Tribal Resilience

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Who wouldn’t want to be resilient, relaxed, able to enjoy life, when it throws unexpected surprises. To be resilient, is to be aware, even if subconsciously, the base that sustains us, mostly hidden, unknowable, but pervasive. Who exemplifies this better than the tribals.

A tribal who enters the forest, does not carry anything, not even a stick. Now, tribals live in the forests, so there is little to separate his habitation, or farm from the forest. But for argument sake, let’s assume he leaves his house, and enters the forest. A modern man, would want a rifle. Lest he encounter a bear, or a leopard. Why doesn’t the tribal carry a knife, or a stone, or a stick? The reason is subtle. By carrying a stick, the tribal separates himself from the forest. That separation reduces his awareness of the forest around him. He is no longer tuned to the life under his feet, the elephants nearby, or to the smells of a leopard. This awareness prevents any surprise encounter.
But there is a deeper reason. When you carry a stick or a stone, you carry fear. Just the very act of holding the stick, creates a subconscious fear. This is against modern belief. After all, every kid, locked up in a dreary classroom, dreams of the Westerns, the wild, wild west of America, where cowboys, get to their guns in a jiffy, and shoot the bad guy down. This action, of putting your hand on the gun, in the holster, drawing it out in a fraction of a second, and boom-boom – that it seems to the kids, is what bravery is about.

A police officer in America, walks to a car stopped for, say over-speeding, with his hand on the gun holster. Or an officer on night duty, would use the lights on his car to focus on some window on an apartment. When someone appears at that window, he quickly draws his gun, laser sight on target, ready to fire. Heroic? Perhaps so, for the modern man. But for a tribal, this represents fear. What about a deer? Does it live in perpetual fear of tigers? They don’t. If a deer senses a tiger has just had a full meal, it will frolic around, without fear. Forest life is full of life and death, but the kind of fear, we assume is all too common, is not so. When it comes to humans, in a forest, that is not broken by modern progress and attitudes, there is not much to fear. No animals have humans on their diet. Only if one encounters a bear with a cub, the bear is likely to charge. For a tribal who lives without fear, even this encounter is manageable. All other animals would leave humans alone – tigers, leopards, elephants, or wild buffalo.

Speaking of elephants, tribals had no fear of them. There would be absolutely no conflict between the elephants and the tribals. Elephants are very intelligent. When they enter a tribal farm, who do they use to guide the elephants out, back into the forest? A small child will go in front of the elephant herd, directing it away from the cultivated crops, while the rest of the tribals hold burning sticks, and occasionally beat drums. Today they are annoyed by high intensity flashlights, fire crackers, and sometimes gunfire. With electric fences, and “elephant-proof” trenches, the relationship between man and elephant is gone. For a determined elephant electric fences or elephant-proof trenches are minor nuisances, easily overcome. It would use a wooden stick to push down an electric fence, or kick dirt into a trench and cross it. Even non-tribal people who understand its intelligence, would simply do a respectful namaste, to the (elephant) God, or Raja, and walk on without fear. Why allow all that, when technology can take care of minor nuisances, like elephants.
A tribal in his seventies or eighties, will walk in the forest barefoot, without fear. Their food was nutritious, and herbs were available for all illnesses. There is a tribe in south India, that used to eat around 60 different grains and vegetables. The actual number may be much higher, 60 would be the number of the most popular grains and vegetables. But now, it is mostly ration shop rice. Unable to cultivate the land, because they don’t “own” it, and unable to access forest resources, they suffer from malnutrition. After “interacting” with plains people, fertility rates of women have gone down 30%, in case of some tribes, it is even down 80%.

So it is not just laws against hunting, that prevent them from getting the required nutrition. The laws against hunting derive from English poaching laws. Most of the English countryside were under the control of royalty, anyone else taking anything from the land would be regarded a poacher. If tribal poaching is a problem, why is it that the tribal regions are rich in wildlife. Or rather it used to be. Until the English, to show their “manliness”, got into hunting tigers. The wildlife laws today are mostly dictated by phoren interests, which neither understand the psyche of the people, nor the nature of wild animals. Most of the destruction happens, because of so called “habitat loss”. But the real reason is modern pretences to efficient living. A tiger may hide in a shrub 100m away, without a human noticing, in a rural hinterland. But today efficient farming, means levelling the land, removing weeds and shrubs, and heavy use of pesticides and herbicides. The base of the pyramid of life has been destroyed, along with much of wildlife.

All environmentalists wet their diapers in joy, when some Englishman, I guess, lighted a bonfire of African ivory, a few decades back. By destroying ivory, the “illegal trade” in ivory is destroyed, elephants will not be poached for ivory, all ivory artisans will find some other work to do, and the world will be wonderful again. Today elephants are diminishing lot more rapidly. Great big fences of capitalism, are preventing the much needed migrations of elephants and wild beasts in search of food. Yet no one can question this idiocy, for we have found the problem, “poaching” for ivory.

Most ivory came from dead elephants. Ivory gatherers, artisans, traders, and ivory users had a vested interest in keeping the elephant populations thriving. That is not true, for the fools, who make today’s laws. In fact, I saw one pathological idiot, an environmentalist, who was saying we should ban the use of peacock feathers. Peacocks are abundant, but most importantly, once a year, the male peacock, sheds all its feathers. These are the most abundant things, and they come, without hurting the peacocks. One male peacock has so many feathers! Or take the laws under Goondas Act for hunting wild hares. Wild hares are not exactly rabbits, but still there is no reason, that their population cannot quickly rebound. Except that modern agriculture, dispensed by award winning, fathers and grandfathers of the green revolution, in collaboration with government, and agricultural universities, has no space for “weeds”, live fences of shrubs, and native trees. It doesn’t like land that is not levelled, or frequently plowed to a fine tithe. It definitely is not poaching, that kills the wild hares. More laws will only mean less wild hares, but we can expect the idiocy to worsen. These laws, remove another connection between people, and the wild.

The houses of the tribals suited their environment. Made of clay with thatched roofs, they were nice and cool during hot weather. Of course, a tribal rarely spends time inside the house. Even at night, he is likely to sleep outside. But such natural houses built out of their own hands, is a strict no-no. Our weeping leaders, want them to have pucca houses, of concrete. In one place, the Japanese had heavily invested in building resort style pucca houses for the tribals. Except that, the tribals find pucca houses too hot in summer. Initially they kept their cattle in the houses, and slept outside. But they found that the cattle did not like it either. Pucca houses, mean’t sanitation. Even places with steep slopes, have concrete ditches. Yes that is the rage of the “cleanerers”.

There was this place in Michigan, a software development unit, that did programming for a certain automobile group. At lunch time, one walks down to the cafeteria. One can see a lady, spraying and wiping down the glass, that covers the deli meats, and assorted goodies. Nice hygienic place, just what you would expect a cafeteria in a hyper-power to be. Usually I don’t eat outside, if I can avoid it. But due to a combination of circumstances, I was at the cafeteria. Ordered some slices of turkey, from the deli, for a sandwich. Ate it, felt not so comfortable. Went to the toilet. What do I see, a couple of native Americans there. The toilet is comfortable, there is a magazine rack, and some do spend  half-an-hour in the toilet. It seems the norm is that you eat, and then shit.

Take a tribal, he squats to shit, and is done in less than 15 seconds. The food he eats, real food, with lots of vegetables, makes for easy shitting. The modern man, with bread of bleached wheat, and 20 other ingredients, meat that is preserved with chemicals, and stored for several months, from “clean” surroundings, has very sticky shit, that he has to spend half-an-hour in the toilet. Not to mention the modern hybrid wheat, tetraploids, hexaploids, and other polyploids, make food sticky, and pathological. Shitting in a seated position, that is the most idiotic thing ever, it prevents proper elimination. Yet, these phoren folks, have all of a sudden taken interest in open-defecation, and the “problems” they cause. But in tribal areas, with high biological activity, shit is processed, and vanishes in a day.

In a smart city like Chennai, with underground drainage, during the 2015 December, shit got forced out into the streets. Don’t expect Swachh Bharat to deal with big problems, this program is mostly about centralised control. That minimises the role of plants, and micro-organisms, to keep the air and water clean.

Squatting – that is what the tribal women do, during childbirth. The women, give birth alone, in their own house. During childbirth they pull on a rope, and squat. These women can’t understand modern childbirth, where a woman lies on her back in a padded bed, and tries to “push” the baby out. Even the guy who watches it has to be given a shot of epidural up his spine, just for watching. Overdose of painkillers for the woman, that shows up in breastmilk, and multiple vaccine shots for the child, in the first few years, and progress is complete.

Speaking of vaccines, a few years back, some of the common illnesses, had no vaccines. The apparent reason, was that this is a developing country, and these illnesses are not a concern in the rich countries. So without funds, vaccines cannot be developed. But now, with vaccine pushers like Bill Gates, even illnesses, that may affect few tens of people in tribal areas, have vaccines. Policy changes influenced by Bill Gates, government and NGO activism, all sorts of vaccines get pushed onto the tribals, even though they don’t trust them.

In rural areas people drank spring water, from the wells. The wells are not too deep, 40 feet at the most. Rain, filtered through the soil, and rock, became life giving water. In the forests, the streams are a source of water. It was full of life and vitality. There were no parasites to be afraid of. Chew on some herbs, malaria, typhoid, or intestinal parasites, will cause no illness or discomfort. But today, tribals have begun to use heavily chlorinated water, that meets WHO standards. Destroying their beneficial intestinal flora.

To bring in a “Right to Clean Water”, one has to dirty the water, and reduce access to it. Dams, and mining do that, so that a “Right to Clean Water” can be imposed from above, by a centralized authority. In a free flowing stream, even a check dam, can change the water quality. More organic matter gets collected in the dams, or check-dams, and their decomposition reduces water quality.
So how did tribal people, who ate a rich diet of grains, vegetables, drank life giving water from streams, walked barefoot, in the forest without fear of snakes or tigers, whose women gave birth alone, who obtained all the necessary medicines from the forest, lose their resilience? That, today, their children die of malnutrition, the women frequently infertile, the men unhealthy or alcoholic.

Do we understand their ways, emulate their free spirit, and live a life of freedom and abundance? At least during our vacations, from work or study. Or perhaps look at their sorry state (after collective efforts at “improving” their lives), and get back to working hard, in our smart cities, where rights to education, clean water, good governance, are guaranteed. We of course get this perk – to look down upon those who don’t enjoy the system, and do not want to fully submit to it. In our controlled, monitored existence, that is our only source of joy, the joy of having someone or some group to look down upon. In a world, where a single finger waggerer, can turn things upside down for people who don’t do what is expected of them, this joy could be priceless.

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