Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age Class 8 Questions and Answers History Chapter 4
History Class 8 Chapter 4 NCERT Textbook Questions and Answers
Imagine you are a jhum cultivator living in a forest village in the nineteenth century. You have just been told that the land you were born on no longer belongs to you. In a meeting with British officials, you try to explain the kinds of problems you face. What would you say?
We will try to explain to the British officials the following kinds of problems :
- We are lovers of nature and natural surroundings.
- We subsist on forest and on the local resources. If you will take away all our natural rights on the forest, water and the land we will be unable to procure our basic needs. Our economic activities like hunting, food gathering, fishing, cattle breeding, cultivation and plough cultivation will be disturbed.
Fill in the blanks :
1. The British described the tribal people as ……………. .
2. The method of sowing seeds in jhum cultivation is known as ……………… .
3. The tribal chiefs got …………… titles in central India under the British land settlements.
4. Tribals went to work in the ………………. of Assam and the ……………. in Bihar.
- Shifting cultivation.
- Sirdars (leaders)
- Tea gardens, Indigo plantations.
State whether True or False :
1. Jhum cultivators plough the land and sow seeds.
2. Cocoons were bought from the Santhals and sold by the traders at five times the purchase price.
3. Birsa urged his followers to purify themselves, give up drinking liquor and stop believing in witchcraft and sorcery.
4. The British wanted to preserve the tribal way of life.
What problems did shifting cultivators face under British rule?
Problems faced by shifting cultivators under British rule :
- They had to give up their traditional way of life.
- They started to lead the life of settled peasants.
- They had to pay regular land revenue to the British Government or to its agents.
- Their land was measured and their rights were defined.
- Some of them were declared landlords others become only tenants.
- The tenants were to pay the rent to the landlords (owners).
- Since the land of the jhum cultivators did not produce good yields therefore some tribal people continued with their traditional practice. They took banner of revolt against the Britishers and forced the British officials to carry on the shifting cultivation part of the forest.
How did the powers of tribal chiefs change under colonial rule?
The powers of tribal chiefs changed under the colonial rules as under :
- The British extended their control over all forests and declared that forest was a state property.
- Some forests were classified as reserved forests for producing the timber.
- In reserved forests tribal people were not allowed to move freely and not allowed to practice jhum cultivation, or collect fruits or hunt animals. In such circumstances to earn livelihood become very difficult for tribals.
- Many tribal people were forced to move to other areas in search of work and livelihood.
- As the Britishers felt shortage of labours to cut trees for railway sleepers, to transport logs, they modified their decision. The Britishers decided that they would give jhum cultivation a small patches of land in the forest. The British allowed the tribal people to cultivate their new patches of land on the condition that they would live in the villages and would provide labour to the forest department of the government.
- The forest department established forest villages to ensure a regular supply of cheap labour.
What accounts for the anger of the tribals against the dikus?
Anger of the tribals against the dikus. Many factors, policies and treatments of the British officials, self merchants, traders and dishonest money-lenders accounted for the anger of the tribals against the dikus :
- As the British took over large tracts of land cultivated by the tribals in order to grow cash crops such as poppy, jute, indigo the landless tribals were forced to become labourers. They had to work at a very low wages.
- They were badly exploited by crafty and dishonest money-lenders. The rate of interest on the loans of an illiterate tribal varied from 50% to unbelievable 500%.
- Infact money-lenders and other introducers acted as agents of the Britishers and tribals were brought within the influence and the control of colonial economy.
What was Birsa’s vision of a golden age? Why do you think such a vision appealed to the people of the region?
Birsa’s Vision of Golden Age :
Birsa’s vision of a golden age was that period when the Mundas had been free of the oppression of dikus, and said there would be a time when the ancestral right of the community would be restored. They saw themselves as the descendants of the original settlers of the region. Fighting for their land (mulk ki larai) reminding people of the need to win back their Kingdom.
I think that such a vision appealed to the people of the region because with the arrival of dikus (outsiders), forcing agents of the British, the traders, the moneylenders, etc. the tribal people lost their traditional rights on Jal, Jungal and Jameen (water, forest and land, They had to pay very heavy rate of interest to the moneylenders.
In 1895, Birsa urged his followers to recover their glorious past. He talked of a golden age in the past—a Satyug (the age of truth) when Mundas lived a good life constructed embankments, tapped natural springs, planted trees and orchards, practised cultivation to earn their living. They did not kill their brethern and . relatives. They lived honestly. Birsa also wanted people to once again work on their land, settle down and cultivate their fields.
Find out from your parents, friends or teachers, the names of some heroes of other tribal revolts in the twentieth century. Write their story in your own words.
Some more important movements of that time were :
Santhal Movement :
- The Santhal movement was started to oppose the land statement policy.
- The economic and administrative policies introduced in the areas of Bhagalpur, Hazari Bagh greatly harmed the interests of Santhals. They raised their arms under their leaders Kanhu and Siddhu respectively.
Kuka movement :
Kuka movement was led by Bhai Ram Singh (1824-1885) in the second half of the 19th century. His followers were called the Kukas or Namdharis. This movement was originally a social-cum religious movement which aimed at :
- Revival of Sikh Faith
- The removal of Social evils.
Causes of the rise of this movement : Following were the main causes :
- The conditions in Punjab after the death of Ranjit Singh degraded.
- The annexation of Punjab.
- The pitiable conditions of peasants, labourers and artisans.
- The negative role played by religious leaders.
- The removal of restrictions on cow slaughter by the Britishers.
- The ill treatment with Maharani Jind, Diwan Mulraj, Bhai Maharaja Singh and Maharaja Dilip Singh.
- The occurrence of the revolt of 1857.
All these factors annoyed Bhai Ram Singh and he decided to launch the movement to overthrow British rule.
Principles of Kuka Movement :
- It laid stress on purity and simplicity.
- The followers of this movement were firm believer of goddess Chandi.
- It organised langars for poor and worshiped all.
- The followers of this movement used to wear white turban, white dress and swadeshi clothes.
- They were against all the social evils which degraded the society such as dowry, extravagance on marriages and infanticide.
Programme of Kuka Movement :
The main programme of Kuka Movement were as under :
- It greatly advocated self-confidence and self-dependence.
- It opposed the government institutions and asked its followers not to send their words to government.
- It laid stress on the boycott of law courts.
- It opposed foreign goods and urged to use swadeshi.
- It asked for the boycott of railway and government postal services.
Choose any tribal group living in India today. Find out about their customs and way of life and how their lives have changed in the last 50 years.
- Santhals are still living in some parts of India.
- They are leading their primitive lives.
- They are still following old customs and traditions.
Look carefully at the tasks that Baiga men and women did. Do you see any pattern? What were the differences in the types of work that they are expected to perform?
Baiga men hunted animals and cut big trees while the women cut stalks that were already reaped, collected wood for burning and cooking. Actually all the tribals had the same pattern. For menfolk it was mostly hunting and cutting big tree while for women folk some changes of work was noticed.
Find out whether the conditions of work in the mines have changed now. Check how many people die in mines every year, and what are the reasons for their death?
Yes, now a days a lot of changes has occurred in the condition of work in the mines. Today, computer and modern technology is being used for mining. However, in developing countries the conditions of work are not that advanced. These countries use the same old pattern of mining. Even today many people die in the mines. The reasons are old methods of mining, no modern tools , poisonous gases, old technology and not much experience.