Particularly vulnerable Adivasi speak of despair, hunger at tech “disruption” of social schemes

Jirua Parhaian and Dhaneshwar Parhaiya sat in front of the large crowd that had gathered to take stock of the effectiveness of public schemes in Jharkhand’s Manika block, under which which their village falls. They belong to the Parhaiya Adivasi community, which is classified as a “particularly vulnerable tribal group”. The elderly couple listened quietly while government officials acknowledged the problems that have prevented Parhaiya Adivasis from availing of government schemes meant for them. Both were frail and walked with difficulty. But they had traveled to Manika, the block centre, 15 km from their village Uchvabal, to attend the meeting … Continue reading Particularly vulnerable Adivasi speak of despair, hunger at tech “disruption” of social schemes

Radha Devi: Managing maladies in Bhuiantola

A path winding through paddy fields led to Bhuiantola, a hamlet where Bhuian Dalit families lived, on the outskirts of Tarwadih village in Jharkhand’s Latehar district. That month, eight individuals in Tarwadih were on treatment for tuberculosis(TB), a serious bacterial infection that most commonly affects the lungs. Four of them lived in Bhuiantola. The previous night, Radha Devi, the village sahiya or frontline health worker, an Accredited Social Health Activist(ASHA) had finished helping a woman delivery a baby in the hamlet. Now, walking down the paved path, she called out to Ramavtar Ram who was working in the fields. “Nine … Continue reading Radha Devi: Managing maladies in Bhuiantola

In Jharkhand, more militarization following tribal farmers’ pathalgadi assertion

Khunti lies near the birthplace of Birsa Munda. Tribal farmers organised ceremonies in which they carved the constitutional provisions on tribal autonomy on large rocks, and erected these at the entrance to the hamlets.
But the assertion by the Munda farmers that the government follow the laws and the constitution’s special provisions granting self governance in predominantly tribal areas such as Khunti has drawn the ire of the state. Continue reading In Jharkhand, more militarization following tribal farmers’ pathalgadi assertion

A doctor tells stories

Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar’s novel, The Mysterious Ailment of Rupi Baskey, the story of a Santhali family over four generations, is remarkable for a deep and masterful observation of lives and descriptions of a tribal village – its tree groves, weekly markets, festivals, fights, and gatherings. The debut author, a doctor with the government of Jharkhand, lives in Pakur, along the state’s border with West Bengal. Once or twice, in descriptions when Rupi and her husband Sido visit doctors to seek cure for Rupi’s mysterious ailment, the writer’s professional knowledge seem perceptible in the narrative. At others, the descriptions of the … Continue reading A doctor tells stories

Tribals torn apart by religion

The Hindu Whether due to economic disparities or the stoking of enmities by different religious groups, the chasm between Sarna and Christian tribals has widened Two months before polling began in Jharkhand, Ajay Tirkey began dividing his day between campaigning for the Bharatiya Janata Party in Ranchi and attending to his real estate business. Mr. Tirkey, who heads the Central Sarna Committee(CSC), with lakhs of animistic Sarna tribals as members in urban parts of Ranchi, Gumla and Hazaribagh, believes that the BJP’s Narendra Modi will get the community what it has been demanding for decades: the distinction of being a … Continue reading Tribals torn apart by religion

Jharkhand SPOs and their families under attack from Maoists

In response to a Public Interest Litigation, in July 2011, the Supreme Court while asking the State to disband the Salwa Judum, ordered the Chhattisgarh government to desist from using SPOs in countering the Maoists. Following the July order, the recruitment of SPOs in Jharkhand too was briefly paused, but resumed after a Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and SS Nijjar in November said the July order applied only to Chhattisgarh, not to other States. Jharkhand has a sanctioned strength of 6,400 SPOs, though senior police officials put the current number at 3,000. Police officials cite the State Police Acts … Continue reading Jharkhand SPOs and their families under attack from Maoists

Baarish mein nadi mein Latehar patrakaar

Was reporting in Latehar in west Jharkhand earlier this week. Crossing Koel on foot here and then crossing Chaupat river a few meters beyond this point is a routine on all trips to this part of Latehar as there are no bridges close by. But now in monsoon the river swells up and is in spate. Here Manoj Dutt, contributor to ANI from Latehar, gets by with a little help from mischievous friends as I follow the gang on foot. Continue reading Baarish mein nadi mein Latehar patrakaar

When public health schemes turn anaemic

Since 2010 when the central government discontinued the supply of medical kits containing Iron Folic Acid, vitamin A, zinc tablets and Oral Rehydration Solution packets under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) to states, village anganwadis and health centers have turned anaemic pregnant women and adoloscent girls away. These are essential for reducing anaemia and birth defects which affect 69.5 percent women and girls between 15 and 49 and over 70 percent of all children below five in Jharkhand – the highest levels of anaemia according to National Family Health Survey 2 and 3 done in 1999 and 2006. Over six … Continue reading When public health schemes turn anaemic

‘We were used as human shields in Latehar against Maoists’

Adivasi villagers at Amvatikar have accused the CRPF of beating them and using them as shields as they were forced to search for security personnel’s bodies in the Katiya forest in Latehar district on January 8. Eleven security personnel were killed in an encounter with Maoists on January 7. Fifteen security personnel – four were yet to gain consciousness – were treated for bullet wounds at Apollo Hospital in Erba on the outskirts of Ranchi. Vijay Turi, a farmer from Amvatikar village in Latehar district was also being treated at the hospital for injuries in his eyes, on his face … Continue reading ‘We were used as human shields in Latehar against Maoists’

Why and how cash transfers may not work

Imagine you just received a heads-up. From January, your salary will be credited to a bank account your employer recently opened for you. But you do not know the details of this bank account and have no idea when you will find out. The news also is that from now on your parents can withdraw their monthly pensions by walking to the new ATM recently set up in front of their house. But every other time you or they try, the ATM says the PIN you have does not match. No one can tell with certainty when your new bank … Continue reading Why and how cash transfers may not work

Nagri villagers defy government to harvest paddy

On the morning of November 20 Nandi Kashap and Parveen Toppo woke up at five am, an hour earlier than usual. By seven, both women were in the village akhada (square) to join a group of 20 gathered there. For two days Rapid Action Force (RAF) constables stationed in their village – two companies numbering 150 – had turned them away each time they tried to harvest the paddy they planted in August. “We will have to go to each others plots and harvest this together in big groups. Let us see how they stop us,” the group concluded. By … Continue reading Nagri villagers defy government to harvest paddy

Alleging assault by CRPF jawans, Jharkhand tribals stage protests

Two separate incidents of alleged assault on village women by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans have triggered a spate of protests in the adjoining districts of West and East Singhbhum – both districts are, according to the Central Government, among districts worst affected by Left Wing Extremism. In both areas, villagers and tribal leaders have renewed their demand for removal of the CRPF camps. Senior CRPF and police officials said enquiries were on against the accused jawans, but termed the demands politically motivated. On September 24, Sumati Gop (19) (name changed) accused a jawan of Battalion 174 of attempting … Continue reading Alleging assault by CRPF jawans, Jharkhand tribals stage protests

In Jharkhand, entire hamlets wait for ration cards

Bhojan Adhikaar Yatra, a campaign demanding a comprehensive food security Bill, reached Jamshedpur on Tuesday after traveling through Bihar, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal. In 2009, the Jharkhand Government reduced the price of rice to Re.1/kg and entitled families with Antyodaya cards to get rice for free. But the distribution of Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards continues to be based on a survey by the Bihar Government 15 years ago, and many poor families are still excluded from PDS. The Government did a fresh survey last year, but the date for issuing fresh ration cards based on this survey had been … Continue reading In Jharkhand, entire hamlets wait for ration cards

“Sarkar ko taqleef milega”

Vikas Kumar, a college student from near Patriatu in Jharkhand, made an unsuccessful attempt to ride his motorcycle through the blockade at Nagri. “Today [Monday] is the last date to submit my MBA admission form,” he pleaded with the adivasi children half his height who stood in the way with sticks in their hands. “Show us proof,” demanded Nishant Topo, a student of Class VII from a village school nearby. Nagri, a tribal village 15 km north of Ranchi, has been on the boil since this past July. On Monday the tribals declared an eight-hour bandh and blocked the roads … Continue reading “Sarkar ko taqleef milega”