Prof. Virginius Xaxa

Prof. Virginius Xaxa

I am indeed delighted to write a foreword for this book, which is an important contribution towards building of a tribal literature and history that have been going among tribes in different parts of country. Ms Barla hails from a humble tribal family in Odisha and like the women of her book; she herself has sailed through hurdles and constraints to be a journalist, writer and researcher. It is indeed a great feat. It is to the credit of Ms. Barla that she conceived this project, an aspect of tribal society and history that has escaped the imagination of those who have been thinking and writing on tribal society and history. It is heartening to find that in writing this book Ms. Barla has not confined to comfort zone of her tribe and tribes she is familiar with or region she hails from. Rather she has crossed this boundary by engaging with women across tribes, region and history….

…..Women in tribal society suffer from denial of rights and privileges that the men enjoy. The denial of heritance in property and participation in decision making process that affect the community and public sphere is the most important among them. Women are also burdened with more responsibilities in comparison to men.They take care of the field and well as home. Indeed much of the work involved in the field whether it relates to shifting or settled is carried out by primarily by women. Men’s work is by and large confined to clearing of forest and making it ready for cultivation in case of shifting agriculture. In case of settled agriculture, men’s work is generally confined to ploughing and other activities that precede the planting or transplanting. The agricultural operations that follow subsequently are generally carried on by women. In addition to work in the field, women carry on the household chores. Men hardly participate in these works. Thus, women on the one hand experience denial of rights in things valued in society and on the other suffer burden of field and household work resulting in very little space for self and self fulfilment. The incorporation of tribes into the colonial rule and administration had far reaching consequences on tribes……

…..The resistance and struggle being waged by the tribes have thrown off number of women leaders in different parts of the country and different times. This has been remarkable development and achievement given the constraints and hurdles that they have to overcome. It is high time that we trace them and bring them to the forefront of tribal society and history. Ms. Barla has portrayed life stories of some of these brave and courageous indigenous women.

I hope Ms. Barla’s work and endeavour will inspire many more young generation educated youth especially the women to tread the path shown by Ms Barla and the heroines she portrays in her book.

Virginius Xaxa,
Professor and Deputy Director,
Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati, India
23 November 2015