Pastoralists In The Modern World
- Pastoralism : The branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is a form of animal husbandry where the caring, tending and extraction of animal products is done from animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep.
- Nomads : People who move from one place to another to earn their living.
- Bugyal : Vast meadows in the high mountains of Garhwal and Kumaon.
- Gujjar : Pastoral agricultural tribe of Kangra, great herders of goat and sheep.
- Kafila : Groups of many people who come together for a certain journey.
- Raikas : Pastoralists of Rajasthan.
- Banjaras : Well-known group of graziers, found in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
- Kharif : The summer or monsoon crop, usually harvested between September and October.
- Rabi : The winter crop , usually harvested after March.
- Stubble : Lower ends of grain stalks left in the ground after harvesting.
- Wasteland Rules : Wasteland Rules were enacted in various parts of the country. By these rules, uncultivated land was taken over and given to selected individuals.
- Reserved forest : Those forests which produced commercial timber were known as reserved forests.
- Protected forest : Those forests in which some customary pastoral rights were granted but their movements were severely restricted were known as ‘protected’.
- Criminal Tribes Act : The Criminal Tribes Act was passed in 1871 by which many nomadic communities were declared as criminal tribes.
- Pastoral community in Africa : Bedouins, Berbers, Maasai, Somali, Boran and Turkana.
- Maasai : The Maasai are a nomadic people inhabiting in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Pastoralism As A Way Of Life
- Pastoralists are people who rear animals, birds and move from place to place in search of green pastures.
- They are nomadic tribes who need to move from one place to another to save their animals from adverse climatic conditions and to provide meadows or pastures regularly.
- Some of the pastoral nomads move to combine a range of activities – cultivation, trade and herding – to make their living.
- Continuous movement of nomadic tribes is useful for environment.
- Pastoral nomadism is a form of life that is perfectly suited to many hilly and dry regions of the world. Pastoral movement allows time for the natural restoration of vegetational growth.
- Pastoralists play a very important role as moving traders.
- In search of good pasture land for their cattle, the pastoralists move over long distances selling plough cattle and other goods to villagers in exchange for grain and fodder.
Different Forms Of Pastoralism
- On the Mountains :
- The Gujjar Bakarwals of Jammu and Kashmir : They are pastoral nomads who move in groups called ‘Kafila’.
- Their movements are governed by cold and snow. In winters, when the high mountains are covered with snow, these Gujjars move down to the low hills of the Shivalik range. On the onset of summer, when the snow melts and the mountains become lush and green, these pastoralists move back to the mountains.
- The Gaddi Shepherds of Himachal Pradesh have a similar cycle of movement. They also spend the winter on the lower Shivalik hills and the summers in Lahaul and Spiti.
- The Gujjar cattle herders of Kumaon and Garhwal spend their summers in the ‘bugyals’, and their winters in the ‘bhabar’.
- The Bhotias, Sherpas and Kinnauri follow the cyclic movement which helps them to adjust to seasonal changes and make best use of pastures.
- On the plateaus, plains and deserts :
- The Dhangars of Maharashtra : The Dhangars stay in the central plateau of Maharashtra during the monsoon.
- This is a semi-arid region. By October, they begin their movement towards Konkan. Here, their cattle help to manure the fields and hence they are welcomed by the Konkani peasants. As soon as the monsoon sets in, they retreat back to the semi-arid land of Maharashtra.
- The Gollas who herd cattle and the Kurumas and Kurubas who reared sheep and goat are from Karnataka and Andhra. They live near the woods and in the dry periods they move to the coastal tracts.
- The Banjaras of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra move to different places in search of good pastures.
- The Raikas of Rajasthan combine cultivation with pastoralism. When their grazing grounds become dry, they move to new and greener pastures.
- Pastoral life was sustained by their sense of judgment :
- To know how long one must stay in an area.
- To know where they could find food and water.
- To assess and calculate the timings of their movement.
- Their ability to set up a relationship with the farmers so that the herds could graze on the harvested fields.
What Happens To Pastoralism Under Colonialism And Modern State?
- Colonial rule had far-reaching effects on the pastoralists and their lives. With the advent of colonialism, the pastoralists found that their movements became restricted, the grazing grounds for their cattle reduced in size and the revenue they had to pay increased.
- In addition, their agricultural stock dwindled and their trade and crafts were on the verge of destruction.
- Land was very important for the colonial state. It brought revenue as well as produced crops, both food as well as cash crops. Land revenue was the main source of finance for the state and cash crops were required for the British industries in England. Hence, all such land that was not cultivated was regarded as wasteland, which could be brought under cultivation.
- During the mid 19th century onwards, ‘Wasteland Rules’ were enacted to bring cultivated land under cultivation.
- This greatly reduced the area of land which was being used as pastures by pastoral herds.
- Pastures began to decline at an alarming speed.
- Certain Forest Acts were enacted in different provinces. This happened in the middle of the 19th century.
- According to these Acts, forests were categorised as ‘reserved’ and ‘protected.’ Those forests which produced commercial timber were known as ‘reserved,’ while those in which some customary pastoral rights were granted but their movements were severely restricted were known as ‘protected’.
- These Acts changed the lives of pastoralists. Their entry into the forests was restricted. They were issued permits which had details of their entry and exit from the forest areas. These passes also specified the dates they could enter the forest. They could not remain in the forest at their will and in areas of their choice.
- The colonial government wanted to rule over a settled population and not a nomadic one. They were highly suspicious of the nomadic pastoralists.
- The colonial government passed the ‘Criminal Tribes Act’ in 1871 by which certain communities were classified as criminal by nature and birth. They had to live within a notified area and could not move without a permit. They were constantly under the supervision of the village policemen.
- The colonial government imposed taxes on land, water, trade goods, etc. They even imposed a tax on animals.
- Grazing tax was also introduced in the grazing tracts. The pastoralists had to pay a tax on every animal they had, in addition to the grazing tax. The systems of tax collection was very rigid.
- Coping with changes :
(1) Some reduced the number of cattle in their herds.
(2) Some discovered new pastures.
Pastoralism In Africa
- The Maasai : These cattle herders live primarily in East Africa. Rules, laws and regulations have changed their way of life. There are many problems which they have faced, the most prominent one being continuous loss of their grazing grounds.
- Reasons : In the 19th century, European imperial powers scrambled for territorial possessions in Africa. They divided the region into different colonies. The best grazing grounds were taken over by the white settlements.
- Grazing grounds were converted to cultivated land and national parks and game reserves. The Kaokoland herders have faced a similar fate.
- The British appointed chiefs to administer the affairs of the tribe. These chiefs were wealthy and lived a settled life as they had both pastoral and non-pastoral income. The poor pastoralists passed through bad times and worked as labourers.
- There were two important changes :
- The traditional difference between the elders and warriors was disturbed.
- There came to be a marked difference between the rich and poor.
- Developments within Pastoral Societies : Pastoralists do adapt to new times. They find new pastures, change their routes for their annual movement, reduce their cattle numbers, press for their rights, etc. It is being advocated today that pastoral nomadism is the best form of life, suited to the dry, semi-arid and mountainous regions of the world.
(Page No. 101)
Question: 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.
- Why do you think pastoral groups often live on the edges of forests?
- 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.
- 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.
(Page No. 104)
Question: Write a comment on the closure of the forests to grazing from the standpoint of:
- a forester
- a pastoralist
- 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.
- 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.
(Page No. 105)
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.
Question 1. 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-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.
Question 2. 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.
Thanking, you sir
(Page No. 116)
Question 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?
Answer: 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 fertilize 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.
Question 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.
Question 3. Find out more about the some of the pastoral communities marked in Figs. 11 and 13.
Figure 11 (Indian Tribes)
- Maldbaris: They are nomadic tribal herdsmen who live in the Gujarat state of India. The literal meaning of Maldhari is ‘owner of animal stock’. They are notable as the traditional dairymen of the region and once supplied milk and cheese to the palaces of raja.
- Monpas: Monpas live in Arunachal Pradesh. They are also one of the 56 officially recognised ethnic groups in China. Their language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman family and is written in Tibetan script. There are six sub-groups of Monpas. They adopted Tibetan Buddhism.
Figure 13 (African Tribes)
- Nama Tribe: They are an African ethnic group of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana. In general, the Nama practice a policy of communal land ownership. The Nama have a culture that is rich in the musical and literary abilities of its people. Traditional music, folk tales, proverbs and praise poetry have been handed down for generations and form the base for much of their culture. They are also known for “handicrafts” like leather work, jewellery, clay pots, etc.
Zulu Tribe: The Zulu tribes are the largest South-African ethnic group, with an estimated 10-11 million people. Their language ‘Zulu’ is a Bantu language. Under apartheid, they were classed as third class citizens and suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination. But now, they are enjoying equal rights along with all other citizens. Most Zulu people are Christian.
(Page No. 48)
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. Nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another to adjust to seasonal changes and make effective use of available pastures in different places. This pattern of cyclical movement between summer and winter pastures is typical of many pastoral communities of the Himalayas, including the Bhotias, Sherpas and Kinnauris. When the pastures were exhausted or unusable in one place they move with their flock to new areas. This continuous movement also allowed the pastures to recover, it prevented their overuse.
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 pastoralists :
- Wasteland rules
- Forest Acts
- Criminal Tribes Act
- Grazing Tax
- Wasteland Rules were enacted in various parts of the country. By these rules uncultivated land was taken over and given to select individuals. In most areas the lands taken over were actually grazing tracts used regularly by pastoralists. So expansion of cultivation inevitably meant decline of pastures and a problem for pastoralists.
- Forests Acts were enacted to protect and preserve forests for timber which was of commercial importance. These acts changed the life of pastoralists. They were now prevented from entering many forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle. They were issued permits which monitored their entry and exit into forests. They could not stay in the forests as much as they liked because the permit specified the number of days and hours they could spend in the forests. The permit ruled their lives.
- Criminal Tribes Act — The colonial government wanted to rule over a settled population. They wanted the rural population to live a settled life in villages. People who moved from place to place were looked upon with suspicion and regarded as criminals. The Criminal Tribes Act was passed in 1871 by which many nomadic communities were declared as criminal tribes. They were supposed to be criminal by nature and birth. Once this Act came into force, these communities were expected to live in notified village settlements. They were not allowed to move out without permits. The village police kept a continuous watch on them.
- Grazing Tax was imposed by the colonial government to expand its revenue income. Pastoralists had to pay a tax on every animal they grazed on the pastures. This right was now auctioned out to contractors. They extracted as high a tax as they could, to recover the money they had paid to the state and earn as much profit as they could. Later the government itself started collecting taxes. This created problems for the pastoralists who were harassed by tax collectors. It also became an economic burden on them.
Question.3. Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.
Answer. The Maasais lost their grazing lands due to the following reasons :
- In 1885, Maasailand was cut into half with an international boundary between the British Kenya and German Tanganyika. The best grazing lands were gradually taken over for white settlement. The Maasai lost 60% of their pre-colonial lands.
- From the late 18th century, the British colonial government in East Africa also encouraged local peasant communities to expand cultivation. As cultivation expanded, pasture lands were turned into cultivated fields.
Large areas of grazing land were also turned into game reserves like the Maasai Mara and Samburu National Park in Kenya. Pastoralists were not allowed to enter these reserves.
- Very often these reserves were in areas that had traditionally been regular grazing grounds for Maasai herds.
- The loss of the finest grazing lands and water resources created pressure on the small area of land that the Maasai were confined within.
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. 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. Here are two examples of changes which were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai herders —
- All uncultivated land was seen as wasteland by colonial powers. It produced neither revenue nor agricultural produce. This land was brought under cultivation. In most areas the lands taken over were actually grazing tracts used regularly by pastoralists, so expansion of cultivation inevitably meant the decline of pastures and a problem both for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai.
- From the 19th century onwards, the colonial government started imposing restrictions on the pastoral communities. They were issued permits which allowed them to move out with their stock and it was difficult to get permits without trouble and harassment. Those found guilty of disobeying the rules were severely punished.