Wave of Change: Is Adivasi Parivar Sparking a Tribal Renaissance in Northern India?

Adivasi Pariwar Sthapana Diwas, trending prominently on social media, on May 17 marks the completion of 9 years since the inception of a movement aimed at addressing the socio-cultural issues confronting tribal communities in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat.
Small-scale interactions with locals on development, social, cultural, and economic issues are bringing about heightened awareness among the community members.
Small-scale interactions with locals on development, social, cultural, and economic issues are bringing about heightened awareness among the community members.

Udaipur, Rajasthan- In the remote tribal hamlets of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh, a silent yet powerful revolution is taking shape. There are no marches or loud protests.

Instead, a series of profound socio-cultural discussions are quietly igniting a wave of change. As social media buzzes with Adivasi Sthapana Divas hashtags on May 17, celebrating indigenous pride, tribal communities are engaging in deep, transformative conversations.

These discussions focus on legal rights, cultural heritage, and overcoming religious conservatism, marking the beginning of a new tribal renaissance.

The Mooknayak spoke with Dr. Jitendra Meena, an Assistant Professor at Delhi University and one of the early and founding members of the Adivasi Pariwar.

He recounted the birth of the Adivasi Pariwar concept, which plays a central role in this movement. "Adivasi Pariwar is our extended family of tribal communities living in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Gujarat. Like-minded individuals first gathered on May 17, 2015, at Mangarh Hills in Dungarpur, and since then, we have cherished that day as Adivasi Parivar Sthapana Diwas. We are not a political entity or a registered association. In fact, you won't find any documentation on the Adivasi Pariwar, but for us, every person from the Adivasi community is our family, and that is the only criterion."

"Adivasi Parivar is our collective hope and the trusted ideology of the indigenous people. It has sounded the trumpet against hypocrisy, superstition, and injustice. The power of nature and our ancestors is the ultimate truth. On the occasion of the establishment day of 'Adivasi Parivar,' I salute all the residents of Bhil Pradesh," said Mohanlal Roat, President of Bharat Adivasi Party.

The poster of the first meeting held on May 17-18, 2015 at Mangarh Hills in Dungarpur, Rajasthan.
The poster of the first meeting held on May 17-18, 2015 at Mangarh Hills in Dungarpur, Rajasthan.

Dr. Meena explained that the idea was inspired by a tribal group in Jharkhand, which advocates for programs to uplift the community.

Members of the Adivasi Pariwar may affiliate with whichever political ideology they like. "We have people who support the BJP, the Congress, or the Communist Party. Adivasi Pariwar is basically a socio-cultural group that does not discuss politics. We are concerned only with the issues concerning our communities" Dr Meena stated.

The movement focuses on creating "chaupal" style chintan (reflection) camps, where community members gather to discuss issues on off days, irrespective of time constraints.

Youths are the torchbearers of this movement, and social media is the main tool where messages and ideologies are spreading like fire. " The meetings by Adivasi Pariwar are known as Chintan Shivirs, which are basically held on holidays.

There is no fixed schedule; each month in the tribal hamlets at village, tehsil and district levels people associated with the Adivasi pariwar get together in their respective areas to discuss and reflect," explained Lakhmaram Bargot a youth volunteer.

The discussions within Adivasi Pariwar cover a wide range of topics, including constitutional rights, community health, education, cultural practices, and legal rights.

"For example, in tribal hamlets where pregnant women suffer from hemoglobin deficiency, discussions in chintan shivirs may revolve around ensuring nutritious and balanced food, understanding pregnancy risks, accessing medical facilities, and providing a healthy diet for pregnant women," elucidated Meena.

"We strive to raise awareness among the people about the orthodox traditions that hinder the progress of our community, whether it's Naata Pratha or Chadhotra, which is a violent form of claiming compensation in cases of fatalities and accidental deaths," expressed Vinod Parmar, another youth involved in the movement.

"In these chintan shivirs, men, women, children, and the elderly of all ages come together to reflect upon pressing issues or any topic relevant to society, excluding politics," he added.

Cultural topics also hold significant importance in these discussions. Abstain from consumption of foreign liquor and prefer Desi Mahua -the country liquor, the customs like 'pheras' surrounding marriage ceremonies, community feasts, festivities, rituals, the importance of environmental conservation -----are all highlighted.

A massive plantation drive is planned for August, with various locations being identified for tree planting. This initiative is being taken to encourage community to reinstate their commitment to environmental stewardship.

Religious priests have formed committees for jan jagran (public awareness), Qualified youths and professionals are spreading knowledge about constitutional and tribal rights.

Practical advice is provided on dealing with authorities, such as what to do if police visit a house, how to respond if someone is arrested, or how to handle confiscation of property or assault.

The strength of this movement lies in its inclusivity and lack of formal structure. "Every Aadivasi is our member, with no other criteria," Dr. Meena emphasized.

While outsiders can participate, the Adivasi Pariwar focuses the tribal community, ensuring that the movement remains true to its roots and focused on the needs of its members.

As Aadivasi Sthapana Diwas trends across social media platforms, it signals a significant shift in the tribal regions of Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Madhya Pradesh. This silent revolution, driven by cultural pride and legal awareness, marks a new chapter in the empowerment and upliftment of India's tribal communities.

Demand for a separate Bhil Pradesh

The Adivasi Parivar primarily constitutes thousands of households in tribal-dominant districts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh, all of which have been advocating for autonomy and the creation of a separate state to foster better progress.

The fast emergence of the Bhartiya Tribal Party and Bharat Adivasi Party too may be attributed to the grassroots-level support and movement mobilized by the Adivasi Parivar. They are gradually supporting tribal parties to raise issues and represent them in state legislative assemblies and even the Parliament now.

Specifically, the Bhil community is at the forefront of demanding a separate state or Pradesh with scheduled tribe privileges. This demand traces its origins back to Govind Guru, a Bhil social reformer and spiritual leader, who first raised it following the tragic Mangarh massacre in 1913.

The proposed state, known as Bhil Pradesh, would encompass 43 districts carved out from the aforementioned four states. Among the districts slated for inclusion are Dungarpur, Banswara, and Pratapgarh in southern Rajasthan; Ratlam, Jhabua, Alirajpur, Dhar, and Petlawad in Madhya Pradesh; Panchmahal Godhra, Dahod, and Dang in Gujarat; and Nashik and Dhule in Maharashtra.

Advocates argue that a separate state is not just a political aspiration but a constitutional demand and the only viable solution for Adivasi people, particularly the Bhils, who represent one of the largest tribal populations in India. Dr. Meena, who hails from South Rajasthan himself, passionately expresses that his people have endured exploitation and harassment at the hands of the non-tribal population for 75 years.

Small-scale interactions with locals on development, social, cultural, and economic issues are bringing about heightened awareness among the community members.
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Small-scale interactions with locals on development, social, cultural, and economic issues are bringing about heightened awareness among the community members.
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