Tame Ramya (Tarh)

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Causes and Effects of Rampant Forest Fire in Highlands Arunachal- A Study from Kurung Kumey District

Posted on July 15, 2012 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Causes and Effects of Rampant Forest Fire in Highlands Arunachal- A Study from Kurung Kumey District

www.rierc.org/?task=social

The utilization of natural resources as a part of government's developmental programmes that bring conflict with the indigenous people.

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 9:20 AM Comments comments (0)

The utilization of natural resources as a part of government's developmental programmes that bring conflict with the indigenous people.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The concept of ‘natural resources' can be defined as all those products provided by nature which man can make more valuable, useful and capable of supporting life and satisfying human needs. According to the United Nations, natural resources is anything found by man in his natural environment that he may in some way utilize for his own benefit. Natural resources are basically the backbone of the development. The haphazard and unplanned exploitation or uses of natural resources are now producing a threat before it.

 

Conflicts over Natural Resources:-

 

The recent period in human history contrasts with all the earlier ones in its strikingly high rate of resource utilization. Ever expanding and intensifying industrial and agricultural production has generated increasing demands on the world's total stock and flow of resources. These demands are mostly generated from the industrially advanced countries of the North and the industrial enclaves in the underdeveloped countries of the South. Through the combination of resource intensity at the material level and resource indifference at the conceptual and political levels, conflicts over natural resources generated by the new pattern of resource utilisation are generally shrouded and overlooked. These conflicts become visible when resource and energy-intensive industrial technologies are challenged by communities whose survival depends on the conservation of resources threatened by destruction and overexploitation, or when the devastatingly destructive potential of some industrial technologies is demonstrated. Some of the important points to consider regarding the utilization of natural resources as a part of government's developmental programmes that bring conflict with the indigenous people are as under-

 

(i) Colonial intervention in natural resource management in India led to conflicts over vital renewable natural resources like water or forests and induced new forms of poverty and deprivation. Changes in resource endowments and entitlements introduced by the British came into conflict with the local people's age old rights and practices related to natural resource utilisation As a result local responses were generated through which people tried to regain and retain control over local natural resources. The Indigo Movement in Eastern India, the Deccan Movement for land rights or the forest movement in all forest areas of the country, the Western Ghats, the Central Indian Hills or the Himalayas, were obvious expressions of protest generated by these newly created conflicts.

 

(ii) Large dams, intensive irrigation and large diversions have been associated with three types of conflicts. The first type is related to large-scale displacement and uprooting of people from their ancestral homelands leading to ecological refugees. This conflict, which originally expressed itself through human rights struggles based on the violation of rights of displaced people, has now taken an ecological turn, with human rights issues being perceived as intimately linked with ecological issues. The second type of conflict related to water projects arises from the ecological impact of impounding large quantities of water, transporting it across drainage boundaries and using it for intensive irrigation. Displaced people are, of course, in direct conflict with those who benefit from large dams and massive irrigation systems. However, when dams and canals cause waterlogging, even the 'beneficiaries' fight against state planned water projects. The third type of conflict which is an outcome of large river diversions is regional conflict over water rights. Interests of people of different regions are articulated through regional governments, and regional conflicts take the form of inter-state conflicts over the sharing of river waters.

(iii) Conflicts over forest resources in India can be demarcated into four phases. The first phase began when the British 'reserved' large tracts of forests for commercial exploitation to meet the military and other needs of the British Empire. These conflicts led to forest struggles and forest satyagrahas during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The second phase was the post-colonial phase when the 1952 forest policy led to the rapid expansion of forest based industry and large-scale clear felling of natural forests. Conflicts generated by this intensification of forest use led to movements like Chipko. In the third phase, spurred partly as a response to growing public criticism of the commercial exploitation of forests, and partly as a response to the crisis in the supply of raw materials for wood based industry. These afforestation programmes have become a new source of conflicts during the eighties. The fourth phase is expected to emerge in the future as international finance, changes in biotechnologies and biomass conversion into chemical and energy substitutes for petroleum based products, supported by major investments in forestry, are expected to lead to a new level of transnationalisation of forest use and forest conflicts.

 

(iv) The exploitation of mineral resources, in particular the opencast mining in the sensitive watersheds of the Himalayas, the Western Ghats and Central India have also resulted in a great deal of environmental damage. As a result, environmental movements have come up in these regions to oppose the reckless mining operations. Most successful among them is the movement against limestone quarrying in the Doon Valley. Here, volunteers of the Chipko movement have led thousands of villagers, in peaceful resistance, to oppose the reckless functioning of limestone quarries that is seen by the people as a direct threat to their economic and physical survival.The mining project of the Bharat Aluminium Company (BALCO) in the Gandhamardan Hills in Orissa is being opposed by local youth organisations and tribal people whose survival is directly under threat. The peaceful demonstrators have claimed that the project could be only continued over their dead bodies. The situation is more or less the same in large parts of Orissa-Madhya Pradesh region where rich mineral and coal deposits are being opened up for exploitation and thousands of people in these interior areas are being pushed to deprivation and destitution.

 

(v) Large river valley projects, which are coming up in India at a very rapid pace, is another group of development projects against which people have organised ecological movements. The large-scale submersion of forest and agricultural lands, a prerequisite for the large river valley projects, always takes a heavy toll of dense forests and the best food growing lands. These have usually been the material basis for the survival of a large number of people in India, especially tribal people. The Silent Valley project in Kerala was opposed by the ecological movement on the ground of its being a threat, not to the survival of the people directly, but to the gene pool of the Tropical Rainforests threatened by submersion. The ecological movement against the Tehri high dam in the Uttar Pradesh exposes the possible threat to people living both above and below the dam site through large-scale destabilization of land by seepage and strong seismic movements that could be induced by impoundment. The Tehri Dam Opposition Committee has appealed to the Supreme Court against the proposed dam by identifying it as a threat to the survival of all people living near the river Ganga up to West Bengal. In the context of the already overutilised land resources, the proper rehabilitation on a land-to-land basis of millions of people displaced through the construction of dams seems impossible. The cash compensation given instead is inadequate in all respects for providing an alternate livelihood for the majority of the displaced. Destitution is thus the first and foremost precondition for initiating large dam projects.

 

References:-

 

Das, Veena (1995), Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

"Environment and Conservation" (2006), Competition Refresher, Vol. XXIV, No.7 (July).

"Environmental Degradation" (2005), Competition Refresher, Vol. XXIII, No.9 (September).

Gadgil, Madhav and Ramachandra Guha (1994), "Ecological Conflicts and Environmental Movement in India", Development and Change, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January).

Reddy, V. Ratna (1995), "Environmental Movements in India: Some Reflections", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXX, No. 12 (25th March).

Vadakumchery, Johnson (2003), Tribes and Cultural Ecology in Central India, Mittal Publications, New Delhi.

Social and Environmental Impacts of Developmental Projects

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Social and Environmental Impacts of Developmental Projects

 

The protests against the severe negative social and environmental impacts of large developmental projects have made medium and minor developmental projects a popular option. Even though minidevelopmental projects are usually assumed to have negligible negative social and environmental impacts, it can also cause such impacts, which are generally not considered at the project formulation stages. With the passage of time and insights from a number of historical studies it is now possible to take a look back at the way rural populations in India were displaced for the construction of large dams during and after the independence. Today, international standards relating to the social implications of dam development projects are imposed on dam builders by both governments and financing institutions. However, in the absence of these international social standards, how did population displacements take place in the past? The forced displacements, euphemistically referred to as "involuntary resettlement" in discourses on development, took on increasing notoriety with the international energy crisis. The dams gave rise to an international debate on their social and environmental impacts, a debate continued by the World Commission on Dams. Today, when financing has again become available for the construction of new dams throughout the world, it seems opportune to provide some insights into the social implications of large dam development projects based on the experience of a country that has been, in many respects, one of the most innovative in the implementation of such projects.

 

When the technological euphoria of dam building was transferred to India, the concomitants of ecological disruption and social conflicts were also transferred. These conflicts and destruction are more aggravated in India than the havoc caused in other countries because India is a riparian civilization which has evolved in a monsoon climate. Most of India's river valleys are highly populated and rivers have provided the primary life-support systems for our riparian settlements. Changes in water flows create changes upstream as well as downstream. Such changes generate conflicts not merely between the people and the state, but also between different communities and different states. The Krishna river, one of the most important rivers of South India, is the best example for the ecological analysis of conflicts over river waters since it traverses through the most arid and drought prone regions in South India and there are intense and diverse demands for its water from different regions for diverse uses.

 

The first large-scale intervention in the natural flow of water in the Krishna river basin was seen in the late nineteenth century. It was motivated both by the irrigation needs of export crops like cotton and groundnut, as well as for transporting these products easily to major ports like Madras. The Krishna delta canal system based on the Vijayawada barrage was constructed in 1855 The Nira Canal in Maharashtra was constructed in 1835 to irrigate about 150,000 acres and the Kurnool Cuddapah Canal was constructed in 1886 to irrigate 100,000 acres. With the passage of time an increasing number of government aided large and medium projects came up and today the Krishna river has numerous dams including the Dhom Dam which is at a distance of 5 km from its source. Midstream, we find the Alamatti and Narayanpur Dams of the Upper Krishna Project while further downstream Srisailam and Nagarjunsugar Dams generate electricity and divert water for irrigation. The tributaries have also been used extensively in this respect.

 

The Koyna Dam is situated 58 km below the origin of the river. The Tunga River is impounded at Gajanur and Bhadra at Lakavalli. The Tunga and Bhadra meet and the Tungabhadra Dam is located 265 km from the origin. In Ghataprabha the reservoir at Hidkal in Karnataka is the major irrigation project while Malaprabha is impounded at the peacock gorge near Manoli. The spread of water-intensive cultivation throughout the basin has dramatically altered the water balance, leading to major conflicts between water for cash crop cultivation and staple food production on the one hand, and between irrigation and drinking water needs on the other. The case of sugarcane cultivation in Maharashtra and grapes in Hyderabad are two instances of over-exploitation of water resources in the basin for cash crop production and a consequent destabilisation of the water cycle, leading to water scarcity in large parts of the basin.

 

Dams for irrigation and/or power are also a source of conflict between the traditional rights of people to land and water and the rights of the state to displace and uproot them for building river valley projects as in the case of Srisailam Dam. Large dams require massive submergence areas, and hence necessitate the displacement of large numbers of people. Big dams also allow large diversions of water. Major diversions from the river basin as in the case of the Telugu-Ganga Canal taking off from Srisailam Dam, affect the riparian rights of the states and have generated unresolvable inter-state conflicts.

The Srisailam project began in 1960, initially as a power project, across the Krishna, near Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh. After several delays, the main dam was finally completed twenty years later in 1981. In the meantime the project was converted into a multipurpose one with a generating capacity of 770 MWs by its second stage which was expected to be completed in 1987. The dam is to provide water for an estimated 4,95,000 acres with its catchment area of 79,553 sq miles and water spread of 238 sq miles. Under the right branch canal 1, 95,000 acres in Kurnool and Cuddapah districts will have assured irrigation. From the initial modest estimate of Rs. 38.47 crores for a power project the total cost of the multipurpose project was estimated to cross Rs. 1,000 crores in its enlarged form. The 470 feet high and 1,680 feet wide dam has alone cost Rs. 404 crores together with the installation of four generating sets of 110 MWs each. The right branch canal is estimated to cost Rs. 449 crores and the initial investment of Rs. 140 crores has been provided by the World Bank. The projected cost-benefit ratio of the project has been worked out at 1:1.91 at 10 per cent interest on capital outlay.

 

The construction of the project has meant the submergence of 106,925 acres of land belonging to 117 villages (100 main and 17 hamlets). Of these villages, spread over six taluks of Kurnool and Mahaboobnagar districts. seventy-two were completely submerged and ten were partially submerged (see Annexure l). A total of 27,871 families in these villages living in 21,080 dwellings had to be evacuated: resettlement had to be provided for nearly 158,00 people.

 

In the summer of 1981, shocked by the brutal and inhuman manner in which people were thrown out of their homes by the government with the assistance of police, bulldozers

 

and workers from the town, a Lokayan team in Andhra Pradesh carried out a survey of the problem of the evictees in July-August 1981. The survey aimed at:

 

Understanding the socio-economic background of the affected households.

Appraising government policies and programmes with regard to compensation and the rates paid, adequacy of the mode of payment and the reactions of the recipients.

Studying government actions in evacuation of the people facing displacement.

Examining the problems associated with the rehabilitation schemes.

The survey covered fifteen of the 100 villages which were affected, using a stratified random sample of 344 households.

Hydro-power is considered as the clean generation of electricity since the process cause little impacts to environment during generation when compared to the other modes of electricity generations. The magnitude of social and environmental impacts of hydro-power generation depends on the scale of the project. Major hydro-power projects invariably cause larger negative social and environmental impacts including displacement of human settlements, loss of large areas of productive land, ecological imbalances of the area etc. where as such impacts due to mini-hydro projects (MHP) are normally assumed to be minimal. Mini-hydropower projects are therefore considered environmentally friendly options when compared to some of the larger hydropower projects. The impacts of these hydropower plants were mostly contained within the estate. The social and environment impacts of such plants were mostly limited to the village concern and the stakeholders (beneficiaries and the impacted) are usually empowered to resolve the impacts through the village level committee.

 

Social conflicts over water can also be analysed at different societal levels. Thus, inter-state conflicts are generated when water projects of upstream states influence the quality and quantity of water flow in the basin and reduce the possibilities of water use by downstream states. Major inter-basin water transfers in rivers flowing through many states also generate conflicts by disturbing the riparian rights of states. Conflicts also arise between the state and the people when official planning and policies lead to changes in water use and utilisation pattern and therefore undermine people's access to water. Thus,state planned quarrying of minerals or timber extraction in the river catchments affect the river flow and generate conflicts downstream. Similarly, state planned agricultural production based on large irrigation projects to generate marketable surpluses of cash crops conflicts with people's needs for local food production. Such projects also lead to conflicts between the state and the people by eroding traditional water rights which are often communal in nature and ensure the survival of all members of the community. Finally, state plans tend to serve the interests of the economically and politically powerful groups of society and hence generate new gaps between the rich and poor in terms of access to water resources.

 

Recently in 2009 the Asian Development Bank has done Special Evaluation Study on the Social and Environmental Impacts of Developmental Projects and come up with following findings and recommendations:-

 

Summary of Findings

 

In some of the study projects the communication and consultation process was weak, resulting in improper identification of impacts and inadequate implementation of mitigation measures.

Failure to collect primary socio-environmental baseline data in the study projects, inaccuracies in technical review, and incomplete coverage in preparatory documents led to misidentification of impacts and weak treatment in some study projects of areas such as timely income restoration and mitigation of fisheries impacts.

Limited use of environmental and social experts during planning and the poor review capacity in the DMC agencies resulted in creating some inconsistencies in detailed impact statements and in the summary documents.

Inadequate or inconsistent treatment of impacts associated with auxiliary infrastructure components (such as transmission lines and access roads), nonintegration of resettlement components in the environmental assessment process, changes in project design during implementation, and weak linkages with other parallel development efforts meant that some secondary impacts of projects did not have appropriate mitigation measures.

Studies that had a resettlement plan implemented some satisfactory social mitigation measures but failed in timeliness of compensation and income restoration programs.

Recommendations

 

Impact assessments need to be prepared in local languages. Surveys of the project-affected persons and public consultation meetings should be held in all potentially affected areas, taking into account the extent of literacy and adapting to the community's culture of participation.

Project preparatory work needs to include the collection of adequate baseline data. A description of the methodologies adopted in measuring the base conditions should also be indicated.

Environmental and social scientists need to be an integral part of the design team for sensitive projects, supplemented by a panel of experts, as needed. ADB should oversee whether the panel's recommendations are taken into consideration by project management.

Promulgate the draft impact assessments to stakeholders, related NGOs, universities, and international agencies to increase transparency and to support ADB's technical review responsibility.

Ensure the implementation of important measures by way of specific assurances in the loan agreement, and monitorable targets in progress reports.

DMC agencies and ADB should be more rigorous in screening the capacity of construction firms bidding on large hydropower projects.

The project proponents should ensure that at the end of the defect liabilities period, an independent environmental audit is completed (as in more recent projects) to identify mitigation measures that were not met and require contractors to address the inadequacies noted.

 

References:-

 

Big Dams: Do we Need Them? (2004), Competition Refresher, Vol. XXII, No.10 (October).

Das, Veena (1995), Critical Events: An Anthropological Perspective on Contemporary India, Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

"Environment and Conservation" (2006), Competition Refresher, Vol. XXIV, No.7 (July).

"Environmental Degradation" (2005), Competition Refresher, Vol. XXIII, No.9 (September).

Gadgil, Madhav and Ramachandra Guha (1994), "Ecological Conflicts and Environmental Movement in India", Development and Change, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January).

Mahanta, K.C. (1997), People of the Himalayas: Ecology, Culture, Development and Change, Kamla-Raj Enterprises, Delhi.

Reddy, V. Ratna (1995), "Environmental Movements in India: Some Reflections", Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. XXX, No. 12 (25th March).

Special Evaluation Study on the Social and Environmental Impacts of Selected Hydropower Projects (2009), Asian Development Bank Report.

Vadakumchery, Johnson (2003), Tribes and Cultural Ecology in Central India, Mittal Publications, New Delhi.

Dams and Displacements

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Dams and Displacements

 

Once Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India and the architect of modern India, while inaugurating the Bhakra Dam described dams as ‘temples of modern India'. But the tragedy that struck diversion tunnel No.3 of the Tehri Dam on August 3, 2004 killing 27 labourers, and the imminent extinction of the 700 year old Harsud town in Madhya Pradesh by rising water level in the Indira Sagar Dam, has rekindled fears of environmentalists regarding viability of big dams.

 

Environmentalists have lobbied hard in the past decade to prevent large dams being built. These dams, they say, will submerge natural forest, disrupt downstream fisheries and possibly inundate and salinate land along the canals, increasing the danger of insect-borne diseases. Much of the debate has also centred on the propriety of building large dams when smaller dams might do. Some scientists believe that the construction of big dams could cause earthquakes and, in a country as disorganized as India, it is likely that necessary maintenance of these dams may suffer. However, one of the most contentious issues has been the displacement of up to a quarter of a million people, many of whom belong to small tribal communities. So, it is imperative to look at these issues.

 

In the recent years, tapping of rivers through big dams has raised many human as well as environmental issues. An estimate is that 160-320 new large dams are built each year. According to the World Commission on Dam Report, 2000, there are 45,000 large dams in 140 countries in the world. The first ever dam was built in 1890 but by 1950 the world has 50,000 large and small dams. Of these 22,000 are in China alone. The other leading countries are- the USA (6,390), India (4,291), Japan (1,200), and Spain (1,000). During the early phase, dams were almost universally considered to be beneficial. In addition to irrigation, shipping and flood control, they provided good, generally well-paying jobs during the construction period that, on the big dams especially could last years.

In India, the most vociferous protest against the construction of big dams has been in Gujarat over the construction of Narmada Sagar and Sardar Sarovar Dam. The 92 metre high Narmada Sagar, the second highest dam of the many large dams on the Narmada and the Sardar Sarovar Dam, the highest dam in Gujarat have led to tens of thousands of activists protesting against the construction of these huge dams. The protest is one of the several led by activists in the last 15 years. Since its inception, the project has faced several economic and legal obstacles.

 

Displacement through Dams

 

Central to the anti-dam movement is the belief that dams displace large number of people, and that the benefits of dams cannot compensate for this removal. The Narmada Bachao Andolan deserves universal support for the representation of the interests of the displaced, regardless of their number. It is fashionable these days to contend that a very large number- 50 million of people have been displaced by the construction of 3,300 big dams in India since independence. It is this number that got the glitterati's juices flowing, and everybody in the chattering class is today an expert on the horrors of big dams. Critics of big dams have maintained that big dams are to a nation's development what nuclear bombs are to its military arsenal. They are both weapons of mass destruction. But are dams really as bad as nuclear bombs, all those displaced from their homes will agree with this. Moreover the issue of compensating displaced people remains. Approximately 22,000 population of Harsud was asked to leave without completing the land acquisition process. Many are yet to get cash compensation. To top it all, the resettlement site is not ready even with the minimum of amenities.

 

The Tehri Dam is being built displacing 30,000 families on a site which cannot be protected by any known technology. There are no safeguards in place to protect either construction workers or those who are ousted by the works. In 2004, the Mayawati Government in Uttar Pradesh, which used the dam as a political bargaining chip, confessed in a confidential memo that there was no way the dam's tunnel could be made watertight. Experts have concurred that such is the nature of the terrain that the dam cannot be reinforced by concrete plugging as the unfortunate labourers attempting to do. Yet, political compulsions appear to dictate that this ill-fated and dangerous project will stay on course regardless of the consequences.

 

Human right activists object to large dams mainly on the ground that it violates the rights of those displaced. Consider Tehri Dam, they say that the human rights of the tribals will be violated if they are forcibly displaced.

 

However, there is another side of the picture as well. Consider Bangladesh, which suffered disastrous floods in 1987 and 1988, which killed thousands and displaced millions, such floods would occur again and again. The only way to stop this human tragedy is to build giant dams upstream on the Brahmaputra and Meghna. The proposed Dihang and under-construction Subansiri projects on the upper Brahmaputra will be among the biggest in the world. The two projects could generate 20,000 MW of power and irrigate millions of acres in Assam. They will reduce flooding in Assam and Bangladesh by several hundred square kilometres in a rainy year.

 

May be so, but what about the rights of the millions in the flood plains of Assam and Bangladesh? Should lakhs of tribals in Arunachal Pradesh have a complete veto over dams that can prevent death and misery on a massive scale in the plains? Is the displacement of tribals in the hills a bigger issue than the displacement of millions by floods in the plains? Thus, it seems there are several moral dilemmas and any blanket condemnation of large dams is harsh.

THE MENACE OF BEGGARS IN CAPITAL COMPLEX OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH (INDIA)

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

THE MENACE OF BEGGARS IN CAPITAL COMPLEX OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH (INDIA)

 

The unabated incursion of beggars in twin Capital complex of Itanagar and Naharlagun in Arunachal Pradesh has made the life of local populace quite difficult even as there is no immediate end to their entry into this twin capital city. The beggars seem to come from neighbouring state of Assam and from other parts of the country under a well planned strategy not only to fleece but also to commit petty crimes. While the common people are worried over this alarming influx, the authority has adopted an Ostrich like attitude.

 

The continuous migration of beggars from different pockets of the country has made the common man's life in Capital complex problematic. The people living in here feel vulnerable in their own houses because of migrant beggars.

 

During the last 1-2 years, many beggars have been coming into the capital complex and most of them have started settling here illegally. The irritating behaviour of these beggars has disturbed the normal life of people to a great extent. These beggars are not only begging in a normal manner but force people to part with some money to end irritation.

Nowadays the migrating beggars are roaming everywhere without any restriction. Whether it is a footpath, vehicle parking, government hospital, shopping complex/market, every common person has to face these beggars.

 

 

The immeasurable presence of migrant beggars in capital complex might be one of the causes of increasing graph of crime in the capital complex. There are numerous such cases in which the migrant beggars cause problems. Initially the beggars make their entry into a house asking for alms but whenever they find people alone they never lose the opportunity to rob the family.

 

 

Moreover, the non-hygienic living pattern of migrant beggars may cause the spread of communicable and infectious diseases. Wherever the migrant beggars get settled, the atmosphere of that area gets duly polluted by the waste.

 

Whatsoever the concerned authorities are doing but the increasing menace is indicating that if the concerned authorities does not take strict steps against this problem, then the day is not far, when the whole of Capital complex will get overcrowded by migrant beggars and the paradise will turns into a slum. However, expectation is still high on the Capital complex administration that it will take immediate steps in the same line of Deputy Commissioner of Dimapur district of Nagaland Maongwati Aier who has ordered the beggars to leave Dimapur within a week's time. Our state and its people have no culture of begging and such practice should completely discourage at all.

MYTHS OF THE NYISHIS ON THE CREATION AND EVOLUTION OF UNIVERSE

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

MYTHS OF THE NYISHIS ON THE CREATION AND EVOLUTION OF UNIVERSE

 

According to Nyishi mythology, before the creation or evolution of universe, there was emptiness and nothing was existed. This particular phase was called Miim-Mama. After the phase of Miim-Mama there were two concurrent phases which were called as Kullu and Kurium.

 

Among the Nyishis, there are three different hypotheses/stories of the creator or the supreme power that creates the entire universe and its components is concerned. In other words, there are three schools of thought relating to the origin and evolution of the universe (Changte-Dote/Nya ballah barnam) including the human race. One school of thought is, that believe in Jingbu-Pabu Abu as a creator, the second one is, that who name the creator as Kullu-Kurium, while, the third one is, that believe that the creation was through Poyub and Nyayub. First two are almost identical as their difference is just only in the name creator but the third one is little bit different even in the context of evolution process. However, all the three accept the belief that a miraculous spirit called Chene Rulum-Dola was used to create the universe and its components. Among the Nyishis, Jingbu-Pabu Abu as a creator is much admired.

 

Out of oblivion/nothingness in the beginning, the universe was created in a fraudulent or messy shape. This artistic process of universe is explained in the following phrases as:

 

Sachang Ngarngum Tapam Rulum,

 

Nyudo Ngarngum Tapam Rele,

 

Rulum Rele Pepa,

 

Ho…Riumrium Riamriam Pepa…

 

[The whole universe was in fragile state and was seems like a snow-capped objects. And there was a droplet of water everywhere as if it was floating on a leaves].

 

In such circumstances, Jingbu-Pabu Abu summoned his supremacy through diverse mystical means to create and evolve the present-day universe. It is noteworthy here that the Nyishis always been attached the creator as a male figure, which can be easily or clearly realise from the very suffix word Abu (father). Initially, the Lawngkh Chene Dola and Jingkio-Urh Chene Dola were called upon to furnish a tangible or substantial figure to the universe. The Kawmkh Chene Dola was engaged to create Sachang (earth), whereas through Kamchang Chene Dola the living beings including the man and animals were created. Invoking with the power of Dote Chene Dola, the heaven was created. The Ish (water) was created with the help of Kela Hariak Chene Dola. Biyang Chene Dola was invoked to create Donyi (sun), while Paa Chene Dola was engaged for the creation of Polu/Polo (moon). After the creation of major components of the universe, Jingbu Abu (creator) was dejected to witness that whatsoever he had created were in a state of complete disorder. Consequently, at last he invoked the powers of Ngumngo Abu to categorically separate the universe into two parts i.e. Changte (earth) and Dote (heaven). In course of evolution process, the Sachang/Changte (earth) was prepared suitable for accommodating the entire living beings including physical features like streams, rivers, valleys, gorges, hills, mountains and plains. On the other hand, the natural objects together with the celestial bodies like sun, moon, planets, stars etc. were set in the Dote (heaven). With this, the evolution or creation process of the universe completed and Jingbu Abu disappeared from the scene.

 

In the above mentioned process of evolution of universe we have witnessed the coming of Sachang (earth) and Nyudo (heaven/sky), but later on another world called Uyub Nyoku (world/land of spirits) evolved. As a result, the Nyishis believed that the whole universe is divided into three worlds/parts i.e. Sachang (earth), Nyudo (heaven/sky) and Uyub Nyoku (netherworld/world of souls & spirits). Sachang is a dwelling place for living creatures including men, animals and plants; Nyudo is the abode of Gods and Goddesses and other celestial bodies; while the Uyub Nyoku is believed to be a place of souls and spirits which may be simply understand as a place meant for the life after death. The Nyishis has also a belief that there is an imaginary world called Tallang Nyoku, which is believed to be lies between Sachang (earth) and Nyudo (heaven). This imaginary world, which the Nyishis treat as hell, is usually believed to be a dwelling place for the persons who die of unnatural death like accident, murder, suicide, etc.

 

In the above paras of the creation or evolution of universe of the Nyishis, we have seen that the power of Kamchang Chene Dola was invoked to create all living beings including the human being. In this process Loma Chene Dola was employed to create Nyiku Tani, the first man on earth. With the creation of first man, a chain of descendants like Nyima Tani, Nyiya Tani, Nyidar Tani, Nyikum Tani etc. were born on the earth. According to Nyishi mythology, the Tanis prior to Atu Nyiya Tani were partly human and partly spirit and were live together with all other living creatures on the earth. In fact, the Tanis (men) were endowed with extraordinary power to reign over the earth. The other creatures including the Uyubs felt jealous of the power and authority enjoyed by the Tanis and hence, there was continuous intrigue and hostility between them. At last, Tani was almost defeated by the Uyubs through deceitful and treacherous manner. At one moment, Tani decided to demolished and finish the entire earth, but, at this juncture, Tu Tugung consoled him not to feel disheartened and advised him to go to Ayu Donyi, who will indubitably help him out of the trouble. Thus, he went there and subsequently entered into wedlock with Jangte Ne, a daughter of Ayu Donyi. Atu Nyiya Tani was believed to be born out of this marriage.

 

The Nyishis believe that it was from Atu Nyiya Tani, the concrete human race began to flourish on the earth. It is very interesting to note that, with the completion of the creation or evolution process, the supreme power or creator had virtually disappeared but the creator had vested his powers in different ways and means for the wellbeing of whole human race. Tu Tugung was one of them who played a conciliator role to resolve the dispute between Tani and the world of Uyubs (spirits). Many of the belief systems, faiths and practices of the Nyishis are evolved out of the struggle between Tanis and Uyubs and ultimately the concept of religion emerged out of their struggle.

 

REFERENCES:

 

Bora, D.K. (1995); Myths and Tales of the Nishings of Arunachal Pradesh, Directorate of Research, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar.

 

Bora, D.K. (2000); Traditional Nishing Religion and the Change, in M.C. Behera (Ed.), Tribal Religion: Change and Continuity, Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi.

 

Choudhury, S.D. (1981/2008); Gazetteer of India: Arunachal Pradesh (Subansiri District), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh/Himalayan Publishers, Itanagar.

 

Choya, T. (2009); English-Nyishi Dictionary, Living Word Communicators, Shillong.

 

Nyokum Souvenir (2009); Central Nyokum Committee, Itanagar, A.P.

 

Rikam, N.T. (2005); Emerging Religious Identities of Arunachal Pradesh: A Study of Nyishi Tribe, Mittal Publications, New Delhi.

 

Showren, T. (2007); The Nyishi of Arunachal Pradesh: Brief Ethnographic Outline, Published by All Nyishi Students' Union (ANSU), Talang-Hira Memorial Complex, Itanagar.

 

Showren, T. (2009). The NYISHI of Arunachal Pradesh: An Ethnohistorical Study, Regency Publications, New Delhi.

 

Tara, T. T. (2006). Nyishi Ancestors, Bhabani Offset & Imaging Systems Pvt. Ltd., Guwahati.

 

Tara, T.T. (2008); Nyishi World (2nd Edition), D.B. Printers, Banderdewa.


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