Taking advantage of ingenuity of our indigenous people, their lack of modern education, their living in a commune and by playing with their ethos and emotions, certain ideological groups with malicious intent, some organizations working against the unity and integrity of India and the machinery wanting to divide the society on the basis of various castes, sects etc. are planning to celebrate 9th August 2020 as “International Indigenous Day”.
-By Sharad Chavan
India has an age old tradition of celebrations and festivals. In the independent India, festivals and celebrations got segregated on the basis of religion and social divisions. Government directive made it mandatory to celebrate certain days viz. birth anniversaries, death anniversaries and historically significant days.
Of those mandatory celebrations, some are celebrated out of compulsion and some are celebrated with fervor under the pretext of establishing a pseudo identity. Some festive days were introduced because of globalization and were motivated by commercial profit making, these included especially those appealing to the emotions of youth/college students like Rose Day, Friendship Day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc. These days were given undue importance and were celebrated by the youth on college campuses, initially with a creative spirit which eventually took a rather indecent turn.
One can understand the spirit of celebrations of such special Days- religious, social or for commercial profit making and generally one need not oppose them. However if such celebrations of the so-called international Days, including the ones even proposed by UNO, are against our national integrity, sovereignty or if they are inconsistent with our traditions, one should be aware of the ploy behind introducing such celebrations prior to following them in India.
Taking advantage of ingenuity of our indigenous people, their lack of modern education, their living in a commune and by playing with their ethos and emotions, certain ideological groups with malicious intent, some organizations working against the unity and integrity of India and the machinery wanting to divide the society on the basis of various castes, sects etc. are planning to celebrate 9th August 2020 as “International Indigenous Day”. As a part of an international ploy they are encouraging the tribal youth to celebrate this day with vigor. They are nudging them to celebrate by offering them to help in various ways. Their arguments are:
1. Population of indigenous people in the world is around 44 crore of which about 11 crore is in India. So one thought behind this celebration is that indigenous people of India should lead this international day.
2. One thought that is being imbibed in the minds of the tribals is that - those who are not letting us celebrate our day of honor are enemies of indigenous people and that these very outsiders, invaders are responsible for our conditions today.
3. We are the aboriginal residents of this land. We are the owners of this land. Since we are residing here since ages we have the right over this land, right to question them, right to drive them out. This is the day of driving the invaders out and becoming kings of our land again. This is the day of our honor that is International Indigenous Day- 9th August.
4. Not only the common man but ministries for tribal affairs of various state governments including that of Maharashtra are impressed with this spurious idea and they have issued circulars in their respective states instructing to celebrate this day.
What is the real idea behind this day?
Is there any relation between India and this international day celebrations? It is important to understand the facts about: who started this International Day (celebrations)? And why was it started?
In 1990 the World Human Rights commission became active and became more aware about world population, the current status of people, their lives and their fundamental rights. Keeping these points in focus, various surveys were conducted, conferences were held.
In 1992 UNESCO passed one resolution in a meeting held in Geneva, taking into consideration the current status of aboriginal people, indigenous people of the world.
This resolution consists of 45 clauses/points. It is divided into eight parts. There was no correlation between India and the points considered while passing this resolution. While signing the resolution it was made clear by the delegation of Government of India at that point of time that there was no relation between the points mentioned and the conditions in India. They said: We are signing this considering the broader wellbeing of the international community. However we make it clear that “All the residents of India (barring Christian, Muslims, Jews, Parsis and other invaders) are the original residents of India.”
Invaders who came to India hailed from outside countries and they deprived the natives of their rights. They enslaved them, forced them to flee to various mountain regions. Eventually all the natives fought with the invaders and got back their independence.
While establishing colonies elsewhere in the world they used the modus operandi used by them during European conquest. British succeeded in imposing their wellcrafted, researched theories upon India that Aryans were outsiders, they invaded non Aryans, destroyed their religion, culture and occupied their land. At the time of passing this resolution India opposed all these points and placed its point of view very clearly across the table.
The main point of this resolution was that while establishing their rule in many countries across the world. European nations- especially Spain, Portugal, France, Britain- enslaved the natives of those countries, committed atrocities on them, forced religious conversions thus forcing them to live a miserable life. They took away their independence, deprived them of their right to live and that all their privileges were taken away. Their life was confined to a limited area. As slaves, the natives were intimidated, forced to do laborious jobs.
This was going on in various parts of the world for about 500 years.
9th August is in no way a day of glorifying the indigenous people of the world nor does it have any historical background. Many indigenous population have started opposing the celebration recommended by UNO. In many countries, there is a strong opposition to celebration on this day.
Europeans conquered many countries in a short span. Even though in India the British ruled for about 150 years, right from the day they stepped in till they left, they had to face opposition from people. The opposition was with modern weapons as well as by means of language, through the governing machinery and in many democratic ways.
Secondly, along with the European army, their fourth army i.e. the missionaries, also created a havoc in the world. Army killed many residents and the survived ones were converted to Christianity by the missionaries. In spite of ruling over India, the British were not successful in converting the community to Christianity. Those who didn’t convert to either Christianity or to Islam they were displaced in their own land or had to live in fear somewhere hiding in hills. Those who did not accept the imposed culture, cruelty and those who preferred to keep their own traditions were forced to live life like aboriginal people.
After 1947, many countries, including India got their independence. Countries existing as British colonies were liberated. It was a shock to the British colonists who thought that the sun will never set on their empire. Their dream of ruling the world for longer time was shattered and India had played a major role in it. Recognising the fact that India can be the next super power in the world, British started playing the indigenous people card and the nations which were opponents of India joined in.
The definitions of Indigenous people consider all points listed above. Some regions can be identified as ones inhabited by aboriginal tribes for example, French-Somalia, British-Somalia, French Guyana, Dutch-Guyana, Red Indians in America, Native Australians, Papua, Mawri. These communities inhabited these territories since beginning. India does not figure in any such category. Ancient cultures like Mayan, Inca became extinct from the world map.
Towards the end of 21st century, problems of aboriginal people came to fore through discussions on various forums facilitated by UNO. The year 1993 was celebrated as International Year of Indigenous People. It was also decided to celebrate the decade from 1995-2004 as the International Decade of the World's Indigenous Peoples.
It was with an intention to develop a communication method to aid the development of indigenous people, showcasing their arts, culture and lifestyle using various media, grant them their right to live, nurture their unique way of life, assure them their normal life, their integrity, safety. It was to vouch that there will be no violence or genocide against them, recognize their right to live as a private citizen or as a community, right for proclaiming their identity as Indigenous people, protecting their fundamental rights even in the situations of emergency or war. Rights of indigenous people regarding their culture, spiritual beliefs, and languages have already been recognized. Their right to nurture their history, traditions, languages, use of dialects, scripts, their community names and places, right to education, traditional knowledge, and information have also been recognized. Such points were included as part of the agenda during that decade.
It is surprising that the world had to wait till 21st century to think about indigenous people whereas India not only thought about her indigenous people but respectfully recognized their fundamental rights in the constitution. It did not stop here. By setting up various commissions and acting upon their recommendations India has passed various acts such as Panchayat Raj act, PESA act, Private forest, community forest acquisition and forest conservation act. While granting these rights to the indigenous people of India, the stand of the Government was very clear, though the indigenous people are living away from modern civilization, living in various mountain regions, forests, they should be granted their rights not as a favor, but they should get it as respected fellow citizens of this country.
The unique feature of our nation is that though we have diversity in languages, food, attire and we have different sects, castes etc, still we are united in our culture, faith, belief, history. Our joys and sorrows are same, our allies and foes are same and we share same traditions. We are united as Indians and we have manifested this to the world for years together. We can understand the apathy of the British since they were interested in ruling the country in whatever possible way. Hence they spread many distorted versions of Indian tradition and knowledge systems through the education system and through the Government machinery.
One among such ideas was that India never existed as a nation. It was and is just a congregation of various communities. The Aryans were the invaders who came from outside India. They were the ones who kept these communities together. Hence every community has a right to be independent. British claimed that like them Aryans too were outsiders. They succeeded in spreading this hypothesis however failed in convincing the same to all Indians.
Unfortunately, in independent India, certain forces emerged which encouraged the differences to grow among people. These comprised the Congress, the Left, Missionaries, the Muslims and several institutions based on caste. Hence one could witness the conflict between various sects, rural and urban population and the tribal conflict. A fictitious concept of identity was created and hatred was inculcated to such levels that there was a denial of Indian culture, history even the Constitution in the college campuses. Events not connected with our culture were celebrated as our festivals e.g. Beef parties, Love for Kissing, Indigenous People Day, Bharat Todo etc. These are attempts to establish a divide at various levels including institutions like JNU.
Basically, 9th August is in no way a day of glorifying the indigenous people of the world nor does it have any historical background. Since 2007, 9th August is being celebrated as International Indigenous Day and eventually Tribal Felicitation Day in India. Many indigenous population have started opposing the celebration recommended by UNO. In many countries, there is a strong opposition to celebration on this day. Events like International Yoga Day, Youth Day which were gifted by India to the entire world impart a message of Unity and Positivity. In the celebrations of 9th August one fail to see such a motive being fulfilled.
In the decades of 70s and 80s, in the strict Indian context, 9th August was a memory of the ‘Chale Jaav’ movement of 1942. Later on, after the socialists and leftists started controlling the education system, it was called as ‘August Kranti Din’ and then only ‘Kranti Din’. However our nation never believed in their revolution and revolutionaries. Hence taking advantage of the fragmented identity of the indigenous population in India, all the antinational organizations are celebrating 9th August as a part of the conspiracy against India. Hence one can not see any traces of awareness about the rights of the tribals but pronouncing the vitiating differences like Arya/Anarya, touchable/untouchable etc. to serve the vested interests.
Unfortunately, many state governments also fell a prey to the propaganda and performed these programs at the government level and thus encourage the division. Encouraging such programs under the pretention of identity of indigenous people may lead to further division of the country. Hence the entire population and the indigenous population need to be watchful.
Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram or the NGOs and individuals working for indigenous population are creating awareness in the interest of the nation. Hence, although this day finds a place on the world map, it will not be successful as a conspiracy at any cost.