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Mahatma Gandhi’s views on the Adivasis Indigenous peoples in India are less discussed than his views on Dalits, peasants, and other communities. Of the few times he raised the Adivasi question, it was to discuss how they, as considered marginal communities, may be incorporated into the mainstream, such as when he says in Hind Swaraj, “The Bhil, Pindari, and Thag are our own countrymen. To win them over is my and your work” (HS, Sect. 8).
However, there has been Gandhian engagement with Adivasis and his ideas have influenced the trajectory of Adivasi political movements in post-independence India. In this one day webinar series we seek to go deeper into Gandhian political philosophy, the history of Gandhian movements post-independence, and contemporary struggles for Adivasi rights to critically assess Gandhi’s legacy in relation to Adivasis. We ask about the impact that Gandhi’s efforts to address Adivasis through the “Ashram” system, particularly in Western India, has had on Adivasi political formations? How has Gandhian thought influenced national policy toward the Adivasis? What about the counter-narratives to Gandhian political philosophy with respect to Adivasis and Adivasi struggle? How did Gandhi address the economic and material development of Adivasis? Finally, what impact has Gandhi’s ideals had on the contemporary political social movements as Adivasis struggle for their right to land and resources in the wake of development and displacement?
These interdisciplinary panel discussions focussed on Mahatma Gandhi and the Adivasi (Indigenous) people in India. This was considered from a range of viewpoints: sociology, politics, history, anthropology, archaeology and Indigenous studies. The keynote speaker was Daniel J. Rycroft, Chair, India Dialogue, University of East Anglia, UK, who spoke on 'The Question of Human Dignity in Adivasi Studies'. Other speakers included Bina Sengar, Sangeeta Dasgupta, Arjun Rathva, Jitendra Vasava, and Shri. Ashok Chaudhari. The Rapporteur was Mudit Trivedi.