Oral tradition as a basis of customary practices The Adivasi customary practices evolve from the praxis of oral traditional. In other words, the culture defines the customary practices. It is reflected in what people give value to and what they value. The event is important rather than the time in which it took place. It is not important that it is published but that it is remembered and recounted through the generations. The past is not a catalogue of facts but an encoding of events as the marker of Adivasi valor, justice, dignity, etc. Oral traditions are expressions of communality and community unlike the written script which becomes individual and personal.
The manner in which the Adivasi oral traditions were weakened was through the imposition of the written script by the ruling class. So today any and everything has to be written down in order to have validity. Whatever is unwritten and oral has been put in the category of myths and superstition. Once the commonality of the material resources gets privatised there will be an adverse impact on social relationships among the members of the society and a very negative influence on the cultural values and attitudes of the people. This is precisely what the British did by introducing the individual patta system.
This is exactly what happened to the Adivasi in India and in Jharkhand. As a result communalism is replaced by individualism. Common property becomes private property. Co-operation becomes competition. Consensus in decision making becomes majority decision. Equality among the members of the community becomes inequality. When India became independent the local ruling class, which was largely non Adivasi and which hailed from north Bihar, and whose language was Hindi, systematically imposed Hindi on the Adivasi people of Jharkhand.
Thus Hindi was made a necessary language both at the level of administration as well as in the formal education system. As a consequence, the children who started to go primary school had to learn Hindi. The Adivasi school-going children did not fare well in Hindi because: they did not speak it home, where as non-adivasi children, whose mother tongue was Hindi, much better at school .
Hindi was also propagated to lessen the importance given to English. In this effort however the independence government largely failed because English continued to hold its sway in college and university education. The net consequence of this language policy was that Adivasi languages suffered from a double assault from government patronized Hindi and elite patronized English. National development leading to underdevelopment of the Indigenous people India has one of the largest indigenous populations in the world Adivasis in India form nearly 8 percent of India’s total population In the slate of Jharkhand. as SC Bhatt in the District Gazetteer of Jharkhand puts it. “during fifty years since independence, the Jharkhand land and the Jharkhandi people have been in a process of being reduced to shameles in several respects. The region consists of 79.714 sq kms of land with 2.69.09.428 population of whom 30 percent are indigenous Adivasis. Where as they were 60 percent at the sun of the last century.
Due to displacement process the indigenous people of Jharkhand are perhaps the worst hit. otherwise this region is the richest region in the whole country in terms of natural resources, viz timber and several kinds of minerals drawn from far flung areas.” The planners of India’s 5 year plans adopted a policy of “positive discrimination” towards Adivasis by providing them with certain extra facilities.
In the beginning of the 1990s. the Adivasi members of Parliament brought the attention of the government both inside and outside parliament to the continued deprivation of their people. In 1992 the central government appointed a special commission under the leadership of Shri Delip Singh Bhuriua to make specific recommendations towards self-rule and self-development the Adivasi people.
The Aryan people were more dominant and aggressive. They had a monarchical system of governance based on the vama system and a standing army with fighting skills. Egalitarian Adivasi communities did not have a kingship system, since it was based on hierarchy — a concept alien to the tribal ethos. Instead of Kingship the Adivasis had clan groups among the Kily system — the clan system. This later developed into the Khutkati system. Nor did they have a standing army, since the self-sufficient Adivasis communities did not have a division of labour based on workers and non-workers.