Uttarakhand Stories

Case Study of the Scheduled Tribes of Jaunsar

by Pragati Chauhan
Oct 31, 2015

Jaunsari tribes remained underdeveloped as they possessed a small amount of land and could not adapt to cultivation. They could hardly sustain their living through animal husbandry and a little from agricultural produce.

Tribes of Jaunsar-Bawar:

Jaunsar-Bawar region sprawls over 1002 km tribal valley which houses more than 400 villages. The Jaunsari tribe mainly consists of Khasas comprising Rajputs namely Rai, Rana, Chauhans, Tomar, Rawat, Negi, Rathore, Jhinkwan etc, Brahmins the high caste people comprising Sharma, Joshi, Nautiyal, Luhar, Bajgi are the middle caste people and Doom comprising Dalit, Kolta are the low caste people.

Caste System:

The Rajputs and Brahmins are landowners having high status in the society. The Luharas are artisans who work as ironsmiths and goldsmiths. The Bajgi are drummers who play drums in religious, social and cultural functions. The Kollandless are labors who work in the farms and houses of Khasa people. Khasa are the landholders and cultivators who are financially strong. Khasa people play a pivot role in the social, economic and political life of all sections of people. The Koltas are low caste people who work as menials and are treated as untouchables by the high caste people.

Issues which has hindered the growth of Jaunsar-Bawar region:

The Jaunsar-Bawar region is underdeveloped; the tribal people of Jaunsar live a solemn life and they have little or no interaction with the outside world. The plight of the tribal communities of Jaunsar-Bawar is such that there is dearth of education, there is no source of livelihood except animal husbandry, the people have little knowledge about the outside world, there are no motorable roads in Jaunsar and the lack of medical facilities have resulted in the death of a number of people. Hence, the tribal people of Jaunsar have lagged behind. The present scenario can only be changed if development takes place in Jaunsar which is only possible if the government takes effective measures for the rapid growth of this region.

While our country is emerging as ‘Digital India’ there is hardly anybody in Jaunsar who can boast about digitization and debate on the matter as they are deprived of such facilities. Therefore, new technology should be introduced in the region for fostering growth. The nation can only progress if it focuses on the growth of vulnerable areas as they are the ones who are in dire need of development.

The ill practice of Bonded Labor in Jaunsar-Bawar region

  • The practice of bonded labor was prevalent in Jausar-Bawar during medieval times.
  • As┬áthe land was infertile, therefore, due to poverty and adverse climatic conditions these Jaunsari tribal communities took the profession of labors to sustain a living.
  • They used to work diligently in the farmlands of the rich people as it was the only source of livelihood for them.
  • The upper caste people mostly consisting of Rajputs and Brahmins used to practice bonded labor as they were involved in money lending and land acquisition.
  • The condition of bonded labors was not less than ”living dead” as the high caste people used to exploit them, they had no rights and their presence was invaluable to the upper classes.
  • The money lenders used to give loans at a high rate of interest. Those who were unable to pay back the debt were kept as bonded labors.
  • Bonded labors used to work as slaves for zamindars or the money lenders who used to exploit them and take more work from them. These bonded labors worked all day night in the fields of the money lenders but were not paid for their work. They were offered food to eat which could only satisfy their spirit but not their hunger.
  • The situation of the bonded labors was poor but with the implementation of the ‘Bonded Labor Act, 1976’ their life changed. After the act came into force over 20,000 bonded labors were reported from the region.

The practice of bonded labor reported in the year 2005:

In 2005, the practice of bonded labor was reported again in Jaunsar-Bawar region. According to the report those who were working as bonded labors belonged to the poorest local communities like Koltas, Das, and Bajgi. These tribal communities were the victims of malpractice of bonded labor for generations which was being practiced by their richer counterparts. Hence, the government made a separate legislation for this area due to non-availability of local land records. Therefore, The Jaunsar Bawar Zamindar Abolition of Land Reform Act 1956 (U.P. Act XI of 1956) came into form in July 1961. This is a matter of concern that despite concerted action for the last five decades, the curse of bondage still persists. Bonded labor is worse than untouchability. It stands abolished under our constitution and clearly indicates the violation of human rights. Similarly, the problem of indebtedness has been widely ruining the economy of the tribal people which has lead to bonded labor, land alienation and forcing them to live in acute poverty.

An Overview:

About 47.55% population in India is accounted for non-scheduled tribes and denotified tribes as Jaunsari are about 85.23%. The tribes have suffered from economic devastation due to ecological changes brought by rapid development in tribal areas. This has made their survival extremely difficult despite their incessant efforts at adapting under changing circumstances which has resulted in unemployment, women’s drudgery, dislocation and rupture of tribal socio-cultural life and value system. The construction of dams and hydro-electric power projects has threatened indigenous people which have resulted in migration. Thus, the degraded environment and the prevailing development process has not only damaged the culture of tribals in India but have also affected the traditional sources of livelihood of tribal people. The rampant growth and development process has lead to cutting down of forests which has hindered the source of livelihood of Jaunsari tribes who are engaged in making medicines from the medicinal properties found in the varied plants of Jaunsar-Bawar region.

Pragati Chauhan

A writer by profession, thinker by choice and a nature lover since birth. I have always loved expressing myself through words, I believe words have a certain kind of melody which can be understood by anybody.

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9 Responses

Uttarakhand Research Team Says

I wanna know …how jaunsari people are different than native garhwali people ? You said
“The Jaunsari tribe mainly consists of Khasas comprising Rajputs namely Rai, Rana, Chauhans, Tomar, Rawat, Negi, Rathore, Jhinkwan etc, Brahmins the high caste people comprising Sharma, Joshi, Nautiyal, Luhar, Bajgi are the middle caste people and Doom comprising Dalit, Kolta are the low caste people.”
Don’t you think garhwali people are khasas too… ??? Rana, chauhans, Rawat, negi, Joshi nautiyal except Tomar and Rathore are garhwali surnames too… Are jaunsari people really different than garhwali and kumauni people? I Know they speak a different language which is jaunsari but the surnames confused me … I guess jaunsari got mixed with native garhwali people…that’s the reason they got these surnames I guess… And they adopted garhwali tradition and culture over time … Are there real jaunsari people left or ? I don’t think they are khasas in origin …they got mixed with garhwali people who are khasas for real… Jaunsari People I guess they migrated from the plains and are more related to sirmaur kingdom of Himachal… Edward T. Atkinson didn’t mention about these people in his book either

Chandrashekhar Chauhan Says

Mam you are very beautiful…. And the article is beautiful too. I came across your article while preparing for anthropology optional in UPSC. Very helpful. Thank you.

Mahendra Singh Miral Says

Nice information. Kindly provide cultural, customs ritual of Jaunsar bhawer.
Dr. M. S. Miral

Maitri Says

“About 47.55% population in India is accounted for non-scheduled tribes and denotified tribes as Jaunsari are about 85.23%.” What does this sentence mean? Please elaborate.

gaurav Says

Mam, main jaunsari tribe ke bare main bhut kuch jannna chahta hun.. Kya aap mujhe koi book prefer kr skti hain.. Plz mam help…

Ashok tomar Says

Jounsari peoples r very simple and very hard working and Stragle

Pankaj Rana Says

Very good person&, intelligent ,hard work,& honest men.

Pragati Chauhan Says

In order to uplift Jaunsari community the government has given them quota but still those who reside in the far-flung villages of Jaunsar are living a miserable life.

Killuminati Says

While most of these things can be true but Jaunsari people have also made good use ST quota. You can find Jausnari people in most of the govt. jobs in Uttarakhand which has indirectly led to the development in their region both in material and socio-cultural ends.