Academic journal article Indian Social Science Journal

Emergence of Class among Displaced Tribes: A Case Study of the Oraons of Rourkela

Academic journal article Indian Social Science Journal

Emergence of Class among Displaced Tribes: A Case Study of the Oraons of Rourkela

Article excerpt


Industrialization involves transfer of land and other resources from agriculture to industries which meant displacement of large number of people. The egalitarian tribal communities were not left untouched in this process. Industry led displacement had broken down traditional tribal social formations and introduced social organizations typical of capitalist industrial societies based on unequal relations. With the objective to analyze the impact of displacement on the economic structures of a displaced community, a case study of the Oraon tribe of Rourkela had been taken up. The Oraons, along with other communities were displaced during the 1950s and 1960s for the installation of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) in Sundergarh district of Odisha. Sample was collected across different levels of urbanization among the displaced Oraons including those living in residential areas within the city, resettlement colonies and villages. To get a picture of pre and post displacement scenario the sample was divided into respondents above 60 years of age and those who were 60 and below. Separate interview schedules were devised for the two groups. The total sample comprised 300 respondents. Data was also collected through unstructured interview with leaders of the community, focused group discussions and unstructured participant observations.

The data revealed a direct correlation between the level of urbanization and income disparity among the respondents. Apart from urbanization education was also seen as a factor determining the class position of the respondents.


Throughout the history of civilizations, human beings have tried to manipulate their environment starting from the invention of wheel and the discovery of agriculture in the Neolithic age to the invention of metals, gun-powder, textile and so on. In spite of these, the autonomy and the longevity of the autochthons were more or less undisturbed which can be explained by the slow pace of social change that occurs in an agriculturist society. But the picture changed during the 18th and 19th century as scientific research and development picked up enormous speed in the Western countries and attained a height never witnessed in the human history. With the unleashing of new technological inventions in the West, industrialization became a reality. It changed the social relations and social processes. It brought about a change in the demand and the supply of commodities and services. There was a rise in the standard of living as well as a change in values and ideologies. The want of raw materials, labour, market, capital and space led to the beginning of European colonial expansion (Lounev and Shirokov, 2002). With the change in the mode of production, all the social relations underwent change. Thus, according to Marx, while the hand mill produced a society of feudal lords, the power looms created a society of industrial capitalists.

The forces of industrialization and globalization also entered the indigenous communities who were living in isolation supported by social, economic and political institutions born out of local needs and world perspective. In the tribal communities, resources like land and CPRs were managed by the community and used according to current needs and preserved for the future. The resources belonged to the community which included the past, present and future generations. Resources and livelihood sources were seen to have come down from ancestors for the present generations to be passed to the future generations. There was a constructive dependence on the resources. The individualistic values of modernization as reflected on the principle of eminent domain brought about during the colonial regime of the British in India conferred on the State the sovereign power to own all natural resources like forests and land with no individual title, to decide what is public purpose and deprive individuals of their assets in execution of such purpose. …

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