Survival on the Fringe: Adivasis of Bangladesh Book Launched
[30 Oct 2011]
Former Chief Justice Muhammad Habibur Rahman has called upon the majority community to eradicate discrimination against the Adivasis of Bangladesh. He was speaking as the chief guest at the launch of the book, Survival on the Fringe: Adivasis of Bangladesh published by Society for Environment and Human Development (SEHD). He reminded attendees about the majority's own crisis and observed, “We are not able to provide security to our majority people. Under the circumstances, it is clear that we don't pay attention to the small communities.” He thinks that the Adivasis of Bangladesh are dignified people and they do not suffer from an inferiority complex.
The launch and discussion, held at CIRDAP, Dhaka on 29 October 2011, was chaired by Prof. Sakhawat Ali Khan, chairperson of SEHD. The editor of the book and the director of SEHD, Philip Gain gave an overview of the book. Guests and discussants included: Dr. Rafiqul Islam, Professor Emeritus; Dr. Hameeda Hossain, Chairperson of Ain O Shalish Kendra; Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission; Manjulika Chakma, proprietor of Bain Textile; Dr. Shapan Adnan, Member of the CHT Commission; Khushi Kabir, Coordinator of Nijera Kori; Prashanta Tripura, UNDP; and Gidison Pradhan Suchiang, the Secretary General of Greater Sylhet Indigenous People’s Forum.
“The use of the word ‘Adivasi’ is almost forbidden at present,” said Dr. Mizanur Rahman in reference to the Government's objection about its use and debate around the term. The Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Dr. Rahman firmly said “The presence of Adivasis in Bangladesh is undeniable. The Adivasis must be addressed as ‘Adivasi’. If not, they will be discriminated against. The state should refrain from doing so.”
The 630-page book, compendium in nature, contains inputs from 47 contributors. It presents comprehensive accounts of the indigenous communities’ profiles, their numbers, and spatial distribution. Additionally, the book contains important writings on crucial issues of the Adivasis, such as their land rights, invasion of state-sponsored monoculture plantation and its effect on the Adivasi life and culture, the challenges of their political life, and their identity. A number of sections of the book deal with the actors involved with Adivasis in Bangladesh and around the globe, glossary, theories, and concepts that relate to the Adivasis.