How the Tribal Leaders Defended their Rights in the Constituent Assembly

The idea that Indian Constitution would include various provisions like the Fifth and Sixth Schedule to protect the rights of the Tribal indigenous people was not palatable to many non tribal members of the Constituent Assembly. The debates on the question of Tribal rights and autonomy are therefore quite fascinating to read to understand the attitudes of racial and cultural superiority that the plains dwelling Indian harboured toward the tribal people. As Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri put it
[su_quote]We want to assimilate the tribal people. We were not given that opportunity so far.  [/su_quote]
But these ‘racist’ comments were eloquently challenged and dismantled by Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy, a Khasi  and Mr. Jaipal Singh, a Munda. Their historic speeches to the Assembly need revisiting again because the attitudes they challenged and the questions they raised have not yet become history. We reproduce not only the speeches by Rev Nichols Roy and Mr. Jaipal Singh, but also the comments and questions of the plainsdwelling non tribal members such as Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri, Kuladhar Chaliha etc.

Tuesday, the 6th September, 1949

Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri: We want to assimilate the tribal people. We were not given that opportunity so far. The tribal people, however much they liked, had not the opportunity of assimilation. So much so, that I living in Shillong cannot purchase property from any Khasi except with the permission of the Chief of the State or with the permission of the Deputy Commissioner. I have no right to purchase any property in the tribal areas. An Indian has no right to purchase lands in those areas without the permission of the Deputy Commissioner or the Chief of the State. That ridge is still continued. If this Constitution is adopted those disabilities still continue. I am not allowed to associate with the tribal people; the tribals are not allowed to associate with me. Here comes our Friend Mr. Nichols Roy pleading for autonomous districts. Why do you want autonomous districts? My honourable Friend Mr. Bardoloi says that he wants autonomous districts in order to educate the tribal people in the art of self­Government. Why not give them local self­government itself? (Interruption). You will be surprised to learn that in none of these hills there is a municipality except in the Shillong administered areas. This Municipalities Act of Assam is not in force in any of the tribal areas. The Local Self­ Government Act by virtue of which District Boards are formed is not in force in the tribal areas. If you really want to educate the people of the tribal areas in the art of self­government, why do not you introduce this Act in those areas? Why do you want autonomous districts for these Municipal purposes. Why not introduce the Municipalities Act? Then, they will themselves know the art of self­government. Why do you want to dissociate them from us by creating these autonomous districts which will remain autonomous? Do you want an assimilation of the tribal and non­tribal people, or do you want to keep them separate? If you want to keep them separate, they will combine with Tibet, they will combine with Burma, they will never combine with the rest of India, you may take it from me.

Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri

Shri Jaipal Singh (Bihar: General) Question.

Jaipal Singh

Shri Kuladhar Chaliha: Mr. Jaipal Singh attends the British Club in Shillong.

Kuladhar Chaliha

Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri: This autonomous district is a weapon whereby steps are taken to keep the tribal people perpetually away from the non­tribals and the bond of friendship which we expect to come into being after the attainment of independence would be torn asunder. During the British days, we were not allowed to introduce our culture among those people. Even after the British have gone, we find the same conditions in the new Constitution of Dr. Ambedkar.

Shri A.V. Thakkar (Saurashtra): May I ask my honourable Friend if this snot be changed by a change in the Constitution, by a good majority, say a two­third majority?

A.V. Thakkar

Shri Rohini Chaudhuri: It can be changed. Therefore, I most respectfully request the Members of the House who do not belong to Assam to, take more interest in this province of Assam. It is important that the honourable Members do so and agree to the formation of a Committee, an intelligent committee, to let go round those areas and see things for themselves, speak to them and gain personal knowledge. You will find that this hatred on the part of the tribals is a thing invented by interested persons. Formerly, there were intermarriages between the tribals and non­tribals. This hatred is being continued by interested persons.

Shri Lakshminarayan Sahu (Orissa: General): Mr. President, I would like to make a few observations with regard to this question. I had gone to Assam in 1938, not for travel but in connection with relief work. In that year, there had been devastating floods in Assam, I went there for flood relief work and toured every district, but could not go to the Naga Hills. The reason for my not going there would have been clear to you from the speeches so far delivered by other speakers. What was the cause? I would, only like to say that the Nagas are head­hunters; we could not therefore get an opportunity to work among them. Certainly we have to be careful in enacting laws for these people. The regional councils we propose to set up for them, will, in my view, neither benefit these people nor us; for these people have got an organisation for each tribe, which is like our panchayat. They hold their Panchayat in every village. Their customs differ from village to village. The regional councils set up there would make uniform laws and these are likely to cause any number of difficulties among the various villages. In view of this, I would say that the powers vested in us, the Centre and the States should be kept intact. For a moment let us consider the likely consequences if we delegated these powers to these councils. The result would be that these people would develop on their own lines without in any way being connected with us. It is quite on the cards that after they have developed in this splendid isolation for a period of, say ten years, their ideas would be of an altogether different character, and under Nee stress of their different ideas they would begin to fight amongst themselves, and with us asserting that they are absolutely free. It is therefore, absolutely necessary that we proceed in this matter with the greatest caution and circumspection.

I am working among Kangh people of Orissa, among whom there is a system of human sacrifice. That system has been abolished by law. These people also have considerably changed in this respect. But even then we have often to overlook cases of such sacrifice, because even now there are, cases of human sacrifice. Human sacrifice is done in great secrecy. Even if we come to know of such a case, we do arrest them. This is the right course to follow. But the people like Kangh tribe who still perform human sacrifice have been included by us in the Constitution. Then why should we free the Nagas at once? I understand that we cannot bring them very much under the provisions of law; still we should see that we are trying to unite India into a common bond and as such we should not keep them aloof, out of fear. I therefore, wish that we should think over this and not hurry in the matter, for we can be strong only by doing so.

I would like to make one further observation. Mr. Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri has stated that he cannot purchase land in Khasi Hills, even though he lives in Shillong. We have got a similar law in Orissa and we wish that none should be able to take away land from the aboriginals since they do not understand their own economic interest. There should be an independent Act for the lands and we have therefore provided for it. We wish to make the lav,, stricter so that any outsider, who is not an aboriginal, should not be able to purchase land. Shri Rohini Babu has complained that he cannot purchase land.

But this must be the case because till those people acquire some capacity for judgement we should protect them by law. I would therefore like that, despite these Acts, we should confer such powers on this Council. That it may have a beneficial effect on their customs and traditions. By doing so we would be able to bring Naga Hills in line with the rest of India, because we regard them as a part of us and we should try strongly to bring them into our fold; we should not leave them aloof, for after ten years some difference may be created between them and us. We should therefore take this into consideration and make some modifications, and the differences of opinion between Premier Bardoloi and Rohini Babu and Shri Kuladhar Chaliha, should be taken into consideration though our, respects are due to them.

Lakshminarayan Sahu


Shri Jaipal Singh:

Mr. President, Sir, I must confess that I have been shocked by the amount of venom that has been poured forth this morning by ­ome of the Members against what they imagine the tribal people of Assam are going to do, if this is or that is passed by this House. I wish that some of these Members were present when the Tribal Committee met when the Honourable Sardar Patel explained why he also had accepted the recommendations of the Tribal Sub­Committee for Assam. May I simply repeat what, he said? It was after considerable, difficulty and negotiations that the tribal people of Assam were persuaded to agree to the recommendations. There was a definite understanding on the part of the rest of India that those agreements, those understandings would be honoured. It was definitely on that understanding that the tribal people agreed to do away with the agitation that had been inspired by the departing rulers. I wish people would talk with knowledge. The learned Ambassador in Moscow; the day he left, gave us two solutions for dealing with situations. One was the power solution the other was the knowledge solution. The vehement language of some of our Members inclines towards power solutions. They want to force the tribal people of Assam to do things against their wishes and expressed will. I suggest that is no solution at all. If you do that you are certainly going to bring about what you fear. You are not Ping to obviate, but you are going to bring about a further dis­ integration of India. It is useless now to blackguard the British for what they did and what their motives were in doing things in a certain way. What purpose does that blackguarding serve? Now, the whole matter is in our hands. Let us be statesmen­like in handling these problems. It does no one any good to suspect the intentions of the tribal people of Assam. Do my friends believe that the Naga is not a man of his word? Do they mean that the people of the Lusai Hills are trying to deceive us? What do they mean? There is the definite understanding between the leaders and the Tribal Sub­Committee that went round the, place. Then why this doubt? I know there were difficulties in some of their trips. The Sub­ Committee were prevented from going to some places, I know that. But all these obstructive tactics were inspired, we have got concrete evidence of that. And now the British are gone and it is for us to handle the situation. The idea of Subjugating the tracts by requisitioning the Assam Frontier Rifles and so forth will not work. We must inspire confidence in our fellow citizens, in the hearts of the tribals of these hills. Let us do that, and let us do it, genuinely and sincerely, and not try to run them down and think of them as though they were hostile to the Indian Union. They are not. My friends complain that they have not been into these tracts. That is exactly the reason why they should be a bit chary of talking about these tribes.

I wish the country, as a whole, would appreciate the difficulty of my friend, the Honourable Shri Gopinath Bardoloi, the difficulties that he and his colleagues have ahead of them in coming into the picture for the first time, as far as the fully excluded areas of Assam are concerned. I do not think it is quite correct to say that it was altogether impossible for non­tribals to get into those tracts. Certainly, the so­called agitators were precluded, and were prevented from entering those areas. That is perfectly true. But I do not think it can ever be said that social workers were also equally prevented. I do not think that can be said. Assam is a very difficult province. The inter group hostilities are not confined to the hill tracts only. What about the hostilities that exist, shall we say, between the hills and the plains people? What about the hostilities that exist, say between the plains tribals and the hill tribals, I could go on. But it will be out of place now to here on this sort of things. But the hill people have agreed.

Shri Kuladhar Chaliha: May I know from the honourable Member if he can mention any instance of hostility between the plain tribals and the hill tribals? Can he give one instance? There is no use making generalisations, unless he can give us instances.

Shri Jaipal Singh

I do not think, Sir, it is necessary for me to go into details, I do not think it is necessary. If the House wants to accept my statement, it is there for it to accept. But I do maintain that there are various kinds of hostilities. Fortunately, in the new set­up we have an opportunity to forget the past and to make a happy beginning, in the beginning of which the hill people have given us their assurance, and I am very glad that the Tribals Sub­Committee have gone as far as they can, to accommodate the wishes of those hill tribes. And the tribal people themselves, the hill tribal people themselves also have climbed down, if I may say so, to meet the wishes of the leaders of the Province. There is no question of keeping the hill tracts permanently in water­tight compartments. It is not good for them. It is not good for Assam, nor for the rest of India. That will not happen. The world is getting smaller and smaller every day whether you like it or not. India cannot isolate itself from the rest of the world, nor can the hill tribes. And more so after all these hill tracts have been occupied by the various warring forces in the last global war. They are no longer inaccessible. New ideas have penetrated the tracts, these mountainous tracts that were previously inaccessible. The position has completely changed. There is a new outlook. It is no good trying to think of the Naga as the eternal head­hunter. I wish people would read Haimendorf’s “The Naked Nagas” and try to understand these people even if they have not been to the Naga Hills. Let them understand what are the ideas that work behind the mind of the Naga. There are several books on these people. I know some of my friends think that just cause these books happen to be written by non­Indians, they are worthless. That is a kind of attitude for which I have absolutely no use. There have been scientists, there have been anthropologists and various others who have written books on the Assam hill tribes, and I would only wish that some of my friends has read of them; and then they would have realised that the problems that my friends Shri Bardoloi and his colleagues have to tackle in the future are really immense, and I am indeed very glad that he has taken courage in his hands and he is confident the pattern of government, the pattern of administration that the sub­committee has recommended, while it may not be exactly all that he would like it to be, certainly give him an opportunity to unite Assam, which in the past has been kept more or less in watertight compartments. I would appeal to Members to be generous in what they say about the tribal people to be generous to them and not think as if they were enemies of India. That seems to be the idea lurking in the minds of some here. They seem to think that they are going to get out of India and join Burma or join the communists or something like that. I am not so pessimistic. Indeed, I am very optimistic about future of Assam particularly if the Sixth Schedule, even with all its shortcomings, is operated in the spirit in which it should be operated, in a spirit of accommodation and in the real, desire to serve the hill people of Assam, as our compatriots, and as people whom we want to come into our fold, as people whom we will not let go out of our fold and for whom we will make any amount of sacrifice so that they may remain with us.

Shri A.V. Thakkar: Mr. President, Sir, I consider it my duty to speak on this subject, as I happen to be one of the members of the committee appointed to enquire into the tribal matters of Assam. Unfortunately, I was laid up for some of the time when the Committee was on tour, and therefore I could not visit all the parts that the Committee visited. But I can say that I have good knowledge, and I have visited the Lushai Hills, though not the Naga Hills. But the Naga Hills were visited by me as early as the year 1926. 1 visited Kohima with the kind permission of our friend Mr. Muhammad Saadulla who was one of the ministers then, and I was able to see Kohima, the headquarters, the capital of the Naga Hills. At that time I could see that the Nagas, were really naked Nagas, though perhaps now may not be able to see them naked. But I am very much ashamed at the ignorance we are all showing about the knowledge of the tribals, in Assam especially. (Hear, hear). Even of my Friend Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri, I would say that.

First I will try to answer my Friend Mr. Lakshminarayan Sahu. He was talking about Orissa, but not of the current century, but of the last century, of the ,.­ear 1846 when one Mr. MacDonald suppressed maria or human sacrifice ceremony. But why does, he talk of things which existed one hundred years ago now in the year 1949? He was right in saying that at the present moment we do hear of complaints about human sacrifice being made even at the present day. But do not murders take place nowadays? Do not dacoities take place nowadays? Do not firings take place nowadays? Similarly, maria sacrifice that misted in the year 1850 does exist in the year 1949 or even 1950. Why compare v at old state of things with the present state of things?

Talking of Mr. Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri’s remarks, I am afraid he has brought Assam politics into this Constituent Assembly. Let me ask him, Sir, with your permission as to why he did not offer evidence before the Tribal Committee that was touring in Assam. It was open to him to do it, it was open to him to give all his views about autonomous districts or about regional councils or anything else that was contemplated. Not that he was not in the know of it—he could have easily known it from all the Members of the Committee who were friends of his and who were colleagues of his. He could have done that, but he did not care to do so.

Talking of Nagas, I was the other day talking with my honourable Friend the Rev. Nichols Roy. He reminded me of the fact that there were seven sub­divisions amongst the Nagas each having a different dialect of its own. I had read this many years ago but had forgotten it, he reminded me of the same. And who does not know even at the present time of the system of head­hunting that prevails among the Nagas? They are so ill­developed, they are so much behind in civilization that they go and fight with their neighbouring villagers—not to speak about the fight with the plains tribes about whom our friend Mr. Jaipal Singh was speaking—but of one tribe of Nagas killing another tribe of Nagas. Ao Nagas and Sema Nagas, and cutting off their heads and putting them on the door tops as a memento of their victory. Even last year when a friend of mine visited the Naga hills, he ‘said there were 150 cases being conducted in the court of law wherein 150 people were charged with head­hunting or taking part in it at the present day. Now, what do you say of such a thing as that? Why take no notice of such a state of thing at the present day? The Committee, with its own difficulties, tried to inquire into the state of affairs not only of the Nagas but of all the tribal area people and came to’ this particular conclusion on which is based Schedule No. VI. The Nagas are a very difficult race to deal with, I know. We had a Naga member on the Committee, Mr. Imti was his name. He was a graduate of the Calcutta University. Somehow or other he worked with the Committee for some time but afterwards withdrew because he was persuaded by his other Naga friends not to work with the Committee, not to give his helping hand and not to be one of us. That was an unfortunate thing.

Shri Kuladhar Chaliha: Mr. Imti is a man of Golaghat, is a Christian and was brought up at Golaghat itself.

Shri A.V. Thakkar: Is he not a Naga?
Shri Kuladhar Chaliha: He is not. He was born and bred in Golaghat.

Shri A.V. Thakkar: But he is a tribal man, there is no doubt about that. I am sorry, my information is that he is a Naga—that is what he himself told me.

Shri Jaipal Singh: He is a Naga.

Shri A.V. Thakkar: He is a Christian, but what does it matter? He is an Ao Naga, that is what my other friends told me. If you like I will ask him by a special letter whether he is a Naga or a Mikir. But that does not change the question.

The Committee tried its best and put forward the proposal which was acceptable not only to the Committee but also to the various tribes themselves—I mean this system of autonomous districts. When I heard first of the proposal of these autonomous districts, I myself too was surprised, let me tell you, because I had never heard of autonomous districts in any part of India elsewhere. But I came to know afterwards by the persuasion of friends that this is the only possible way there and that therefore the system of autonomous districts should be kept there for future modifications when the proper time comes for the same. There is no reason why we should fear this autonomous districts business and should not make the most of it, as if it were giving away or making States within States for permanent period. It is not for a permanent period. All constitutions are changeable, all laws are changeable, and we can change the law, change the constitution, when you think the time is ripe for it. In the meantime let us all study the question of the tribals as best as we can.

The Honourable Rev. J.J.M. Nichols Roy (Assam: General):

Mr. President, Sir, some of the aspersions that have been made here are really very unfortunate and they are based on a lack of knowledge of the conditions of the hills people in Assam. I wish that, those honourable gentlemen, my friends who come from Assam, had visited these places, had mixed with the people and had known the feelings of these people, had known the desire of these People, as expressed in meetings, in Committees and before the Sub­Committee also of which I was a member. Sir, the first principle for bringing about a feeling of reconciliation between people who are estranged from one another is that one must place himself in the place of another. I wish some of my friends who had spoken would place themselves in the place of these tribal people, place themselves in their conditions, study their views, realise what their ambitions and their aspirations are, and whether if they were in that place they would like those feelings and aspirations to be crushed to pieces and themselves just cowed down by the sword, or whether they would like to be ­won by love and by association and by the gradual understanding of one another. The attitude manifested in the way that speeches have been delivered by some friends of mine here perhaps due to lack of knowledge, if kept up, Would actually upset the good association between the hills people and the gentlemen who have spoken; but I thank God for a leader like the Honourable ‘Mr. Gopinath Bardoloi who is known to be very kind and sympathetic to all hills people and who has been respected by these hill tribes wherever had been, and who has studied, very closely the position of these hill tribes.

I myself being a hillman, know what I feel. Being a Christian, I want universal brotherhood everywhere. I want this in the whole of India and in the fold of the tribal people also. Therefore, when I speak in this House, I speak with Ere knowledge of the feelings of hill tribes. I speak also with a sense of universality and brotherhood of mankind. I speak keeping in view the high ideal of raising all people to the same level.

It is said by one honourable gentleman that the hill tribes have to be brought to the culture which he said “Our culture” meaning the culture of the plains men. But what is culture? Does it mean dress or eating and drinking: if it means eating and drinking or ways of living, the hill tribes can claim that they have a better system than some of the people of the plains. I think the latter must rise up to their standard. Among the tribesmen there is no difference between class and class. Even the Rajas and Chiefs work in the fields together with their labourers. They eat together. Is that practised in the plains? The whole of India has not reached that level of equality. Do you want to abolish that system? Do you want to crush them and their culture must be swallowed by the culture which says one man is lower and another higher? You say “I am educated and you are uneducated and because of that you must sit at my feet.” That is not the principle among the hill tribes. When they come together they all sit together whether educated, or uneducated, high or low. There is that feeling of equality among the hill tribes in Assam which you do not find among the plains people.

Let me read some of the statements made by the Assam Government regarding the hill areas:

“The tribes are of Mongoloid stock found nowhere else in India and differing from most Indians than the latter do from Europeans. Except for a few non­tribal shop­keepers and officials the population in any area is homogeneous. Thus a traveller in the Naga Hills would see no one but Nagas, in the Lushai Hills no one but Lushais and so on.”

These people have come there from outside. They have never been under a Hindu or Muslim rule. They had their own rule, their own language, court and culture. To say that the culture of these people must be swallowed by another culture unless it is a better culture, and unless it be a process of gradual evolution, is rather very surprising to anyone who wants to build up India as a nation and bring all people together.

Then it is said here:
”The manifold languages belong to the Tibeto­Burman linguistic family with the exception ofKhasi, which belongs to the Mon­Khmer family. None of these languages is spoken elsewhere in India.”

“None of the tribes professes the Hindu religion or Islam, except a section of Kacharis in the North Cachar Hills, who practise a form of Hinduism. Tibetan Buddhism has been introduced in the Northern Hills and Burman Buddhism in the Tirap Frontier Tract. A considerable number of the tribesmen are Christians particularly among the Nagas, Lushais and Khas’s. The rest of the tribesmen are Animist. There is no communal feeling between animists and others.”

The Hindus do not eat beaf but the tribesmen do. The Muslims do not eat pork but the tribal people do. Therefore these people cannot be either Hindus or Muslims. The Government report is that the people of the hills have their own culture which is sharply differentiated from that of the plains. The social organisation is that of the village, the clan and the tribe and the out look and structure are generally strongly democratic. There is no system of caste or purdah and child marriage is not practised.

So that is the culture of the hill tribes. India should rise to that feeling or idea of equality and real democracy which the tribal people have. They should not for a second think that these people should give up their democracy and equality and be swallowed up by another culture which is quite different from what they have been used to, and which is considered by them not at all suitable to their society.

To say that these tribesmen will be inimical or they would raid Assam or go over to Tibet if this Sixth Schedule is introduced in these areas is rather surprising. This idea is dased on wrong understanding of facts and a wrong psychological approach to the problem of bringing the hill folks and the plains people together. This schedule has given a certain measure of self­government to these hill areas but the laws and regulations to be made by the District Councils are subject to the control and assent of the Governor of Assam. What is more unifying than that? The sub­committee for the tribal areas in Assam recommended that these districts mentioned in this Sixth Schedule should have a sort of self­government, to rule themselves according to their culture and genius. The Congress principle has been to allow each group to grow according to their own genius and culture. If that be so, the sub­committee did the right thing by recommending this kind of local self­government for these hill areas but they will be subject to the control of the Governor of Assam. Even the laws and regulations which will be made by these district councils will be subject to the assent of the Governor. The Governor may withhold his assent. Where is the Pakistanising influence there mentioned by certain speaker. The provisions of the Sixth Schedule satisfy these people to a certain extent and at the same time joins them to the rest of the province.

There is another point which must be considered in this connection. To keep the frontier areas safe these people must be kept in a satisfied condition. You cannot use force upon them. Human nature is such that when you use force to make a people to do something they run to somebody else. If you want to win them over for the good of India you will have to create a feeling of friendliness and unity among them so that they may feel that their culture and ways of living have not been abolished and another kind of culture thrust upon them by force. That is why the sub­committee thought that the best way to satisfy these people is to give them a certain measure of self­government so that they may develop themselves according to their own genius and culture. That will satisfy them and they will feel that India is their home and they will not think of joining Tibet or Burma. But if you were to follow some of the ideas advanced by one or two honourable Members of this House, it will not be a unifying influence but an influence which will divide these hill tribes from India and that will be very unfortunate indeed. I was somewhat surprised at the statement made by one of my honourable Friends from Assam that even the Premier of Assam did not know the conditions; of these people. I think that the honourable Friend did not visit these areas and does not know their conditions. The Premier of Assam visited these areas and knows their conditions. I know their conditions. I know their feelings. We have met them in big meetings. We have met them in Committees and on several occasions. We have visited them, heard them, and many of them were associates of our Sub­Committee which went round to find out the conditions of these hill tribes. And many people came to give evidence there and they expressed their feelings. The provisions of the Sixth Schedule are based on the recommendations of the sub­committee after considering the evidence given by these hill people, a few of whom were members of our sub­ committee.

Someone spoke as if he is very much interested in the advancement of the hill tribes. I thank that gentleman whoever he may be, for his good motive in desiring the advancement of the hill tribes. But advancement cannot come by force. Advancement comes by a process of assimilation of a higher culture, higher mode of thinking and not by force. Advancement will be accepted by the people when you allow them to see something better than what they have. The hillmen realise that their own village councils, or what may be called village panchayats, are much better and more suitable to them than the regular courts and the High Court of Assam. To some of them, it is too expensive to go to the High Court. They have no money for that. Therefore among some of the hill tribes village courts are more suitable to them. The Assam Government is trying to introduce village panchayats even in the plains of Assam. Of course that will take away a very large number of law suits from some of the regular courts, but it will be better for the people themselves. The village councils in the autonomous districts and the District Councils will enable the hills people to rule themselves in their own way and to develop themselves according to their own methods. Why should you deprive the people of the thing which they consider to be good and which does not hurt anybody on earth? It does not hurt India. Why do you not want them to develop themselves in their own way? The Gandhian principle is to encourage village panchayats in the whole of India. Why then should any one object to the establishment of the district councils demanded by the hills people? This measure of self­government will make them feel that the whole of India is sympathetic with them and India is not going to force upon them anything which will destroy their feeling and their culture, I therefore think that unnecessary storm has been raised in this House, and it is not at all palatable, but I hope that a better study will be made of these problems.

I would like very much if Parliament will appoint a committee to see these tribal areas. Perhaps they will see that in some places they are so far advanced that the whole of India must follow their example. In those areas there is no difference between man and woman: the woman does work, goes to the bazaars and does all kinds of trade. And she is free. In the plains the woman is just beginning to be free now, and is not free yet. But in some of the hills districts the woman is the head of the family; she holds the purse in her hand, and she goes to the fields along with the men. Women and men are not ashamed of any kind of labour there. In the plains of Assam there are some people who feel ashamed to dig earth. But the hillman is not so. Will you want that kind of culture to be imposed upon the hillman and ruin the feeling of equality and the dignity of labour which is existing among them ? Why talk of culture. There is some kind of culture in the hill areas which is far better than what is obtaining in the plains. Therefore the Sub­Committee on the tribes of Assam has decided that this would be the best method of allowing these people to grow according to their culture and according to their genius and at the same time to become unified with the whole of India.

Rev. J.J.M. Nichols Roy

Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri: Why do you make propaganda against our people? Do not we dig earth in our villages and raise houses? Why do you vilify our people?

The Honourable Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy: Many of them do not. I am not vilifying anybody. I am telling facts. The whole of Assam knows that some people in Assam would not dig earth.

Shri Kuladhar Chaliha: Please withdraw your remarks.

Mr President: The honourable Member has not said anything which requires withdrawal. He is perfectly justified in saying what he has said.

The Honourable Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy:

I am not vilifying anybody. Some people would not dig earth because of their feeling of superiority. But in the hill areas you do not find anything of that kind. That is a fact which is known throughout Assam. In my own Department— the Public Works Department—we have road earth works and we have to teach some of the local people to do it, and labourers have to be brought from Bihar and Noakhali in order to carry earth and make roads in Assam. That is a fact I am telling.

Shri Rohini Kumar Chaudhuri: Yes, the Honourable Minister has discharged the Hindu workers there and employed Muslims from Noakhali. He is under the impression that we are not able to dig earth.

The Honourable Rev. J. J. M. Nichols Roy:

That is a wrong statement altogether.

When I am talking about culture what I mean is this. Labour is an honour to these hills people. No one of them consider that it is beneath their dignity to work. And men and women work together. Even the people who are in big positions in life like Rajahs and Mantris work in the same way as other people, whereas that principle is not found everywhere in India. And India must rise to that place where they feel that there is dignity in labour. When there is such a culture among the hills people why not allow them to develop that and be a little model for all the others to the good of all India?

Finally, Sir, I support the amendment moved by Dr. Ambedkar. At the same time I must say before I sit down that these hills people feel that even this Sixth Schedule has controlled them too much and that they have not got enough what they would like to have. I think many of us realise that. Even Mr. Bardoloi the honourable Premier of Assam realises that. But under the circumstances we have agreed in order to have a compromise and in order to bring peace between all parties. Therefore, do not think that the hill areas have been given too much. They have not been given enough according to their ideas. But at the same time they have been brought under the control of the Governor of Assam. And that is the process by which they will be unified.

Shri H.V. Kamath (C. P. & Berar: General): May I Sir, suggest that, in view of the widely divergent views expressed regarding this Schedule, the finalisation of it may be postponed to a more propitious day?

Mr President: I will call upon Dr. Ambedkar to reply. I think we had better finish this now. We have had enough discussion.

The Honourable Dr B.R. Ambedkar: We have debated this question for two hours and I think the debate was mostly on points that are really not.


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