Pradip Prabhu is an advocate and activist working for the past 25 years with the Kashtakari Sanghatna, a popular mass organization of landless and marginal farmers from the Warli, Kokna, Katkari, Thakur and Koli tribal peoples of India. After graduating in philosophy, he took a masters in business management. While working toward a doctorate he got closely involved with the Warlis. Events in the tribal areas led him to keep his Ph.D. in cold storage while he completed his masters in law. Activism continuously forces him into academic pursuits in an effort to learn from history to understand the present.
Abstract of paper given at
Indigenous Traditions and Ecology
The Warlis are a medium sized tribe inhabiting the hilly forested region north of Bombay. They had a fairly unchequered history till the area was ceded to the British as part of royal dowry in 1818. This single event changed their life drastically. They were forcibly evicted from their shifting cultivation in the forests and forced in camps on the fringes of the forest, their rich forests were appropriated by the colonial regime to meet the demands of the railways and industry, timber contractors, money lenders and liquor contractors who entered with British protection wrecked havoc with their economy and their ecology. But they managed to preserve their rich ecological traditions. Only till 1947 when the new Indian state as part of its hegemonic designs and development praxis are progressively destroying whatever remains. The paper outlines the rich content of their ecological traditions and new efforts to revive, preserve and strengthen then through the Jungle Bachao Adivasi Bachao (Save the Forests, Save the Tribals) Campaign.