Class 9 NCERT (CBSE) History
INDIA AND THE CONTEMPORARY WORLD-I
Section II: Livelihoods, Economies and Societies
Chapter-4, Forest Society and Colonialism
NCERT Answers of History Chapter Exercise Questions
Question.1: Discuss how the changes in forest management in the colonial period affected the following groups of people:
(a) Shifting cultivators
(b) Nomadic and pastoral communities
(c) Firms trading in timber / forest produce
(d) Plantation owners
(e) Kings / British officials engaged in Shikar
(a) One of the major impacts of the forest managements during the colonial period was on the lives of shifting cultivators. For centuries these cultivators practiced ‘slash and burn agriculture’ or ‘swidden agriculture’. European foresters regarded this practice harmful for the forests. Therefore, the British Government decided ban the shifting cultivation and reserved these forests for themselves.
As a result many communities were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests. Their centuries old profession of shifting agriculture was stopped once for all. Some had to change occupations while some resisted through large and small rebellions against government.
(b) The reservation of forest areas by the British Government also sealed the fate of many nomadic and pastoral communities like the Korava, Karacha and Yerukula of the Madras Presidency lost their means of livelihood. Earlier these people and their cattle depended totally on the forest from which they were deprived because of the new forest management. Some of these communities began to be called ‘criminal tribes’ and were forced to work in factories, mines, and plantations under government supervision.
Thus, these people were forced to operate within new systems and reorganize their lives.
(c) The reservation policy of the British ruined the prospects of several firms trading in timber and forest produce. They could no longer cut trees and collect timber because that was now badly needed by the British to build their ship and railway sleepers. Neither could they now get other forest products like ivory, herbs, silk, coconuts, bamboo, spices, fibers, gums, resins etc. to trade with. Their trading career which was based on forest produce was sealed for ever. The British Government gave European trading firms sole right to trade in the forest products of certain areas.
(d) Plantation owners, who were mainly Europeans, stood to gain by the changes brought in the forest management. Large areas of natural forests were cleared by the plantation owners to establish huge plantations of tea, coffee and rubber to meet Europe’s growing need of these communities. Vast areas of forest land were given to the European planters at quite cheap rates. They were allowed to enclose such areas, clear the forest and plant tea, coffee, and rubber as they liked. Not only this, the Indian plantation owners to take work from them as they hiked.
(e) While the forest dwellers were deprived of their right to hunt deer, partridges and a variety of small animals, the Indian Kings and British officials were allowed to hunt freely in the reserved forests. Under the colonial rule, the hunting increased to such an extent that various species became extinct. A large number of tigers, leopards, wolves were killed as sporting trophy. Hunting or shikar became a sport. Later the environmentalists and conservators realized many species of animals needed to be protected and not killed.
Question.2: What are the similarities between colonial managements of the forests in Bastar and in Java?
Answer: Colonial management in Bastar and Java was quite similar to each other, because in bothe these countries, the colonial rulers exploited the local resources to feed their urban population and to get raw materials for their different industries.
In Bastar, the British Government stopped shifting cultivation, hunting and collection of forest produce. Like the British, the Dutch in Java enacted many laws which restricted villagers access to forests, they were punished for grazing cattle in the forest, traveling on forest roads with horse carts and cattle etc. without permit. So, both in Bastar and Java the forest came to be owned by the State and several restrictions were placed on the villagers access to forests and its produces.
Also in both the cases the villagers revolted against these oppressive laws. In Bastar people organized themselves and revolted against the British in 1910. While in Java around 1890 Saminists questioned to the State ownership of the forest land and also protested against the Dutch in various ways.
Question.3: Between 1880 and 1920, forest cover in Indian subcontinent declined by 9.7 million hectares, from 108.6 million hectares to 98.9 million hectares. Discuss the role of the following factors in this decline:
=> Agricultural expansion
=> Commercial farming
=> Tea/Coffee plantations
=> Adivasis and other peasant users
(a) Railways: Railways played a vital role in the decline of the forest cover in India. Wood was used as fuel to run locomotives and sleepers were required to hold tracks together. According to an estimate, around 1760 to 2000 sleepers were required to lay down only one mile railway track. As early as 1850s, in Madras Presidency alone, 35000 trees were being cut annually for sleepers. As a result of laying railway tracks, forests around railway tracks started disappearing rapidly.
(b) Shipbuilding: By the end of 19th century, oak forests in England had almost disappeared. This created a shortage of timber for the Royal Navy. If the imperial power was to be protected and maintained, the building of ships was the first priority. So, search parties were sent to explore the forest resources of India. A large number of sleepers began to be exported to England annually. This further led to the indiscriminate cutting of trees year after year which caused deforestation on a massive scale.
(c) Agricultural expansion: During British rule in India cultivation expanded rapidly. The population of India was increasing at a rapid speed every year. As such food requirement was also growing fast which could be met only by expanding cultivation.
Moreover, in 19th century in Europe, food grains were needed to feed the growing urban population and raw materials for industrial purposes. Because of all these reasons, the cultivators continued to expand the boundaries of their cultivated fields which resulted in the depletion of the forest areas.
(d) Commercial farming: The British encouraged the production of commercial crops like, jute, sugar, wheat, cotton, tea, coffee etc. These crops were required by Europe to feed its growing urban population as well as to increase its industrial production. So, large areas of natural forests were cleared to increase commercial farming during this period.
(e) Tea/Coffee plantations: The British encouraged the production of commercial crops like, jute, sugar, wheat, cotton, tea, coffee etc. The allotment of vast forest areas to European plantation owners further led to the reduction of forest areas. These planters not only enclosed such areas but also cleared the forest areas and planted tea, coffee and rubber as they liked. The construction of large number of housing units for the plantation workers further reduced the forest areas.
(f) Adivasis and other peasant users: In spite of different forest laws, the Adivasis and other peasant users, whenever they found any opportunity, continued cutting trees for cooking their food, making their houses etc. Their livelihood mainly came from forest produce. In spite of forest protection acts, they sometimes, revolted against forest laws. In this way these people were also responsible to some extent for the continuous decline in forest.
Question.4: Why are forests affected by wars?
Answer: Forests are affected by wars due to various reasons such as –
1. The defending armies hid themselves and their war materials under the cover of forests to avoid detection. As such enemy forces also target forest areas as a general practice.
2. To meet war needs, sometimes forests are cut indiscriminately.
3. Fearing the capture of forest areas by the enemy, sometimes, the existing governments themselves cut down the trees recklessly. Such incident happened in Indonesia when the Dutch government felt that area under their control would fall to the Japanese.
4. Sometimes, the occupying forces recklessly cut down for their own war industries as was done by the Japanese during the occupation of Indonesia in the Second World War.