LK Mahapatra Memorial Lecture: Historical Mistakes Committed For Growth Of Tribals, Says Anthropologist

Bhubaneswar: Despite several plans and schemes for development of tribal groups in the country, some major mistakes in policy decisions have kept them backward till date, said eminent anthropologist Prof Geetika Ranjan.

Speaking at the 2nd LK Mahapatra Memorial Lecture at Utkal University in Bhubaneswar on Saturday, Prof Ranjan, based in the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong, cited the case of the Bhoksa, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) from Uttarakhand.

“Despite plans and schemes for improving its condition, the tribe continued to remain weak and vulnerable. Certain historical wrongs in policy-making and implementation have left deep ineradicable scars, which render the later amelioration plans less effective,” she said and discussed the reasons which make it very difficult to undo the wrong already done.

Vice-Chancellor of Utkal University Prof Sabita Acharya, also a Professor of Anthropology and student of Prof LK Mahapatra; Head of Department of Anthropology, Utkal University Prof Kanhu Satpathy and Prof NC Dash, who retired from Fakir Mohan University, also spoke.

The lecture, jointly organised by the LK Mahapatra Memorial Trust and the PG Department of Anthropology on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Prof Mahapatra, was attended by eminent scholars and students of anthropology and social sciences from Utkal University and other universities and colleges.

The 2nd L K Mahapatra Memorial Lecture was titled “Historical Wrongs and the Aftermath: Journey of a Tribe”. The 1st Memorial Lecture was delivered last year by Professor P C Joshi of Delhi University in an online mode because of the pandemic.

Prof Lakshman Kumar Mahapatra (1929-2020) was a world-renowned anthropologist and educationist from Odisha, who spent most of his career in Utkal University establishing the discipline of anthropology in Odisha and turning the Anthropology Department into a vibrant and pioneering intellectual space that led to it becoming one of the two Centres for Advanced Study in Anthropology in India.

He had conducted pioneering research in the country in South East Asian Studies and the now established fields of development anthropology and population anthropology. He was also Vice-Chancellor of Utkal and Sambalpur universities and Director and later Chairman of the Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies.

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