Jharkhand and Munda

Jarom supports the educational centre of the Nawa Maskal School placed in Jareya, (approx. 25 km south to Ranchi) in the state of Jharkand. Here an innovative multilingual education system is implemented by giving classes in three languages: English, Hindi and Mundari, which is the language spoken in the villages surrounding the centre.

Jarkhand is a state born 5th November 2000 with a population of 32.9 million people, 8.64 of them being tribals and only 47.4% educated. On the territory there are 30 “Scheduled Tribes” renewed by Indian constitution and among them there are: asur, gond, ho, oraon, santhal and munda. Unfortunately, the main features of these groups are the economical conditions and the lack of rights. The most spread languages on the territory are: hindī, santhālī, muṇḍārī, baṅgālī, oṛiyā and kuṛukh. They belong to different linguistic families, such as Indo-Aryan, Austro-Asian and Dravidian.

Jharkhand is a state rich in natural resources such as bauxite, mica, gold, graphite and coal. 29% of the territory is covered by forests, the word Jharkhand literally means “land of the forests”. This territory is considered by Indian public opinion as under development, especially for the exploitation of the natural resources and the public infrastructures like dams and power plants. Aggressive and invasive politics led the Indian government and private companies to acquire lands and forests belonging to the ādivāsī. The loss of lands for the tribal population is not only social and economical, but also cultural, as those people live in a deep and strong relationship with the environment, which guarantees them also sustainability. Furthermore, the recent Indian urbanization had a big impact on the “ādivāsī world”, that is always less respected in favour of the major society.

The Munda tribe

Most of the students attending the Nawa Maskal School (NMS) belong to the Munda tribe. Munda population live in the following states: Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Orissa, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. According to the last census of 2011 Jarkhand counts 1.22 million of Munda.

They call themselves haroko, which means “men”, but accept also munda, which formerly was given to them by the hindū biggest community. There are different subgroups of this tribe and their generic name is kili; all the people belonging to the same kili originate from the same forefather. As most of the ādivāsī, also the munda life revolves around forest and nature, also economically; in particular, in the area of NMS the families work in the rice fields. The ādivāsī community is really heterogenous and this reflects also in the language. The language spoken at NMS is muṇḍārī, a munda language of the Austro-Asian languages family.


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