How did Colonial Rule Change the Life of Pastoralists?
The life of the pastoralists changed dramatically under colonial rule.
(i) The grazing grounds available for their herds: Shrank.
As per waste land rules grazing lands were converted into cultivable land to produce commercial crops like jute, cotton, wheat in demand in the European market.
(ii) The shepherds and cattle herders could no longer pasture their cattle freely in forests.
As per various Forest Acts forests were classified as reserved, protected and village forests.
(iii) Though in some (e.g., protected forests) customary grazing rights were granted, movements of pastoralists was severely restricted by permits.
(iv) Since the colonial government was suspicious of nomadic people and wanted to rule over settled population many pastoralists and trading communities by the Criminal Tribes Act (1871) were classified as Criminal tribes. They were expected to live in notified village settlements, not allowed to move without permit and kept under constant vigil. Thus movements became highly restricted and regulated by permit.
(v) The revenue they had to pay increased e.g., grazing tax, tax on trade on goods.
(vi) Their animal stock declined due to shortage of forage for animals. Underfed cattle died in large numbers due to scarcities and famines.
(vii) Their trade and crafts were adversely affected due to restrictions on mobility.
(viii) Many because of loss of livestock, poverty, restrictions on mobility changed their way of life and became agricultural labourers, workers in small towns etc.