ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making of Space and Image

Journalistic Discourse(s) and the Adivasi

When it comes to the portrayal and depiction of Adivasi communities, the media and journalistic discourse has been reluctant to move away from archaic constructs and ideas. Understanding Adivasi life from their perspective and advocating for “development” on their behalf must be through their terms, cooperating with their traditional systems of existence.

The tribals of India, popularly known as Adivasis, are appropriately called the last people of the Indian nation and are even remembered last of all. Indian nationalism reached out to them only in 1920, when the Indian National Congress, led by Mahatma Gandhi, made an appeal to the Uraon Tana Bhagats of Chhotanagpur to join the Non-Cooperation Movement. Preceding this, A V Thakkar initiated famine-related social work among the Bhils in western India under the Servants of India Society. In 1932, Verrier Elwin, a Christian missionary under the spell of Gandhi, stationed himself at Karanjia to serve the Gonds and other Adivasis of central India. Thakkar and Elwin soon became the champions of the Adivasi cause. The period also marked the appearance of an educationally synthesised Adivasi voice in the national scene, of which Ranchi in east India became the epicentre. These developments unfolded the Adivasi question before the nation, and ultimately forced upon the nationalist movement the Adivasi agenda.

A Late Response

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