changes because of cultural-contact through different media are inevitable
in the modern dynamic world. Dynamism is a sign of progress. The
individual as well as group are exposed to these changed situations and
hence adjustment become necessary for survival. But the processes and
factors involved are always not identical in all the situations. Therefore
it is interesting to know what is happening where and among whom. The
author has looked at the Mishing's life from this point of view. By
studying the three villages in detail he has attempted to project the
changing situation in the tribe.
The Mishings is a major tribe of Assam, the
homeland of a large number of a populations, both tribal and non-tribal,
of different ethnic origins, linguistic affiliations and having varied
socio-cultural traditions since long past. There has always been
socio-cultural as well as biological interaction among these populations,
and as a result the tribes are at a different levels of modernization. The
influence of Hinduism is very strong among many tribes. Among these
some members have accepted Hinduism, while others are Hinduised.
The neo-Vaisnavite movement was
launched by the great Assamese Saint Srimanta Sankardeva in the later part
of the Fifteenth century. Gradually it started gaining momentum and
was spread to different parts of this region of the country. It had great
impact on the Mishings as well. They accepted neo-vaishnavism, though side
by side they followed some of their traditional rites and rituals. The neo
vaishnavite faith bought remarkable changes in the socio-cultural life of
the Mishing. The author has found this to be the strongest force for
The Mishings have their own
language, but they have accepted the Assamese language to a great extent.
Many of the neo-vaishnavite literature are written in old Assamese, and
hence learning of Assamese helped the Mishings to understand the new ideas
beliefs, practices etc. Thus religion helped in the spread not only
Assamese language, but also the Hindu way of life among them.
It is known fact that
different types of communication network break the isolation and brings
different populations closer. In this process several processes are
associated. The author has clearly has demonstrated how this factors are
interacting to bring changes among the Mishing society.
The process of
acculturation and improved communication system have accelerated the
pace of development of the Mishing people. They are no longer a isolated
community, but has become a part of the greater whole. The noteworthy
changes in their attitude towards economy, education, health
practices and the like have helped in the overall development of The
Mishings under study. However, the author has observed that the present
processes operating in the Mishing society have widened the distance
between the rich and the poor sections and have created new elites among
the Mishings, a situation which deserves special consideration.
Dr. Jatin Mipun deserves
congratulations for his presenting such a vivid picture of the
socio-cultural changes in the Mishing tribe and analysing the forces and
factors involved in the process by undertaking a in-depth study. Such work
among the tribes in this part of the country are rare. The book will be a
valuable addition to the existing literature on the sociology and
ethnography of north eastern India.
Department of Anthropology