De-Colonizing Toda Ethnography

(W.H.R.Rivers and the Toda)

Professor Promode Kumar Misra


Former National Fellow, Indian Council of Social Science Research

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Nilgiris the habitat of the Toda was mercilessly exploited by the British during their rule. The indigenous as well as the others were not only marginalized but also dispossessed of their rights. They created divisions among the communities. Introduced slavery. Brought a huge number of labourers from outside for laying mountain rail which lasted 25 long years though there was no need for the railway there, the British had to enrich their contractors. In this and other projects, the forest dwellers were deeply hurt. You will be surprised to learn that several firms were registered in England to do gold mining on the western slopes of the Nilgiris. It was indeed as Shashi Tharoor says organised loot. Anthropologists had nothing to say about all these things. How could it be? The studied people would never know why they were being studied or what is the result of the study. They were engaged in doing science where it was written that one set of people will be studied by a selected few.