𝐉𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐮𝐥-𝐝𝐞-𝐬𝐚𝐜𝐬: 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐔𝐫𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐓𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐚

By Pankaj Debbarma

Once a land of lush hills and undulating landscapes, Tripura now finds itself grappling with the complexities of history and demographics. Nestled in the northeastern region of India, this tiny state resembles an enclave of its relatively younger political entity, Bangladesh, on the map. Its physical features are marked by ‘hathai’ and ‘harep’ – hills and undulated lands, with intermittent plains known as ‘haur’. In this diverse cultural landscape, a quarter of the population embraces urbanization, while the rest, both indigenous and non-indigenous, dwell in the rural expanses.

Among the inhabitants, the indigenous communities hold a unique place. Thinly spread across the ‘hathai and harep’, they embody the very soul of Tripura’s heritage. One might say that they reside in the cul-de-sacs of the state – remote and yet intrinsic to its identity.

The urban centres, led by the largest city, Agartala, present a contrasting spectacle. Boasting a bustling life, they are filled with people, but these people are not the ones most visitors seek. Instead, the indigenous population, with their tribal traditions and rural way of life, remains largely hidden from the urban gaze.

A closer look at the data reveals a stark reality. The indigenous peoples find themselves underrepresented in the top ten populous urban centres. For instance, in Agartala, the indigenous population constitutes only 4.94% (2011) of the total, while the figures in other urban areas remain similarly low. This demographic divide has serious consequences for their economic well-being.

The indigenous communities, deeply rooted in traditional rural-based livelihoods, now face economic challenges. Rapid urbanization renders their once-viable rural occupations unfeasible, forcing them to seek alternative sources of income. Unfortunately, their asset structure and limited prospects in rural areas leave them economically disadvantaged and struggling for a reasonable standard of living.

As visitors flock to the urban landscapes, they witness a city thriving with activity, but they miss out on the richness of indigenous cultures and traditions. The communities they seek reside beyond the boundaries of the city, in the rural hinterlands, continuing to preserve their unique way of life.

The neglect of the indigenous peoples in urban spaces not only hinders their economic progress but also perpetuates misconceptions about their identity and heritage. Their invisibility in urban enclaves further compounds the challenges they face in integrating into the changing socio-economic landscape.

To address this issue, the state of Tripura must take concrete steps to empower its indigenous communities. By fostering inclusive economic opportunities that respect and incorporate their traditional values, the state can bridge the gap between the rural and urban landscapes. Embracing their cultural identity and providing avenues for economic growth within their traditional way of life will not only uplift their socio-economic status but also enrich the tapestry of Tripura’s heritage.

In the end, the tale of Tripura’s indigenous peoples reflects a struggle for identity and empowerment amid the whirlwind of urbanization. As the world rushes towards progress, it is essential not to leave behind those who hold the cultural essence of a land and have woven its stories for generations. It is time to recognize and embrace the diversity that lies within the cul-de-sacs of Tripura and ensure that no lives are forgotten in the march of time.

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3 thoughts on “𝐉𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐮𝐥-𝐝𝐞-𝐬𝐚𝐜𝐬: 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐢𝐧 𝐔𝐫𝐛𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐳𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐓𝐫𝐢𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐚”

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