State, Pastoral Nomads and the Commons: A Study of the Muslim Gujjar Tribe in North India


"Pastoralism, more so nomadic pastoralism dependent on the Commons for survival, is facing severe crisis all over the World, today. What threatens such 'way of life' are modern Nation-States and their development strategies, on the one hand, and the 'tragedy of the commons' on the other. The planners and policy makers in the Third World see nomadic communities as examples of 'static' and 'traditional' societies, rejecting change and forms of state control. They have been seen as 'irrational' because their attitude towards production and herd-management was seen as non-economic. As a result, nomadic groups in the Third World have hitherto most often been completely eradicated by the so called development process. While the Commons are in a tragic condition because of a variety of modern forces and activities, pastoral way of life is considered destructive to the common resources. Hence, states have been making persistent conscious efforts to discourage pastoral survival strategies by abrogating their traditional rights directly or indirectly, and undermining their indigenous knowledge for management of common resources. This is a situation in which pastoralism is caught. The Gujjars, a Muslim pastoral nomadic tribe living in the foothills of Himalayas in Northern India, are also facing the same crisis today. They are one of the few Muslim tribal groups in India. They are also one of the diminishing number of nomadic groups who have been able to survive as nomads up to the present."



common pool resources, pastoralism, nomads, Gujjars (Asian people), IASC