Anthropology Answer Writing Practice - Week 4 - Question 3
90 Days Anthropology Answer Writing Practice Question 1 for 27-Dec-2017
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27-Dec-2017 - Question 1
Assess the contribution of Varrier Elwin to Indian anthropology. (15Marks - 2011)(250 Words)
Verrier Elwin was an English self-trained anthropologist, ethnologist and tribal activist, who began his career in India as a Christian missionary. He was a controversial figure who first abandoned the clergy, to work with Mahatma Gandhi and the Indian National Congress, then converted to Hinduism in 1935 after staying a Gandhian ashram, split with the nationalists over what he felt was an overhasty process of transformation and assimilation for the tribals.
Elwin is best known for his early work with the Baigas and Gonds of central India, and he married a member of one of the communities he studied there, though he also worked on the tribals of several North East Indian states especially North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) and settled in Shillong later in life, apart from Orissa and Madhya Pradesh
In time he became an authority on Indian tribal lifestyle and culture, particularly on the Gondi people. He also served as the Deputy Director of the Anthropological Survey of India upon its formation in 1945. Post-independence he took up Indian citizenship. Nehru appointed him as an adviser on tribal affairs for north-eastern India, and later he was Anthropological Adviser to the Government of NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh).
His autobiography, The Tribal World of Verrier Elwin won him the 1965 Sahitya Akademi Award in English Language, given by the Sahitya Akademi, India s National Academy of Letters. Elwin s ideas and research had an overwhelming influence on Nehru s vision and policies on India s tribes. Elwin gave up his commitment to proselytize and dedicated his life to research and to help preserve tribal life and culture. In his later writings, Elwin took care to stress that he was not against assimilating tribals into the mainstream. He only wanted such assimilation to occur at a pace, and on terms, that suited the tribals. Elwin s critics say he was an anti-modern romantic whose influence on policy further marginalized tribals. Elwin s admirers argue that without him, tribals would have suffered an even worse fate. While his legacy is contentious, the ideas Elwin engaged with continue to be relevant. In 2014, the first train service to Arunachal Pradesh was suspended after protests by locals, who fear that the unchecked entry of outsiders could destroy the delicate social and ecological balance of their state. Elwin echoed these fears more than half a century ago.