received her Ph.D. degree in Social-cultural Anthropology from Gauhati University. She has also published a number of articles in referred journals. She was conferred upon the Sanskriti Fellow Award in the year 2010 for her relentless research among the tribal communities of north east India. She is currently attached to Sanskriti - North Eastern Institute of Cultural Research, Guwahati as a Research Associate for conducting research projects undertaken in north eastern
The impact of globalization is felt worldwide by hundreds of indigenous communities. People from a faraway land come into a territory with skills to mine the field, equipment to cut down the forest or to prepare grasslands for a tourist park. Indigenous life everywhere is under threat, from the Yanomami of the rain forest to the Inuit of the freezing Arctic. One common factor for most indigenous people is their dependence on the land they live. Their whole social structure, livelihood and cultural identity are entwined with their environment in varied ways. As their land and resources are taken away, more and more of their culture is lost as well.
Riangs are one of the most celebrated tribes of Tripura. They are a patrilineal society in which clan memberships are inherited from the father. A change brought about by education, plentifulness of consumer goods, varied agriculture and the sedentary way of living can be noticed in the present day Riang society. In the past, Riangs would help their age-mates or kin when times got tough by giving away their surplus, knowing that they would be helped in return. However, these relationships are experiencing a high level of stress and the contributing factor for such situation is the sense of independence in families, in comparison to the sense of community in earlier times. The demand for consumer and luxury goods are on the increase leading to the sale of livestock. Furthermore, now that Riangs are involved in other economic opportunities, some are not only less capable to give away their surplus, but are also less willing. As a result, less surplus goes to the needy and thus, the gap between the rich and poor is visible and increasing.
It is indeed with a sense of joy and satisfaction that as the first SANSKRITI Foundation Fellow and the Faculty Head of North Eastern Institute of Culture and Religion (NEICR), I am writing the FOREWORD of a book authored by Sr. (Dr.) Janet Florine Tellis, SSPS, SANSKRITI Fellow of NEICR. As a matter of fact Sr. Janet had been in the state of Tripura for over a decade. During her tenure of posting there she developed the concept of undertaking a research on the Riang, the second largest tribal group of the state. Incidentally I was serving the state then on deputation as a government of India employee, when I met her in an academic forum on the occasion of a national seminar on "Tribal Development in Tripura'. Secondly, I had been a researcher in Tripura since 1994 when I started working on the Riang and over this span of more than twenty years I have been visiting the state for a longitudinal research on the sovereigns and their subjects in the dimensions of time and space.
However, at the same time wisdom would have placed me in the reader's table, a most distinguished one, may be in a desolated corner of a library, where many are far more intimately aware than I am of the recent intellectual developments. I am just an anthropologist by training and profession. I can only assume that Janet's invitation is more a gesture of affection and friendship than a tribute to her otherwise sound judgement. I am not at all sure that it was wise to succumb to the affectionate invitation and pressure of Sr. Janet SSPS and agree to write the FOREWORD for her book. I agreed essentially because Janet, as we all call her, is a friend of long standing and in the years of our association I have never failed to be impressed by her originality, sincere efforts and insight. However, I am grateful to her for this honour. It gives me an opportunity to acknowledge my own personal gratitude also. Finally, as a matter of just discussion, I want to place on record that I was incidentally the Ph.D. examiner of Janet for her Ph. D. thesis for both adjudication as well as her defence of the thesis through viva voice examination. Keeping the ethno-cultural profile of a vast territory called north east India I take the latitude of introducing the area first that makes it distinct from other parts of the country, where the Riang inhabit since time immemorial as the largest Primitive Tribal Group, now re-designated as Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
Change is an inextricable ingredient of human existence that leads to social transformation. It is a process which substitutes the old with new. The process of change affects the very fibre of society, creating an atmosphere of behaviour modification (Ross, 1957). Today's world is passing through a breathlessly rapid process of change, heading into a hazy future (Dasgupta, 2012). Social change is an on-going process that every society is bound to experience. This experience initiates some form of transition leading to transformation. Such change takes place within a geographical, physical and socio-cultural environment. It leads societies towards transformation and growth in all walks of life. With the emergence of modernization propelled by communication technology and other forces, all societies including those in India are experiencing rapid change.
Social transformation is linked to social change and has varied meanings. It refers to the alteration of the conditions of collective existence. To understand the process of social change it is significant to consider some of the definitions of social change. Ogburn (1922) sees social change as the development of new meanings and values or the substitution of new ones for old leading to changes in the characteristic behaviour patterns in society. According to Maclver (1931) social change is alteration that occurs in social organization that is the structure of society. Gillin and Gillin (1950) say that social changes are variations from the accepted modes of life. This can happen due to alteration in geographical conditions, cultural equipment, composition of the population and change in ideologies. This change may be brought about by diffusion or by invention within the group. Gerth and Mills (1953) remark that social change is whatever that happens in the course of time to the role, the institutions or the orders comprising a social structure, their emergence, growth and decline.
To Davis (1948) social change is alteration that occurs in social organizations, that is structure and function of society. According to Moore (1963) social change is the significant alteration of social structures (that is, of patterns of action, social and individual interaction), including consequences and manifestations of such structures embodied in norms (rules of conduct), values, cultural products and symbols. Mukhi (1999) sees social change as variations or modifications of any aspect of social processes, social patterns, social interaction or social organization. Social change is a fairly large-scale transformation in a number of related meaning and values affecting the behaviour of most people in a society. It involves a large number of persons engaged in activities which differ from what they were doing before or what their parents used to do. In general, social change refers to the changes in social structure, the nature of social institutions, the social behaviour, social relations of a society.
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