RANCHI: To conserve tribal identity, or 'tribalism', among tribal children and tribal society as a whole, an initiative has been undertaken to preserve tribal folklore, legends, songs, wisdom, or any other form of literary or artistic way of expression, in scripted form.
Tata Steel, which is championing this cause in association with local tribal organisations, observed that in this fast moving world of the Internet, the identity of the tribals is being lost in the conflict between livelihood and identity, and hence, they decided to conserve their art and culture so that their coming generations could feel proud of it.
"It was observed that the children, whose parents migrate to the cities, gradually forget their language and culture with time, as no one speaks their language here. Hence, we decided to conserve the tribal folklore, languages, literature, songs and folklores in scripted form. Taking an initiative in this regard, we also started teaching tribal languages by opening tribal language learning centres in all major cities of Jharkhand and Odisha where examinations are also taken in three levels — basic, intermediate and advance," Jiren Topno, head of the tribal culture at Tata Steel Limited, said.
Presently, six languages — Santhali, Ho, Mundari, Kudukh and Bhumiz — are being taught in 350 tribal language learning centres of Jharkhand and Odisha as per the requirement, he added.
Topno said that the students learning tribal languages there are also encouraged to write something in their languages which are published twice in a year so that it could be conserved for future reference.
"In other words, we can say that we are trying to keep them in documented form so that the script, which is being lost in this fast moving modern world, could be preserved," Topno said. Even though tribal culture is very rich, most of the tribals have some sort of an inferiority complex; once they start taking pride in their language and their literature is developed, the problem will be solved, he added.
In addition to that, audio and visual tapes of tribal songs and dance forms are also conserved by these tribal learning centres so that they are not forgotten with the passage of time.
In order to provide a unique platform for tribals across the country to converge and share common concerns and propose solutions, 'Samvaad' - A Tribal Conclave, is being organised every year since 2014 in Jamshedpur to encourages dialogue, discussions and dissent and celebrate the very essence of being tribal.
According to Sourabh Roy, corporate social responsibility chief at Tata Steel Limited, 'Samvaad' is a neutral forum aimed at bringing the collective wisdom of the tribal society across the world under one roof, stimulating exchange and cross-pollination of ideas, understanding issues of tribal communities and sensitising the community as a whole, thereby creating empathy and understanding and removing prejudices. It also intends to highlight the success stories of individuals and organisations that can inspire and create a sense of hope and positivity, he added.
This year, too, 'Samvaad' is being organized with a theme — 'Coming Together for Social Change' — from November 15 to 19 in Jamshedpur. The event will feature representatives from 17 states and 12 countries, including Australia, South Africa, Canada, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Vietnam, among others. More than 1,400 artists from different states and countries will showcase their culture through 'Rhythm of Earth Dance' on the stage during 'Samvaad.'