Examine the uniqueness of tribal knowledge system when compared with mainstream knowledge and cultural systems.

Sample Answer


Tribal Knowledge system refers to the information, knowledge, skill and technology along with standard management practices, which are defined through the tribal cultural systems. It includes traditional agriculture, water harvesting, weather prediction, medicinal practices among others. This traditional knowledge system is unique and different from the mainstream knowledge.


  • Unlike mainstream knowledge system, which is based on scientific research, tribal knowledge system evolved over centuries through observation of nature and their experiences.
  • While modern mainstream knowledge is mostly secular, tribal knowledge is predominantly sacred or religious. Ex: sacred grooves vs Modern in-situ conservation practices
  • Tribal knowledge evolved in a specific location within certain physical and socio-cultural environment, whereas mainstream knowledge is more or less universal. Ex: Unani vs Allopathy
  • Traditional knowledge is transmitted orally from generation to generation, whereas mainstream knowledge is well documented and passed to the next generation through formal education.
  • Creation of modern mainstream knowledge vests property rights on an individual or a private entity but traditional tribal knowledge is collectively owned by the community.
  • Unlike mainstream knowledge system, Tribal practices are inherently sustainable in nature.


But this unique knowledge is under threat due to rapid environmental degradation and  socio-economic changes. There is an urgent need to conserve this knowledge base for a judicious use of local and global knowledge to achieve sustainable development goals.

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