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Study of Monpa and Other Tribes of Tawang and West Kameng Districts, Arunachal Pradesh

Sukamal Deb

Abstract


Arunachal Pradesh, the 13th geographically largest frontier State of India covering an area of 83,743 sq. km. in hilly terrain of Eastern Himalayas having population of 13,82,611 persons has 3,863 villages, living 77.33% in rural areas and 43%  BPL (2011 Census). The territory was called “Terra Incognita” or   No Man’s Land till the beginning of the 20th century. Here, the process of development initiated around thirty years back. Due to absence of private sector unemployment has been rising rapidly.

         Monpa is one of the 25 major tribes. They are inhabitant of West Kameng and Tawang districts, Buddhists by religion. Traditional industries occupy a place of fundamental importance in the lives of this tribe although this feature stands equally true for the other tribes of the State too. The present researcher has intimately lived with them for couple of years in fulfilling the mandate of an Industrial Extension Officer. The wonderful carpets,  wood carving, mask making, bamboo baskets slung over the forehead of Monpa Women, their stone built houses, the unique atta chakkis (flour mills) operated by water power for grinding wheat, barley and millet into fine flour,  bokpoi (millet halwa) made out of it, the hand-made paper manufactured from the bark of sugu tree (dapne botanica), the compost made out of leaves of oak forests (parmong) used as fertilizer makes their agro-produce organic, the medicinal herbs, thankhas (holy scroll painting), red coat made out of best wool, the traditional headgear ( a cap made of black yak’s hair with five long fingers protruding all around), traditional Monpa shoes, intricately carved and beautifully painted vessels are all best testimonies witnessing the relevance of traditional industries in their deeper socio-economic ethos. The Monpas are shrewd, cultured and thrifty by nature which is considered as essential traits of entrepreneurs. Without appropriate interventions these traditional industries may become extinct a day as the contemporary generation are less attracted towards these activities for its commercial gains are not well established and the profession has not acquired a respectful status in the modern system.    The empirical study, therefore, aims to access the present scenario of these brilliant traditional industries, its financial aspects, its relevance in the development process, to seek the problems faced, it’s probable solutions and needed interventions as there is no in depth study on these issues till date under the sub-theme Rural livelihood markets and economies. Review of literature, collection of data from primary and secondary sources, documentations and researcher’s field experience etc. are the key references of the study.___________ 


Keywords


Traditional industry, Monpa, tribes, North East India

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