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Cooperative Labour in Odisha Tribes

  • 11 Sep 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The concept of labour cooperatives is popular in almost all tribal communities in Odisha including the Dongria Kondh, Juanga, Lanjia Saura, Saura, Didayi, Paudi Bhuyan and Kandh.

Key Points

  • Need: Farming on the steep hill slopes requires more labour which a single family cannot provide. Therefore, they have evolved an indigenous system to engage the labour available in the community to accomplish the farming tasks of all the families of the village.
  • Benefit: These cooperatives ensure all families of the community are ensured food and no fields remain barren. They also strengthen the feeling of collective belongingness among the members.
  • Cooperatives in Different Tribes:
    • Lanjia Saura: All members are bound to participate in constructing terraces for farming on the slopes and designing and creating traditional irrigation systems, harnessing hill streams.
    • Juanga community: All villagers trek hills, clear trees and create crop fields. The village council ensures that all members contribute their labour.
      • The Juanga and Saura are Munda ethnic groups from Southern Odisha.
      • They are Austroasiatic tribes i.e. they are believed to be part of the first wave of migration out of Africa about 60,000 years ago.
    • Dongria Kondh: This tribe practices at least 10 types of cooperative labour sharing within the community.
    • Types of Cooperatives in Dongria Kondh Tribe:
      • Sahabati: All Dongria households of the village work in turns for a day on the land of one villager.
      • Daasibati: Cooperative of younger, unmarried girls from the village for less strenuous but tedious work such as weeding, fencing of fields, cleaning or harvesting of crops.
      • Dhangdabati: Young bachelors are required to take up work such as felling trees, hoeing, carrying logs and digging pits.

Dongria Kondh

  • About: They derive their name from dongar, meaning ‘hill’ and are the member of Khond Tribe
  • Status: They are a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group.
  • Habitation: They reside in the Niyamgiri hill range of Odisha, around 4,500 ft above sea level.
  • Language: Kui language (Oral only, not written)
  • Beliefs: They worship Niyam Raja, the god of the Niyamgiri Forests.
  • Occupation: They sustain themselves from the resources of the Niyamgiri forests, practising horticulture and shifting cultivation
  • Issues: They are currently facing displacement due to the Bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills.
    • They are also facing severe health problems because of dust coming from the red mud pond (waste generated by the refinery) site.

Tribes in Odisha

  • Odisha is home to 62 tribal communities — the largest diverse groups of tribal population in India.
    • 13 of them are PVTGs— Bonda, Birhor, Chuktia Bhunjia, Didayi, Dungaria Kandha, Hill Kharia, Juang, Kutia Kondh, Lanjia Saora, Lodha, Mankirdia, Paudi Bhuyan and Saora.
  • Tribal populations are found in the entire seven districts of Kandhamal, Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Nabarangpur, Koraput, Malkangiri and Rayagada, and in parts of 6 other districts.

Source: TH

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