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Colonial Rule and Pastoral Life

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Colonial Rule and Pastoral Life - Lesson Summary

The British viewed all uncultivated land as wasteland that did not earn any revenue nor render any agricultural produce, and so they passed various 'Wasteland' rules.

The British thought the nomads as criminal and untrustworthy, and felt the need to keep them in a fixed area so that they could control them easily. The wastelands were used for the cultivation of jute, cotton, wheat and other agricultural produce to meet the needs of the population of England.

The access to forests was snatched away. The British passed the Forest Act was passed, under which many of the forests that produced commercial timber like teak and Sal were marked as 'Reserved,' and the pastoralists, were barred from entering them.

However, some forests were demarcated as 'Protected' and only certain customary grazing rights were granted there. However, their movements were greatly restricted and controlled as forest officials believed that grazing destroyed the saplings and young shoots of trees that germinated on the forest floor.

Pastoralists were issued permits for grazing, and the time of entry and departure were strictly monitored and limited.

The entire nomadic pastoral community in India was facing a tough time because the British were suspicious of and distrusted them.

The British felt that it was easy to control and monitor a settled population which was seen as peaceable and law abiding. The British passed the Criminal Tribes Act in 1871 to control the nomadic pastoralists and to immobilise them.

Under this Act, several communities of craftsmen, traders and pastoralists were classified as criminal tribes. Even without committing a single act of crime, we were identified to be criminal by nature and birth

Owing to this Act, they were expected to live in fixed notified villages under strict supervision of the village police and were allowed to move only with a permit. The colonial government imposed various taxes on land, canal water, salt, trade goods, and even on animals to increase its revenue.

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