Pastoralists in the Modern World Questions and Answers Class 9
Q1. Explain why nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another. What are the advantages to the environment of this continuous movement?
Ans: To maintain their way of life and sustenance, nomadic tribes relocate from one location to another. They rely on animal husbandry, which makes water availability and fresh pastures essential for their survival. When pastures become depleted, they move to new areas to find new grazing grounds.
This nomadic lifestyle benefits the environment in the following ways:
(I) It allows the environment to regenerate and maintain its ecological balance.
(II) It prevents overgrazing, which would deplete future grazing grounds.
(III) The animal manure helps fertilize the soil, making it possible to repeat the nomadic cycle of relocating from one location to another.
(iv) Nomadic pastoralism provided a way out for supporting a population in a difficult environment and presented a sustainable approach to land use.
Q2. Discuss why the colonial government in India brought in the following laws. In each case, explain how the law changed the lives of pastoralists:
(a) Wasteland Rules
(b) Forest Acts
(c) Criminal Tribes Act
(d) Grazing Tax
Ans: (a) Wasteland Rules: The Waste Land Act was introduced by the colonial government, which considered any uncultivated land as wasteland. Such land was unproductive, yielding neither agricultural produce nor revenue. To increase revenue collection, the government aimed to expand cultivation on such land.
The Waste Land Act had a significant impact on the lives of pastoralists as the lands taken over for cultivation were often the grazing tracts used by them. The expansion of cultivation resulted in a decline of pastures and posed a problem for the pastoralists. Furthermore, the lands taken over were allotted to specific individuals, many of whom were appointed as village headmen.
(b) Forest Acts: In order to meet the demands of shipyards and railways for timber, the colonial government passed the Forest Acts. The government believed that grazing by pastoralists was detrimental to the growth of saplings and young shoots of trees that germinated on the forest floor.
The Forest Acts had a profound impact on the lives of pastoralists in the following ways:
(1) Forests were classified as Reserved, Protected, and Village Forests, and grazing rights of pastoralists were severely restricted. They were no longer allowed to enter many forests that had earlier provided forage for their cattle.
(2) In areas where they were still permitted to enter, they required permits, which regulated their lives.
(c) Criminal Tribes Act: The British authorities held a suspicious attitude towards nomadic communities and wished to settle them in villages. In order to achieve this, the Criminal Tribes Act was passed to compel them to reside in fixed locations and have fixed rights on specific fields, which would make them easier to control.
This Act classified traders, pastoralists, and craftsmen who sold their wares as criminals by birth and nature, and mandated that they reside in notified village settlements. Additionally, they were required to obtain permits to leave these settlements, and were continuously monitored by village police.
The implementation of this law was oppressive and restricted the movement of pastoralists. They were consistently viewed with suspicion.
(d) Grazing Tax: Under the grazing tax system, pastoralists were required to pay a tax for every animal they grazed on pastures. The colonial government introduced this tax with the intention of increasing its revenue and controlling the grazing rights of the pastoralists.
Initially, private contractors were entrusted with the responsibility of collecting the grazing tax through auctions. However, by the 1880s, the government began to collect the tax directly from the pastoralists.
As a result, cattle herders had to obtain permits to enter grazing areas to feed their livestock and pay taxes based on the number of cattle they owned. The grazing tax, in addition to being restrictive, imposed an additional financial burden on poor pastoralists.
Q3. Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.
Ans: During the late 19th century, the European imperial powers engaged in the ‘scramble for Africa,’ dividing up the region into colonies with little regard for local sentiments. In 1885, Maasailand, the land of the Maasai people, was split in half by an international boundary between British Kenya and German Tanzania. This division resulted in the best grazing lands being reserved for white settlers, while the Maasai were confined to a small area in southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Moreover, large areas of grazing land were converted into game reserves, such as the Maasai Mara and Samburu National Park in Kenya, and Serengeti Park in Tanzania. Pastoralists were prohibited from entering these reserves, and were not allowed to hunt animals or graze their herds in these areas.
Q4. There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Write about any two examples of changes which were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai herders.
Ans: The Indian pastoralists and Maasai herders were both deprived of grazing and entry rights to large portions of traditional grazing lands, which were often converted into reserved forests and game reserves. This severely restricted their mobility, leading to shortages of fodder and persistent problems with feeding their cattle. As a result, many were compelled to abandon their traditional way of life.
In addition to these challenges, both groups were subjected to new taxes such as the grazing tax, and required special permits to graze their herds in certain areas. They were often viewed with suspicion and, in case of defaults, faced harassment and severe punishment.