Updated: Sep 6, 2021
Adivasis in India deal with a certain set of problems unique to their lives and culture. This includes threats to their land, mining, and policies that seek to destroy their ecological systems. It is therefore imperative for adivasi communities to be united in their demand for equality and equal rights. With this in mind, the Adivasis of Gudalur near the Nilgiri Hills united under the umbrella of the Tribal Mahasabha since 1995.
At the last-held Mahasabha, Mr. K. T. Subramanian (Secretary of Adivasi Muneetra Sangham), told us where, when, and how the first Tribal Mahasabha meeting took place in Gudalur taluk. Mr. K.T. Subramanian was instrumental in organizing the Mahasabha.
Why did the Mahasabha start:
To know the most important problems of the Adivasis.
To discuss the education of the Adivasis.
To share about Adivasi culture.
To discuss the livelihood and opportunities for Adivasis.
To know about the land and property rights of the Adivasis.
Where and How does it take place:
The first Mahasabha took place in 1995 at Thorapalli in the Nilgiris district in a peaceful manner. The meeting was held for three days at the estate owned by Ramadass at Thorapalli. The meeting was attended by young leaders and village leaders. More than 200 people attended the first few meetings. The meeting was arranged by Adivasi's own initiative. They brought all the necessary items they needed for three days at their own expense.
During those three days they not only discussed serious issues, but also organized and enjoyed cultural dance, song, stories etc. so that no one would get too frustrated. In this meeting all the attendees were divided into groups without isolating anyone. The teams planned and presented their ideas to everyone. Each group had members from several Adivasi communities rather than with members of the same Adivasi community to plan.
The meeting was attended by members of various Adivasi communities such as Pulaiyar, Bettakurumbar, Mullakkurumbar, Kattu Nayakkar, and Irular. During this meeting the attendees accepted responsibility they planned and presented for themselves. They engaged themselves in five main activities such as education, culture, health, livelihood and progress of Adivasis. The most important thing discussed during this meeting was about equality. Their main goal was to treat all tribals equally. They decided to make progress through their hard work alone without anyone’s help.
Outcome of the great Mahasabha:
The lesson everyone learnt from this meeting is that there should be equality in society!
About the author: Kutty Krishnan is 22 years old and belongs to the Paniyar tribe of Gudalur in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu. He wants to write about Adivasi history so people do not forget it. In his spare time he likes to ride his bike around the picturesque Nilgiri Hills. Kutty represents Adivasi Muneetra Sangham (association for Adivasi welfare) that fights for Adivasi rights especially Human Rights and Land Rights.
This article is created as a part of the Adivasi Awaaz project, with the support of Misereor and Prayog Samaj Sevi Sanstha.