Dire need to preserve Gujjars’ traditional, indigenous knowledge: Dr Javaid Rahi

Jammu: Noted Gujjar Scholar, Dr Javaid Rahi here on Sunday said that Tribal Gujjars-Bakerwals who are still practicing nomadic lifestyle are the main custodian of valuable traditional and indigenous knowledge about biodiversity, non-traditional food, forest-agriculture, herb-shrubs and local ecology of Jammu and Kashmir.
He stated this while interacting with community youth in a webinar which was organized by Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation to celebrate ‘International Day of the World’s Indigenous (Tribal) Peoples’.
He said that traditional knowledge and practices of migratory communities needed urgent documentations and preservations.
The International Day of the World’s Indigenous (Tribal) Peoples was established on August 9, 1994, by the United Nations (UN) to focus on issues related to approximately 476 million Indigenous Peoples worldwide in over 90 countries.
Dr Javaid Rahi said that indigenous people of J&K especially Gujjars-Bakerwals owed traditional knowledge about the bio-diversity of J&K and can play a pivotal role in its use and conservation.
He said besides knowledge of biodiversity, they have their own tribal ‘traditional cultural expressions’ which is broadly known as ‘Intellectual Property’ requires immediate preservation.
Dr Rahi said the handmade textiles, paintings, stories, legends, ceremonies, music, songs, rhythms and dances of Gujjars-Bakerwals are continuously disappearing which needs propagation, disseminations besides documentation at the earliest.
“Traditional knowledge typically distinguishes one community from another,” said Dr Rahi and added, “Gaddi and Sippi tribes of Jammu and Kashmir are also practicing indigenous traditions and requires special focus.”
He said,” Because of social exclusion there are no takers of tribal traditional knowledge since they are still treated as primitive, uncivilized and unskilled which is away from the facts. They are the storehouse of indigenous knowledge and can also contribute to the society.”
He impressed upon Universities of Jammu and Kashmir, Tribal Department J&K, local non-governmental organizations and researchers to focus on preservations and propagation of traditional knowledge and practices of tribes.