Traditional knowledge diminishes among tribal: IIITMK study

Traditional knowledge passed down several generations of the tribals in Kerala by their ancestors has suffered massive erosion and is gradually disappearing now.This has been revealed in a study conducted by the city-based Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management-Kerala (IIITMK). The study also revealed that the dwindling of traditionally-inherited knowledge is mostly among tribal youths, especially among men.


As per the findings, the Kurichya and Kurumba tribals have lost more than half of their traditional knowledge, Cholanaikar and Malapandaram tribals have lost 33 per cent while Kaani and Kattunaikkar have lost 40 to 45 per cent.

Malapandaram tribals have ‘very least traditionally-acquired knowledge before and now,’ it said. Elaborating on the study, Head of C V Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics, Jaishankar R Nair said it was conducted among the tribals living in the Western Ghats as it is included in the UN’s World Heritage Site.


It provides a quantitative estimate of traditional knowledge that is disappearing at an alarming rate, IIITMK sources said. “The degradation of conventional knowledge is alarming,” revealed the study, conducted by C V Raman Laboratory of Ecological Informatics at the IIITM-K among eight tribal races in the Western Ghats.

The tribal groups Kurichyar and Kattunaikkar (Wayanad district), Cholanaikkar and Paniyar (Nilamburin Malappuram); Irular and Kurumbar (Palakkad) and Kaanikkar and Malapandaram (Kollam district) were covered under the study. The study and survey was designed in such a way as to elicit binary mode of response as ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ an IIITM-K statement said.

The questions covered areas including honey collection, knowledge about herbs and their usage, prevention of blight in paddy fields, finding of edible leaves and potatoes, worship of rain, turmeric, hibiscus and paddy, umbrella making, treatment for venom and various tribal arts and handicrafts, it said.

The knowledge of the participants was segregated in 10-25, 25-50 and above 50 age groups.

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