Blog 1 - Celebrating Scholarship on the Indian Constitution Uncategorized

Adivasis and the Indian Constitution – Pooja Parmar

Pooja Parmar

Histories and meanings of Indigeneity in India and elsewhere are important themes in my research and while the text of the Indian Constitution does not include the word Adivasi, the speeches and silences in the Constituent Assembly Debates offer important insights. I have suggested that Jaipal Singh Munda’s speeches and interventions in the Constituent Assembly speak to a vision of India that remains unexplored in scholarship on the inclusions and exclusions embedded in what is considered a foundational text. His repeated calls for respect for Adivasi sovereignty, recognition of their histories, and for meaningful inclusion as equals were opposed, ignored or ridiculed. More research is necessary to determine whether and how a more open engagement with some of these ideas at the time could have shaped the meanings of freedom and democracy for a more inclusive nation. In fact, a closer reading of Munda’s speeches is likely to reveal ways of re-imagining the nation. As some of my other research shows, an inability to grapple with Adivasi conceptions of law, legality and autonomy lies at the heart of critical contemporary issues in India today. It is wonderful to see an increasing interest in Adivasi histories and claims in legal scholarship, and I look forward to more research and conversations about Adivasi and tribal identities, and their relationship to histories and contemporary understandings of Schedules V and VI of the Indian Constitution. I am also excited about a couple of my new projects that will bring some of this research in conversation with ongoing work on questions of Indigenous rights and identities beyond national and regional focus.