Obama singh 21st century initiative progress review 2


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Created this photo essay on my initial visit to India for fieldwork during my sabbatical in the Fall of 2012. Thanks to Arun Sasi for helping me put this preliminary report and power point together (Jan 2013). The collection of photos here were all taken by me. Video of the one hour presentation (with stories) will soon be available on Vimeo, as this is largely a collection of photos without context. Still, several people have asked me to share today's presentation so I have. Thanks to everyone who supported and encouraged me during my sabbatical. It was an amazing experience!

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Obama singh 21st century initiative progress review 2

  1. 1. Obama-Singh 21st Century Initiative “Sustainability and Indigenous Society Impact Study” (Program III) ACESSD, Mahatma Gandhi Univ. (Kerala)Dept. of History & Philosophy, PSU (New Hampshire) Dr. Whitney Howarth (PSU) Arun Sasi Shynu V.C. Veena George M Nisha S.
  2. 2. ACESSD at Mahatma Gandhi UniversityThe Advanced Centre of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development(ACESSD) is an Inter-university Centre: aims to integrate Environmental Studies andSustainable Development. An interdisciplinary centre where all branches of Science,Social Science as well as Humanities converge to promote holistic research.
  3. 3. Obama-Singh 21st Century Initiative Grant to promoteinternational collaboration among institutes of higher learning.
  4. 4. ‘An Interdisciplinary and Community Oriented Innovative Approach Towards Sustainable Development’The goal of the initiative is to further strengthen, through faculty exchanges, joint research, and other collaboration, partnerships between American and Indian institutions of higher education in priority fields, including food security, climate change, sustainable energy, and public health.*Over 100 university partnerships applied – only 8 were selected in 2012.*Each will receive approximately $250,000 for the 3 year program.*3 years – faculty/student exchanges each year between US/India institutions:MGU partners with:
  5. 5. MGU partners with the following institutions:Duke University – Dept of Civil Engineering clean water & sanitation systems, rain water harvesting and biogas systemsBrown University – Dept of Nanotechnology generation of clean energy as an alternate to fuel cell through Chitosan-based (solar) Nano-membranesPlymouth State University – Dept of Social Science/History…
  6. 6. Livelihood Adaptations and SustainableDevelopment of Indigenous Communities in the Kerala Western Ghats.
  7. 7. Time Frame of Fieldwork Visits1) Exposure visit to Idukki/Munnar, October 23-262) Fieldwork at Mannan settlement: November 24-273) Fieldwork at Muthuvan settlement: January 9-12Future visits:February-May: three visits by MGU fieldworkersJune-August: Observation/Participation visit 10 days eachJanuary 2014: three short visits by PSU/MGU team
  8. 8. Purpose of Study• To identify the opportunities and threats to the sustainable development of indigenous communities living in this region, especially as it relates to climate change and resource depletion.• To identify innovative and traditional regional practices of preserving bio-diversity as a means to record adaptation in the face of environmental challenges like climate change, which are often exacerbated by inappropriate development.• To acknowledge and examine the particular way indigenous people respond to climatic stimuli (actual or expected) in adjustments to ecological, social, or economic systems
  9. 9. The major objectives are:1. To understand the trends of economic and other livelihood activities2. To identify impacts of changing phases of climate and resource use3. To understand the role of institutions in facilitating the sustainable development4. To generate updated knowledge for academic and policy decisions at a wider perspective
  10. 10. Case Study Focus:1) Mannan of Kozhimala2) Muthuvan of Chempakathozhukudy and Pachapulkudy
  11. 11. MannanKozhimala settlement, Idukki District est. 1976Total families: 112Population: 443Land: Approximately, 356 acres.Cultivation: cardamom, pepper, coffee, tapioca, cocoa, areca nut, coconut.
  12. 12. Topical Issues for further research1) Encroachment of outsiders, impact on irrigation -- cash cropping patterns w/ bunds, paddy water limited/blocked2) Loss of ‘pata’ (lease) lands and impact on cultivation.3) Decline in forest foraging and collection -- fuel wood, dammer, honey, gamboja fruit, and medicinal plants4) Mixed cash-crop cultivation in lieu of rice/ragi -- food crops require labor intensive and may yield less profits (needs 1 yr to harvest) market factors also limit rice production, settlement from outsiders influence tribal cropping patterns.5) Role of Raja system and religious practices (Kalavoottu) in maintaining food security, land development, use of pesticides, forest usage.
  13. 13. Muthuvan peopleChempakathozhukudyTotal Families: 128Population: 471Land: Approximately, 60 acres under cultivationCultivation: cardamom, pepper, coffee, tapioca, areca nut, coconut
  14. 14. Muthuvan PeoplePachapulkudy SettlementTotal Families: 38Population: 149Land: ?Cultivation: cardamom, coffee
  15. 15. Chempakathozhukudy Topical issues for further investigation1) Food insecurity and decline of edible biodiversity due to human- elephant conflict2) Cash-crop mix-crop cultivation & medicinal plant usage.3) Ecological dependency on forest (changes?) – Eucalyptus and grass for building.4) Wage labor on cardamom plantations outside settlement
  16. 16. “We and the elephant are the same… we don’t have land, theydon’t have land. So Why complain? We have the same problems.” -- Muthuvan Kani, Subbaraman.
  17. 17. Pachapulkudy SettlementTopical Issues for FurtherInvestigation:1) Food insecurity and decline of edible biodiversity due to human- elephant conflict.2) Cash crops limited to cardamom and coffee (why?)3) Ecological dependency on forest limited (restricted to fuel wood and honey, no medicinal plants)4) Wage labor on cardamom plantations outside settlement
  18. 18. Methodologies1) Ethnographic – Gathering data via Secondary Data Analysis, Fieldwork, Observation/Participant Observation, and Informal and Semi-structured Interviewing1) Ethnobotanical – Gathering data via botanical inventory, sample collection, semi-structured interviews, quantitative assessment of species density, Growth yield studies, mapping, etc.
  19. 19. • Questions for Fieldwork Interviews with Manan and Muduvan Tribal communities:• Religious/Spiritual beliefs:• 1 Who are the Gods/Godesses you worship? Is there an Earth Goddess?• 2 What are the most important festivals of the year?• 3 Are there special festivals related to the earth, to trees, to water, to specific plants you cultivate, to an agricultural goddess or practice?• 4 What poojas do you perform in your home daily? Are these done by both men and women?• 5 What is your relationship to Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity? Any converts? Feelings about that?• 6 Do you find the DIVINE in nature? Does God directly influence planting, growing, harvesting, weather?
  20. 20. • Land usage/Cultivation• What do you grow? How much of this is for sale (cash crop) and how much do you consume?• Do you practice shifting cultivation? Why/why not?• Traditionally, did your people practice shifting cultivation? Food production? Cash cropping? Mono-culture? Mixed agriculture (complimentary cultivation)?• When did that change and why?• Are you happy with the fertility of the land and how much land you have?• If you had more land, what would be different – would you cultivate different things? More? In same way?• Do you collect (NTFP) things from the forest for sale or use? What things? Are they ample or hard to find these days?• When did that change?• Do you grow or gather medicinal plants? How many medicinal plants do you know about? Women more than men?• Are the Manan/Muduvan healthy people? Do they live long? What explains their longevity and good health?• How is this new generation’s relationship with the land different than your generation, or your father’s or grandfather’s?• What skills or traditions are the young people forgetting?• What is the relationship between the Manan/Mudvan people and the land? Is it a healthy relationship?• What is your relationship with wild life in the region? Do you hunt? Do you feel safe outside the village Elephants?• If you could change one thing about the place where you live (the resources you have) what would you change? Why?
  21. 21. • Gender:• Tell us about your marriage traditions, practices, customs. Age of marriage for w/m, gender expectations.•• Is there a specific ritual for ‘coming of age’ for women and/or men? Other rituals only women or men do?•• Are women and men segregated? Before marriage, during a woman’s mensus, after menopause?•• Are marriages always arranged? If so by whom? Factors that make someone a good bride or good husband?• Can a widow remarry? Is there divorce? Can a divorced woman remarry? Why/why not?•• Do men and women do the same type of jobs outside the house? Do women cultivate?• What life transition rituals are practiced – birth, death, etc.• Who is more religious? Men or Women? -- Who are more connected to nature, men or women?
  22. 22. • Tribal Identity and Issues• 1 What does the term ‘tribal’ mean to you?• 2 Do you live differently than other people in Kerala?• 3 Do you want to be separate? Distinct? If so, why?• 4 What is your tribe’s relationship with the government? Is the govt. good to tribals?• 5 Have there been any laws or policies (from the state) passed for your benefit? Harm? Which laws?• 6 Do the leaders of your tribal community talk to govt officials? What do they talk about?• 7 What is your relationship with other tribal peoples in the region? (Manan/Muduvan)• 8 Are they lower status or higher status than you? Why? Historic relationship/reasons for difference?• 9 What distinguishes you from these other tribes?• 10 How do the (Manan/Muduvan/other tribe) live and what is their cultivation practice? Do they grow the same crops?• 11 Are the current young people in your community PROUD to be (Manan/Muduvan)? What makes them proud?• 12 What is good about the new generation? What skills/talents/knowledge do they have today that previous generations didn’t have? How is it useful?• 13 Do you practice conservation/protection of your resources? Why or why not?• 14 Do you try to be sustainable (explain concept: live life now with intention that these resources will be there for future generations)?• 15 you feel like you’re losing culture? Are you disappointed with the loss of traditions or changing traditions?• 16 If I want to write a book about your tribe, its history, its relationship to the land… what is the most important story I should tell?
  23. 23. Ethnobotany and EthnomedicineLeucas aspera (tumba) and salt, taken together can be given to a woman during birth to aid in the evacuation of the afterbirth (placenta).
  24. 24. Ethnobiological studies data sheet Photo ID No Settlement DivisionID No: Date:Name of the Plant Local Name Locality Scientific nameHabit H/S/G/C/T Part used:Category Habitat type Location statusNTFPs Edible use Medicinal Rituals Implements SaleQuantity of collection Bundle/trip Kg/tripSeason Aprox. Time requiredJan-Mar Apr-Jun July-Sep Oct-DecIUCN Status Rare Endangered ThreatenedLocal Status Common Rare Abundant othersCollection ModeIndividual Group OthersCollection typeDestructive Sustainable
  25. 25. 1 Anguilla bengalensis (Malanjil/Blanjil) : the tail of this fish isground and given to pregnant women 2 months beforedelivery to aid in birth. This fish is also eaten for asthma anddry skin. (Source: Raman, Mannan settlement Kozhimala)
  26. 26. Challenges of working with human subjectsbecame clear on the 2nd day we tried to enterthe Muthuvan settlement…
  27. 27. Preliminary FindingsMannan vs. Muthuvan1) Settlement patterns – cultivation, proximity, unity, elephants2) Pesticide usage, seed storage (ragi, peas)3) Raja’s role in ‘development’ projects, governance, foreign NGO’s and state politics (less activity among Kanis)4) Proximity to forest and relationship with outsiders (customs) -- issues of conversion/identity -- conservative social traditions (Muthuvan isolation) -- Education vs. traditional knowledge (Mannan mixed school and Muthuvan women’s schooling limited) -- Alcohol usage
  28. 28. Our interviews revealed that development projects such as hydro-electric dams in theregion, like this one at Anayirangal Reservoir, have caused loss of land, massiverelocation of indigenous peoples and dramatic shifts in tribal livelihood choices.With overpopulation, increased land development, and population resettlementschemes organized by the government, tribal peoples face increased elephant conflicts,water shortages, deforestation, and a sever reduction in productive lands upon which togrow crops or forage. Many feel they have lost more than land. They’ve lost identity.