Conferences & Consultations

Pastoral Goshtis

In Pastoral Goshtis, pastoralists hold space and share stages as they discuss their future. Throughout the exhibitions, pastoralists discuss a range of issues impacting their livelihood, mobility and lifestyles.

When pastoralists gathered daily in IGNCA’s amphitheatre, during the 18 day long Delhi exhibition, it was perhaps the very first time in recent history that fifteen pastoralist communities from ten States of India – from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat, Kashmir to Telangana – met for seven long days to exchange their practices, concerns, and stories.

Herders speak a FRA workshop/Goshti at IGNCA, Delhi

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In Delhi, they listened to Neelkanthmama, a Kuruba leader, explain the processes they undertook to ensure that the Karnataka government created a compensatory policy for the death of small ruminants, the only State in India to do so. Kachchh pastoralists explained the genetic virtues of the Banni buffalo breed that they have developed, and how the National Bureau Of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) recognised their breed, bringing prestige and financial benefits to the community.

Neelkanth Mama, a herder from Belgaum speaks at a Goshti

They listened to the struggle of the Dhangars of Maharashtra to gain Scheduled Caste status for their community. The Raikas from Rajasthan and Jats from Kachchh spoke of how they hope to save their camel from extinction by marketing their Camel milk. And this led to many concerned voices on how the low fat content in camel milk would curtail its procurement by dairies, and unless the Government revised the prescribed standard of fat content, camel milk would not reach the public.
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Herders and practioners deliberate on a sunny December morning at IGNCA, Delhi 2016.

The opportunities they wanted to collectively
explore were the huge amounts of sheep wool
they now sheared and lay waste due to the lack
of markets for local sheep wool. 

They lamented that the wool corporations had
not invested in the huge diversity of Indian
wool, allowing international sheep wool varieties
like Merino to take over the Indian wool markets.

Herders speak at Goshtis in Ahmedabad

A common concern that was heard repeatedly was the issue of education for their children, and the shrinking commons. The Bakarwal Gujjars shared the experience of the mobile schools that the J&K government had experimented with. They all deeply wanted their children to go through an educational process; and they believed equally, that sending their children to sedentary schools would make them incapable of learning the immense life skills they require as mobile pastoralists.
Each community spoke about the penning economy they share with farmers across the country, the contributions of pastoralism to agriculture, and equally of the crushing impact of intensive agriculture on their movements and revenues from penning.

Dr. Sadana, a noted animal scientist, speaks at a Goshti

In Delhi 2016, and Ahmedabad October 2017, the Pastoral Goshtis  were the most animated when pastoralists,  from across geographies, spoke about their displacement from the forests, their rights to access forest forage, and the challenges they face in filing claims under the Forest Right Act (FRA, 2006).  The discussions led to a collective resolve by pastoralists to begin work on the implementation of FRA in their regions. This consultation was attended by members of civil society organizations working with pastoral communities, representatives of pastoral communities from different states, researchers, practitioners  and students.