Reappropriating ancient tribal origins
Implementation: The Soliga tribals have for centuries lived in the Bilgiri Rangana Hills of Karnataka State, India, for most of that time leading a "life of abundance and peace, surviving by hunting ans shifting cultivation, worshipping God in nature and living in harmony with it. From about the 1950s, however their forests started to be cleared for industry and modern agriculture. The Forest Department banned their shifting cultivation, allegedly to stop deforestation. Their land was expropriated by others and the Soliga sank into a condition of the utmost poverty and exploitation. Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) was established in 1981 to enable the Soliga tribals to become self-reliant. It is based on a respect for tribal culture and a determination to perpetuate it while developing the requisite skills and capabilities among tribal people to enable them to live in modern India. Through the 450 pupil VGKK's school, 88% of children now get primary education. Their vocational training scheme gives instruction in 13 crafts. 60% of Soliga people now get a minimum of 300 days employment a year form the Forest Department, other agencies and a system of Tribal Cooperatives. VGKK's concern for tribal culture has resulted in a detailed study of tribal traditions and practices, and traditional herbal medicines and information about the flora and fauna of the forests. Every village now has its own council; Soliga candidates have done well in elections and two tribal women are now chiefs of the local council. As a result of fighting for their external rights, most of their alienated land has been restored to them. They are working to revive their forests and have already prevented new quarrying in the hills.
Subjects: Racial, ethnic groupsHistory
Type Classification: F: Exceptional strategies