25 May 2016
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Bhasha, on India Together : Bhasha Center is engaged in conserving tribal culture, redefining its identity in the contemporary context and preserving its civilizational values. The word "Bhasha" in the organization's name is used to signify the 'voice' of tribals and nomadic communities. Combining academic interest with purposeful social activism, Bhasha has made serious interventions in the areas of tribal languages and literature, arts and culture, education, health, socio-economic empowerment and human rights. The organization's work with denotified communities is spread in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal. Overall, the Bhasha group works with Rathwa, Dungri Bhil, Tadvi, Vasava and Naika tribal communities and Banjara, Davre-Gosai, Tudi, Nat, Pardhi, Sansi, Chhara, Kheria-Sabar, Wadi, Waghri and Chamtha nomadic groups.
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The tribal world and imagination of the future
"The Constitution is yours. The borders are yours. The sovereignty is yours. The flag is yours. What is ours? What is that is both tribal and Indian in the Constitution?" Shiv Visvanathan recalls an Independence-era conversation that marks the passage of the adivasis, unheard and unheeded, between two worlds.
Adivasis | History
November 2006

Nomads together
A National Convention of Nomads and Adivasis was organized last month in Delhi. This was perhaps one of the first attempts to give a unified political voice for Adivasi and Nomadic communities in India. G. N. Devy writes on the efforts to make this convention happen, and its import.

Defying labels, defining themselves
The Budhan Theatre Group has become the nexus for a movement to change attitudes towards denotified tribes both within Ahmedabad's Chharanagar community and outside it.
September 2004

Year of birth : 1871
Mahasweta Devi on India's denotified tribes

Tribal Voice and Violence
Dr. Ganesh Devy, in "Seminar"
External Link

Silent no more
Bhasha makes Adivasi voices heard

Forty paise worth of respect, please?
Dilip D'Souza visits the Sabars of West Bengal

Retracing the roots
A profile of Ganesh Devy, The Week, Oct 99
Also see : The Gentle Crusader

The plight of the Pardhis

Budhan : The Play
Budhan, who belonged to the Sabar community in the Purulia district of West Bengal, was killed in February 1998. When the Kheria Sabar Welfare Samiti and their leader, the noted Bangla writer Mahasveta Devi, arranged a post-mortem, it became clear that Budhan had died of a severe beating (rather than suicide) in police custody. In July the Calcutta High Court decided the Budhan Sabar murder case; Dr. Ganesh Devy and others resolved to produce a play at Bhasha's first national conference. The play made a profound impact on the audience, and the group subsequently performed it at major venues in New Delhi, Bhopal, Baroda, Pune and Bombay. Each time they did so, they modified parts of the script, so while the play was written by Dakshin Bajrange (and translated by Sonal Baxi), it can truly be said to come straight from the oral tradition of tribal theatre. It is not an imaginary perception of suffering; it is based on the lived, traumatic experience of being branded a criminal.
Budhan: The play

The main objectives of the Bhasha Center are:
  • To undertake documentation of linguistic, literary and artistic heritage of tribal communities in India and to publish documented materials.
  • To collaborate with National Academies of Art and Literature and Research Institutes engaged in the area of tribal related imagination activity for the purpose of undertaking or encouraging research in tribal art and literature.
  • To stimulate and create awareness among the citizens for the preservation of tribal languages, art practices and imaginative life of tribal communities.
  • To establish a national level Tribal Training Academy for the promotion of tribal languages, literature, art and culture with a view to initiating formal education in the area of conservation of tribal imagination.
Tribals in Gujarat form 14.9% of the total population and are mainly concentrated in Vadodara, Panchmahal, Surat, Bharuch, Dangs, Valsad and Sabarkantha districts of the state. Bhasha works with tribals in the following areas -
  1. 76 villages of Chhotaudepur, Pavi-jetpur, Kanwant and Naswadi talukas of Vadodara district.
  2. 32 villages of Lunawada, Santrampu and Sehra talukas of Panchmahal district.
  3. 20 villages of Limkheda and Dhanpur talukas of Dahod district
  4. 20 villages in Sagpura, Dediapada in Bharuch district


BHIL CAVE PAINTINGS Bhil cave paintings

The prison of their own bodies
In 1995 I began making a systematic list of every migrant Panchmahal tribal labourer, and I've seen their numbers rise dramatically. For many years, I've held monthly meetings of the tribals, and there is practically no variation of detail in the migration story from one labourer to another: 'I married last month and so I came here." Marriage should normally lead to one's settling down, but in the tribal labourer's case it causes migration! Dr. Ganesh Devy on the Mother-Land Market.
September 2002

During the time he was a Media Fellow with the National Foundation for India, Dilip D'Souza wrote a number of articles on denotified tribes in India. Many of these were published as part of his column at, links to those articles are provided below. These articles, along with others, were later published in his first book, Branded By Law.

- Lazy, Shiftless, Thieving, but People
- And The Tap Tells A Tale
- Pushed Out Of Town
- The Satara District Biscuit Sting
- What A Fall Was This
- Ringside At The Uldha Cockfight
- Getting My Goat, Monkeying Around
- Accused Of Being Accursed
- A Tale Of A Few Photos
- Respect, but only on paper

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