Baiga - History and Cultural Relations

Baiga contact with other peoples and knowledge of regions beyond their own has been minimal. Many have never heard of major urban areas adjacent to their immediate environs, such as Nagpur, Delhi, and Bombay. Relations with the British during colonial rule were favorable overall; the only substantial point of contention between the two parties was limitations placed on bewar (shifting agriculture) by the British. As India sought independence from British rule, mythological traditions about Mahatma Gandhi began to emerge, superhuman status being ascribed to him by the Baiga. Nevertheless, Gandhi's attitude toward alcohol prohibition did result in some negative Baiga sentiment. Christian missionary efforts have met with little success among the Baiga. Elwin observed that traditional village life had begun to decay (because of prohibitions against bewar and hunting, the effects of the Hindu caste system, and the pressures imposed by forced modernization) and that the Baiga no longer produced those items necessary for daily survival.

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