The text and photographs on this page are copyright by Manish Gangwar and Pradeep Bose. Manish Gangwar is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at Barkatulla University, Bhopal, India. Pradeep Bose is the Director of the Aaspur Rural Development Project, District of Dungarpur, PKP, Raj., India.
Livelihood. Means of living.
Baiga. An ancient indigenous tribe of Central India.
Gond. Another ancient indigenous tribe of Central India.
Bewar. The shifting slash and burn agriculture practiced on the slopes of hills in Central India, by the Baigas.
Forest Produce Gathering. Almost all kinds of forest products, except timber.
Baghelkhand Region. Its literal meaning is "a land of tigers." The white variant of the tiger supposedly originated from here. Probably until the year 600 AD the whole of Baghelkhand Region was wild forest land. Later Rajputs set up their colonies in the region. Eight districts of India fall in this region. Five districts are from Madhya Pradesh (MP) and three districts are from Uttar Pradesh (UP).Five districts of Baghelkhand Region have Baiga habitats. It is the third largest habitat of the Baiga indigenous tribe and Shahdol is one of the four top Baiga inhabited districts.
Central Gondwana Area/Mahakaushal Region. There are eleven districts of this area/region. Districts like Mandla, Dindori and Balaghat that have major pockets of Baiga settlements lie in these three districts. This is the largest habitat of the Baiga indigenous tribe.
Chhattisgarh. Its literal meaning is "a land of 36 forts." It is one of the major 25 states of India. This state was constituted in November, 2000, by bifurcating the largest state of India, i.e. Madhya Pradesh (MP) into two. Chhattisgarh is the second largest habitat of the Baigas after the Mahakaushal Region.
Halwaha. It is a Hindi word which literally means "a plowman." However a halwaha is a bonded laborer to big farmers. There are many big farmers in Baghelkhand Region who employ landless and poor Baigas and Kols as halwahas.
Kol. It is an Austro-Asian tribe. They may have come to Baghelkhand Region from Jharkhand, the land of Santals, Mundas and Hos sometime in the 10th century. Kols do not speak their dialect and are the most dispossessed and exploited tribes like the Baigas and two under-classes of Bhils, viz. the Sahariyas and the Bhil-Meenas of MP and Rajasthan.
Rajput. Of the four major Hindu caste divisions, it lies at number two after the Brahmins. Rajputs were a ruling warrior class originally from Rajasthan and Gujarat. Mahakaushal Region had been ruled by the Gond indigenous tribe for about 800 years whereas almost the entire Baghelkhand Region of MP (that includes Baiga-major districts of Shahdol, Umaria and Anup Pur and also two districts with fairly large Baiga population, i.e. Sidhi and Singrauli ) had been ruled by the Rajput kings.
Brahmin. It is the highest Hindu caste.
Panchayats. An old Indian democratic institution of rural areas, whereby each village of say 1,500 adults elected their nine representatives for five years who performed administrative, judicial and developmental activities. This institution had been revived and empowered in India at Gandhiji's suggestion.
Niwar and munj ropes. Niwar and munj ropes are used to weave cots' wooden or iron frames.
Musli. It is a nutritious forest root that the Baigas eat.
Tendu leaves. Tendu is a very commonly growing black-stemmed tree of Central Indian jungles. Its tender leaves that sprout in Februrary-March are used as packing material for rolling bidies.
Mahua. It is a mango-tree like a big one that generally grows in the entire tribal belt of Central and eastern India. Mahua trees blossom every alternate year in April-May. The mahua flowers wither and drop on the surface and these are collected, dried and sold. Dried mahua flowers are used to make mahua-liquor. A Kg. of semi-dried mahua flowers fetch about US $0.5.
Chironji. It is also a big tree that grows small bead-shaped fruits, which after drying are peeled and cracked to take out kernels. The small kernels are eaten directly as dry fruits or used in sweet dishes.
Block. Block is the developmental body. Each district in India has 3 to 12 development blocks. A block generally has 60-120 villages.
Tehsil. It is the land revenue departmental office. There are generally 70-120 villages under one tehsil. In many districts tehsils and Blocks are co-terminus. However, a block is headed by a Block Development Officer and a tehsil is headed by a Tehsildar.
Photography and text © 2012, Manish Gangwar and Pradeep Bose. All rights reserved.
Gangwar, M., and Bose, P. (2012), "A Sociological Study of the Livelihoods of the Baigas in Baiga-Chak Belt of Dindori, India." The Peoples of the World Foundation. Retrieved
September 26, 2023,
from The Peoples of the World Foundation.