9th Class Social Science Forest Society & Colonialism

  • question_answer 5) Discuss how the changes in forest management in the colonial period affected the following groups of people.   (a ) Shifting cultivators   (b) Nomadic and pastoralist communities   (c) Firms trading in timber/forest produce   (d) Plantation owners   (e) Kings/British officials engaged in shikar  


    (a) Shifting Cultivators (i) European foresters regarded shifting cultivation as harmful for the forests. The government banned shifting cultivation.   (ii) Shifting cultivators were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests.   (iii) Some had to change occupations, while some resisted through large and small rebellions. (b) Nomadic and Pastoralist Communities (i) The forest laws deprived people of their customary rights and meant severe hardship for the nomadic and pastoralist communities. They could not cut wood for their houses, could not graze their cattle or collect fruits and roots. Hunting and fishing became illegal.   (ii) They were forced to steal wood. If they were caught, they were at the mercy of the forest guards and they would have to offer bribes to the guards.   (iii) Many pastoralist and nomadic communities like the Korava, Karacha of the Madras Presidency lost their livelihoods.   (iv) Some of the nomadic communities began to be called criminal tribes and were forced to work instead in factories, mines and plantations under government supervision.   (v) They were also recruited to work in plantations. Their wages were low and conditions of work very bad. (c) Firms Trading in Timber/Forest Produce (i) By the early nineteenth century, oak forests in England were disappearing. This created a problem of timber supply for the Royal Navy.   (ii) By the 1820s, search parties were sent to explore the forest resources in India. Trees were felled on a massive scale and large quantities of timber were being exported, from India.   (iii) The colonial government took over the forests and gave vast areas to European planters at cheap rates.   (iv) The British Government gave many large European trading firms the sole right to trade in the forest products of particular areas.   (v) The government gave contracts to contractors who cut trees indiscriminately and made huge profits. (d) Plantation Owners (i) Large areas of natural forests were also cleared to make way for tea, coffee and rubber plantations to meet Europe's growing need for .these commodities.   (ii) The colonial government took over the forests, and gave vast areas to European planters at cheap rates. These areas were enclosed and cleared of forests and planted with tea or coffee.   (iii) Communities like Santhals from Assam, and Oraons from Jharkhand and Gonds from Chhattisgarh were recruited to work on tea plantations. Their wages were low and conditions of work very bad.   (iv) The plantation owners, under the protection and rights given by the British Government, made huge profits. (e) Kings/British Officials Engaged in Shikar  (i) In India, Shikar or hunting of tigers and other animals had been. part of the culture of the court and nobility for centuries.   (ii) Under colonial rule the scale of hunting increased to such an extent that various species became almost extinct.   (iii) The British saw large animals as signs of a wild, primitive and savage society. They believed that by killing dangerous animals the British would civilize India.   (iv) The British gave rewards for the killing of tigers, wolves and other large animals on the grounds that they posed a threat to cultivators.   (v) The Maharaja of Sarguja alone shot-1157 tigers and 2000 leopards upto 1957. A British Administrator George Yule killed 400 tigers.   (vi) Over 80000 tigers, 150000 leopards and 200000 wolves were killed for reward between 1875 and 1925.   (vii) Initially certain areas of the forests were reserved for hunting.  

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