High fertility in Khasi tribe of northeast India: a repercussion of the fear of identity loss?

Udoy Sankar Saikia, Flinders University

This study highlights the importance of a very crucial but rarely researched area: the impact of cultural revival on demographic outcome. Three basic factors - wrong development policies (which dislocates and denies the traditional land rights, self determination and sovereignty rights of the indigenous peoples), huge in-migration (both legal and illegal) and religious conversion have created an identity crisis among the Khasis- a matrilineal tribe in northeast India. They have a perceived fear of losing their cultural identity and also their land to the outsiders. This fear has resulted in reinforcement of their cultural values by strictly adhering to their strong pro-natalist traditional norms. In the wake of cultural revival these beliefs have become more important as cultural securities. Although the Khasis are not minorities in their homeland, the fear of becoming a minority in the near future has contributed to a situation conducive to very high fertility.

  See paper

Presented in Session 62: Cultural norms and demographic behaviour in developing countries (1)