Proud, Not Primitive!
- 9 Articles
Imagine this scenario. You have your own dreams and ambitions, and you want to live your life a certain way. You want to choose when to marry, and who to marry. But all of a sudden - from nowhere – your family decides that they should decide for you, and force you to marry someone else: someone much older, someone you’d never want to marry if the choice was yours to make.
How would that make you feel?
Quite like this – except on a much larger scale – there are schemes to bring tribal populations in India into the “mainstream”. What gives any community a right to decide that it falls under the “mainstream”, and another community falls under the exception? Is it fair at all for one group to decide for another?
With strong answers in the negative for these questions, is a campaign by Survival International that puts human rights in the right perspective by one underlying message: that tribal rights are human rights, indeed.
Did you know that the Jarawa are among the richest communities in the world? If you thought that wealth was best measured in monetary terms, think again: what use is money if you have to spend it for everything? In the words of Lodu Sikaka, who has been quoted in the campaign, “It’s crazy when these outsiders come and teach us ‘development’. Is development possible by destroying the environment that provides us food, water and dignity? You have to pay to take a bath, for food, and even to drink water. In our land, we don’t have to buy water like you, and we can eat anywhere for free.”
Right from our terms of reference – in calling tribal people backward, primitive or even underdeveloped – to our treatment of tribal people, we have consciously been disrespecting communities together at once.
Think about your life, and the lives of the people around you. How territorial we are as a people, right? It’s always “my phone”, “my computer”, “my book”... and even “my space”. Why is it so difficult for us to respect the right of the tribal people to what is rightfully theirs? Why do we scramble to snatch what they rightfully own, and stamp our idea of “development” on them?
If you feel as strongly as I do about this cause, if you find yourself as guilty as I do of being negative in referring to tribal people with terms such as “primitive” and “backward”, and if you belong to the community of the world that silently watched as tribal groups were forced to deal with our idea of “development”, join me as I join Proud Not Primitive.
Visit the ‘Proud Not Primitive’ website for more information: www.notprimitive.in
Photo: ©Olivier Blaise