Study finds traditional tribal knowledge vanishing
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The traditional knowledge among various tribal groups in the state was eroding with each generation, according to a study by the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITM-K). The CV Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics of IIITM-K conducted the study among eight tribal races on the Western Ghats - Kurichyar and Kattunaikkar in Wayanad, Cholanaikkar and Paniyar in Nilambur, Irular and Kurumbar in Palakkad and Kaanikkar and Malapandaram in Kollam.
It was a first of its kind study in the court, said a statement from IIITM-K. "Traditional knowledge passed down several generations of the tribals in Kerala by their ancestors has suffered massive erosion and is gradually disappearing now. The degradation of conventional knowledge is alarming,” said the statement. The Kurichya and Kurumba tribals have lost more than half of their traditional knowledge, Cholanaikar and Malapandaram tribals 33 percent while Kaani and Kattunaikkar have lost 40 to 45 percent.
Malapandaram tribals have very least traditionally-acquired knowledge before and now. The dwindling was mostly among youths, especially among men. They gathered the information in a questionnaire format covering topics like the honey collection, knowledge about herbs and their usage, finding of edible leaves and potatoes, worship of rain, turmeric, hibiscus and paddy, umbrella making, treatment for venom, and various tribal arts and handicrafts. Head of the laboratory Jaishankar R. Nair said that the diminishing of traditional knowledge was detrimental to the existence of geo heritage sites. The study manifested the need for preserving it at any cost, he added.