Monday, April 9, 2018

Indian philosophy and Adivasi religion

There are so many layers of things I didn't know about in this story Google news pointed me to this: morning.
New Delhi: The Sangh parivar’s fear of adivasi culture and beliefs was brought home in a dramatic fashion on Friday when the Indian Council of Philosophical Research – the human resource development ministry’s apex body for the study of philosophy – forced the postponement of an academic seminar on the theme of religious pluralism because “there are some papers on tribal religious practices”.
The ICPR is headed by S.R. Bhatt, a philosophy professor considered close to the RSS, who was appointed to the post by Smriti Irani when she was HRD minister.
On Friday, the ICPR informed the organisers of the conference at Jawaharlal Nehru University – who had originally been asked by the council to convene the event in the first place – that it had “decided to postpone the seminar.”
Among the things I hadn't known:that there is an Indian government body supporting the study of philosophy; that there are people in India characterized as 'adivasi'. The latter is of more compelling interest, particularly since the cancellation of this seminar suggests a level of suspicion and suppression by the government of these people. Wikipedia tells us this:
Adivasi is the collective term for the indigenous peoples of mainland South Asia.[1][2][3] Adivasi make up 8.6% of India's population, or 104 million people, according to the 2011 census, and a large percentage of the Nepalese population.[4][5][6] They comprise a substantial indigenous minority of the population of India and Nepal. The same term Adivasi is used for the ethnic minorities of Bangladesh and the native Tharu people of Nepal.[7][8] The word is also used in the same sense in Nepal, as is another word, janajati (Nepali: जनजाति; janajāti), although the political context differed historically under the Shah and Rana dynasties.
Adivasi societies are particularly prominent in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal and some north-eastern states, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Many smaller tribal groups are quite sensitive to ecological degradation caused by modernisation. Both commercial forestry and intensive agriculture have proved destructive to the forests that had endured swidden agriculture for many centuries.[9] Adivasis in central part of India have been victims of the Salwa Judum campaign by the Government against the Naxalite insurgency.
The news article provides more perspective:
One reason could be the RSS view that adivasis are essentially forest-dwelling Hindus, or ‘vanvasis’ and that their belief systems should not be treated as something independent of Hinduism. Indeed, to the extent to which adivasi religious practices – especially in central India – do not conform to the Sangh’s idea of Hinduism, the organisation has been using its network of schools and other organisations to ‘Hinduise’ them.
There is a so much going on here that I am ill equipped to grasp, except it seems to me to involve Hindu nationalism, and nationalism usually requires the erasure of non-standard people one way or another. I recommend you read the whole article .

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