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Tribals, Dikus and The Vision of a Golden Age - Class VIII NCERT History - Our Pasts III, Chapter 3

NCERT Textbook Exercise Questions (Important only)

Q.1: Fill in the blanks:

a. The British described the tribal people as _______ and _______.

b. The method of sowing seeds in Jhum cultivation is known as __________.

c. The tribal chiefs got _________ titles in central India under the British land settlements.

d. Tribals went to work in the _________ of Assam and the ______ in Bihar.

Ans: a. wild, savage b. scattering c. land d. tea estates, coal mines.

Fig: Women of the Dongria Kandha tribe in Orissa are seen

wading through the river on the way to market.

Q.2: State whether True or False:

a) Jhum cultivators plough the land and sow seeds.

b) Cocoons were bought from Santhals and sold by the traders at five times the purchase price.

c) Birsa urged his followers to purify themselves, g

ive up drinking liquor and stop believing in witchcraft and sorcery.

d) The British wanted to preserve the tribal way of life.

Ans: a) False b) True c) True d) False.

Q.3: What problems did shifting cultivators face under British rule?

Ans: The problems faced by shifting cultivators under the British rule were as follows:

(i) The British were not happy with the shifting cultivators as they moved about and did not have fixed income. Since these groups were moving from place to place the British could not get any revenue from them.

(ii) The British wanted such tribal groups to settle down and become peasant cultivators since settled peasants would have been easier to control and administer for the British.

(iii) As the British wanted regular revenue from the state so they introduced land settlements, defined the rights of each individual to that land, fixed the revenue demand for that land etc.

(iv) Thus, the jhum cultivators who were forcibly settled by the British often suffered from other problems like - dry soil, water scarcity, lands not producing sufficient good yields etc.

Q.4: How did the powers of the tribal chiefs change under colonial rule?

Ans: Under the colonial rule the functions and powers of the tribal chiefs changed considerably. Before the arrival of the British these tribal chiefs enjoyed a certain amount of economic power and used to administer and control their territories, which were not sow now. They were allowed to keep their land titles over a cluster of villages and rent out lands. In this process they lost much of their administrative power and were forced to follow laws made by the British officials. They also had to pay tribute to British and discipline the tribal groups on behalf of the British. Hence, under the colonial rule they lost the authority they had earlier enjoyed amongst their people and were unable to fulfill their traditional functions.

Fig: A Hajang woman weaving a mat.

Q.5: What accounts for the anger of the tribals against the dikus?

Ans: In tribal society diku is meant for an outsider or who come from outside like - moneylenders, traders, zamindars, contractors, British etc. There are a number of reasons for anger of the tribals against the dikus:

a) The tribals practiced shifting cultivation but the British forced them to follow settled agriculture and also introduced land settlements.

b) Traders and moneylenders were coming into the forest, wanting to buy forest produce at a very cheap rate, luring them to take cash loans at high interests etc. The innocent and poor people initially fell in the trap of these moneylenders and traders and remained indebted throughout their lives. So the tribals considered the traders, moneylenders as evil outsiders.

c) Under British rule the tribal chiefs lost their authorities they had enjoyed earlier amongst their people, were unable to fulfill their traditional functions. Rather they had to pay tribute to the British.

d) By the introduction of forest laws, the British evacuated them from their own lands. As a result they became homeless and went in search of work and livelihood.

These are the several reasons which alienated the tribals and caused anger against the dikus.

Q.6: What was Birsa’s vision of golden age? Why do you think such a vision appealed to the people of the region?

Ans: Birsa had a vision of bringing a golden age. Birsa was deeply influenced by many of the ideas he came in touch with. His movement was aimed at reforming tribal society. He urged the Mundas to give up drinking liquor, clean their village, and stop believing in witchcraft and sorcery. Birsa also turned against missionaries and Hindu landlords as he considered them as outside forces that were ruining the Munda way of life and also taking disadvantage of the innocence of the tribal people. In 1895 Birsa urged his followers to recover their golden past. He talked of a golden age in the past - a “satyug” - when Mundas lived a good life and used to do the following:

• construct embankments

• tap natural springs

• plant trees and orchards

• practice cultivation to earn their living

• not kill their brethren and relatives

• lead an honest life

Birsa also wanted people to start working on their lands, settle down. The political aim of the Birsa movement made the British worried as Birsa was against the colonial rule. His movement also aimed to drive out the missionaries, moneylenders, Hindu landlords, British who were considered as dikus by them and set up a ‘Munda Raj’ with Birsa at its head. The movement identified all these forces as the cause of the misery and suffering of the Mundas. These are the reasons because of which such a vision was appealing to the people of the region.

Short type Questions with their Answers

Q.1: When the British noticed the spread of Munda’s movement, what did they do?

Ans: With the spread of Munda’s movement and its acceptance by the people of the region, the British got worried and decided to stop it. They arrested Birsa in 1895, convicted him on charges of rioting and violating law and also sent him to jail.

Q.2: What are the major features of tribal societies?

Ans: Major features tribal societies

• Most of the tribes had customs and rituals quite different from those laid down by Brahmins.

• These societies did not have sharp social divisions that were characteristic of caste societies.

• All of them belonged to the same tribe.

• They thought of themselves as sharing common ties of keen ship.

• There were however, social and economic differences within tribes.


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