History is an important subject of the class 8 SST syllabus. In this blog, we shall discuss chapter 4 of class 8 History – Tribals, Dikus and the vision of a golden age. This chapter answers questions on the kind of life tribals and dikus led and their condition under British rule. Go through these study notes and get an explanation on each subtopic and get a clear picture of the colonisation era.
Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age Class 8 Notes
- How and Where did the Tribals Live?
- Impact of British Rule on Tribal Lives
- Forest Laws and their Impact
- How did the Tribals React?
- Case Study Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age – Birsa Munda
- Questions on Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age
How and Where did the Tribals Live?
The tribals lived their life in the following ways –
- Few cultivated Jhum/ Shifting Cultivation – This cultivation is carried out on small patches of land wherein the planters cut down tree tops to allow sunlight to reach the land. Once the crop is ready for harvesting, it is shifted to another field. These cultivators usually resided in hill areas and forest tracts of north east and central India.
- Few lived as hunters and gatherers – Many Tribal groups survived by hunting animals and collecting forest produce. For instance, the Khonds who collected hunts and divided meat. Shrubs and herbs collected were used for medicinal purposes. They often exchanged these products. When the forest production declined, they had to go out looking for work and were dependent on moneylenders to buy goods that weren’t produced. The interest charged by money lenders was extremely high.
- Few herded animals – Pastoralists herding was also a famous occupation among tribal groups.
- Few practised settled cultivation – The land for the Mundas of Chota Nagpur belonged to the clan as a whole. The British officials considered the settled tribal groups to be more civilised than hunter-gatherers or shifting cultivators.
Before you move on to the next topic of Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age notes, read this blog on – Ruling the Countryside Class 8 Notes!
Impact of British Rule on Tribal Lives
The colonial rule majorly impacted the tribal lives in the following ways –
Impact on Tribal Chiefs
Before the arrival of the British, the Tribal Chiefs enjoyed economic power. They had the right to administer territories but with the arrival of the British, they lost their administrative powers and had to abide by British laws.
Impact on shifting cultivators
The British were of the opinion that it was easier to administer settled peasants and hence demanded tribal groups to settle down. The land settlement was introduced with the primary purpose of getting regular revenue sources. However, the efforts made by the British to settle jhum cultivators were not successful and faced widespread protests. Thus they eventually had to allow them to carry on shifting cultivation in some parts of the forest.
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Forest Laws and their Impact
Forest laws were also changed by the British administration. The British classified a few forests as Reserved Forest as they produced timber. The forest laws impacted tribal lives. The tribals were not allowed to enter forests. But the British couldn’t get labourers so they came up with a solution wherein a small patch of land was given to the jhum cultivators and in return, they were to provide labour services to the Forest Department. However, many tribal groups did not obey the rules set down and also led to open rebellions being organised.
The number of trades coming into the forest increased as they wanted to buy more products. The demand for Indian Silk was also high in European markets and the silk market progressed.
The Santhals of Hazaribagh were involved in rearing cocoons. The traders who dealt in silk provided loans to the tribal people. In all of this, the middlemen made huge profits. During the late nineteenth century, tea plantations emerged. The mining industry gained importance too and Tribals were recruited in large numbers to provide services at the tea plantations of Assam and the coal mines of Jharkhand.
How did the Tribals React?
Tribals were dissatisfied with the laws and thus rebelled against the changes. They were unhappy with the changes in laws, the restrictions on their practices, the new taxes imposed, and the constant exploitation by traders and moneylenders.
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Case Study Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age – Birsa Munda
Who was Birsa?
Birsa was born in the mid-1870s, hearing the stories of Munda uprisings. He was aware that the Mundas could never attain the Kingdom of Heaven. Birsa started a movement. This movement aimed at reforming tribal society. He requested the Mundas to give up drinking liquor, clean their village, and not indulge in witchcraft and sorcery.
The political aim of the Birsa movement was to drive out missionaries, moneylenders, Hindu landlords, and the government and set up a Munda Raj with Birsa at its head. As the movement gained prominence, British officials decided to suppress it.
With Birsa’s death in 1900 due to cholera, the movement faded out. But, the movement turned out to be significant in two ways.
- It forced the colonial government to introduce laws so that the land of the Tribals could not be easily taken over by dikus.
- It was proof of the fact that the tribal people had the capacity to protest against injustice practised by colonial rule.
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Questions on Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age
Let’s solve a few questions from NCERT to test your understanding:
1. Fill in the Blanks
(a) The British described the tribal people as ____________.
(b) The method of sowing seeds in jhum cultivation is known as ____________.
(c) The tribal chiefs got ____________ titles in central India under the British land settlements.
(d) Tribals went to work in the ____________ of Assam and the ____________ in Bihar.
(a) The British described the tribal people as wild and savage.
(b) The method of sowing seeds in jhum cultivation is known as broadcasting.
(c) The tribal chiefs got land titles in central India under the British land settlements.
(d) Tribals went to work in the tea plantations of Assam and the coal mines in Bihar.
2. State Whether True or False
(a) Jhum cultivators plough the land and sow seeds.
(b) Cocoons were bought from the Santhals and sold by the traders at five times the purchase price.(c) Birsa urged his followers to purify themselves, give up drinking liquor and stop believing in witchcraft and sorcery.
(d) The British wanted to preserve the tribal way of life.
(a) False – Jhum cultivators were involved in shifting cultivation. They used to go the different lands and prepared them for cultivation. They scattered the seeds on the field instead of ploughing the land and sowing the seeds.
(d) False, the British did not want to preserve the tribal way of life.
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