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dated November 13, 1953: Need for committed social workers

President Dr. Rajendra Prasad inaugurated the Second All-India Tribal Welfare Conference in Lohardaga near Ranchi on the 11th. He urged welfare workers to approach the Adivasis in a spirit of appropriate humility to serve them truly. The workers had to become one with the tribals by learning their language, manners, and customs. They had to shed feelings of superiority and work in a spirit of thankfulness to God for giving them the opportunity to serve the needy. Adivasis possessed many fine qualities which so-called civilized people lacked. The honesty and transparency in relations of Adivasis had to be emulated by others who imagined themselves to be superior. The President observed that Lohardaga was in the heart of the tribal area of Bihar, which had one-fourth of the tribal population of India. The people in that area lived in excellent surroundings in the very lap of mother nature. During the last General Elections, Adivasis, particularly the women among them, took considerable interest in voting, and had sent to the Legislature representatives in whom they had confidence.

Mr. L.M. Shrikant, Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, drew attention to the sad fact that fervour and ardour for social service had cooled down sharply since the advent of independence. People seemed to feel that there was no need for such service, and that everything should be taken care of by Government. For 30 years, the spirit of selfless service advocated by Gandhiji had ruled. Then, after Independence, many veteran social workers had occupied seats in Legislature, accepted Government posts, or taken to some profession or the other. Mr. Shrikant added, " It is to our great shame, that foreign missionaries, inspired by desire to propagate their Christian faith, have rendered dedicated service to tribal people in forests and hills, as in the Lushai and Khasi regions. They have set a good example by putting up schools and hospitals. Again, it is also mostly foreign anthropologists who have studied the customs, folk-lore, and arts of the Adivasis and published works about them. Indian workers are lagging far behind in this respect. There is a great dearth of good social workers; we had them in plenty in the Gandhian era."

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