Social Scientist. v 13, no. 143 (April 1985) p. 31.

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Bhils' Participation in Politics in Rajasthan in the 1920's

TRIBAL movements before 1920 generally assumed an ethnic character. To the tribals, the non-tribal population symbolised the exploiting class. However it would be wrong to say even for this period that the tribal movements remained completely exclusive. There were manv non-tribals who participated in the resistance movements dominated bv tribals which in manv cases assumed the nature of a regional upsurge. This phase is well represented bv the Chuar Rebellion (1795-1800), the Chero uprising in 1820, the Kol and Bhumij revolts etc. Subsequently in the wake of merchant capitalism and increasing monetisation of tribal economy, there were movements which emotionally expressed themselves in such local terms as Mulki larai,fituri, meli, uigulan, bhumakal etc. They brought to the fore the agrarian issues, at times under the garb of religious reforms which finally assumed political /wertones. Such movements were the Kharwar movement (1877-80), Munda—Oraon Sardar movement (1869-1895'), Tana Bhagat movement (1895-1921), socio-religious-politico movements of the Bhils led bv Govind Giri (1900-1917) etc.1

Movements since 1920

But the tribal movements since 1920 reflected secular and national politics. This phenomenon of the tribal politics has been studied as a part of the freedom movement incorporating tribal sub-movements.' The social reforms during the Vedachi movement and its reconstruction programme,' the forest satvagraha of the Gonds and Kolis' led bv the leaders of the freedom movement, the impact of the Quit India movement on Lakshman Naik, a Bhumia who organised a no-tax payment campaign and picketing of liquor shops, the call ofAlluri Sriram Raju to overthrow the British Raj,*' the movements in the north-eastern tribal region launched bvjadunang7 and, after him. Rani Gaidinlii^ for the overthrow of the British Raj and the establishment of a parallel government by Ratnam.mi" bear testimony to the tribal involvement in the mainstream of national politics.

Tribal—Peasant Interaction

The involvement of the ethnic group in (lie politics led by the dominant social group was possible for a variety of reasons. The tribals bv then had settled as an agrarian (ommunity and developed a commonness of grievances with the non-tribal peasantry. Furthermore, the non-tribal peasants who made inroads into the tribal regions following the encouragements received bv the colonial authorities in a bid to generate surplus, carried with them their cultural system. The tribals, once they were integrated into me market economy, could not withstand (lie cultural system of the dominant groups. This paved (lie way for reform movements such as the Bhagat movement of (lie Bhils. The reform movements made them responsive to the

'"' N*uioiul I..ihour Institiiif, Nrw Delhi.

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