Siddharth Varadarajan

Journalist | Writer | Analyst

Rights for forgotten tribes

Amdist the claims and counter-claims of Gujjars and Meenas, the machinations of the Government and the brutality of the Police, Nandini Sundar has an excellent article in today’s Hindustan Times editorial page about Rajasthan’s forgotten tribals — those who did not take to the streets to press or challenge a claim to reservation for the simple reason that official affirmative action policies have failed to benefit them in any substantive way.

4 June 2007
Hindustan Times

Rights for forgotten tribes

By Nandini Sundar

Predictably, public discourse on the Gujjar-state-Mina (as the census spells them) standoff in Rajasthan has centred on two, or, at best, three issues: while a large section of the media and some political commentators — fresh from the OBC bust up — have decried the irrationality of community-based reservations, another section has tried to frame the legitimate claims of the Gujjars against the lack of trickle-down. The brutality of the police firing merits passing mention, but will soon disappear, like all the other statistics of people killed by a trigger-happy police let loose by incompetent administrations. As if five lakh rupees here, and one lakh there were enough to deflect from the underlying issue of how governments in India treat demonstrating interest groups.

It is easy to forget, in the midst of all this noise, that the Minas are not the only Scheduled Tribe (ST) in Rajasthan. But everyone, ranging from TV commentators to some Minas themselves, seem to think so: “Minas in Rajasthan are the only Scheduled Tribes and we would not tolerate any inclusion into our community,” Bhanwar Lal Mina, president of the Rashtriya Mina Mahasabha, is reported to have said. Even the MP from Barmer, Manvendra Singh, in whose district Bhils constitute almost 6% of the population (and 99% of the district’s ST population), neglects to mention that they exist. No TV reporter, to my knowledge, has asked a Bhil leader what she or he feels about the stands taken by the Gujjars and the Minas, and no political commentator has yet asked why groups like the Bhils or Saharias are unable to take advantage o0f the reservations they are entitled to, and which they so desperately need.

At 12.6% of the state, Rajasthan’s tribal population is somewhat higher than the national average: the Minas constitute 53.5% of the total ST population, the Bhils 39.5%, smaller groups like the Garasia, Damor, Dhanka & Saharia are 6.6%, while the Bhil Mina, Naikda, Kathodi, Patelia, Kokna and Koli Dhor with populations ranging from below 100 to about 3000 make up the remaining 0.3%. The Minas almost exclusively dominate the eastern portion of the state’s Sawai Madhopur, Dholpur, Bharatpur, Karauli, Dausa, while the Bhils live in south-western Rajasthan. Banswara district is 72% adivasi, with Dungarpur and Udaipur following next in terms of adivasi populations, and it is not co-incidental that issues like the right to food, employment guarantee and common property resources have been so critical here.

The differences between the Bhils and Minas are pronounced. While the Minas have an overall literacy rate of 52.2%, which is higher than the national ST average of 47.1%, the Bhils and Saharias have an overall literacy rate of 35.2% and 34.2% respectively. 3.5% of Minas are graduates compared to 0.9% of Bhils, 0.6% of Garasias and 0.1% of Saharias. No wonder then that all the government posts reserved for STs are occupied by Minas, making them not just the dominant tribe in Rajasthan, but one of the groups which has most benefited through reservations nationally, although their literacy rate is still lower than the state average of 61%. Even a cursory look at the civil services or even universities reveals a number of Minas, but scarcely any Bhils from Rajasthan or Madhya Pradesh, Gonds from Chhattisgarh, or Hos from Jharkhand, all numerically significant communities.

Explaining why certain groups have been able to take advantage of reservations and others have been left out is a complex issue. It involves tracking histories of education, migration, and social networks. For instance, the Uraons in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, another group with access to government jobs, have had a long history of missionary education, though within Jharkhand, they are not as politically powerful as the Santhal and the Mundas. However, the Minas are better off not just in terms of education and employment but also land holdings, annual incomes and assets. A study by MK Bhasin and Shampa Nag found that among STs in Rajasthan, a greater percentage was engaged in agricultural or casual labour (50%) as against cultivation (40%). Among Minas, however, 85% were engaged in cultivation, and only 1.5% in agricultural labour.

Literacy figures for Gujjars are hard to come by since the census does not disaggregate for OBC groups. But even assuming that they are disadvantaged compared to the Jats, or even the Minas, and have suffered under the neglect of rural livelihoods, that by itself does not constitute a justification for giving them ST status. As Ann Gold and Bhoju Ram Gujar bring out in In the Time of Trees and Sorrows, the local politics was not about Gujjars vs Minas, both of whom were relatively privileged communities, although subservient to the court, but about access to the forests and the problems of agriculture. It is this lived relationship, the common frustration with government services and lack of employment, which needs to be restored to the forefront of political discourse. It is another question whether the current political parties and caste leaderships are capable of doing this.

While it is true that state categorisations placed one group in the st category and flung another into the OBC list, the solution lies not in inflating the ST list or scrapping reservations, at least for scheduled tribes, but renewing the principles on which the Constitution envisaged special provisions for adivasis. The criteria used initially were vague, so deserving communities like the Kols of Sonbhadra got left out and many, who were scheduled, still need this protection. The kind of sheer discrimination STs face is not comparable to OBCs or even SCs, who perform better on education and employment criteria.

Apart from being the major victims of displacement, the absence of a significant middle-class and successful political formations like the BSP mean the adivasis are the most voiceless group in Indian society today. Without reservations, we would not even have the few adivasi MPs that we have now. If, with a quota of 7.5% there are only 2.2% ST teachers in Delhi University, without reservations, even they could get edged out. Few adivasi communities can aspire to the kind of front page coverage of their mobilisation in the way that both Gujjars and Minas have achieved with their narrow caste demands — even when they come out in lakhs to demand the forest rights bill or protest against atrocities.

Since the other tribes of Rajasthan do not exist for the government, the media or political commentators — neither in a political nor a metaphorical sense — this makes them the groups, which are most deserving of ST status. The objectives of the National Tribal Policy of 2006 include: “Arresting the increasing demand from new communities for inclusion in the list of STs by rationalising the process of scheduling; examine the need for de-scheduling of certain STs and sub-categorisation of existing STs to ensure that benefits are evenly spread across the tribes by 2020.” Will the UPA and the NDA have the courage to live up to this?

Nandini Sundar is professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics.


5 comments on “Rights for forgotten tribes

  1. Anonymous
    July 19, 2008

    VILLAGES AND TOWNS IN KASHMIR NAMED MAGRAY: 1. Magray Village – District Bagh 2. Magray City – Kuttan, Neelum valley, Muzaffarabad 3. Magray Hills – Kanchikot, Rawalakot 4. Magray Abad – Rawalakot 5. Magray Gali – Lipa Valley, Muzaffarabad 6. Magray Abad – Attmaqam,Kel road,Neelum Valley 7. Magray Village – Motarin, khaigala, Rawalakot 8. Kharl Magrayan – District Bagh 9. Sardari Magrayan – Neelum Valley Muzaffarabad 10. Magray village marchkot – Abbaspur 11. Bandian Magray – Abbaspur

  2. Anonymous
    July 18, 2008

    HISTORY OF MAGRAY TRIBETWO BOOKS “MAGRAY THE MARTIALS AND WARRIORS OF KASHMIR”AND “MAGRAY IN THE EYES OF HISTORY”HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY SAJJAD LATIF MAGRAY .LAUNCHING CEREMONY OF THESE BOOKS WAS HELD ON 1st FEB 08 AT PRESS CLUB RAWALPINDI AND WAS ATTENDED BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF AJ&K AND HIS CABINET MEMBERS.TITLE OF BOOKS ARE WRITTEN BY THE FOL KNOWN SCHALOURS AND HISTORIANS OF THE COUNTRY.1.DR. M. ASHRAF QURESHI – CHAIRMAN DEPTT OF KASHMIRIYAT PUNJAB UNIVERISTY LAHORE.2.DR.SABIR AFAQI – AUTHOR & HISTORIAN3.DR.M.SADIQ MALIK -AUTHOR & HISTORIANORGANIZATIONS OF MAGRAY TRIB:1 MAGRAY SUPREME COUNCIL: IS THESUPREME BODY OF MAGRAY TRIBE,EMPOWERED TO TAKE ALL SORT OF POLITICAL AND SOCIO ECONOMICAL DECISIONS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF MAGRAY TRIBE. 2. MAGRAY EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY (REGD): PROMOTES EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES IN THE TRIBE AND EVEN OUTSIDE THE MAGRAY TRIBE.3. MAGRAY TANZEEM (REGD): WAS ESTABLISHED TO PROVIDE A PLATFORM AND ORGANIZE THE MAGRAY TRIBE.4. MAGRAY WELFARE TRUST: LOOKS AFTER THE ILL, POOR AND NEEDY PEOPLE OF THE KASHMIR IN PARTICULAR AND PAKISTAN IN GENERAL. MAGRAY WARRIORS & MARTIALS OF KASHMIR:Magray is a Martial Kashmiri tribe of Rajput origin. Magray sprung from Kashtri-un-Nassal Rajput. Kashtri-un-Nassal Rajput are one of the four classes of Hindus. Kashtri were people of ruling class having responsibility for the defence of the state. Ladhay Magray was the forefather of Magray tribe. Magres accepted Islam at the hand of Syed Ali Hamdani in thirteenth Century. The first person who entered in Kashmir and settled there belonged to Magray tribe thus making Magray tribe, the founders of Kashmir. Magray tribe ruled over Kashmir for seven hundred years. They invited Mughals to enter Kashmir in order to end disturbances in the valley. However, subsequently Mughals were defeated and pushed back by the Magray tribe. Magray tribe is settled all over the world with majority in Kashmir Valley. In spite of being SARDARS of the time, people of Magray tribe felt proud to be called as MAGRAY. VILLAGES & TOWNS IN KASHMIR NAMED MAGRAY: 1. Magray Village – District Bagh 2. Magray City – Kuttan, Neelum valley, Muzaffarabad 3. Magray Hills – Kanchikot, Rawalakot 4. Magray Abad – Rawalakot 5. Magray Gali – Lipa Valley, Muzaffarabad 6. Magray Abad – Attmaqam,Kel road,Neelum Valley 7. Magray Village – Motarin, khaigala, Rawalakot 8. Kharl Magrayan – District Bagh 9. Sardari Magrayan – Neelum Valley Muzaffarabad 10. Magray village marchkot – Abbaspur 11. Bandian Magray – AbbaspurMEANINGS OF MAGRAY: Magray is an ancient word, Magray means, “The Martials”, “The Warriors”, “Military and war like people”. Magray is also spelled as Magrey, Magre and Magri, but the correct spelling is Magray. The plural of Magray is Magres.HISTORY OF MAGRAY TRIBE; All the historical books on Kashmir contain material on Magray tribe and their role in the history of Kashmir. Few of the historical Books are mentioned here for reference. 1. Magray in the Eyes of History – By Sajid Latif Magray2. Magray A Warrior Kashmiri Tribe – By Abdul Qayyum3. Valley of Kashmir – By Sir Walter Lirance4. Imperial Gazettier of India – Govt of India5. Tribes and Castes of Kashmir – By Muhammad Din Folk6 .Castes and Tribes of Poonch – By Muhammad Din Folk 7. History of Kasmir – – By Khawaja Azamey8. History of Kashmir – By Muhammad Hassan 9. History Kabeer Kashmir – By Haji M.Mohiudin 10.Raj Tarangi – By Pandit Kahlan11. Tareekh-e-Kashmir – By Professors Nazir Ahmed Tashna 12. Kashmir in the Era of Muslim empires – By Ghulam Hassan Khoyami13. Tareekh-e- Malkan – By Dr Sadiq Malik14. Jalwa-e-Kashmir – By Dr Sabir Afaqi 15 Baharistan-e-Shahi – A Chronocle Mediaeval of Kashmir16. Magray- The Martials and Warriors of Kashmir – By Sajiad Latif Magray17. Tareekh-e-Kashmir,Islamia – By Dr Sabir Afaqi18. Tareekh-e-Azmi – By M.Azam 19. Tribal geography of India Jamu and Kashmir – By M. Bashir Magray20. A New History of India and Pakistan – By Quyyam AbdulMAGRAYWARRIORS & MARTIALS OF KASHMIR:1.MAGRAY VILLAGE MOTARIN, RAWALKOT:This is a village comprising of about 400 houses, exclusively of the Magray Tribe. Road leading from Rawalkot to Tatrinote crossing point passes from this village. Few personalities of the village are:-a. Muhammad Din Magrayb. Subedar Muhammad Latif Magrayc. Sajjad Latif Magrayd. Rasheed Magraye. Yaqoob Magrayf. Manzoor Magrayg. Sadique Magrayh. Dilpazir Magrayi. Muhammad Aamir Magrayj. Bashir Magrayk. Qayyum Magrayl. Yaseen Magraym. Imran Yaseen margayn. Shafi Magrayo. Akram Magrayp. Rafique Magrayq. Sajjad Magrayr. Muhammad Javed Magrays. Kabir Magrayt. Kamran Magray2.MAGRAY HILLS KANCHIKOT:This is a big village which starts from the Magray Market on Ali Sajad Road and goes to the top of Tolipeer, a prominent Hill top of Kashmir. Few personalities of the Magray Hills are:-a. Haji Aqal Hussain Magrayb. Tariq Magrayc. Ghulam Nabi Magrayd. Gulzar Magraye. Havildar Yaseen margayf. Subedar Rafique Magrayg. Hanif Magrayh. Havildar Azam Magrayi. Muhammad Ashraf Magrayj. Kala Khan Magrayk. Hakim din Magrayl. Capt Yaqoob Magraym. Asghar Magrayn. Sadique Magrayo. Haji Abdullah Magr3.MAGRAY ABAD RAWALAKOT:This is a small town in Rawalakot valley on Banjora Road in Barmang. Few of the personalities of the area are:-a. Abdul Majeed Magrayb. Muhammad Arif Magrayc. Muhammad Razaque Magrayd. Muhammad Imtiaz Magraye. Muhammad javed Magrayf. Muhammad Shoukat Magrayg. Muhammad Riaz Magrayh. Muhammad Ishaque Magrayi. Muhammad Shakeel Magrayj. Muhammad Jahangir Magrayk. Muhammad Khurshid Magrayl. Muhammad yaseen Magray4.MAGRAY VILLAGE BAGH:This village start from Magray city Lower Bela and extends tol the prominent Hill top of Kashmir Lasdana. This village comprises of 600 houses 100% of the Magray tribe people. Few personalities of the Magrtay village are:-a. Dr Mir Akbar Magrayb. Gohar Magrayc. Abdul Hameed Magrayd. Fazal Gohar Magraye. Aslam Magrayf. Hayat margayg. Liaqat Ali Magrayh. Ghulam Nabii. Wali Noor Magrayj. Sakhi Muhammad Magrayk. Haseeb Magray5.KHARL MAGRAYAN:It is a small area in District Bagh, people of Magray tribe are settled here. Few personalities of the area are:-a. Muhammad Ashraf Magrayb. Muhammad Farooq Magrayc. Abdul Hameed Magrayd. Gulfraz Magraye. Akram Magrayf. Haji Hakeek Magrayg. Muhammad Khurshid Magrayh. Fazal Hussain Magrayi. Shakeel Ahmed Magray6.MAGRAY GALI LIPA:A prominent Hilltop of Kashmir in Lipa valley. Few personalities of the area are lmentioned here:-a. Capt Ghulam Hussain Magrayb. Ghulam Rasool Magrayc. Pervaiz Magrayd. Prof Kosar Magray7.MAGRAY CITY KUTTAN:A SMALL TOWN IN Kutton Neelum valley comprising of shopping centres, shops and residential area,comprising lmainly of Magray Tribe. Few notables of the area are:-a. Mangta Magrayb. Shahzaman Magrayc. Arshad Magrayd. Shahzaman Magraye. Ali Akbar Magrayf. Asad Magrayg. Matloob Magrayh. Attique Magrayi. Oamer Zaman Magrayj. Amjid Magray8.MAGRAY ABAD ATHMAQAM:A SMALL TOWN IN Neelum valley on Kel Road near Athmaqam. Few personalities of the area are:-a. Muhammad Mustafa Magrayb. Muhammad Khurshid Magrayc. Muhammad Subhan Magrayd. Shakeel Magraye. Ashraf Magrayf. Mushtaq Magrayg. Ghulam Hussain Magrayh. Abid Magray9.SARDARI MAGRAYAN – REMOTE AREA OF NEELUM VALLEY:10.MAGRAY VILLAGE MARCHKOT:This is the larges village of Abbaspur town comprising of more than 1000 houses exclusively of the Magray Tibe. Few personalities of the village are:-a. Sher Akbar Magrayb. Havildar Karim Magrayc. Muhammad Sharif Magrayd. Muhammad Afsar Magraye. Muhammad Rasheed Magrayf. Manzoor Magrayg. Muhammad Rafique Magrayh. Muhammad Raheem Magrayi. Saleem Magrayj. Ali Akbar Magrayk. Muhammad Azeem Magrayl. Muhammad Yaqoob Magraym. Mubashar Salam Din Magrayn. Sadique Magrayo. Hameed Magrayp. Kutab Dinb Magray11.BANDIAN MAGRAY:This is a remote village of Abbaspur town comprising of more than 500 houses entirely of the Magray tribe. Few personalities of Bandian Magray are:-a. Muhammad Arif Magrayb. Mir Akbar Magrayc. Muhammad Bashir Magrayd. Muhammad Ashraf Magraye. Muhammad Nazir Magrayf. Sakhi Muhammad Magrayg. Jalal Din Magrayh. Muhammad Saddique Magrayi. Shoukat Magrayj. Rasheed Magray

  3. Anonymous
    February 10, 2008

    WHY GURJARS OF RAJASTHAN SO MUCH AGITATED…….. !!! The Gujars are originally nomadic shepherds and have been described as nomadic pastoral tribe by the social historians as well as anthropologists. They were spread across the dry tracts of western India from Kashmir to Gujrat. When India was sparsely populated, Gujars used to take their animals up to the Himalayan foothills in summer and descend back into the plains of north western states in winter. Subsequently when settled population grew and grazing grounds shrunk, most of them were forced to take to more sedentary life. Secondly when various Muslim groups began invading India in the 11th century and political scenario changed, some of Gujars converted to Islam. When this happened, their resentful Hindu neighbors and feudatories began to rise up and took control of the area. The Gujars were forced to leave the region in search for good pasture elsewhere. Their wandering took them to Himalayan states of Jammu ” Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttranchal where they are still living as seasonal nomads. These Gujars who were converted to Islam and are distributed in the foothills of the Himalayas, ranging from Kashmir to the hills of Himachal and Uttaranchal and who had migrated from the plains of North-western India due to various reasons are strict vegetarians, are monogamous, lineage exogamous and patriarchal society and their women do not veil themselves. They speak in Gujari or Gojri and have same clan or ‘gotra’ as those of Gujars of plains. As per Linguistic survey of India conducted by Dr George Grierson (1916), Gojri is a dialect of Rajasthani and is closer to Mewati and shows resemblance to Mewari. The linguistic survey of India conducted by Grierson has been the basis for the classification of Gojri as a dialect of Rajasthani in the old census reports. This makes one believe that at some point of time these people must have been in contact with the Rajasthani speakers. The Gojri speakers, along with many more ethnic Gujars of the plains who no longer speak Gojri, are the descendants of the ancient Gujars. Now a days Gojri speaking Gujars include nomadic pastoralists who herd sheep and goats or dairy buffalo as well as settled and semi settled agriculturists. These socio-economic, occupational and cultural characteristics strengthen the view that all Gujars belong to a common ethnic group. As per the recent interpretation based on study of copper and stone inscriptions, literature of foreign travelers, Gujars were indigenous or original inhabitants of North- Western India who used to roam with their flocks of sheep, goats and cattle in search of green pastures on high altitudes. In the 7th chapter ‘Image of the Barbarian’ of her book titled “Ancient Indian Social History-Some Interpretations” renowned historian Romila Thaper mentions that the term ‘mleccha’ was being used in ancient India (before invasion by Muslims) to describe the barbarian or indigenous inhabitants of northern India at the time of the arrival of the Aryan –speaking people. It is pertinent to mention here that since Gujars were traditional herdsman whose traditional occupation was animal husbandry; they cannot be classified as vaisya (trader) or sudras (cultivator). Their occupation i.e. cattle rearing is also considered as polluting .An essential difference between the Arya and the mleccha was that the latter did not confirm to the law of varna.The mleccha did not follow the dharma of the sastras .The mleccha appear to have had their own customary laws and functioned within the framework of these. In view of the above discussion the Gujars may only be described as mleccha i.e. a barbarian pastoral tribe of indigenous origin who were not generally included into the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy or ‘varna vyavastha’. Subsequently the mleccha acquired political power and a new concept was necessary. The attitude towards these indigenous tribes was beginning to change and this is reflected partially in the genesis myths associated with their origin. A ninth-century inscription mentions the mleccha along the Chambal river valley. This valley has remained through out Indian history the main route from the Ganges valley to northwestern Deccan and a major centre of dacoity to this day. Perhaps the plundering of caravans was too lucrative for the area to develop any other substantial economy. (The Gujar community largely inhabits the Chambal valley and its adjoining areas in Rajasthan and even today most of the dacoits of the region belong to the Gujar community). From the 9th century A.D. political power moved more recognizably into the hands of the erstwhile feudatories and the recipients of land grants. The new feudatories in turn became independent kings, granted land and revenue in lieu of salaries to learned Brahmans for the acquisition of religious merit. The return on the part of the Brahman may have been the fabrication of a genealogy for the new ruler. The legal sanction of the grant was generally recorded in an inscription in stone or on plates of copper, and the preamble to the grant contained the genealogy of the kings. The remarkable fact of these genealogies is that most kings claim full ksatriya status on the basis of a genealogical connection with the ancient royal families, the Suryavamsa (Solar lineage) and the Chandravamsa (Lunar lineage). What is even more significant is that most of these families are found on examination to be at least partially if not wholly of non-Aryan origin. Thus instead of being described as mleccha kings, they claim ksatriya status and have had genealogies fabricated to prove the claim. Romila Thaper emphasizes that the kings of this period, some of whom coming from mleccha stock such as the Gonds and Gujars, were willingly accorded ksatriya status. Accordingly it goes without saying that initially Gujars were a nomadic pastoral tribe belonging to mleccha stock and thus they were outside the varna system of civilized Hindu society. The advantage of the fabricated genealogy was that mleccha antecedents were soon overlooked or forgotten, particularly in those areas where the mleccha had become more powerful. In a 9th century inscription of a Calukya feudatory of the Pratihar king great pride is taken in ‘freeing the earth from the Huna people’. The Pratihar’s claim to descent from Laksmana, the younger brother of Rama who acted as a doorkeeper (pratihar) is very suspicious or in other words fabricated. Marriage alliances and the process of Sanskritization broke the kinship barrier and mleccha rulers became patrons of Sanskrit learning and culture, so that they were as good as aryas for all practical purposes. Simultaneously since Gujars’ resistance was most determined, localized, and sharper to the invaders i.e. Sultanate and Mugal Empire; they were subjected to greater repression. The Gujars who fought the invaders had to take refuge in inaccessible forests and mountains; they had to flee to ravines like those of Chambal. This cruel cycle of resistance, flight to forests, the subhuman existence there, forays to harass and beat back the conquerors, flight back into the forests – lasted a thousand years. Again Gujars participated at large in agrarian revolts in the 17th and early 18th centuries in the areas of Braj, Mewat, Ajmer and Ranthambhor. Entire villages refused to pay land revenue, plundered highways and looted traders. Gujars also took part in the mutiny of 1857 against the British Raj and as a result they were labeled as “Criminal Tribes”. They were dispossessed, exploited and marginalized. In support of the above contention, renowned historian Dr. K.S.Lal in his important work, “Growth of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in Medieval India”, Aditya Prakashan, New Delhi, 1995 has noted that: “…thereafter and right to the end of Islamic rule, far from welcoming Islamic conquerors as liberators, the ‘lower castes’ and ‘Tribes’- Meo, Bachgoti, Baghela, Barwaris, Gonds, Gujars, Bhils, Satnamis, Oraons, Mina, Kunbis, “Shudras”- are the ones that put up the most determined resistance to the invaders.” As a result of it the history of Gujars has been one of migration, nomadic pastoralism, semi sedentarization (semi settled agriculturist), exploitation, displacement and dispossession and marginalization. The reasons of their present day condition may also be attributed to this background to a certain extent. Gujars were also represented as notorious highway robbers involved in loot and plunder by the contemporary historians. Their habitat viz difficult terrain, dense forests, hilly areas and ravines of rivers provided them easy route to escape. The chief reason behind these constant raids and plunder were their ‘non-pastoral requirements’ (food grains, cloth etc.). As per Imperial Gazetteer of India-Provincial series-Rajputana vol. 11, page 325; vol.21, page 114, vol 17 page 314, “the Gujars are mostly cattle breeders and dealers….they were formerly noted cattle lifters but now give little trouble….As recently as 1897 the Gujars were notorious for their raids into Gwalior and Karauli……in the mutiny they (Meo) and the Gujars were conspicuous for their readiness to take advantage of disorder in Mewat.” In the book titled “JATS ” GUJARS”, published in 1899, British writer A.H.Bingley throws some light on the Gujars of North-Western India and provides some valuable information in the following paragraphs: “The name Gujar is locally derived from ‘Gao-char’ or ‘cow-grazer’. They are addicted to cattle lifting and bear a bad character for turbulence. The Gujars are the keepers of flocks and herds of cattle, apart from being cultivators. They are of unsettled habits and their favourite haunts are in the jungles of the khadirs of the Jamuna, Hindun and Ganges, where the rough uncultivated affords them good pasturage for their cattle.” On page 43-44 the book particularly focuses on Gujars of Rajputana: “……Gujars of Rajputana form a numerically large tribe…they are chiefly cattle dealers and breeders……in appearance very similar to Jats…although rather inferior to them in the social scale….the Gujars are intellectually very thick headed and it is very difficult to find among them men of sufficient education, social standing and influence.” “…..these come from the Eastern Rajputana States of Bharatpur, Karauli and Dholpur, the majority being found in a large hilly tract called the ‘Daang’ ……are chiefly employed as herdsmen……..make and sell ghee in bulk……..the inhabitants of these parts are of rather a turbulent and quarrelsome nature. The institution of polyandry and polygamy were very common sometimes back but now with the passage of time it is losing ground. ” W.Crooke, in his book ‘The Tribes “Castes of N.W.Provinces and Oudh’, 1896, Vol 2 notes: “they have been noted for their turbulence and habit of cattle stealing. Babar in his Memoirs describes how the commander of the rear guard captured a few Gujar ruffians who followed the camp decapitated them and sent their heads to the Emperor. Dowson says that the Gujars of Pali and Pahal became exceedingly andacious while Shershah was fortifying Delhi, so he marched to the Hills and expelled them so that “not a vestige of their habitations was left.” Jahangir remarks that the Gujars live chiefly on milk and curds, and in his autobiography ‘Tuzak-i-Babari’, Babur writes: “Every time that I have entered Hindustan, the Gujars have regularly poured down in prodigious numbers from their hills and wild, in order to carry off oxen and buffalo. These were the wretches that really inflicted the chief hardships, and were guilty of the severest oppression in the country. These districts in former times, had been in a state of revolt, and yielded very little revenue that could be come out. On the present occasion when I had reduced the whole of the neighboring districts to subjections they began to repeat the practices.” In the freedom struggle of 1857, the Gujars played a prominent part making numerous assaults and seriously impeding the operations of the British Army before Delhi.” In her book titled “Against History, Against State”, Dr Shail Mayaram, Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi has categorically cited that: “Gujars and Meos from villages in Alwar and the neighbouring British provinces are said to have given trouble “by their rebellions and predatory habits”. (…) A special British force had to be placed on the Khairagarh border to guard against their incursions and those of the Bharatpur Gujars. (….) Her territory was overrun with our mutinous soldiery; the infection spread to her own troops and her Gujar and Mewatie population were not slow to follow the example of their brethren in our rebellious provinces.”*The role of kinship was significant in spreading the revolt.” (*Source: General Lawrence and Lieutenant Newal, Narrative of Mutiny in Rajputana, 1858-59, RA, 34 Mutiny, 1858-59, 19.) “……Watson and Kaye sum up the administrative perspective when they remark that “in the Mutiny and rebellions in some districts especially around Agra they (Meos) were more trouble-some than the Gujars……”* (*Watson and Kaye, “Mewatees”in the People of India, vol. 4, entry 202) Further in various reports on the Census of British India from 1881 to 1901 following introductory remarks have been given about Gujars by different British Scholars: “…the Gujars a cattle –lifting race of northern India, now fast becoming as good at agriculture as they were and still are ready as raiders…..throughout the Salt range tract, and probably under the eastern hills also, they are the oldest inhabitants among the tribes now settled there…true Gujar herdsmen are found in great numbers…here they are a purely pastoral and almost nomad race….and it may be said that the Gujar is a cultivator only in the plains. Even there he is a bad cultivator, and more given to keeping cattle than to following the plough…..but he is far inferior in both personal character and repute to the Jat. He is lazy to a degree, and a wretched cultivator; his women, though not secluded, will not do field-work save of the lightest kind; while his fondness for cattle extends to those of other people…..the Gujars have been turbulent throughout the history of the Punjab, they were a constant thorn in the side of the Delhi emperors, and are still ever ready to take advantage of any loosening of the bonds of discipline to attach and plunder their neighbors…Mr Brandreth describes them as “unwilling cultivators, and greatly addicted to thieving,” and gives instances of their criminal propensities. Thus it would appear that the further the Gujar moves from his native hills the more he deteriorates and the more unpleasant he makes himself to his neighbors. (Source: W.Chichele Plowden, (1883), Report on the Census of British India taken on the 17th February 1881, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, p.282). “…..The Gujar is another northern tribe….it is composed of varied elements. In the Punjab it is mainly agricultural, though it tends towards cattle grazing in the southern plains. Elsewhere in India the title generally implies the latter occupation….” (Source: Jervoise Athelstane Baines, (1893), General report on the Census of India, 1891, London, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, p.191). Professor M.K.Bhasin, Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, in his detailed study ‘Genetics of Castes and Tribes of India’ mentions that traditionally, each cast was associated with hereditary occupation and had a limited monopoly over it. Further it is not true to say that every member of the caste practiced the associated occupation exclusively. However, generally speaking most practiced agriculture along with their traditional occupation. In its support he refer occupational statistics for 84 selected castes from Census of India,1931 which showed that only 45% of their members were following the traditional occupation .Accordingly Professor Bhasin places Gujars below Jats in social order because according to him the traditional occupation of Jats of North India, is agriculture whereas the traditional and primary occupation of Gujars is animal husbandry. As per racial classification of Indian tribes, Gujars have been grouped under the category of Caucasoid along with other pastoral and cattle breeder type communities such as Toda, Rebari, and Bakarwal etc. The tribes in India are derived from four racial groups (Singh, 1994:4):The Negrito the great Andamanese,the Onges and the JarawasProto-Austroloid the Munda,the Oreaon and GondMongoloid the tribes of North-EastCaucasoid the Toda,the Rabari and Gujar (Source: A research study report on migrant tribal woman, Submitted to Planning Commission, Government of India) It is relevant to mention here that at an International workshop on Animal and Plant Genetic Resources in Agriculture at the Biosphere Reserve Schorfheide-Chorin, Germany on 16-18 May 2000, in a presentation ‘Indegenous Institutions For Managing Livestock Genetic Diversity in Rajasthan’ by Hanwant Singh Rathore (Lokhit Pashu-Palak Sansthan) ” League for Pastoral Peoples, the Gujars have been described as a community which is specialized pastoralists. As per Ravindra Kaur, Associate professor, department of humanities and social sciences,IIT Delhi ,in the early 20th century, the Gujars of plain area together with backward castes such as Yadavs , attempted upward mobility by claiming Kshatriya status. She places Gujars lower in the social hierarchy than Jats and Yadavs. According to Dr. Shail Mayaram, Professor and Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), the Gujars were treated as ‘shudra’ group in the Mugal period and subjected to a differential system of revenue assessment by the much –expanded Jaipur kingdom. In eastern Rajasthan, Brahmins paid 12 %, Rajputs 33% and raiyati groups such as Gujars, Meenas and others up to 76% of the produce. It is relevant to add here that as per genetic study and anthropometric measurements conducted by Dr.R.S.Balgir, Deputy Director “Head, Division of Human Genetics, Regional Medical Research Centre, Bhubaneshwar, Orissa on Hindu and Muslim Gujars of North-Western India, they have common ethnic origin but they have developed biological and regional diversity also .The magnitude of intra group diversity varies depending upon the physical distance between the two groups. According to Dr.Balgir the plausible explanation for their diversity is geographical dispersal in diverse habitats, the inflow of genes from Islamic invaders as well as non Islamic surrounding population, the inbreeding effect, founder effect, genetic drift, breeding isolation and not to secular trends. The computed genetic distance matrix shows diversity of Ahirs with the Gujars.This shows that Gujars are different from other communities such as Yadavs or Ahirs. When the mutiny broke out in 1857 against British Raj, Gujars were amongst the most energetic rebels(refer/source: Imperial Gazeteer of India); as a result, they had their share of hangings and dispossession, and earned their place in the 1871 list of criminal tribes along with 198 castes viz. Pardhis, Sansi,Bawarias,Kanjars and Chokidar –Meena etc. Most of these communities were nomadic or semi nomadic. Subsequently they were “denotified” in 1952, five years after independence. But somehow whereas all the divisions of Mina community were included in Scheduled Tribe category in 1955, Gujars were not given ANY STATUS……..! Ravindra Kaur, associate professor, department of humanities and social Sciences,I I T Delhi categorically defends: if Mina can be classified as a tribe, there is no logical reason why the Gujars, who can lay claim to be semi nomadic and pastoral community, should not . As per the book titled ‘The Scheduled Tribes’ People of India, National Series-Vol iii, Anthropological Survey of India, the Gujars of Jammu ” Kashmir are divided into two sections on the basis of their occupation –the Jamindar and Dodhi.The primary occupation of the Jamindar Gujar is agriculture supported by animal husbandry. The Dodhi Gujar practice pastoral nomadism. Both the groups were given Scheduled Tribe status in 1991.Similarly in Himachal Pradesh, Gujars of all the districts have been given ST status. In Uttarakhand Gujars are found in the Rajaji National park who are semi nomadic and rear buffalos for their livelihood. The Uttar Pradesh Government has already recommended ST status to the (van)Gujars of Rajaji National Park way back in 1994. The term ‘Van Gujar’ has been created artificially by some scholars. Accordingly the so called Van Gujars of Rajaji National Park are similar to the Gujars of Rajasthan settled in and around National Parks of Sariska(Alwar) and Ranthambor(Sawai- madhopur) and who are proposed to be displaced or “rehabilitated” from the tiger reserve to save the tigers. It is thus an accident and mockery of history that Minas a comparatively prosperous and landlord agriculturists community of Rajasthan (who share most of the social, physical and geographical characters with Gujars) are a scheduled tribe for more then 50 years and Gujars are not. Minas did the right crimes in the 19th century to earn their place in the fortunate category of tribes; Gujars somehow fell through the cracks of history. This is no justice; it is sheer chance. The Gujjars of Rajasthan are predominantly rural, pastoral and semi agriculturist community whose traditional and primary occupation is selling milk and milk products. They rear mainly cows, buffalo, goats and sheep. Gujar children start working in their lands and attend to milk animals by the age of s 12 years instead of attending school for further studies. All spheres of life of Gujjars in Rajasthan exhibits primitive traits be it marriage pattern, social organization, culture, economy, medicinal system, religion, customs, traditions, dresses, ornaments, dwellings, food, domestic effects, education, health etc. Their customs and traditions are in crude form. They follow simple pre machine economy. They have unsophisticated rituals and social customs. There are no signs of advancement or impact of modern life in most of the villages inhabited by Gujjars.The Gujars lead a technologically simple life in close harmony with its natural environment. In Gujars child marriage, polyandry, naata pratha(widow marriage), aata-saata are very common. They also organize large scale ‘mritu-bhoj’ or ‘nukta’. Their most of the disputes are settled by their caste council or nyat punchayat. Their agriculture is of inferior technology with ancient tools. Even the animal husbandry practices are very basic. They generally do not believe in modern medicinal system. Instead they believe in ‘jhaad-phoonk’ by the ‘gothiya’ and rituals of lok-devtas. Their literacy rate is very low. Their attitude towards formal education is not positive. Accordingly Gujar continue to be a deprived and under developed lot of the society who is still living in nearly primitive stage and is cut off from the mainstream civilization. The Gujar and the Meena community of Rajasthan share most of the physical, geographical, social and cultural characteristics. The only difference is that Meenas are distributed in the plain fertile area and are traditionally good agriculturist whereas Gujar inhabit the hilly, forested and daang area, cut off from the main stream and thriving mainly on animal husbandry. The traditional occupation followed by Gujars is pastoralism, which make them even more eligible to be classified as a scheduled tribe. Their social customs, culture and distinctive life style is nearly primitive. The Gujjars are very backward socially, economically and educationally. Most of them are illiterate and uncivilized even after 60 years of independence. Their representation in higher studies, professional courses and Government jobs is negligible. It is worthwhile to note here that at a symposium held in August, 2005 on the proposed bill recognizing tribals rights on forest lands one of the participant Sh Goverdhan Rathore, Executive Director, Prakritik Society, Sherpur-khiljipur, Sawai-madhopur in his paper titled ‘Tigers and Tribes’ mentioned the condition of Gujars inhabiting the National park: “When I first came to Ranthambhore in 1971 with my father. (…) Any other land that was left was over-grazed by cattle belonging to the Gujar tribe who lived in the park. (…)To the outside world, the Gujar tribe lived an idyllic life. No electricity, no access to modern medicine. Mortality of every kind was high; population growth was high as was child marriage and having many children was the norm .Yet it seemed idyllic because they lived a frugal existence, living off the land, thriving on animal husbandry and subsistence farming . There is a common joke about their simplicity –once a Gujar from the villages of Ranthambhore caught a train and took his shoes off when he boarded the train. He was surprised not to find them at the next station. It is this simplicity that makes it possible for everyone to exploit these people. The Gujars are not traditionally agricultural tribe, so the little agriculture they did was poorly managed and yielded a below average crop. Animal husbandry was the mainstay of their income. The need to sell milk forced them to interact with traders in town. Being a simple, illiterate tribe they were invariably cheated by the traders. Being totally illiterate meant that even their animal rearing practices were very basic and as such could never really achieve the true potential of the business itself. As their own population grew they need more land and more cattle to meet even their basic survival needs. In 1976, with the park having come under Project Tiger, a resettlement programme was a launched and 13 village convinced to relocate. There is no doubt in my mind that had the resettlement of the Gujar tribe not taken place, the tiger and its habitat would by now have disappeared as it has in the neighboring Sawai Mansingh and Karauli Tiger Reserves. We completely disagree with the argument that local tribes will better manage the protected areas only because they are tribals. Before we hand over protected areas to tribal people we need to ask ourselves: How do we describe tribals and what is tribal life? True, tribal cultures existed for centuries in harmony with their local environment because they continued to live primitive lives that had their own natural checks and balances. Poor medical care meant that population growth was always kept in check by nature which would intervene in the form of plagues and diseases. Life expectancy was low. Child marriage, multiple births, witchcraft, polygamy and so on, was the norm. Education, immunization, birth control, modern medicine, electricity and other benefits of modern development never reached them. Once the modern world touches tribal life, the entire natural balance of tribal culture is destroyed and with it the sustainability of tribal culture vanishes.” In the cover story ‘Survival at stake’ of national magazine ‘Frontline’ volume 23-issue 26:: Dec.30,2006 to Jan.12,2007from the publishers of The Hindu daily on the forest rights legislation, a report on the Gujars inhabited in the core area of Sariska Tiger Reserve titled as Nature vs. people by T.K.Rajlakshmi was published: “Ever since the disappearance of the tiger population from Sariska, almost all the forest-dwelling Gujar families have come under pressure to move out of the forest. Eleven villages in the reserve area will be relocated in order to restore the tiger habitat. There are 28 villages within Sariska’s 881-square kilometer area and nearly 200 more in the general vicinity of the reserve. The pastoral community has lived in the reserve for generations, content with its frugal lifestyle. The Gujars are now being accused of indiscriminate felling of trees and depletion of forest land, and of indulging in commercial activity by selling milk and milk products outside the reserve.Radha denies her people are making money by selling thickened milk or maava to the towns people.” If that was the case, why would I live in this mud house?” she asks. If the Gujars have benefited from tiger poaching, as is insinuated, there is no evidence of the resulting property in their homes. A vegetarian community, they do not hunt. Two successive drought years wreaked havoc on the ecology of the reserve. Much of the Gujar livestock perished in that period. Contrary to reports that each family has hundred buffalos, not more then 3 or 4 buffalos per family were visible. Some forest officials and wildlife experts argue that the relocation package for the Gujars is reasonable. The package includes six bighas (2.2 acres or .96 hectares) of un irrigated land or 3 bighas of irrigated land, the cost of shifting from the reserve and Rs 40,000 for the construction of a homestead on the land. The Gujars feel the package is not sufficient as they would have no excess to grazing land and their entire lifestyle would change. “If they make it difficult for us to live here, then we will have to go. But it is not right. We had nothing to do with the disappearance of the tiger. Our people have lived with the tiger for centuries”. Jubber said. The Gujars, he (Rajesh Gupta, Deputy Conservator of Forests and Deputy Field Director of Project Tiger) said, were attached to the land but they needed to realize that they were under great hardship, their children were malnourished and they were deprived of education facilities. The wild life act of India did not permit the construction of pucca house or buildings in the vicinity of the forest. The Gujars have not availed themselves of electricity supplies too as their homesteads are in the core area.” The Gujars of Rajasthan in general are perceived by other castes as a group involved in small theft of cattle, foodgrains and things of daily life. In areas like Sawai madhopur, Dholpur and Karauli districts most of the ‘Dacoits ‘belong to Gujar community due to various socio-economic and geographical characteristics. Similar situation is found in Bharatpur, Alwar and Harauti region. It is a general folk-say in Rajasthan: “Mina, Gujar, Kanjar, Kutta,Billi,Bunder, Ye chhe Jaat na hooti, To khol kivadia soti” (If the six castes i.e. Mina, Gujar, Kanjar and dog, cat and monkey were not there in the universe, she would have slept by opening doors i.e. without any fear). In another folk say of Rajasthan, the similarity in lifestyle of Gujars and Kanjars has been shown: “Gujar, Kanjar Ek Mata, Aage Revad laer Kuta”The meaning of the above is Gujars and Kanjars are of the same type. Gujar always have its herd (revad) with him whereas a Kanjar is always seen with a dog. These are some other proverbs or folk say about Gujars mentioned by Herbert Risley in his book’The People of India’ which show their social backwardness and perception of other communities about Gujars: “When you see a Gujar hammer him.” “You can not tame a hare, or make a friend of a Gujars” “When all other castes are dead make friends with a Gujar” “It will remain waste unless a Gujar takes it (said or poor land)” “A Gujar’s daughter is a box of gold”. (The bride price is high among Gujars). “A Dom made friends with a Gujar; the Gujar looted his house.“Sense for a Gujar; a sheath for a harrow (two impossible) These proverbs reflect the perception of other mainstream civilized communities about Gujars. By putting Gujars with notorious and nomadic community like ‘Kanjar’ and untouchable, scavenger community like ‘ Dom’ who were at the lowest level of the social hierarchy, one can easily judge the social status of Gujars. No upper Hindu caste has been put or linked in any way, even in proverbs, with the lower castes like ‘Kanjar’ and ‘Dom’. Both these communities (Kanjar and Dom) were given Scheduled Caste status after independence. The cultural traits, customs and traditions and the distinctive lifestyle of Gujars of Rajasthan exhibit their social backwardness. One may easily notice a naked Gujar women-taking bath in the open at well. Their overall standard of living is very low. It is relevant to mention here that in a report of ‘Daang’ area published in ‘India Today’ magazine dtd 5th Sept. 2001, the social backwardness of Gujars has been reported which says that in the long tract of approx 1000 kilometer of Daang which include Dholpur, Karauli, Sawai-madhopur and Bharatpur districts, the whole institution of marriage and family has been distorted and corrupted mainly due to polyandry and other socio-economic reasons. Educational Backwardness: Most Gujar children are involved with their parents in animal husbandry and/or subsistence agriculture. Gujars rank lowest among all the major castes/tribes of Rajasthan in terms of literacy, education in female in particular and higher “professional degree courses in general. The Gujars avoid educating the girls in general because it becomes difficult for the parents to find a suitable match. There are very few educated and Service class Gujar youth at any given period available for marriage .The attitude of Gujars todards formal education is that education makes their boys defiant and insolent and alienates them from the rest of the society. Further the practise of child marriage that is wide spread among Gujars of Rajasthan discourages the boys for further studies. Instead they prefer to earn their livlihood for the new family. Kind attention is also invited to the chapter IX ‘Literacy’ of Census Report of Rajputana, 1931, page No 99, where a table showing literates per 1000 in males and females among 18 major Castes has been given. In this table, Gujars (8 and nil) are at the 14th position i.e. just above the Rebari(6 and nil), Meo(5 and nil), Chamar(4 and nil) and Bhil(1 and nil). In this table, the Gujars are equivalent to Grassia, a Scheduled Tribe, (8 and nil) in the literacy rate but notably they are at lower level from Mina (10 and nil) and Bhangi(11 and 4) .Besides the Gujars are far below then the Other Bacward Classes viz. Kumhar, Khati, Yadav Jats etc. The representation of Gujars in higher education can be examined by counting number of students belonging to Gujar community studying at University of Rajasthan, Jaipur and in its colleges at Jaipur. The picture that emerges is really shocking: There are only 10-15 students in post graduation courses of university. Further there are only 5 students in Maharaja College. There are only 10-15 students in Rajasthan College and Commerce College.(Note: Jaipur is located almost centrally to the areas, which are having majority of Gujar population). The situation of girls is even worse. There are hardly 8-10 girls in the Maharani College of the university out of approx.4500. The share of Gujars in 1st and 2nd grade services of state and central Government in Rajasthan is almost ‘NIL’ considering their population size i.e. approx. 35 lakhs. It is lower then any caste in Rajasthan. The table given below shows representation of Gujars in 1st grade state services after 60 years of independence: Sr.No Name of Post Total no of Gujars(Direct recruits)1. Raj.Administration Service 052. Raj.Police Service Nil3. Raj.Accounts Service Nil4. Raj.Traffic Service Nil5. Raj. Service 016. Raj.Co-operative Service 027. Raj. Tourism Service Nil;8. Raj.Jail Service Nil9. Raj. Industry Service Nil10. . Raj.Forest Service 01 The representation of Gujars of Rajasthan in other Services is as follows: Sr.No Name of Post Total no of Gujars College Lecturers 20 Professors 04 Doctors 08 Engineers 05 Bank P.O 04 Insurance(AAO) 02The picture is more or less similar in all the Government departments. What they have achieved in 60 years from the system is few posts of fourth classes in some departments, sepoys in army from some specific regions of Dausa and Karauli and few posts of third grade school teachers. The total representation of Gujars in Central Civil Services recruited through UPSC is 5 out of which 2 have been recruited before implementation of Mandal Commission’s Report. There is only one IAS from the Gujar community of Rajasthan in 60 years. There is nil representation of Gujars of Rajasthan in All India Services like Indian Police Service, Indian Foreign Service, and Indian Forest Service etc. after 60 years of independence. There is not a single Judge in the High Court/Supreme Court from the Gujar community. There are only two Gujars in Rajasthan Judicial Services. The total number of Gujars who have taken MBBS and Engineering degree in 60 years is not more then 30.There are very few Gujars from Rajasthan who have done professional courses like chartered accountant and management (MBA).Economic Backwardness: As per Census of India, 1931 for Rajputana Agency in chapter XII Race, Tribe and Caste, the following introductory remarks have been given: “Gujars-The 526,791 Gujars are chiefly found in the eastern part of the Agency (Alwar, Bharatpur, Karauli, Jaipur, Kotah, Bundi”Mewar). Though herdsmen by tradition, they are also extensively engage in agriculture but not, perhaps, with the same degree of skill and patience as Jats and Ahirs.” The dominant form of sustenance among the Gujars was pastoralism. Nonetheless Gujars response to situations was different as per their ecological surrounding and situations. There was subtle movement of the Gujars towards sedentarisation. This process of sedentarisation of the Gujars continued unabated throughout the medieval period. The commercialization of agriculture, increase in the extent of cultivation and shrinking of grazing grounds and forests were the crucial factors behind this transformation. However, even once they sedentarised to a certain extent, their preference to keep animal husbandry as their main occupation and semi nomadic character, continued to remain an important socio-economic feature of their social system. The Gujars are not traditionally agricultural tribe, so the little agriculture they do is poorly managed and yield a below average crop. The Gujars of Rajasthan are marginal farmers having very small land holdings i.e. 1 to 1.5 acre per family. They follow traditional farming practices with inferior technology. Except a few areas like Bharatpur, they have less fertile land. They do not have proper irrigation facility and mainly depend on seasonal rains. Animal husbandry is the mainstay of their income. The need to sell milk forces them to interact with traders in town. Being a simple, illiterate tribe they are invariably cheated by the traders. Being totally illiterate meant that even their animal rearing practices are very basic and as such could never really achieve the true potential of the business itself. The Gujars of Rajasthan also rear herd of goat and sheep which are known as revad .The herd at night is kept in a surrounding prepared by dry vegetation (bada) and wood. At least one or two members of the family are engaged in looking after the herd that stay with the herd all the time. Gujars have intimate social relationship with their livestock. They consider their animals as fellow creatures and essential partner in the struggle for life. They explain illness amongst livestock due to evil forces or the violation of taboo. In such a situation Gujars take help of the Gothiya or the Bhomiya after he has induced a state of trance. There is hardly any shop of any kind owned by a person belonging to Gujar community in the market of most of the towns which are surrounded by thick population of rural Gujars. This shows that their representation in trade and commerce is also ‘Nil’. Conclusion: The Gujar and the Meena community share most of the characteristics. They are inhabited in the same geographical area; by and large follow same marriage patterns, folk dance and songs, customs, culture, life style etc. The only difference is that Meena are distributed in the plain fertile area and are traditionally good agriculturist whereas Gujar inhabit the hilly, forested and daang area, cut off from the main stream and thriving mainly on animal husbandry. The traditional occupation followed by Gujars is pastoralism, which make them even more eligible to be classified as a scheduled tribe. Their social customs, culture and distinctive life style is nearly primitive. The Gujars are very backward socially, economically and educationally. Most of them are illiterate and uncivilized even after 60 years of independence. There representation in higher studies, professional courses and Government jobs is negligible. Accordingly it will be justice, though delayed, if the genuine claim of the Gujar community for inclusion in the scheduled tribe list of Rajasthan is considered symphethetically and positively.Referances / Sources:1. The book titled ‘Tribal India’ by Nadeem Hasnain.2. “Gojri and its relation with Rajasthani” An article written by J.C.Sharma in ‘Language inIndia’ Volume 2:2, 2 Aprail, 20023. “Writing Gojri” A thesis submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the University Of North Dakota.4. ‘Image of the Barbarian’ 7th chapter of the book titled ‘Ancient Indian Social History-Some Interpretations’by Romila Thaper.5. The book titled ‘Against History against State’ by Shail Mayaram.6. ‘Genetics of Castes and Tribes of India’ A Study report by M.K.Bhasin, Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi.7. A Research study report on ‘Migrant tribal woman’ submitted to Planning Commission, Govt of India.8.Research studies conducted by Dr.R.S.Balgir, Deputy Director ” Head, Devision of Human Genetics, Regional Medical Research Centre, Bhubaneshwar.9.Article ‘Historical neglect’ published in national daily Hindustan Times’by Shail Mayaram, Professor ” Senior fellow, CSDS. 10.Article ‘Caste, Tribe and the politics of reservation’published in national daily Hindu by Shail Mayaram, Professor ” Senior Fello, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies,New Delhi.11.The book titled ‘Dishnoured by History: Criminal Tribes ” British Colonial Policy by Dr Radhakrishna and a report on the book in the issue of national daily Hindi dtd. July 16, 2000.12.The book titled ‘Branded by Law: Looking at India, s Denotofied Tribes by Dilip D’Souza and a report on the book in the issue of national magazine ‘Frontline dtd. December 07-20,2002.13.The Scheduled Tribes’ People ofIndia’ National Series –Vol.iii,Anthropological Survey ofIndia by K.S.Singh.14. 27th Report of Standing Committee On Labour and Welfare (2002) on The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Second Amendment) Bill, 200215. A report namely ‘Now Pahari community…..published in national daily ‘Hindu’on dtd June 06, 2007. 16. The book titled ‘People of India’State Series-Rajasthan, Anhropological Survey ofIndia by K.S.Singh.17. The book titled ‘Tribes ” Castes of North-western India’by William Crooke.18. The legend of Devnarayan and phad tradition by Study report ‘Tigers and Tribes’ submitted in the symposium held in August, 2005 on the bill ‘Tribal Rights onForest land’.20. A report ‘Nature vs. people’ published in Cover story ‘Survival at stake’of national magazine ‘Frontline’on the forest rights legislation.21. The book titled ‘People of India’ by Herbert Risley.22. Issue of national magazine ‘India Today’ dtd 5th Sept.2001. 23. Census ofIndia, 1931 for Rajputana Agency, Chapter XII-Race,Tribe and Caste.24. Imperial Gazetteer ofIndia-Provincial series-Rajputana vol. 11, page 325; vol.21, page 114, vol 17 page 314.25. The book titled “Growth of Scheduled Castes and Tribes in Medieval India”, by Dr. K.S.Lal, Aditya Prakashan,New Delhi, 1995.26. The book titled “JATS ” GUJARS”, 1899, by British writer A.H.Bingley.27. Various reports on the Census of British India from 1881 to 1901.

  4. Anonymous
    February 10, 2008

    AYANGAAR COMMITTEE (1950) RECOMMENDED ST STATUS FOR “CHAUKIDAR MEENA” OF FEW DISTRICTS OF RAJASTHAN, MAINLY BECAUSE THEY (ONLY CHAUKIDAR MEENA) WERE DECLARED AS “CHRIMINAL TRIBE” BY THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT.KAKA KALELKAR(1955) IN THE REPORT OF FIRST BACKWARD CLASS COMMISSION RECOMMENDED “BACKWARD CLASS” STATUS TO MEENAS AS “AGRICULTURISTS AND WATCHMAN,” RESIDING OUTSIDE ALWAR, BUNDI, BHARATPUR AND DHOLPUR.BUT LATER MEENAS MANIPULATED IN GUISE OF “BHIL-MINA” AND MANAGED TO GET INCLUDE IN THE ST LIST.IT IS WELL DOCUMENTED AND NOT BASED ON SPECULATION.Meenas were the rulers of Matasya, Hadoti and Dundhad region a few centuries back. These Meenas were of two types, the ‘Zamindar’ or agricultural, and the ‘Chauki-dar’, or watchmen. The Zamindar Meenas were landlord and excellent cultivators and good, well behaved people like any other peasant class. Most of the population of Meenas is distributed in the Eastern Rajasthan i.e. approx 30 to 35 lcks. They claim a Kshatriya status equivalent to that of the Rajputs. In the local socio hierarchy they enjoy a clean cast status. The Jamindar Meenas were traditionally good cultivators and most of them were economically good. They were well integrated with other higher castes like Rajputs, Brahmins, Jats etc. Brahmin used to perform all rituals from birth, marriage and death for them like for any other higher Hindu caste. The Chaukidar Meenas were comparatively having small population in Alwar, Jaipur and Shekhawati region. They were later declared by the British Govt as criminal tribe like more then 200 other castes. These Meenas of Eastern Rajasthan never had characteristics like primitive traits, shyness, geographical isolation and distinct tribal culture. But no doubt they were backward educationally like hundreds of other caste in Rajasthan. Contrary to above, the Bhils, Garasia, Saharia, Damor, Bhil-Mina groups who were only distributed in the southern districts of Banswara, Dungarpur , Udaipur, Chittor and Sirohi were entirely different viz. physically, socially, culturally, religiously, genetically and occupation wise from the Jamindar/Chaukidar Meenas of Eastern Rajasthan. These forest dwelling tribal groups did not have any kind of similarity with the other two groups of Meenas. But somehow the Meenas of Eastern Rajasthan managed successfully to be got included in the Scheduled Tribe list of Rajasthan. It is history now*****……but what is surprising to note that they are behaving like they are the only community in the state who can claim on the schemes and reservation policy of the socialist welfare system evolved as per the constitution. The spirit of the constitution and even national tribal policy is that any backward and deprived lot of the society who satisfies the parameters prescribed by the central Govt may claim their right following the due process. In the last 60 years large no of communities have been included in the SC/ST and OBC list and no one opposed their constitutional demand. Even there is not a single example of opposition by any community of inclusion of another community as SC/ST or OBC. Then why Meenas are so much crying and agitating when they are the most benefited caste of the reservation system in the whole country. Sixty year was a sufficient period to raise the educational level and increase their share in the Govt jobs. The advancement of Meena community of Eastern Rajasthan can easily seen in every sphere of life be it education, Govt jobs, land holdings, commerce and trade. Even politically they are winning 7to 10 unreserved assembly seats along with 6 reserved seats. They have given good fight on the symbol of Congress and BJP from Kota and Dausa Loksabha seats. Now they are in a better position in comparison to all STs and most of the OBCs except Jats who were included in the OBC list due to vote bank politics. Reservation of ST is population based if any new community is added in the state list, the percentage of reservation will automatically increase from the present 12.5%. Why Meenas are so frightened with inclusion of any new community when they are far ahead in education and most importantly the process of inclusion of a community as ST and its exclusion from that list, if a community ceases to have the requisite characteristics, is an ongoing process as per clause (2) of Article 342 of the Constitution of India.

  5. Anonymous
    February 10, 2008

    According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “the Minas are possibly of inner Asiatic origin, and traditions suggest that they migrated to India in the 7th century with the Rajputs.” Scholars still disagree as to whether the Minas are an indigenous tribe, or whether they migrated to the region from Central Asia. Moreover they take their name from Meen(fish), and the Minas claim decent from the fish incarnation of Lord Vishnu also called Matsya Avatar (An aboriginal or indigenous tribe never traces or explains their origin on the basis of Hindu mythology). This fact is supported by the culture of celebrating Meenesh Jayanti in the name of Lord Vishnu by the (Jamindar) Minas of eastern districts on 3 Tithi of Chaitra Shukla paksha according to the Hindu calender. They have also constructed some modern temples of ‘Meen Bhagwan’, as an impact of Sanscritization. Further as per W. Chichele Plowden, (1883), Report on the Census of British India taken on the 17th February 1881, London on page 289 following introductory remarks have been given about the Mina community of Rajputana: “Minas were formerly the rulers of much of the country now held by the Jaipur Chief. They still hold a good social position, for Rajputs will eat and drink from their hands, and they are the most trusted guards in the Jaipur state. The Minas are of two classes, the ‘Zamindari’ or agricultural, and the ‘Chauki-dari’ or watchmen, which do not intermarry. The former are excellent cultivators, and good, well behaved people. They form a large portion of the population in Karauli, and are numerous in Jaipur…..” According to the book “People of India” by Kumar Suresh Singh: “Among all Mina groups, Jamindar Minas enjoy the highest status. They claim a Kshatriya status equivalent to that of the Rajputs. In the local socio-ritual hierarchy they enjoy a clean cast status. The Jamindar Minas are traditionally good cultivators and most of them are economically good. They are well integrated with other higher castes like Rajputs, Brahmins, Jats etc. Brahmin perform all rituals from birth, marriage and death for them like for any other higher Hindu caste. ” Further according to the book “Rajasthan” by Pauline Lynden, “the Jamindar Minas are wealthy land owners who are vegetarian Hindus.” In her book titled “Against History, Against State”, Dr Shail Mayaram, Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, New Delhi has mentioned on page No 135 that: “…..Cunningham goes a step further and ascribes a common origin to the Meos and Minas. He writes that “the acknowledgement of previous inter-marriage seems to offer rather a strong proof that the Meos must have been a cognate race with the Minas, holding the same social position – higher perhaps, then the Ahirs and other agriculture classes, but decidedly far below the Rajputs, from whom they claim descent…..”* (*Source: Alexander Cunningham, Report of a Tour inEastern Rajasthan in 1882-83) “…….Like the Meos, the Minas intermarried with several other groups such as the Meos, Jats, Gujars, Rajputs, Bhils, and others…*”There are numerous clans, of which one (the Osara) contains the asli or unmixed stock, but has very few members; the others are of mixed blood, claiming irregular descent from Rajputs, Brahmans, Gujars etc. (Source:S.H.M. Rizvi, Mina: The Ruling Tribe of Rajasthan(Delhi: B.R.Publishing,1987) Dr. Shail Mayaram further notes in the above referred book on page No 103 that: “The process of Rajput state formation involved the dispossession of several erstwhile ruling groups such as the Meos, Minas, and Bhils. Treachery had been used by Rajput chiefs to defeat the Mina rulers of Jaipur and Bundi. (…) The Minas, however, like the Ahirs, became an important peasant group. They became leaders and patels of the village communities and were given authoritative positions. A similar compromise was not affected with the Mewatis. ”* (*Source:Gupta, Agrarian System ofEastern Rajasthan, 180-81.) As per Census of Rajasthan, 2001, the total population of Minas in Rajasthan is about 28 to 30 lakhs i.e. 5.3% of the total population (5.65 Crore). The distribution pattern of Minas shows that their population is concentrated particularly in Eastern districts (Jaipur, Sawai-madhopur, Karauli, Dausa, Alwar, Tonk etc.) and to some extent in the Hadoti region (Kota, Bundi, Jhalawad, Baran and Bhilwara). Sr. No Name of District Population* Percentage 1 Dausa 353187 26.82% 2 Karauli 270630 22.37% 3 Sawai-madhopur 241078 21.58% 4 Jaipur 412864 7.86% 5 Alwar 239905 8.02% 6 Tonk 145891 12.04% 7 Dholpur 47612 4.84% 8 Bharatpur 47077 2.24% Total 1758244 9 Baran 216869 21.23% 10 Kota 151969 9.69% 11 Bundi 194851 20.24% 12 Jhalawad 141861 12.02% 13 Bhilwara 180556 8.97% Total 886106 14 Ajmer 52634 2.41% 15 Jhunjhunu 36794 1.92% 16 Sikar 62512 2.73% Grand total 2796290 4.95% (*The figures of population include total ST population in the district). Further out of the two main divisions of Mina community found in Eastern Rajasthan i.e. Jamindar Mina and Chaukidar Mina; only a small population of Chaukidar Minas (total eight hundred in 1901) residing in Shahjehanpur in Gurgaon, and in the adjoining states of Alwar and Jaipur, were identified as ‘Criminal Tribe’ by the Britishers who were involved to a certain extent in cattle stealing, burglary, housebreaking, petty theft and so on. As per Imperial Gazetteer of India vol. 9, page 82-83 and vol. 21 page 114, “in Bundi state and in the rugged country round Jahajpur and Deoli, which is called the ‘Mina Kherar’ and belongs to Bundi, Jaipur and Mewar states are found the Parihar Minas, who claim descent from the Parihar Rajputs who used to rule at Mandore in Jodhpur. They are a fine athletic race, formerly notorious as savage and daring robbers; but they have settled down to a great extent, and the infantry portion of the 42nd (Deoli) Regiment (or the Mina Battalion, as it was called from 1857 to 1860) has for many years been largely composed of them. Contrary to above the Bhil-Mina group who are having very small population and are only distributed in the southern districts of Banswara, Dungarpur and Udaipur are entirely different viz. physically, socially, culturally, religiously, genetically and occupation wise from the Jamindar/Chaukidar/Parihar Minas of Eastern Rajasthan i.e. Sawai-Madhopur, Karauli, Dausa, Alwar, Jaipur etc and Hadoti region. The forest dwelling Bhil-Mina community does not have any kind of similarity with the other three groups of Minas. The Bhil-Mina are said to be descended from those Rajputs who, in the wars between their own tribes or with Muslims were compelled to quit their native home and seek refuge in the vastness of Rajputana(southern districts), where they formed marriage alliances with the aboriginal families(i.e. Bhils) and thus established tribal link. In this way only a small population of Bhil-Mina found in southern districts of Rajasthan may possibly have some strain of Bhil blood in their veins. Accordingly in true logical and genetical sense the Bhil-Mina community is a sub division of Bhils of southern districts(instead of Minas) like other groups such as Dholi Bhil, Dungri Bhil, Bhil Garasia, Mewasi Bhil, Rawal Bhil and Tadvi Bhil all of whom are described at Sr.No 1 of the list of Scheduled Tribes of Rajasthan. But it is very strange and suspicious that at Sr No 2 of this list a separate entry “Bhil Mina” is given and again at Sr. No. 9 a separate/general entry “Mina” has been mentioned to include the Mina community of Eastern Rajasthan and Hadoti region under the Scheduled Tribe. In her article published in the national daily Hindustan Times dtd June 04, 2007, Nandini Sunder, Professor of Sociology at the Delhi School of Economics has given following observation about Scheduled Tribes of Rajasthan: “…the Minas constitute 53.3% of the total population, the Bhils 39.5%, smaller groups like the Garasia, Damor, Dhanka and Saharia are 6.6%, while the Bhil Mina, Naikda, Kathodi, Patelia, Kokna and Koli Dhor with populations ranging from below 100 to about 3000, make up the remaining 0.3%.(…)While the Minas have an overall literacy rate of 52.2%, which is higher then the national ST average of 47.1%, the Bhils and Saharias have an overall literacy rate of 35.2% and 34.2% respectively. 3.5% of Minas are graduates compared to 0.9% of Bhils, 0.6% of Garasias and 0.1% of Saharias.(…) all the government posts reserved for STs are occupied by Minas, making them not just the dominant tribe in Rajasthan, but one of the groups which has most benefited through reservations nationally……Even a cursory look at the Civil Services(both at state ” central level) or even universities reveals a number of Minas, but scarcely any Bhils from Rajasthan, Gonds from Chhattisgarh, or Hos from Jharkhand, all numerically significant communities……However the Minas are better off not just in terms of education and employment but also land holdings, annual incomes and assets. A study of M.K. Bhasin Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of Delhi, and Shampa Nag found that among STs in Rajasthan, a greater percentage was engaged in agriculture or casual labour(50%) as against cultivation(40%). Among Minas, however, 85% were engaged in cultivation, and only 1.5% in agriculture labour.” The advancement of Minas of Eastern Rajasthan (Sawai-madhopur, Dausa, Karauli, Alwar, Jaipur etc) over other tribal groups is so enormous that they are not only eating the major share of government jobs reserved for Scheduled Tribes of Rajasthan but at the national level also the tribal population of other states is not in a position to compete with them being more forward, prosperous and resource full lot of the society and thus the basic spirit and objectives of the National Tribal policy are being lost. All the government posts (ranging from clerical to officer grade and from academic to professionals) reserved for STs are being occupied by Minas. For example out of the total cadre strength of RAS officers (838) in Rajasthan, 83 belong to ST category. Out of these 83 ST RAS officers, about 75 belong to Mina community ofEastern Rajasthan. What is important to note that only 4-5 officers belong to other tribal groups of the ‘Scheduled area’ ( Bhils, Garasia, Saharia, Dhanka etc) ofSouthern Rajasthan. It is relevant to mention here that the southern districts of Rajasthan viz. Dungarpur, Banswara, Udaipur, and some parts of Sirohi and Chittorgarh districts were specified as ‘Scheduled area’ by the President of India vide Scheduled areas order, 1950 dtd 7.12.1950 following the criteria of: preponderance of tribal population, under developed nature of the area and marked disparity in the economic standard of the people. But it is unfortunate to note that the condition of real tribal groups of the ‘Scheduled area’ has not improved much and the benefits of tribal welfare schemes including reservation policy have completely been looted by the prosperous and landlord (pseudo tribal) Mina community of Eastern Rajasthan. The situation is more or less same in all Government departments viz. administration, police, accounts, railway, post ” telegraph, revenue, excise, traffic, taxation, health, forest, technical, judicial services, education, tourism, industry, insurance, banks and so on. There are Minas and Minas…….. every where from bottom to the top hierarchy of any Government department. There are hundreds of IAS and IPS officers and in other Central Civil Services belonging to Mina community ofEastern Rajasthan but hardly a single person belonging to Bhils, Garasia, Saharia, Dhanka etc. As per the result of Civil Services Examination, 2006 out of the 36 reserved seats for Scheduled Tribes at allIndia level, more then 15 successful candidates belong to Mina community ofEastern Rajasthan. This result shows that the Minas who constitute just 4.5% of the total ST population of the country (8.42 Crore) have captured more then 40 % of the top class allIndia services. It goes without saying that these (Jamindar) Minas ofEastern Rajasthan are opposing very hard the genuine demand of Gujars who themselves (Minas) do not full fill the criterion of being included in the Scheduled Tribe list. It is pertinent to mention here that in Kaka Kalelkar Commission’s report only the small population of Bhil-Mina group, who is found in southern districts of Rajasthan and is entirely different from Mina community of eastern districts, were identified and recommended for Scheduled Tribe status but later on some how a separate entry was created for Mina community at Sr.No 9 of the state list by putting a comma (,) between ‘Bhil’ and ‘Mina’ instead of hyphen (-). In an article published in the Rajasthan edition of Dainik Bhasker dtd 02.06.07 and another article published in National daily Pioneer dtd 14.06.07 written by the Ex Chief Secretary of Rajasthan state Sh Meetha Lal Mehta and Chandan Mitra, Member, Rajya Sabha respectively, the following facts have been mentioned: “….Of course, the Meenas got included in the ST list on account of a misplaced comma in the 1953 Kaka Kalelkar Commission’s report on socially and educationally Backward Classes : a comma was inadvertently put after Bhil for a small community known as ‘Bhil-Mina’ in that report, which led to the large Meena community unexpectedly getting classified as a Scheduled Tribe.” It is ridiculous that the community who themselves have acquired the Scheduled Tribe status by unfair means and has been benefited by the reservation policy at the cost of others by eating the complete share of actual and real tribal groups is opposing the genuine demand of Gujars. The Minas of Eastern Rajasthan are so advance, prosperous and strong that they are not only winning the six reserved seats in the State Legislature Assembly for Scheduled Tribes but what is more important and noteworthy that they are winning as many as 10 un-reserved or general seats also. The following table gives the clear picture to understand Minas’ actual position in Rajasthan: Sr No Reserved Assembly seats with district where Minas are being elected Sr. No. Un-Reserved Assembly seats with district where Minas have been elected in 2003 or before 1 Bamanwas (Sawai-Madhopur) 1 Sawai-Madhopur (Sawai-Madhopur) 2 Sapotra (Karauli) 2 Karauli (Karauli) 3 Todabhim (Karauli) 3 Bassi (Jaipur) 4 Rajgarh (Alwar) 4 Thanagaji (Alwar) 5 Lalsot (Dausa) 5 Bandikui (Dausa) 6 Sikrai (Dausa) 6 Nainwa (Kota) 7 Jahajpur (Bhilwara) 8* Mahuwa (Dausa) 9* Gangapur (Sawai-Madhopur) 10* Uniara (Tonk) (Note: Seats at Sr No 8, 9 and 10 above had been won by the candidate of Mina community in previous elections.) The representation of Mina community of Rajasthan in political and educational institutions and government jobs is so much that they no longer require the support of reservation system as is evident from the above table which shows that they are easily winning 7 to 10 un-reserved or general seats in addition to the six reserved seats. Over the last 60 years or so, the Scheduled Tribes appear to have evolved into two distinct groups: those who have able to take advantage of the protection and benefits guaranteed to them under the constitution and have been able to decrease the gap in development between them and other communities; and those Scheduled Tribes whom such programmes and protection have failed to reach and who, therefore, still exist at subsistence level with poor health, without education ” jobs and low income levelsNow the time has come for de-scheduling of certain STs and sub-categorization of existing STs to ensure that benefits are evenly spread across the actual tribal groups. Fortunately the uniqueness of the Indian system (Article 342 of the Indian Constitution) is that the process of inclusion of a community as ST and its exclusion from that list, if a community ceases to have the requisite characteristics, is an ongoing process. In view of above facts and discussion it is evident that the land lord Mina community of Eastern Rajasthan and Hadoti region no longer qualify on merits as Scheduled Tribe and it is a fit case for serious consideration to be excluded from the existing Scheduled Tribe list as per Constitutional provisions under clause (2) of Article 342 and objectives of National Tribal Policy. It is relevant to mention here that 16 such communities have been excluded from the Scheduled Tribe list by the Central Government on the basis of recommendations of the State Governments by passing the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Orders (Second Amendment) Bill, 2002.

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2007 by in Indian Politics.



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