Riddhi Pandey

Riddhi is an alumunus from Azim Premji University, Bangalore, where she completed her MA in Development in May 2016. She has worked for a year in Kanker (North Bastar) district of Chhattisgarh on issues of forest rights, land rights and cultural rights of the indigenous communities in the region. She has also worked as a research assistant in the Dindori district of Madhya Pradesh where she engaged with the Baiga community. Her research interests include questions related to forest and land resources, cultural identities of indigenous people and engagement of indigenous communities with law, rights and development. In September 2018, Riddhi will begin a Masters Program in Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute, Geneva.

The Baiga community has been identified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group. This community, mainly residing in the Baiga Chak region of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, is known for its intimate relationship with the forests and its wildlife, and has experienced dramatic setbacks in its ways of life from the ruling political powers. The historical vilification of the Baiga tribe, first by the colonial powers and then by the post-colonial Indian State, has led to gross negligence towards documenting and acknowledging their rich, vibrant and distinct culture. Furthermore, modernisation and integration into the mainstream society has caused the community to disengage from various elements of its heritage. This module attempts to capture a few aspects of oral traditions, customs and cultural practices of the Baiga community. Through this documentation, on the one hand, an attempt will be made to protect and preserve their cultural heritage. On the other hand, it will also contribute towards creating an awareness and sensitization about the diverse cultures of the adivasis, which have existed in our country. This module aims towards reinstating the position of the adivasi heritage in the Indian cultural landscape.