Class 9 Social Science Forest Society and Colonialism Exam Notes. Please refer to the examination notes which you can use for preparing and revising for exams. These notes will help you to revise the concepts quickly and get good marks.
Deforestation in India
Deforestation is the elimination of trees on a large scale from a forest so much so that it causes damage to plant and animal life (flora and fauna) of that forest. With a change in or tampering with an area’s biodiversity, the protective and regenerative properties of land are lost. This leads to slow onset of disaster and triggers a chain of calamities. It is a major problem concerning environmentalists today. Its main cause has been the indiscriminate nature of tree felling with a view to satisfy immediate needs not being aware of the long term effects of their actions. There is a clear cut connection between deforestation and vulnerability to famine. Forests served as the buffer for peasant population, providing some sustenance in the event of crop failure. When forest land became cropland, this buffer vanished, and crop failure meant deadly famine.
Economic And Social Conditions Leading to Deforestation
While the causes of deforestation can be many and varied like the spread of agriculture, unregulated timber harvesting and indiscriminate firewood collection, the Indian reality is quite different because of its colonial past. Due to its exploitative nature the process of cutting of trees become aggressive under British rule. The main reason for expansion of cultivation and increasing deforestation was :
*The growing demand for raw material by the English industries especially in the 19th century. This raw material was supplied by Indian farmers who not only started placing more and more land under commercial crops like sugar, cotton, indigo and jute but also started reclaiming more forest land.
*Another reason was the prevailing misconception about forests as being wasteland which was of no use. Therefore it should be cleared and used for growing crops thus its utility would be enhanced. Increasing building activity by the British both at home and in India also increased the demand for Indian timber causing greater logging.
Usually, uncontrolled deforestation is a symptom of a society’s inability to get a grip on other fundamental development problems : agricultural stagnation, grossly unequal land tenure, rising unemployment, rapid population growth, and the incapacity to regulate private enterprise to protect the public interest.
The colonial requirements of ship building and expanding railway network not only at home but in the colonies too led to further denuding of forests in India. In order to meet the demands of ever expanding Royal Navy of England and railway tracks to carry raw material to harbour more and more trees were being felled.
Mainly tea, coffee and rubber plantations were grown during the colonial period. The choice of what is to be grown and what not was based on European preference and not according to the suitability of Indian conditions. The cultivation of large areas for one commercial crop was bad for the soil and affected.
foodgrain production of the area. But the worst effect of this was on the forests. Large forest areas were converted into plantations by claring them and then selling them off to Europeans. A few remarkable examples may be cited here, some of which are still functional.
In 1850 there had been only large tea plantation in British India producing 2,00,000 pounds of tea annually, but by 1871 the number of tea estates was 295. As India got more tightly linked to British industrial needs and markets more plantations and plantation based industries in tea and coffee developed. The plantation area was also extended considerably in 1920 and the government aimed at afforestation of ravine lands. These plantations not only become a major source of revenue but also ‘a way of life’ for the Europeans.
Even after independence the legacy they left became and asset for the indigenous trade. The extent of impact of plantations on Indian lifestyle and culture is not to be belittled.
→DEVELOPMENT OF FORESTRY IN INDIA
The increasing British demand for wood and other forest products had to be fulfilled urgently. To meet this requirement the imperialist rulers of India devised a system by which it not only became easy but also legal to take away as much wood as possible from India. For this purpose they worked out a plan for streamlining the various activities linked with the forests and to conserve forest wealth which was under threat from the timber merchants and local inhabitants. By the end of the 19th century a small group of dedicated British and German forest officers recognized the value of the forests as indispensable assets. They were led by Sir Dietrich Brandis who also became the first Inspector General of Forests in India. An organization was set up in 1864 to look after all the above stated objectives and much more. This service is known as Indian forest services and is still functional. It took up the task of streamlining forestry in India which came to be known as ‘scientific forestry’. It involved planting of tree saplings along with cutting them down. This type of tree plantation involved a lot of planning and management. A lot of calculation went into the assessment of how many, what type and how much of the area was to be used for planting trees. There is a lot of dispute as to whether this type of forestry was at all scientific or not.
Another major achievement of the new system created by the British imperialists was the imposition of legal framework over the forests so that its use and misuse both became difficult. While the former was not in good taste and made life difficult for forest dwellers, the latter feat helped in a big way in forest protection. The Indian Forest Act was devised in 1865 and was subsequently amended in 1878 and 1927 to meet the changing needs of colonial demand. The main accomplishment of the Act of 1878 was to classify the forests into 3 groups according to their utility. These were, namely, reserved, protected and village forests.
The position now is that not even a single tree could be felled without prior approval by the concerned authorities, whether in rural or urban areas. The main reason being ecological and environmental rather than the utility of forest products as in the case of rural or village societies.
The Imperial Forest Research Institute was founded in 1906 at Dehradun. Its aim was to spread the notion of scientific forestry with a view to provide better communication between man and forest.
→ What are the features of scientific forestry :
In scientific forestry, natural forests which had lots of different types of trees were cut down. In their place, one type of tree was planted in straight rows. This is called a plantation. Forest officials surveyed the forests, estimated the area under different types of trees, and made working plans for forest management.
They planned how much of the plantation area to cut every year. The area cut was then to be replanted so that it was ready to be cut again in some years.
→ EFFECTS OF FORESTRY ON VILLAGERS
Since people live in different circumstances and have different needs so their expectations from the forests are also different. The changes in the system of forestry also affected them differently.
1. It brought about alternations in the vocations related to the forests like cultivation, hunting, logging, firewood gathering etc. The areas closely situated to the forests were the most affected. These included the nearby villages.
2. The areas closely situated to the forests were the most affected. These included the nearby villages, pastoral groups and the tribal areas.
3. The rural areas close to the forests were the main consumers of forest product. But with increase in the means of more efficient and quicker transports even the perishable forest products could find their way to the far off cities.
4. Forest yields like fruits and edible roots (tubers), tendu leaves, semur and mahua etc. for making different utility items like bidis, oil for cooking and lighting. herbs and wooden tools all can be had from the forests. These formed the mainstay of villages and settlements around them who literally subsisted on them.
5. The daily life of several groups of people mostly tribals was totally dependent on the forest produce. But with the enactment of laws protecting the forests, these people were the worst sufferers.
6. Now firewood collection, cattle grazing, hunting and other routine activities were declared illegal. This made the forest inhabitants thieves in their own land as they were bound to undertake activities which were perfectly natural for them.
7. It was common for policeman & forest guards to harass people by demanding bribes.
→ AFFECT OF FOREST POLICY ON CULTIVATION
The major type of cultivation practice used in forest areas of the world is known as slash and burn, shifting or swidden agriculture. It has been practiced by the forest societies of almost all the regions and climates of the world.
1. Under this system the plots to be burned are identified and all the plants and foliage in it are left to dry after cutting them down. The dry vegetation is then burnt after a month or so. Burning removes the vegetation and releases nutrients which fertilise the soil. The most interesting aspect is that this plot of land is then used for cultivation for upto 5 years, after which. it is again left fellow for the purpose of regaining declined fertility or for forest to regrow. This method is also more effective when two or more crops that complement each other are grown. Slash and burn requires a low population density, as the recovery of forest may take decades.
2. On the other hand increase in population causes ecological problems and may lead to increased pressure on land. This method has been in use in different parts of the world from. Northern Europe to Southeast Asia and South America. But it has been replaced by other methods almost every where. It is still practiced in some isolated parts of Mexico, Colombia, India, Indo-china and Madagascar. Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines aim to identify alternatives to slash-and-burn by providing viable policy, institutional, and technological land use options that can improve local livelihoods and preserve the region’s remaining forests.
3. European foresters regarded this practice as harmful for the forests. They felt that land which was used for cultivation every few years could not grow trees for railway timber. When a forest was burnt, there was the added danger of the flames spreading and burning valuable timber. Shifting cultivation also made it harder for the government to calculate taxes. Therefore, the government decided to ban shifting cultivation. As a result, many communities were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests. Some had to change occupations, while some resisted through large and small rebellions.
→ Who could hunt ?
Hunting was considered as their natural forest right by the forest communities. So it was naturally resented when laws were made that imposed a ban on the birthright of the foresters. Hunting also included fishing and a variety of indigenous contraptions, like the bamboo trap and rabbit trap were devised to facilitate the event which involved a lot of fanfare. Most of the forest communities like the Baiga, Maria, Munda of Central and East India were so dependent on forests that they were on the verge of starvation when the new forest rules came into practice. The large scale hunting of big forest animals was a more recent phenomenon of the colonial period. Even during the medieval period hunting was a royal pastime for the Mughals and other ruling dynasties. But hunting became almost an obsession in the British period so much so that some of the species like the tiger and leopard almost became extinct. It was later that the laws against large scale killing and poaching of animals from the forests were made.
♦ The main reasons for this behaviour of the colonists were :
♦ They had the notion of the wild animals as being dangerous for human survival and not otherwise as was the belief of the tribals according to whom such animals were a part of nature.
♦ Attached to this were the notions of a civilized society versus a savage society. This belief was an extension of their motion of ‘white man’s burden’ which legitimized all the wrong doings of the British in the name of religion and charity.
♦ Hunting soon became a pastime and hobby with the Europeans who at times had nothing much to do except kill.
→ EMERGENCE OF NEW OPPORTUNITIES AND BENEFITS
The process of adjustment and the necessity to evolve in changing circumstances brought out the best amongst the foresters. New trade in forest products by the colonisers in collaboration with the locals created new opportunities and generated employment in forest areas. This was a worldwide phenomenon and had its negative aspect too. Now the simple forest people were at the mercy of their foreign employers who used all means to exploit them. They even used force and torture to extract the maximum out of them.
The rubber plantations of Brazil and Putumayo in the Amazon area involving the Munduru and Huitoto Indians, respectively, during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are instances of how growing demand for rubber was changing the lifestyle of a primitive traditional society.
The adivasis or forest tribes of India, as they are called, were equally badly affected although the use of jungle products like animal hides and horns, spices, herbs, wood and its products etc., for trade was nothing new for them. But the element of foreignes as traders and officials was a new development for them too and so were the trading regulations introduced by the British on forest products. Many of the tribes and pastoral communities lost their occupation because of changing economic pattern due to their previous vocations like hunting, gathering and grazing. Even the Banjaras, the nomadic salesmen lost their job as their product were either not in demand or due to restrictions they were unable to procure them. The criminalisation of certain tribes, a feature of colonial India, was a natural corollary of the changing economic conditions during the British period of Indian history. The plantation industry discussed earlier too played havoc with the lives of the people as many of them were displaced from their homes to work in far off areas. The tea gardens of Assam attracted migrant lobour from Jharkhand and Chattisgarh as tribals provided cheap labour to the planters and with nothing at all to do in their native places they at least could earn their bread albeit in bad working conditions.
→ FOREST COMMUNITIES OF INDIA
The history of Indian tribes is replete with instances of protests and rebellions due to the imposition of such rules and regulations that not only changed their lives but also increased their hardships. Some of the more famous tribal revolts were the Munda rebellion led by Birsa Munda of Chotanagpur, the Santhal rebellion led by Sidhu and Kanu, revolts in Southern states like that led by Alluri Sitarama Raju. All these raised their voice against the curbs imposed on their natural rights to forests by an alien authority. Through a case study of the tribal revolt of Bastar in 1910 an attempt has been made to explain the diverse factors involved in causing unrest amongst the forest societies. Situated in the heart of India, surrounded by the states of Orissa, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, Bastar is presently located in the state of Chattisgarh. Home to several tribes like the Gonds, Murias, Bhatras and Dhurwas, its chief river isIndravati while Godavari runs through the southern border.
→ THE BASTAR REBELLION OF 1910
The 150 years history of protests and rebellion in Bastar culminated in the Bhumkal rebellion of 1910 meaning the great people’s upsurge.
Several other policies of the state at that time proved extremely oppressive for the tribals of the region and became focal points of the Bhumkal rebellion. Extensive forest areas were declared reserved forests; resulting in the tribals feeling that their inalienable right over forests has been subverted. A 1905 proposal by the government to reserve two third of the forests and ban tribal activities in the reserved area led bitterness amongst them. The situation grew worse with the famines of 1899–1900 and again in 1907–08.
Due to the excessive revenue demands of the colonial rule, several tribal villages were given on lease to thekedars who adopted extremely oppressive means to collect revenues from the tribals. The monopoly on liquor brewing was also a cause for unrest. The tribals considered liquor as prasad of Gods, and the order banning liquor brewing amounted to interference in their religious affairs to them.
People began to gather and discuss these issues in their village councils, in bazaars and at festivals or wherever the headmen and priests of several villages were assembled. The initiative was taken by the Dhurwas of the Kanger forest, where reservation first took place. Although there was no single leader, many people speak of Gunda Dhur, from village Nethanar, as an important figure in the movement. In 1910, mango boughs, a lump of earth, chilies and arrows, began circulating between villages. These were actually messages inviting villagers to rebel against the British. Every village contributed something to the rebellion expenses. Bazaars were looted, the houses of officials and traders, schools and police stations were burnt and robbed, and grain redistributed. Most of those who were attacked were in some way associated with the colonial state and its oppressive laws.
The British sent troops to suppress the rebellion. The advise leaders tried to negotiate, but the British surrounded their camps and fired upon them. After that they marched through the villages flogging and punishing those who had taken part in the rebellion. Most villages were deserted as people fled into the jungles. It took three months (February - May) for the British to regain control. However, they never managed to capture Gunda Dhur. In a major victory for the rebels, work on reservation was temporarily suspended, and the area to be reserved was reduced to roughly half of that planned before 1910.
→FOREST POLICY OF THE DUTCH IN INDONESIA
The Indonesian experience in the nineteenth century was quite similar to the Indian episode in terms of forestry and forest management. So much so that the increasing involvement with the East Indies, as Indonesian islands are known, both commercial and territorial led to the formation of the forest service in Indonesia.
1. Firstly, the Dutch were propelled by the need to get more timber for the railways and maritime activities for their even expanding network in the colony.
2. Secondly, territorial expansion led to the enactment of forest laws where by the access of natives to the forest wealth, which was their birthright, was reduced to a bare minimum.
3. Even their daily activities like taking wood for construction purposes or for fuel and cattle grazing were confined to specific areas and that too under strict supervision.
4. Another similarity with the Indian experience was the imposition of taxes and fines to the use of forest land.
5. Lastly, those who provided free labour and transport facilities to the Dutch rulers were exempted from such dues. This practice came to be known as the blandongdiensten system.
6. Such a restrictive and oppressive policy was bound to have its repercussions. Unrest soon spread far and wide. A major example of such a disturbance was the movement of the Saminists led by SurontikoSamin of a village with abundance of teak woods, which soon went out of reach of the villagers.
7. Tax boycott was followed by open protests which began in the last decade of the nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century till the colonial rule came to an end in 1938.
♦ War and deforestation :
The two World Wars aggravated the process of deforestation. In a war situation the need for timber is more than doubled due to increased use of timber for the purpose of war. Most of the war time wood is taken from the colonies and India and Indonesia were no exceptions. This is true of all the colonies that bear the burden of increased wartime requirements. In India and Indonesia plans for forest management (exploitation) were dumped and a system of open exploitation of forest wealth threw every caution to the winds. In Java the situation was a bit different. The ‘scorched earth policy’ that preceded the Japanese occupation everywhere involved destruction of timber and mills, led to random destruction of forests by the Japanese and consequently resulted in extension of cultivable land. This was a trend that became difficult to reverse once the war was over.
1. Biodiversity. Variety of plant and animal life in a given environmental setting. e.g., biodiversity of the Himalayas or the biodiversity of the Amazon refers to all the life that exists there.
2. Tropics. Areas with hot, steamy and humid climate, usually near the equator.
3. Logging. Selective cutting of useful timber wood as different from the wholesale clearance of forests. Usually involves not clear-cutting but the “creaming” of the forest’s small proportion of commercially valued species. However, the process of cutting and removing selected trees amid dense foliage and on delicate soils usually causes far more destruction of vegetation and wildlife than the bare statistics of extracted timber would suggest.
4. Terra Nullius. In its simplest sense it means land belonging to no one. Antarctica is terra nullius.
5. Indispensable. Essential, necessary, crucial, very important.
6. Tropics. Places with hot, humid and sultry climate.
7. Reclaiming. Make wasteland usable again.
8. Poaching. Take game (animals) illegally from protected areas or forests.
9. Pargana. A cluster of villages also an administrative unit.
A. VERY SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1 Why are forests useful to us ?
Q.2 Who was Dietrich Brandis? What were his achievements ?
Q.3 What is meant by social forestry ?
Q.4 What were the provisions of the 1878 forest Act ?
Q.5 Where is Bastar located ?
Q.6 Why did Bastar Rebellion take place ?
Q.7 Who started Bastar Rebellion ?
Q.8 Who were Kalongs ? Why were they Important ?
Q.9 What were the provisions of the forest laws passed by the Dutch ?
Q.10 What was blandongdiensten system ?
Q.11 Who was Surontiko Samin ? What did he do ?
Q.12 What is deforestation? Mention any two factors responsible for this ?
Q.13 Explain scientific forestry ?
Q.14 What was the impact of Indian forest Act on the people ?
Q.15 Why was scientific forestry introduced by the Britishers ?
B. SHORT ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1 Why are forests affected by wars ?
Q.2 What is the importance of forest ?
Q3 How did Forests Act affect the villagers ?
Q.4 Describe some of the common customs and beliefs of Bastar people ?
Q.5 How was Bastar rebellion organised and financed ?
Q.6 How was Bastar Rebellion supressed? What were the result of the rebellion ?
Q.7 What new developments have occured in forestry in Asia and Africa in recent times ?
Q.8 Where were Kalangs ? Mention any four features of this community ?
Q.9 “The introduction of railways had an adverse impact on the forest”. Justify by giving examples.
Q.10 Explain the impact of Dutch scientific forestry on the locals.
C. LONG ANSWER TYPE QUESTIONS
Q.1 Explain the major characteristics of forest movement in Indonesia.
Q.2 Explain the method used by the Saminits against the Britishers.
Q.3 Explain the major characteristics of forest movement in India.
Q.4 Explain the impact of colonialism on the forest society.
Q.5 Why forests were called ‘indispensable assets’ by the British ?
D. MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS
Q.1 The disappearance of forests is referred to as -
(D) All of these
Q.2 Who was the first Inspector General of forest in India -
(A) George Yule
(B) Dietrich Brandis
Q.3 When was the Indian Forest Service setup ?
Q.4 Which Kingdom of Java spilt into two kingdoms ?
(D) All of these
Q.5 Where was the Imperial Forest Research Institute setup in India ?
Q.6 Where is Bastar located ?
(B) Uttar Pradesh
Q.7 When did Surontiko Samin start a movement against state outership of forest ?
Q.8 Where did Bastar Rebellion started?
(D) All of these
Q.9 Under which forest act, forest was divided into three categories ?
Q.10 Gundadhar was an inhabitant of ....... village -
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