Dr Saagar Tewari

UK Host Institution: University of Edinburgh
Project status

Voicing Adivasistan: Jaipal Singh Munda and the Jharkhand Movement (1937-1956)

This study seeks to reconstruct the early history of India’s oldest tribal autonomy movement - the demand for a separate state of Jharkhand under the leadership of Jaipal Singh Munda. In the 1930s, several tribal groups reinvented themselves as ‘Adibasis’ (the original inhabitants of India) and coalesced under the banner of the 'Adibasi Mahasabha'. The creation of this united front was a form of political assertion whose significance remains hitherto unexamined.

Contextualizing the first phase of the Jharkhand movement helps map the transformation of the administrative category of ‘Backward Tribes’ into the political category of ‘Adibasi’. While the former emphasized the governmental rationality of educational and political ‘backwardness’, the latter transcended the administrative logic of segregating individual tribes to create a self-consciously modern Adivasi selfhood. A historical study of the movement and its leadership offers a fascinating window into the place of minority politics in contemporary India.

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