The one-day All-India Tribal Convention, held in Andhra Pradesh's port city Visakhapatnam on Sunday called for a new Tribal Policy to ensure the development of tribal languages, cultures and the setting up of a tribal history academy.
Inaugurated by Vasavi Kiro, renowned tribal author and activist from Jharkhand, the convention highlighted tribal medicine, cuisines and other knowledge, including the chanting of 'Sonot jooaar’ – long live nature; Ootey abuwa - this land is ours, Bir aabuwa – the forests are ours and Disum aabuwa – Desh (country) is ours and ‘Jai Joohar’.
Kiro stressed that adivasis (tribals) should organise themselves to fight for their rights, noting that forces led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) are allegedly dividing the tribals and creating rift, according to a press release.
She observed there were more than 700 million indigenous people in the world with 200 million residing in India while alleging that out of these tribes 7,000 indigenous cultures are being ignored and repressed 75 years after independence.
"Adivasis in India suffer because of state policy which is based on 'development induced displacement', loot of forests and natural wealth, land alienation, degradation of nature, failure to recognise their indigenous religions like Sarna, attempts to forcefully assimilate them into Hindu religion and failure to implement their Constitutional and legal rights," Kiro said.
Besides amplifying other pressing needs of the tribals, the convention has also passed four resolutions: Condemning repression of tribals in Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and other parts of India; demanding the arrest of BJP MP Brij Bhushan Singh, condemning alleged RSS sponsored violence in Manipur and the gangrape of tribal woman by paramilitary forces at Vakapalli in Andhra Pradesh. More than 600 delegates from 11 states attended the convention and approved the formation of a 15-member Forum Committee as well.