"Mother Earth is pregnant with problems and only the tribal way of life can save it from decay. Global warming, unpredictable climatic changes, melting of glaciers, tsunamis, famines and floods are the consequences of man's unthinking mindful interference with nature and if one has to escape them, the only way is to take to the primitive way."

This was the gist of conclusions reached by delegates at the end of the two-day 24th Aadivasi Sanskritik Ekta Mahasammelan on Sunday here at Dakan Kotda village, close to Udaipur city.

The event, organized by Aadivasi Ekta Parishad, was attended by more than 60,000 tribal people from various states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Dadar& Nagar Haveli. The mega event focused on issues related to tribal communities in India.

"This is an annual event held by the organization in various places to spread awareness among the community and to inform them about prevalent tribal customs in other states. Contrary to the popular notion, tribals are not conservative at all. Women are held in high esteem, child marriages are not prevalent while widow remarriage has always been encouraged by tribes," said Mahaveer Kharadi, secretary of the organizing committee. During the two days, participants were seen in the colourful tribal attires and traditional head gear.

"Following the tribal culture of bearing one's own expense, every person had brought with him a sack of grain and Rs 10 as contribution for the event," Kharadi said.

People carried bows and arrows, swords, axes and spears to show the lifestyle that was prevalent among tribes. Some of them played musical instruments like drums, pipes, brass plates and bugles.

"The delegates attracted everyone with their dressing, simplicity and cheerful spirit," said Hemendra Chandalia, an activist.

Young participants carried placards which had slogans against exploitation of natural resources, suppression of the Adivasis, environmental degradation and appropriation of tribal land by corporates.

Inspite of the presence of political leaders, politics was not actively discussed as speakers vented their grievances against government policy on land acquisition, forest rights and employment issues.

The speakers emphasized problems related to tribal communities and being left behind in the present era of development. Shiv Bhanu Singh, president of the Adivasi Ekta Parishad, unveiled a banner depicting the huge displacement of Adivasis in Gujarat owing to the Sardar Sarovar project. Poor wages and working condition for mining labourers, child and women abuse, trafficking, etc. were other issues raised by delegates. Chunni Lal Garasia, Mahendra Jeet Singh Malviya, Devendra Katara, Phool Singh Meena, Raghuveer Meena, Nana Lal Ahari, Amrit Lal Meena, Sajjan Katara, Vivek Katara, TV artist Radha Damor, Jhuma Solanki (MLA from Barwani), Chamra Linda (MLA from Jharkhand) and Prakriti Kharadi were among those who participated in the event.

Source: January 18, 2017, The Times of India