However, the tribals are not the beneficiaries of this development. Instead, they were left with epidemics like displacement, migration, unemployment, hunger, malnutrition, disease, air pollution, and water pollution.
Earlier, we used to be very close to nature. Despite being less educated, society was much happier, more stable, and more organised. At that time, wild animals, insects, and birds were all our companions and more symbiotes. In other words, there was harmony among nature, the environment, animals, and human. It was this harmony that empowered us to fight all epidemics and adversities.
Today, the country has reached new heights of development. Everything is now global – global world, global capital, global market, global economy, global warming, and global pandemic. This global capital is dangerously weighing the whole earth, environment, and human civilisation against profitability. This is the very reason why economic profit is superseding nature, the environment, and human life. The grave result of this is staring right down at us. We are experiencing heavy rain in the summer season and hot weather during otherwise rainy days; hot weather in the winter and cold weather in the summer.
The pace of development is so fast in the world that nature has changed its very own inherent character and pace. Not only this, but nature has also changed its overall essence. There used to be dense green forests, hills covered with greenery, and rivers flowing with gushing water. Agricultural fields used to be covered with paddy, pea, barley, and other crops. The farmers would relish all kinds of leafy vegetables. All of this green landscape and vegetation are disappearing rapidly and sprawling concrete palaces are taking over this space.
This blind race of development gifted the coronavirus pandemic to the country and the world. According to a report, the death toll due to the pandemic was severely high in polluted metros. However, the death toll in rural tribal areas was, astoundingly, very low. Perhaps, the rationale behind this is that the rural tribal areas are still in synergy with nature and the environment.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, people were searching for oxygen beds in hospitals in exchange for lakhs of rupees. Similar cases of the desperate search for oxygen cylinders were observed, and thousands of lives were lost. This pandemic has given a stark message to the country, that the oxygen which is given by nature for free and in abundance to humanity should be protected. The struggle of the tribal communities to protect the water, forest, and land also provides a similar message.
The tribal community strongly believes that our history, social values, and linguistic-cultural existence cannot be compensated or rehabilitated in any way. That is the very reason why tribal communities are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the land and environment across the globe, and refuse to accept any model of development which comes at the cost of environmental destruction or degradation.