Chapter 5 Pastoralists in the Modern World
Explain why nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another. What are the advantages to the environment of this continuous movement?
Nomadic tribes have to move from place to place to earn their living and to find pastures for their animals. All of them had to adjust to seasonal changes and make effective use of available pastures in different places. When the pasture was exhausted or unusable in one place, they moved their herds and flocks to new areas.
This continuous movement was advantageous to their environment.
- The pastoral movements allowed time for the natural restoration of vegetation growth.
- The flocks manured the fields.
Discuss why the colonial government in India brought in the following laws. In each case, explain how the laws changed the lives of pastoralists- Waste Land Rules, Forest Acts, Criminal Tribes Act, Grazing Tax.
Waste Land Rules: To colonial officials all uncultivated land was unproductive, it produced neither revenue nor agricultural produce. It was considered as a wasteland, which had to be brought under the plough. Wasteland rules were enacted in the mid-19th century in many parts of the country. By these rules uncultivated land was taken over and given to select individuals. In most places, the land taken over was the grazing tracts used by the pastoralists. So the expansion of cultivation meant less pastures for the animals.
Forest Acts: In the mid-19th century various Forest Acts were enacted in different provinces. Through these Acts forests were divided into Reserved Forests and Protected Forests. The pastoralists had no access to the Reserved Forests. In the Protected Forests, some grazing rights were given to the pastoralists but their movement was restricted. The colonial officals believed that grazing destroyed the saplings and flocks munched away the shoots.
The Forest Acts changed the lives of the pastoralists. They were prevented from entering many forests, that had earlier provided good pastures. The pastoralists now needed a permit for entry. It specified the period during which they could stay in the forest. If they overstayed, they were fined. They had to leave the forest, even when forage was available.
Criminal Tribes Act 1871: The colonial government wanted to rule over a settled population. They wanted them to live in fixed places, with fixed rights on particular fields. Such a population could be ruled easily. Settled population was seen as peace loving and law abiding. The colonial people were suspicious of nomadic and pastoral tribes, who moved from place to place and hawkeld their goods. They had no fixed place of residence and moved every season to find pasture for the animals.
In 1871, the colonial government passed the Criminal Tribes Act. According to this Act many communities of pastoralists, craftsmen and traders were classified as Criminal Tribes. These communities had to live only in notified village settlements. They were not allowed to move out without a permit. The police kept a continuous watch on these people.
Grazing Tax: The aim of the colonial government was to collect as much revenue as possible, so tax was imposed on land, water, salt, trade goods and animals. By 1880, each pastoralist was given a pass. Each cattle herder had to pay tax for each cattle head. The amount paid was entered on the pass.
Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.
The Maasai community lost their grazing lands because:
- Before colonial times, Maasailand stretched over vast area from north Kenya to the steppes of northern Tanzania. In the late 19th century, the European powers scrambled for territorial possessions in Africa. Africa was soon divided between the European powers. In 1885, Maasailand was cut into half with an international boundary between British Kenya and German Tanganyika. The best grazing lands were gradually taken over for White settlement. The Maasai remained in a small area. The Maasai lost 60 per cent of their pre-colonial lands. They were pushed to arid land with little rainfall and poor pastures.
- From the late 19th century, British colonial government in east Africa encouraged the peasants to expand cultivation. As a result pasturelands were converted into cultivated lands.
- Large areas of grazing maasailand was converted into game reserves like Maasai Mara and Samburu National Park in Kenya and Serengeti Park in Tanzania. Pastoratists could not enter the reserves, they could neither graze their animals nor hunt animals.
There are 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.
The problems faced by the Indian pastoralist due to the enforcement of the Wasteland Rules was similar to the problem faced by the Maasai community in Africa. The British Colonial government in East Africa encouraged the local peasant communities to expand cultivation. Pasturelands were turned into cultivated fields and the Maasai community lost its grazing fields. Similarly, under the Wasteland Rules, pastoral land was taken from the pastoralists and given to a local individuals who in turn brought the land under cultivation. The Maasais and the Indian pastoralists lost their grazing grounds.
Yet another problem faced by the Maasais and the Indian pastoralists was the restriction that was imposed on them by the colonist. The Indian Forest Acts, restricted the Indian pastoralist from entering the reserved forests which were rich in pasture. Similarly, the colonist in East Africa converted grazing land into Game Reserves. The pastoralists were not allowed to enter these Reserves. The pastoral communities in India and East Africa had to endure many hardships as the demands of the modern world grew increasingly.