News item dated April, the 20th, 2013:
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s decision to let gram sabhas decide the fate of Vedanta’s Niyamgiri mining project will make it difficult for the government to divert forest land for industry without the consent of tribals and local population.
The apex court’s ruling gives a broader prism of rights to indigenous communities by defining the Forest Rights Act as more than just heritable property rights.
For years now, many of us have believed that the government has been unfair to the tribal people in relation to Vedanta, a mining company from the UK. So this bit of news is a good thing.
Who are these indigenous communities of forest people?
They are the oldest ‘Indians’, along with the Khasis of Assam and the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Their ancestors apparently started out from Africa 90,000- 120,000 years ago. The Vaddas of Sri Lanka and the aborigines of Australia are related to our tribal people. They all speak languages belonging to the Munda group.
These tribes have been here in India for around 50,000 years, and customs of that antiquity are still followed by them! They belong to the forests, and the forests belong to them.
The forefathers of the rest of us arrived in India only 4000 to a maximum of 10,000 years ago. That is, if theories about the Dravidians’ and Aryans’ arrival here are true.
If we go back even further, there were human beings of some sort here as far back as 1,500,000 years ago. The eruption of a volcano called Toba in Indonesia 74,000 years ago apparently destroyed most of the population of the Indian subcontinent and covered it with a layer of volcanic ash. Were some people spared? If so, that would make them the oldest ‘Indians’. How did they come to be here in the first place?
By the way, we are not the only country with an ‘ancient’ culture. Remains of very old civilizations are being discovered on every continent.
- The Malakunanja II rock shelter in Australia has been dated to be around 55,000 years old.
- The earliest human remains discovered in what is Bulgaria today date from 44,000 B.C.
- ‘Native Americans’ arrived in North America from Siberia in three fairly distinct waves about 12,000-15,000 years ago via a temporary land bridge spanning the Bering Strait.
- South America’s very first civilization, the Norte Chico civilization in central Peru, dates from about 9,210 B.C.
The strangest theory I’ve come across to explain how we came to be is this: humans were created by the Anunnaki, inhabitants of a planet named Nibiru (the same one which was supposed to end the world last year), who came to Earth approximately 400,000 years ago to mine raw materials, especially gold, for transport back to Nibiru. There were 50 of them, and they soon grew tired of the work and genetically engineered, i.e. created, labourers to work the mines. We are descendants of the labourers they created!
According to an explorer called Michael Tellinger, discovery of an ancient city in South Africa shows this to be true, and ancient Sumerian texts apparently back up this story.
If some anthropologists are right, all the people on earth have descended from a common African ancestor.
Not everybody agrees with the Out of Africa theory though. Fossils discovered in Russia last year by two Russian geneticists, Klyosov and Rozhanskii, have raised questions about the Out of Africa theory. We just don’t know enough yet.
We are ‘Indians’ only because our ancestors happened to settle here. And often, events along the course of history, rather than informed choice, decided the religions they adopted over the centuries.
Who were we before we became Indians? For the last few millenia we have been distinguishing ourselves from each other on the basis of language, religion, region, skin color and other unimportant variables. But none of us really know who our forefathers are.
Over the past few centuries we have forged this identity – INDIAN – because the world is rigidly divided up into countries now. To me, being Indian seems less important than being part of the human race, and other factors that define us seem even less important.