1. Explain why nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another. What are the advantages to the environment of this continuous movement?
Nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another because of seasonal changes. They seek to make effective use of pastures available in different areas. Many factors are taken into consideration to initiate movement to or from an area. These factors are availability of water and pasture, smooth movement through different territories, and cordial relationship with farmers while travelling so that their cattle can be allowed to graze (and in turn manure the soil). This also allows nomadic tribes to practice many occupations such as cultivation, trade and herding.
This continuous movement is advantageous to the environment because the nomadic tribes allow pastures to recover and regain fertility. Also, pastures are not rendered completely barren by exploitative and long use.
2. Discuss why the colonial government in India brought in the following laws. In each case, explain how the law changed the lives of pastoralists:
Waste Land rules
Criminal Tribes Act
(a) Wasteland Rules were enacted in various parts of the country. By these rules uncultivated land was taken over and given to select individuals. In most areas the lands taken over were actually grazing tracts used regularly by pastoralists. So expansion of cultivation inevitably meant decline of pastures and a problem for pastoralists.
(b) Forest Acts: These placed forests in two dominant categories, reserved and protected. Reserved forests were for commercial use only, and were inaccessible to the pastoralists. In protected forests, the movements of pastoralists were severely restricted. Even for this severely limited and regulated access, pastoralists had to rely on government permits. The government enacted these laws because the trampling herds would destroy any young shoots and saplings that were planted for long-term commercial purposes.
(c) Criminal Tribes Act: The colonial government wanted to rule over a settled population. They wanted the rural population to live a settled life in villages. People who moved from place to place were looked upon with suspicion and regarded as criminals. The Criminal Tribes Act was passed in 1871 by which many nomadic communities were declared as criminal tribes. They were supposed to be criminal by nature and birth. Once this Act came into force, these communities were expected to live in notified village settlements. They were not allowed to move out without permits. The village police kept a continuous watch on them.
(d) Grazing Tax: This was introduced in the 1850s to increase the government’s revenue income. The pastoralists were also badly hit by the higher tax that contractors exacted from them in order to make some private profit. Pastoralists could not afford to pay tax on cattle per head, and the only means to enter a grazing tract was by payment. All this led to tremendous losses for them.
3. Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.
The Maasai community lost its grazing lands because of the advent of colonial rule in Africa. In 1885 itself, Maasai land was cut in half by an international boundary drawn between the two colonies—British Kenya and German Tanganyika. The best pastures were reserved for white settlements, and the Maasai tribes were given arid, small areas in south Kenya and north Tanzania. This lack of good grazing lands and a two-year drought led to loss of almost 60% cattle belonging to the Maasai tribes. Increase in cultivation and promotion of game reserves added to their woes. Thus, with the increasing power of the colonists and their adverse impact on the Maasai’s social life, this community gradually lost all its grazing lands.
4. There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Write about any two examples of changes which were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Massai herders.
There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Two changes that were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai herders are as follows:
(i) Both communities lost their grazing lands due to the preference given to cultivation.
(ii) Both communities were nomadic, and hence, were regarded with extreme suspicion by the colonial powers governing them. This led to their further decline.