Traditional knowledge diminishing among Kerala tribals: Study

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/12/2017 4:43:48 PM

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 12: A first-of-its-kind study has identified that the traditional knowledge passed down several generations of the tribals in Kerala has suffered massive "erosion" and is gradually "disappearing".

The study was conducted by state-run Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K) under the aegis of the C.V. Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics among eight tribal races in the Western Ghats.

The tribes covered by the study include: Kurichyar, Kattunaikkar (Wayanad), Cholanaikkar, Paniyar (Nilambur), Irular, Kurumbar (Palakkad), and Kaanikkar, Malapandaram (Kollam).

Commenting on the findings, Jaishankar R. Nair, head of C.V. Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics, said the study area is included in the UN's World Heritage Site.

"The diminishing of traditional knowledge is detrimental to the existence of Geo-heritage sites. The study manifests the need for preserving this traditional knowledge at any cost," Nair said.

He added that the survey was designed in such a way, as to elicit binary mode of response as 'yes' or 'no'. The information was gathered on the basis of a simple questionnaire and was assessed scientifically.

The questions covered areas including honey collection, knowledge about herbs and their usage, prevention of blight in paddy fields, finding of edible leaves and potatoes, worship of rain, turmeric, hibiscus and paddy, umbrella making, treatment for venom, and various tribal arts and handicrafts.

The knowledge of the participants was segregated in 10-25, 25-50 and above 50 age groups.

The study observed the Kurichya and Kurumba tribals have lost more than half of their traditional knowledge, Cholanaikar and Malapandaram tribals have lost 33 per cent while Kaani and Kattunaikkar have lost 40 to 45 per cent. Malapandaram tribals have the least traditionally acquired knowledge.

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