BHUBANESWAR: Cultivating the elements of the Adivasi way of life in society as a whole is the need of the hour, renowned development economist Jean Dreze said on Wednesday. Addressing the 31st Gopinath Mohanty Memorial Lecture here on the theme “The Adivasi Way of Life: Relic of the Past or Wave of the Future?” the Belgian-born Indian economist argued that “the adivasi way of life is a wave of the future may seem like wishful thinking, but failing that, there may be no future at all.”
“If we want to develop the culture of cooperation and solidarity, we have to move away from the tribal way of life. The rich tradition of democratic life in an Adivasi society is a useful source of hope and inspiration,” he said.
Stating that democracy is a way of life in association, he said that democratic principles are already present in the Adivasi communities of eastern India. “They are freedom-loving people who do not submit to arbitrary authority. We have a lot to learn from their culture,” Dreze said and added that Gopinath Mohanty himself drew people’s attention to this in his writings.
Dreze also said that apart from being a great writer and an inspiring thinker, Gopinath Mohanty was a public-spirited administrator who spared no effort to understand, befriend and help the adivasis of southern Odisha during his early years as an Odisha Administrative Service Officer in Koraput and Rayagada. .
He studied their way of life, learned their languages and shared their joys and sorrows. Culture Secretary Madhusudan Padhi said the late Mohanty had done a lot of work for the tribals in Koraput and other parts of Odisha. “As a writer, he has played a great role in popularizing modern Odia literature in India and abroad,” he said. Former BPUT VC and Mohanty’s son, Professor Omkarnath Mohanty also spoke.