A lot to learn from tribal communities, says Vice President

BHUBANESWAR: Vice President of India M Venkaiah Naidu has all praise for the tribal community of the state while addressing the 50th convocation ceremony of the Utkal University here on Saturday. He said that unique customary practices and traditions of tribals have been credited for keeping the Covid-19 infection at bay.
Quoting a study by scheduled castes and scheduled tribes research and training institute (SCSTRTI), Naidu said that the tribal population in Odisha was largely untouched by the Covid-19 pandemic. The study notes that by habit, the tribals walk mostly in rows, instead of in groups; and while walking, they maintain a reasonable distance from one another. Such safe distancing and hygiene norms, rooted in the tribal culture coupled with the natural food have helped them stay safe during pandemic, he added.
He suggested the universities to focus on these positive aspects of tribal communities and include them in their curriculum. I would also like institutions like Utkal University to take up research on issues faced by tribals and actively contribute to policy formation for their development and well-being, he added.
He said Odisha is also special in the way that it has a sizable tribal population. The state is home to 62 different tribal communities who constitute 23 per cent of the states total population and 9.17 per cent of the total tribal population of the country. Therefore, the development and welfare of these tribal communities should be our priority, he added.
Here, I would emphasise that we should approach the tribals with respect and sensitivity. Paternalistic attitude is wrong. Truth is that we have a lot to learn from the tribal communities who live a simple life in harmony with nature, he added.
On women empowerment, Naidu said Odishas Bhaumakara dynasty had a long succession of women rulers in 9th -10th century. Bhaumakara queens defied patriarchal norms and ruled successfully for some 200 years. These are the shining examples that should make every Indian proud. I urge upon the younger generation to read about such stories and pledge to fight against gender discrimination. In fact, our youth should be in the forefront of fighting all social evils like casteism, communalism, corruption and violence, he added.
Addressing the students, he said the New Education Policy focuses primarily on instilling the ability among the students to face the world with confidence. We must not forget that India has had a glorious tradition of international education. We should bring back this great Indian tradition to create well-rounded and innovative individuals who will have the distinctive ability to transform the country both socially and economically, he added.
He praised the rich history, cross-cultural links with South East Asia and sea trade of Odisha. The Kalinga Empire was also known for its glorious maritime traditions. Such was their dominance over the sea that Kalidasa in his famous work Raghuvamsa referred to the King of Kalinga as the Lord of the Seas, he added.
The Vice President said the Odisha people celebrate a festival Bali Yatra even today in the memory of their maritime ancestors whose skills and entrepreneurship made Kalinga a prosperous empire of its time. I want you to take inspiration from their stories and imbibe the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. The universities and educational institutions should equip the students with requisite skills so that they can emerge as job creators not mere job seekers, he added.
Keeping the natural calamities including cyclones in mind, he said disaster management should be included as an integral part of the education from early days. This would prepare us better to face any such calamity in future. I hope Utkal University will take a lead in this regard, he added.
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