`For a tribal, satisfaction is in basic needs'

ALLAHABAD: Modern technologies can play a vital role in the economic development of tribals and tribal areas. However, caution needs to be the key to any intervention to prevent annihilation of their age-old social fabric, economic pattern and unique lifestyle. This was the consensus of experts who congregated at the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology (MNNIT) recently to discuss the role of technology and technical institutions in the economic development of tribals and tribal areas.

Top experts like Belgium's Stephen Marshal, who is working among the tribals of Chattisgarh and Jharkhand for more than five years, laid stress on Happiness Index and maintained that educationists and policy planners should understand the difference between the level of happiness and stereotype economic development while framing and implementing policies in this regard.

"For a tribal, a mark of satisfaction is fulfilment of his basic needs like food, shelter and clothing, and in some cases even clothes are not a priority. Prosperity of tribes can only be ensured by preserving the tribal culture and maintaining their natural environment and surroundings," said Stephen.

He said that tribals in India, as elsewhere in the world, are known for their unique ways of living and distinct culture, which provides them a separate identity on the national scene. "However, their peculiar lifestyle, crude and primitive technologies, and their tendency to inhabit the secluded and isolated areas is what matters to them most and their importance should not be underestimated by any policymaker and academician," he added.

He proposed a four-party system including technical institutions, NGOs, students and tribals for targeting the real needs of a community for introducing innovative methods of economic development.

Noted Information Communication Technology (ICT) expert Prod BD Chaudhary raised the issue of indifference in the society about the tribals. He laid stress on the need for proper planning, implementation and utilisation of available resources for tribal development.

MNNIT director Prof Arun Baran Sammadar pointed towards the increasing digital divide in tribal and rural areas as compared to urban areas.

"MNNIT has the opportunity to train and educate students hailing from tribal areas. There is a need for honing the skills of these students for effecting major change in the society as educational and technical institutes have the responsibility to guide the people towards development and prosperity," he added.

Praising the traditional know-how of tribal communities, especially their medicinal system, prof Sammadar said that infusion of technical expertise with the conventional knowledge could do wonders for all.

Director of GB Pant Social Science Institute Prof Pradeep Bahragava maintained that as the tribals do not have the tendency to accumulate resources therefore the economic development model being planned for them should not sound and reflect an alien approach or be coercive towards them.

"Technical institutions should refrain from imposing technology that has no use or interest to the tribals. Interventions should be limited keeping in mind their basic needs," he added.

Noted psychologist and vice-chancellor of Bihar Central University
Prof Janak Pandey called for developing a mechanisms for understanding psyche of the tribals before framing and implementing a policy in the tribal areas.