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Semir highlights colonial policies and its effect

From Our Correspondent

Itagar, Feb 10: A two-day tiol semir on Border Communities of Eastern Aruchal Pradesh, conducted by Rajiv Gandhi University’s (RGU) department of history commenced here at the university on Thursday.

In her keynote address, eminent scholar professor Shiela Bora highlighted the colonial policies and its aftermath with special reference to Singhphos. The Tai, Singpho, Tangsa communities occupying the area bordering Burma, form a part of eastern Aruchal Pradesh.

Bora also focused on Singphos, one of the most important tribes of Eastern Aruchal Pradesh, and the changes brought about in the life and culture of this group of people following their migration from Burma and their contact with colonial power since the second half of the 18th century. “In spite of philosophy of tribal development, which the British Government professed, development came late to the Singpho territory, and the area appears to have remained completely uffected by progress till independence,” she said. “Though as early as in 1837, the Singphos were the most numerous race between Ava and Mogoung. The report of the Lakhimpur DC in 1871 indicated that the Singphos had reduced to only 3435 of whom 1120 were males, 1180 were female and 1135 were children. The census report of 1958 indicated an alarming trend by showing further decrease in the Singpho population to 574,” she added.

Bora further stated that the rapid decline of the Singphos can be ascribed to various factors, arising out of the British occupation of their territory. “The disturbances caused in the equilibrium of their lifestyle and their environment in a rapid manner proved to be great danger even to the existence of tribe. Industrial development in the Singpho territory during the British regime appears to have met negligible progress. Though exploration of coal and petroleum had been carried on at Margherita and Digboi respectively since the 1860’s no attempt was made to develop mining enterprises in the neighboring Singpho territory. It is only very recently that Oil India and Coal India limited are surveying vast areas in Tirap district occupied by Singphos,” she pointed out. Professor Shyam rayan Singh in his deliberation introduced the theme of the semir focusing about present Aruchal Pradesh as the gateway for pre historic and early tribal migrations and movements in India’s North East region while RGU vice chancellor professor Tamo Mibang who attended the semir as a chief guest spoke on the relevant of the history of border communities of East Aruchal Pradesh. The iugural programme was attended by delegates from different universities and colleges, scholars and students of the university.