We must help preserve tribal culture: Naidu

(Eds: Adds more quotes) Mandla (MP), Feb 15 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said tribals were the original inhabitants of India, and the people of the country should protect their culture.

He was speaking at the inauguration of a two-day 'Adivasi Mahotsav' at Ramnagar in Madhya Pradesh's Mandla district.

'Tribals are original inhabitants of India and it is our duty to protect their culture and ensure their development. This is our constitutional duty as well,' the vice president said.

Underlining the need for sustainable development, he said tribals inspire the society to dwell in nature and move forward with it.

This festival is a good effort as it demonstrates indigenous people's culture, art and other aspects of their life, Naidu added.

'The government's efforts are not enough to preserve the tribal culture and the society should also chip in,' he said.

Terming education a gateway to progress, he said tribals should benefit from it.

Touching upon the Maoist menace in several tribal pockets of the country, mainly Chhattisgrah, Jharkhand and some other states, Naidu said Left Wing Extremism (LWE) had not solved any problem, stressing that the 'way of the ballot was better than the bullet'.

'Peace is necessary for development. Without peace development cannot take place,' the VP added.

Expressing concern over some 250 languages, mostly of tribal communities, going extinct in the last 50 years, Naidu said, 'When a language vanishes, it demonstrates the downfall of a culture, a civilisation, a creative tradition.' He asked universities to preserve and promote tribal languages and culture.

Underlining the need for sustainable development, Naidu said, 'Today when the world is beset by problems such as global warming and climate change and increased frequency of natural disasters, our tribal communities can show us the path of sustainable development. Mindless exploitation of nature will lead to disastrous consequences.' The vice president appreciated tribal communities for respecting nature and keeping a harmonious relation with their environment and living beings, and asked the world to learn from them.

'When hotels can serve foreign cuisine, why can't they promote local tribal flavours which are more suited to our body and climatic conditions? Why can't city youth pursue tribal music and (learn) instruments as their hobby?' he asked.

Union ministers Renuka Singh, Faggan Singh Kulaste and Prahlad Patel among others, who were present on the occasion, also stressed on the need to preserve tribal culture and art.