How did the pasture lands decline in India? Describe the impact of the shortage of pasture land on the lives of pastoralists.
The British Government considered all uncultivated land as unproductive. They wanted to transform all grazing lands into cultivated farms. Land revenue was the main sources of its finance. So to increase its revenue, the British Government brought the pastures under cultivation.
The Colonial Government passed the ‘Wasteland Rules’. By these rules, uncultivated lands were taken over and given to select individuals.
By the mid-19 th century, various Forest Acts were implemented in the different provinces of India.
Forests were classified as ‘Reserved’ and ‘Protected’.
No pastoralist was allowed to access to the ‘Reserved’ forests. In ‘Protected’ forest, some customary grazing rights of pastoralists were granted but their movement was severely restricted.
The decline of pasture lands had a deep impact on the life of pastoralists in following ways.
(i) They were expected to live only in notified village settlements.
(ii) The village police was to keep strict watch on them.
(iii) They reduced the number of catde in their herd.
(iv) Some richer pastoralists bought land and settled down and gave up their nomadic life. The poor pastoralists became labourers working on fields or in small towns.