CHAPTER 4 – Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 4 – Tribals, Dikus and the Vision of a Golden Age

Answer the following questions:

1. In which tribal group did Birsa born?

Answer – The Munda tribe that lived in Chottanagpur.

2. Write a note on tribal societies.

Answer –

  • Most tribes had customs and rituals that were very different from those laid down by Brahmans.
  • These societies also did not have the sharp social divisions that were characteristic of caste societies.
  • All those who belonged to the same tribe thought of themselves as sharing common ties
    of kinship. However, this did not mean that there were no social and economic differences within tribes.

3. What is Jhum or Shifting cultivation?

Answer –

  • Jhum cultivation was done on small patches of land, mostly in forests.
  • The cultivators cut the treetops to allow sunlight to reach the ground, and burnt the vegetation on the land to clear it for cultivation.
  • They spread the ash from the firing, which contained potash, to fertilize the soil.
  • They used the axe to cut trees and the hoe to scratch the soil in order to prepare it for cultivation.
  • They broadcast the seeds, that is, scattered the seeds on the field instead of ploughing the land and sowing the seeds.
  • Once the crop was ready and harvested, they moved to another field.
  • A field that had been cultivated once was left fallow for several years.

4. In which part of India the shifting cultivation was used to be practiced?

Answer –

Shifting cultivators were found in the hilly and forested tracts of the northeast and central India.

5. Name one hunter-gatherer tribe of India.

Answer –

The Khonds were a hunter-gatherer tribe living in the forests of Odisha.

6. Name one tribe that were reluctant to work for others.

Answer – the Baiga tribe.

7. Name some tribes who herded animals and also mention which animal they used to herd.

Answer –

  • The Van Gujjars of the Punjab hills and the Labadis of Andhra Pradesh were cattle herders
  • The Gaddis of Kulu were shepherds.
  • The Bakarwals of Kashmir reared goats.

8. What is ‘Bewar’?

Answer –

Shifting cultivation is called Bewar in Madhya Pradesh.

9. Which tribal groups were often considered more civilized than the others?

Answer –

The Gonds and the santhals.

10. ‘Nishi’ tribe belongs to which state?

Answer – Arunachal Pradesh

11. ‘Dongri kandha’ tribe belongs to which state?

Answer – Odisha

12. When did the local weavers and leather workers turn to the Khond tribes?

Answer –

The local weavers and leather workers turned to the Khonds when they needed supplies of kusum and palash flowers to colour their clothes and leather.

13. What were the changes introduced by the British in the Forest Law?

Answer –

  • The British extended their control over all forests and declared that forests were state property.
  • Some forests were classified as Reserved Forests for they produced timber which the British wanted.
  • In these forests people were not allowed to move freely, practise jhum cultivation, collect fruits, or hunt animals.

14. What were the impacts of the Forest Laws introduced by the British?


  • Forests people were not allowed to move freely, practise jhum cultivation, collect fruits, or hunt animals.
  • Many were forced to move to other areas in search of work and livelihood.

15. How did the Forest Department ensure the regular supply of the cheap labour?

Answer –

They decided that they would give jhum cultivators small patches of land in the forests and allow them to cultivate these on the condition that those who lived in the villages would have to provide labour to the Forest Department and look after the forests. So in many regions, the Forest Department established forest villages to ensure a regular supply of cheap labour.

16. Who were the tribal chiefs and how did their life was affected by the Colonial rule?

Answer –

Before the arrival of the British, in many areas, the tribal chiefs were important people. They enjoyed a certain amount of economic power and had the right to administer and control their territories. In some places, they had their own police and decided on the local rules of land and forest management.

Under British rule, the functions and powers of the tribal chiefs changed considerably. They were allowed to keep their land titles over a cluster of villages and rent outlands, but they lost much of their administrative power and were forced to follow laws made by British officials in India. They also had to pay tribute to the British, and discipline the tribal groups on behalf of the British. They lost the authority they had earlier enjoyed amongst their people, and were unable to fulfil their traditional functions.

17. Where did the Songram Sangma revolt take place and when?

Answer – The revolt of Songram Sangma took place in 1906 in Assam.

18. In which years did the following rebellion take place:-

  1. The Kols rebellion

Answer – The Kols rebelled in 1831-32

2. The Santhals rebellion

Answer – Santhals rose in revolt in 1855

3. The Bastar rebellion

Answer – The Bastar Rebellion in central India broke out in 1910

4. The Warli revolt

Answer – The Warli Revolt in Maharashtra in 1940.

19. Why were the British uncomfortable against the Shifting Cultivation?

Answer – Because settled peasants were easier to control and administer than people who were always on the move. The British also wanted a regular revenue source for the state.

20. Who were ‘Dikus’?

Answer – The ‘Outsiders’ were referred to as the ‘Dikus’ by the tribal people. They were traders and moneylenders.

21. Explain two ways in which the movement led by Birsa Munda was significant?

Answer –

  1. It forced the colonial government to introduce laws so that the land of the tribals could not be easily taken over by dikus.
  2. It showed once again that the tribal people had the capacity to protest against injustice and express their anger against colonial rule. They did this in their own specific way, inventing their own rituals and symbols of struggle

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