Deskilling of Central Indian Plateau Adivasis has led to loss of traditional knowledge and indigenous seeds. Efforts are on to reskill them by reviving traditional practices
“The food is not tasty anymore. We do not feel strong. We are taking poison,” said Temba Oraon, an elderly villager in Jana, a village in Gumla district of Jharkhand. Hirasand Oraon, another villager, his thoughts and added that the soil was more fertile earlier.
The villagers said that it was no longer possible to grow the same healthy foods. “People are growing hybrid varieties, because the yield is good,” said one of them. “One needs to apply chemical fertilizers but the fertilizers make the soil hard.”
In 2017, a group of development practitioners from Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN), a non-profit organization, attended a course on development perspective at Azim Premji University (APU) and learnt about deskilling.
Deskilling is a process of elimination of skilled labor within an economy. In 1974, in his book Labor and Monopoly Capital, Harry Braverman described deskilling as a process of separation of intelligence from muscle that helps the ruling class dominate both.
After the course, some of the PRADAN researchers designed Adaptive Skilling through Action Research (ASAR) jointly with some faculty members of APU, to find out the extent to which deskilling had happened in the Adivasi community with whom PRADAN was working, and to initiate a process of reskilling.