Indigenous knowledge systems not adequately

Prof.Rajib Handique, Department of History, Gauhati University delivering the keynote address at the 2-day national seminar at Don Bosco College, Kohima on May 12. (Morung Photo)

Morung Express News

Kohima | May 12

Although India has one of the largest tribal populations in the world, tribal knowledge system has not been captured and stored in a systematic way. 

With the primary objective of integrating tribal’s of North East India with mainland India, a two-day national seminar on “Traditional Tribal Technology in India: Northeast in Focus,” was held at Don Bosco College, Kohima on May 12. 

Addressing the seminar, Prof Rajib Handique, Department of History, Gauhati University remarked that the tribal way of life is considered desirable because the same is considered sustainable and eco-friendly. 

 “We are increasingly looking into our past to find out when we made our technology and related processes so unsustainable,” Handique stated adding that “the tribal today indicates the indigenous when we consider matters like tribal technology or their way of life.”

Noting that for a region as “diverse as the North East India, both in terms of its rich bio-diversity that in its corollary sustain the ethnic and cultural diversity,”he said the study of technology along this extant mosaic becomes all the more challenging. 

He said Northeast India contain immense diversity in terms of tribal groups, their ecological space encompassing both hills, plateaus and plains, and their technological processes that enable them to carry on a sustainable living going beyond the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter as well as their defence and health (medicine).

While doing a history of technology of North East India, he opined that “one needs to take cognizance of the diversities and their intersections where the history of technology may be embedded.” 

He further emphasized that “Indigenous knowledge systems have not been adequately documented and preserved in a systematic way and preserving the indigenous knowledge system especially with regard to technology is imperative before the same face extinction.”

Stating that seminars and academic convergences like these are necessary to highlight the significance of history of science and technology and promote research in the field, he also pointed out that “we need to keep in mind that history of technology is essentially multi- disciplinary and is cultural history as well. A topic on history of technology needs to create a convergence between subjects like Anthropology, Archaeology, geography, linguistics, life sciences, physics and chemistry.”

Special invitee, Mohammed Ali Shihab, Secretary (Power), Department of Power, Government of Nagaland related his personal encounters with the tribals while stressing on the importance of having traditional knowledge, which, he impressed upon can solve the problems faced by the community. 

He also emphasized on the need to adopt and adapt with the culture and society that one is surrounded with. Nagaland, he commented is truly a land of festivals while citing an instance when Kiphire was cut off from the rest of the state owing to a roadblock caused by landslide, he said that regardless, Kiphire district organised a festival even in that circumstance. 

Nagas, he further observed are very honest while pointing out that in the olden days, there was no need for locks, which is indicative of the trust they had for each other. He also urged that, “we have to develop and bring back that trust.”

Mention may be made here that the national seminar is being sponsored by Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) New Delhi and organised by Department of History, Don Bosco College Kohima in collaboration with Department of History & Archaeology, Nagaland University, Kohima Campus, Naga Scholars Association (NSA), Kohima Unit & Nagaland International Research Centre.

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