Dreams from six world`s apart

  • 14/08/1995

WE are a tribal people from Western India, from a predominantly tribal area, about 125 kilometers north of Bombay. Though barely a 2-hour journey from the suburba prima of India, we are part of a third world within the Third World, so we are really 6 worlds away from you. We don't know whether you will understand us. The fault lies neither with you nor us, but because we are, as others say, perhaps a century behind the times in our thinking. We are made to feel ashamed of our 'backwardness'. We are told ever so often to leave behind our world of backwardness and step into the future with you. But after considering your documents, in many respects we are surprised with what you have to say.

We have been told till today that the white men, and after they went away, the brown men with white masks, always want the correct thing, and when they want our 'development', it is also the correct thing. We fear, however, that their kind of development will destroy our land, our culture, our traditions, history, ethos and ways of life. We are forced to 'desire' their kind development because it is supposed to ensure for us a better future. But we have no future...only a past. Not even a present. We are born old and we die young, and we try to remain awake in other peoples dreams.

Today you are saying that sustainable development is what the earth needs, and we feel it is what mother nature wants...only, we are often unable to hear her. We rub our eyes in disbelief because now, suddenly, we are hearing from you what our elders have always said. We were almost beginning to forget their wisdom, and most of our children, particularly those educated in the schools of the white men, have already forgotten these.

We are happy that you can now dream of sustainable, eco-friendly development. Only, we have forgotten how to dream, because from dream we have to wake up to a reality that is painful.

It is not as if we have just suffered in silence. We have also fought, and we keep on fighting. The central theme of all tribal upsurges, much akin to today's Jungle Bachao, Adivasi Bachao Movement, is the protection of our resource-based survival system, not merely as biological entities but also as social entities in a specific historico-ecological nich

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