NCERT Solutions for Class 9 Social Science India and the Contemporary World - I Chapter 5 Pastoralists in the Modern World


There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Write about any two examples of changes which were similar for Indian pastoralists and the Maasai herders.


There are many similarities in the way in which the modern world forced changes in the lives of pastoral communities in India and East Africa. Here are two examples of changes:

(i) All uncultivated land in these countries was seen as waste land by colonial powers. It produced neither revenue nor agricultural produce. This land was brought under cultivation. In most areas, the lands taken over were actually grazing tracts used regularly by pastoralists, so expansion of cultivation inevitably meant the decline of pastures Indian pastoralists and the Maasai.

(ii) In many regions, forests were reserved for exploiting timbers. No pastoralist was allowed access to these forests. In these, their movements were severely restricted. In some forest areas, the pastoralists were given a pass with details on the number of cattle and the tax paid on each cattle. They were not allowed to move out with their stock without special permits. Those found guilty of disobeying the rules were severely punished.


Give reasons to explain why the Maasai community lost their grazing lands.


(i) Before colonial times, Maasailand stretched over a vast area from north Kenya to the steppes of northern Tanzania.

(ii) In the late nineteenth century, European imperial powers scrambled for territorial possessions in Africa, slicing up the region into different colonies.

(iii) In 1885, Maasailand was cut into half with an international boundary between British Kenya and German Tanganyika.

(iv) Subsequently, the best grazing lands were gradually taken over for white settlement and the Maasai were pushed into a small area in south Kenya and north Tanzania.

(v) The Maasai lost about 60 per cent of their pre-colonial lands. They were confined to an arid zone with uncertain rainfall and poor pastures.


Explain why nomadic tribes need to move from one place to another. What are the advantages to the environment of this continuous movement?


(i) The pattern of continuous movement between summer and winter pastures was typical of many pastoral communities of the Himalayas, including the Bhotiyas, Sherpas and Kinnauris.

(ii) The pastoral communities had to adjust to seasonal changes and make effective use of available pastures in different places.

(iii) When the pasture was exhausted in one place, they moved their herds and flock to new areas.

(iv) This continuous movement also allowed the pastures to recover; it prevented their overuse.


Discuss why the colonial government in India brought in the following laws. In each case, explain how the law changed the lives pastoralists:
  • Waste Land rules
  • Forest Acts
  • Criminal Tribes Act
  • Grazing Tax


Waste Land rules: By the Waste Land rules, uncultivated lands were taken over and given to select individuals. They were granted various concessions and encouraged to settle these lands. Some of them were made headmen of villages in the settled-areas. In most areas, the lands taken over were actually grazing tracts used regularly by pastoralists. So expansion of cultivation inevitably meant the decline of pastures and a problem for pastoralists.

Forest Acts: Through the Forest Acts, some forests with timber like deodar or sal were declared ‘Reserved’. No pastoralist was allowed access to these forests. Other forests were classified as ‘Protected’. In these, some customary grazing rights of pastoralists were granted but with severe restriction. The British officials believed that grazing destroyed the growth of forests; the herds trampled over the saplings and munched away the shoots. These Forest Acts now prevented the pastoralists from entering many forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle.

Criminal Tribes Act: The British officials were suspicious of nomadic people. The colonial government wanted to rule over a settled population because it was easy to control the rural people in villages with fixed rights on particular fields. The colonial officials recognized such a settled population as peaceable and law abiding; those who were nomadic were considered to be criminals. In 1871, the Criminal Tribes Act classified many communities of craftsmen, traders and pastoralists as Criminal Tribes; they were stated to be criminal by nature and birth. The Act forced these communities to live only in notified village settlements and prevented them from moving out without a permit. The village police kept a continuous watch on them.

Grazing Tax: To expand its revenue income, the colonial government imposed tax on land, on canal water, on salt, on trade goods, and even on animals. Pastoralists had to pay tax on every animal they grazed on the pastures. In the nineteenth century, the tax per head of cattle went up rapidly and the system of collection became efficient. In the decades between the 1850s and 1880s, the right to collect the tax was auctioned out to contractors. These contractors extracted as high a tax as they could to recover the money they had paid to the state and made huge profit. By the 1880s, the government began collecting taxes directly from the pastoralists. To enter a grazing tract, a cattle herder had to show the pass and pay the tax. The pass carried details on the number of cattle heads and the amount of tax paid.

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