On the future of indigenous traditions: The case of Adivasis of Jharkhand, India

Thesis by Bineet Jaynel Mundu


This thesis, ‘On the Future of Indigenous Traditions: The Case of Adivasis of Jharkhand, India’ on the whole by making it a case study brings a focus on the Adivasis as the indigenous peoples of India. It touches upon a few important historical facts of the groups of Adivasis now located in the central-east part of country. Additionally it goes on into the sources that determine their traditional institutions, which play an important role in their social and cultural administration. These institutions also manifest their social cultural identity that these groups of people are the historical communities who need their due recognition to assert their collective rights within the present nation-state. This focused case touches upon different perspectives on the collective rights vis-à-vis state’s individual rights issue. This thesis brings forth the conceptual and practical realities of Adivasis’ institution and its relevance today. The customary social-cultural institution of the Adivasi peoples, symbiotically linked to the cycles of nature reflected in their cultural practices, evolves a politics that needs to be studied in the discourse of the modern nation-state. This thesis gives an introduction to the issue of Adivasis’ identity as the research problem within its own limitation and the use of methodologies. To start with, it deals with different sets of sources, which determine that the Adivasi are the indigenous peoples of the country. At the same time it explains how Adivasis distinctiveness is signified and represented through their existing customary practices. However, their customary practices have become less influential due to historical reasons in contemporary period. Within this reality the role of State and its impact on the Adivasis is also discussed. It further discusses with the political association of the Adivasis that is derived from their customary practices and the benchmarks in the present national legislative system. This includes the conflict of their communitarian identity with the society at large and the State. The main focus henceforth is on the strengths of customary system in the reality of the legal system of the State. The empirical data supplements the above positions taken with case illustration and analysis. The study concludes with a discussion on broader issues, issues which has affected the basis of the customary practices of the Adivasis and gives an analysis with findings indicating certain area which the thesis identifies it to be considered for further research in the academic discourse.

Thesis available