Tribal rights in Lok Sabha 2019: The Adivasi won’t dance to political tunes anymore


It is about time that the rights of the tribal communities are acknowledged and addressed as part of mainstream politics and governance.

With the recent detainment of Jean Dreze in Jharkhand, one really wonders how out of touch our democratic institutions are with the grassroots. The economist’s detainment, along with two other activists, who were allegedly holding a meeting on the right to food and pension without explicit and prior permission from the authorities, is a signal of an increasingly intolerant and hierarchical structure. It seems like this structure believes in the politicisation of every move and circumstance for the political gain of a few, at the cost of the rights of millions.

The targeting of Dreze, a renowned development economist, who helped draft the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (and later led protests owing to gaps in its implementation), and is known for rooting his work in grounded theory, is one such telling instance. Read more

Aliens in their own lands: When Chhattisgarh’s tribals were turned into encroachers

The Hindu || Jacob Koshy || April 6, 2019

In Chhattisgarh, the Forest Rights Act potentially allows 7.4 million tribal and other traditional forest dwellers to claim land rights. However, half these claims have been rejected and the land siphoned off, often arbitrarily. Jacob Koshy reports on the difficulties in implementing the Act and the plight of the Adivasis

Three years ago, Sunder Singh Kumeti, a Gond tribal, lost access to a parcel of land in the forest that he and his family had foraged for two generations. Before that, Kumeti recalls his work routine as being more or less the same everyday from boyhood. He would walk, along with his fellow villagers, several kilometres into the forest abutting his village looking for flowers from the mahua tree, or wood from the stout sal tree. His village, Patkalbeda, located in Antagarh panchayat of Kanker district in Chhattisgarh,is mostly forest area, though not classified as a reserve forest or a protected area. Read more

Seven decades after Independence, many in Odisha’s villages still drink contaminated water from pits

First Post || Manish Kumar || Mar 27, 2019

A large section of the rural populace of Keonjhar district in Odisha is struggling for access to a basic survival need.

A network of 60 reporters set off across India to test the idea of development as it is experienced on the ground. Their brief: Use your mobile phone to record the impact of 120 key policy decisions on everyday justify; what works, what doesn’t and why; what can be done better and what should be done differently. Their findings — straight and raw from the ground — will be combined in this series, Elections on the Go, over a course of 100 days.

Keonjhar: Seven decades of Independence and other progress notwithstanding, a large section of the rural populace of Keonjhar district in Odisha is struggling for access to a basic survival need — safe drinking water. To make matters worse, this Lok Sabha constituency, which has the maximum operational mines in the state, is also being ravaged by miners, who are minting money at the cost of natural resources. Read more

Interview | ‘Adivasi Culture and the Forest Are Linked. PESA Looks After Both’

The Wire || Saahil Kejriwal and Rachita Vora || March 28, 2019

In conversation with Adivasi lawyer and social activist Lalsu Nogoti about the importance of engaging with law and politics to bring about social change.

Lalsu Nogoti is an independent elected member of the Zila Parishad in the district of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. He is also the first lawyer from the Madia Gond Adivasi community in that district. A firm voice against large-scale diversion of forest land for numerous mining projects, Nogoti has also been part of several peoples’ movements against the state’s development policies. The focus of his work is on the effective implementation of laws that protect Adivasi rights. Read more

In an ancient land, a forest’s impending destruction threatens India’s future || Samar Halarnkar || 24 March 2019

Opening Chhattisgarh’s Hasdeo Arand to mining will hasten the devastation of the Adivasi people and the country’s natural resources.

In the heart of India, there is a land called Gondwana. Geologists borrowed the name to provide an identity to Gondwana or Gondwanaland, a prehistoric supercontinent that gave birth to India before humans evolved. It is also a name derived from some of India’s most ancient people, a tribe called the Gonds. Read more

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