SHILLONG: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma inaugurated the two-day national seminar on “The Changing Dynamics of Tribal Society in India with Special Reference to the North Eastern Region” at Shillong College organized by Department of Sociology & Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC), Shillong College and sponsored by VAF (Chief Minister Fund) and ICSSR-NERC here on Tuesday.
Delivering the inaugural address, Conrad said that seminars, researches and programmes on tribal society are much needed and should be supported. “The district councils are the custodians of our identity and culture but they do not provide much information or data on our tribal identity,” he said.
He therefore stressed on the need to have detailed research, data and archives.
“The government has started moving towards that with the setting up the Tribal Research Institute at Chidekgre in Babadam which will be a state-of-the-art institute with centralized database catering not only to the tribes of Meghalaya but the entire North-east,” he said. He also informed that the Tribal Research Institute is funded by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India.
The Chief Minister also urged the seminar to dwell upon the impact of technology and climate change on the tribal societies. “There may be an answer in the practices of our forefathers and ancestors to the effects of climate change on tribal societies. Therefore I urge upon this seminar to look and deliberate on that aspect too,” he said.
“As we move ahead with the changing times, we need to keep the balance between development and our identity and roots,” summed up the Chief Minister.
Earlier, in his keynote address, Prof Virginius Xaxa, former professor, Delhi School of Economics and Tata Institute of Social Sciences, said that the term “tribal” is associated with savage, primitive, uncivilized and has unacceptable and discredited today thus the term being replaced by ‘indigenous’ in many parts of the world.
He added that in context of India it is still prevalent because of the provision in the constitution.
He highlighted the dynamism of the tribal societies in India in the pre colonial, post independence and modern India. “The State, Market and Ideology in the form of Christianity were the main players of changing dynamics of tribal societies in India.
“Today the role of the State is shrinking and market is taking over which is resulting in people from North East moving to other parts of the world in search of opportunities and employment,” he said.
The professor also observed that while the Northeast has done well in social development economic development in the region is stagnant. He added that it is context of these that it is important to understand the changing dynamics of tribal societies in India.