Indigenous people the world over are caught in the throes of transition. Should they blink, cross over to mainstream society and abandon their cultural heritage and their responsibility and ownership of forests and biodiversity reserves or should they dig their feet in and stay put resisting change being brought about by global media at frenetic pace?
Logging and mining companies pillage tribal terrain forcing them into a vault of transformation they are not quite equipped or prepared to face, exploited by the cunning politician as well as the clever mining mafia the hapless indigenous peoples are caught between the tiger and the unscrupulous politician who is sworn to “protect” them.
Should they retain their rich cultural heritage at the cost of civic rights and electoral privileges? Or should they heed anthropologists, stay put in their rich forest terrain sustaining themselves below the poverty line on forest resources which some say are meant for wild animals? By sustaining themselves wholly in forest wealth and showing disdain to a corrupt system of governance that favours few, the indigenous people are certainly making a statement – even if a weak one – about the futility of a costly experiment in democracy.
Indigenous people in the Amazon Basin, still untouched by modernity are in so much synchronicity with their agro-meteorological and bio-diverse environment that the “human civilisation” is utterly alien to them. Questions remain if egalitarianism should encompass them or not? What about their health quotient? Interesting, intriguing plausibilities stare at the Media’s responsibility arm. We owe it to our fellow citizens of the world today…
In my 25 years of reporting I have had occasion to meet several indigenous people and have reported on their existential issues. There are by no means easy answers. The crossroads they face certainly merits a robust media engagement to be able to come to an evolved credible, robust reasonable and plausible solution. The role of the Media thus becomes critical. So is the responsibility of the Media personnel. The Media – by treading on the proverbial middle path can atleast objectively report. The most that we as media professionals can do is to summarise such credible reporting and present to the lawmakers requesting for legislation. Done transparently and credibly it can be a game changer indeed. But can the alert media prevent poaching and exploitation of indigenous people at all?