NCERT Solutions for Social Science, Chapter 5 – Pastoralists in the Modern World
Writing in the 1850s, G.C. Barnes gave the following description of the Gujjars of Kangra: In the hills the Gujjars are exclusively a pastoral tribe . they cultivate scarcely at all The Gaddis keep flocks of sheep and goats and the Gujjars, wealth consists of buffaloes. These people live in the skirts of the forests, and maintain their existence exclusively by the sale of the milk, ghee, and other produce of their herds. The men graze the cattle, and frequently lie out for weeks in the woods tending their herds. The women repair to the markets every morning with baskets on their heads, with little earthen pots filled with milk, butter-milk and ghee, each of these pots containing the proportion required for a day.s meal. During the hot weather the Gujjars usually drive their herds to the upper range, where the buffaloes rejoice in the rich grass which the rains bring forth and at the same time attain condition from the temperate climate and the immunity from venomous flies that torment their existence in the plains.
From: G.C. Barnes, Settlement Report of Kangra, 1850-55.
| Source B
The accounts of many travellers tell us about the life of pastoral groups. In the early nineteenth century, Buchanan visited the Gollas during his travel through Mysore. He wrote: ‘Their families live in small villages near the skirt of the woods, where they cultivate a little ground, and keep some of their cattle, selling in the towns the produce of the dairy. Their families are very numerous, seven to eight young men in each being common. Two or three of these attend the flocks in the woods, while the remainder cultivate their fields, and supply the towns with firewood, and with straw for thatch.’ From: Francis Hamilton Buchanan, A Journey from Madras through the Countries of Mysore, Canara and Malabar (London, 1807).
Activity 1. Read Sources A and B. Write briefly about what they tell you about the nature of the work undertaken by men and women in pastoral households.
Answer In the case of the pastoralists of the hills, the Gaddis and the Gujjars, the men used to graze the cattle, sheep or goats and remained away from the home for many days. The women used to sell the milk products like milk, butter-milk and ghee in the local marketplace every day. Regarding the Gollas in Mysore, besides being pastoralists, they were also cultivating land. So some men were taking out the cattle for grazing while some men cultivated the fields.
Activity 2 Why do you think pastoral groups often live on the edges of forests?
Answer Pastoral groups often lived near the edges of forests so that they could graze their flocks of animals in the forest as well as cultivate fields next to the forest area. They were selling the milk and milk products from the animals in the local market and also cultivating land for their requirements of food. By living on the edge of forests, both of these activities were conveniently handled.
Activity 1 Write a comment on the closure of the forests to grazing from the standpoint of (a) a forester (b) a pastoralist
Answer (a) A Forester Since a forester’s duty is to ensure the conservation of forests, it is good that the forests have been closed for grazing. This will ensure proper growth of the vegetation and trees, so that the forest wealth will be maintained.
(b) A Pastoralist Earlier our animals were grazing in the forest area, where vegetation was plentiful. Now, since the closure of forests for grazing, our animals have to be taken far away to find grass and vegetation for food. This has put us to a lot of inconvenience, as managing our flock has become more difficult.
Activity 1 Imagine you are living in the 1890s. You belong to a community of nomadic pastoralists and craftsmen. You’ learn that the Government has declared your community as a Criminal Tribe.
(a) Describe briefly what you would have felt and done.
Answer I feel that declaring my tribe as criminal just because we move from place to place is totally wrong and unjust. We are not committing any crime by grazing our herds. For our herds to graze, moving from place to place is required when fodder at one place gels finished. I will write a petition to the District Collector to remove our tribe’s name from the list of Criminal Tribes.
(b) Write a petition to the local collector explaining why the Act is unjust and how it will affect your life.
Petition to Collector
I request you to remove my tribe’s name from the list of Criminal Tribes, as we are not committing any crime by grazing our herds at different places. We are not criminals, as we do not commit theft or kill anyone; we are just earning our living by selling the milk and milk products of our animals. So the Act is totally unjust and it should not be enforced.
In fact, I am suffering great hardship, as I am limited to a very small area and when the vegetation there is finished, I have to take a special permission to go elsewhere for my animals to feed. Also the policemen harass us for bribes when we go elsewhere, which causes us further hardship. So you are requested to remove my tribe’s name from the list of criminal tribes.
Activity 1 Imagine that it is 1950 and you are a 60-year-old Raika herder living in post-Independence India. You are telling your grand-daughter about the changes which have taken place in your lifestyle after Independence. What would you say?
Since the coming of independence, my life has changed quite a bit. Since now there is not enough pasture for our animals, we had to reduce the number of the animals we keep. We have changed our grazing grounds also, as those on the banks of the River Indus have gone into Pakistan and we are not allowed to go there.
So, we have found alternative grazing grounds in Haryana, where our herds go when the harvest has been cut. At this time they can feed on the stumps of the plants remaining and also fertilise the soil with manure from their excreta.
Your father did not like a herder’s life and so he decided to become a farmer. I gave him my savings to buy some land and now he is cultivating food grains. I think you will have a much better life than what we had.
Activity 2 Imagine that you have been asked by a famous magazine to write an article about the life and customs of the Maasai in pre-colonial Africa. Write the article, giving it an interesting title.
Answer Peculiarities of Maasai Culture : The word Maasai means My People (‘Maa’ means My and ‘sai’ means people, in their language). They are traditionally nomadic and pastoral people. The males in their society are divided into two parts – Elders and Warriors. The elders belong to the higher age group and decide on the affairs of the community by meeting as a group and also settle disputes.
The Warriors are the younger group who are responsible for the protection of the tribe. They also organize cattle raids when required. Since cattle are their wealth, these raids assume importance, as in this way they are able to assert their power over other pastoral groups. However, the Warriors are subject to the authority of the Elders.
Page 116 Questions
Question 1. Explain why nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another? What are the advantages to the environment of this continuous movement?
Answer Nomads are people who do not live in one place but move from one area to another to earn their living. Their main occupation is cattle rearing for which they need availability of water and pastures for grazing their animals. When the pastures get depleted they move to another place with their animals, looking for pasture and water. When the water and pasture get depleted they move again and keep repeating the cycle.
(i) The movement of the nomads allows the pasture to regrow and recover.
(ii) It helps to protect the ecology of the environment.
(iii) It prevents the overuse of pastures.
(iv) The cattle by the dung help in providing manure.
Question 2. Discuss why the colonial Government in India brought in the following laws. In each case explain how the law changed the lives of the pastoralists.
(a) Waste Land Rules
(b) Forest Acts
(d) Grazing Tax
(c) Criminal Tribes Act
(a) Waste Land Rules : To the colonial officials all uncultivated land appeared to be unproductive. Therefore grazing lands were also considered as wastelands as they produced neither revenue nor agricultural produce. The colonial government wanted to bring the grazing lands under cultivation so that they could get revenue and agriculture goods form this land.
According to wasteland rules, the uncultivated lands were taken over and given to select individuals who were granted concessions and encouraged to settle these lands.
Therefore, expansion of cultivation inevitably meant the decline of pastures and created problems and hardships for the pastoralists.
(b) Forest Acts : By the mid nineteenth century, various Forest Acts were also being enacted in the different provinces of India. Through the Forest Acts, the forests were divided into two categories; reserved forests and protected forests.
(i) Reserved Forests : Some forests which produced commercially valuable timber like deodar or sal were declared ‘Reserved’. No pastoralist was allowed access to these forests.
(ii) Protected Forests : In these forests some customary grazing rights of pastoralists were granted but their movements were severely restricted. They needed a permit for entry into forests. The British believed that during grazing the herds trampled over the saplings and munched away the shoots prevented trees from growing. So, they enacted these laws to protect the forests.
Effects of the Forest Acts
Pastoralists could no longer remain in an area even if forage was available.
They could enter only by getting pemit for entry.
If they overstayed the specified period of time they were liable to fines.
Their lives became difficult and full of hardships
Their traditional rights were severely restricted.
(c) Criminal Tribes Act : The British officials were suspicious of nomadic people. They distrusted mobile craftsmen and traders who hawked their goods in villages and pastoralists who changed their places of residence every season, moving in search of good pastures for their herds.
Those who were nomadic were considered to be criminal and those who were settled as peaceable and law abiding.
In 1871, the colonial government passed the Criminal Tribes Act. By this Act many communities of craftsmen, traders and pastrolists were classified as criminal tribes. They were stated to be criminal by nature and birth.
Effects of Criminal Tribes Act After this act was enforced, these communities were expected to live only in notified village settlements.
They were not allowed to move out without a permit. The village police kept a continuous watch on them. They could no larger move from one place to another.
(d) Grazing Tax : The Grazing Tax in India was introduced by the colonial government in the mid nineteenth century. Pastorlists had to pay tax on every animal they grazed on the pastures. The tax per head of cattle went up rapidly and the system of collection was made increasingly efficient. In the decades between the 1850s and the 1880s, the right to collect tax was auctioned out to contractors. The contractors tried to extract as high a tax as they could, By the 1880s, the government began collecting taxes directly from the pastoralists.
Effects of the Grazing Tax Pastoralists had to pay tax on every animal they grazed on the pastures.
The tax went up rapidly. So, the economic hardship of the pastoralists increased.
Question 3. Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.
Answer European countries scrambled for possession of territories in Africa and sliced up the region into different colonies. In 1885, Maasailand was cut into half with an international boundary between British Kenya and German Tanganyika.
Subsequently, grazing lands were taken over for White settlement and the Maasai were pushed into a small area in South Kenya and North Tanganyika. The Maasai lost about 60% of their precolonial lands.
Encouragement was given by the British colonial government in East Africa to peasant communities to expand cultivation and pasture lands were converted into cultivated fields.
Large areas of grazing land were also turned into game reserves like the Maasai Mara and Samburu National Park in Kenya and Serengeti Park in Tanganyika. Pastoralists were not allowed to enter these reserves. They could neither hunt animals nor graze herds in these areas.
Very often these reserves were in areas that had traditionally been regular grazing grounds for Maasai herds.
Question 4 There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Write about any two examples of changes which were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai herders.
Answer Both India and East Africa were under the control and dominance of the European colonial powers with similar intentions and objectives.
In both places, the pastoral communities lost the pasture land because the colonial powers took control of these pastures and brought them under cultivation.
Both in India and East Africa, forest laws were made and the pastoralists were not permitted to use the forests for grazing or taking out forest produce.
So, in India and Africa, the pastures or the grazing land declined and created a lot of hardship for the pastoral communities.