Officials coerce in name of “community-led sanitation”

The rush to show that the Swachh Bharat deadlines have been met has left the most vulnerable low income Dalit households out. Officials have deployed various coercive measures in name of “community-led sanitation. Continue reading Officials coerce in name of “community-led sanitation”

Lok Sabha Khunti: Dayamani’s long fight for the forests, for equality

Dayamani Barla had made up her mind to fight elections soon after being released from jail. In the winter of 2012, the activist spent 69 days locked in a small cell in Birsa Munda jail in Ranchi. She was accused in a case relating to leading 400 Oraon tribal farmers in Nagri as they questioned why the campuses of elite institutes such as the IIM Ranchi, and a national law university be built on their fertile multi-crop farmland when there was ample barren land nearby. Nagri’s tribal women farmers carried fruits for Dayamani at every appearance she made at Ranchi … Continue reading Lok Sabha Khunti: Dayamani’s long fight for the forests, for equality

Santhali women caught between birth and death

In Santhali villages in Godda, along Jharkhand’s border with Bihar, many slanting stone megaliths that mark the community graves are those of young women who died in childbirth in recent years. Tribal families in the hamlets scattered in Sundarpahari and Poreyhat – many of whom speak only Santahli – recount desperate struggles for medical help when young women in their families in advanced stages of pregnancy experienced complications. At Paharpur village in Sundarpahari, Gopin Soren spoke haltingly as rain fell over the hut where his 19-year old daughter Sadbeeti, pregnant for the first time, died last year. “On Thursday we … Continue reading Santhali women caught between birth and death

‘Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast’

A poem by Savitribai Phule, circa 1860: My weak and oppressed brothers, stop living in slavery. The day of Manu-worshipping Peshwas is done, the English, who share knowledge are here. Learn now. For a millennium you have been denied books. We will teach our children and ourselves to seek knowledge; our souls cry out for wholeness, to leave behind the marks of caste and unfurl our proud flags in Baliraja’s kingdom. This shall be our war-cry, we shall rise up now, Rise up now, to learn and to act. (found at the end of ‘A Gardner in the Wasteland’. There’s … Continue reading ‘Throw away the Brahman’s scriptures fast’

Tribal farmers detained for protesting land acquistion for Jindal power plant

More than 50 tribal farmers, including women, were detained for over six hours on Tuesday at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, a kilometre from the venue where President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation for a thermal power plant to be set up by Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL). Farmers from 11 villages in Nimpaniya and Goiarijor blocks said they had gathered in Sundarpahari to oppose land acquisition by the JSPL. At 10 a.m. they were detained by the police and kept in the station premises till evening. “My family lives in Seemaldhap village in Chota Amarpur. More than … Continue reading Tribal farmers detained for protesting land acquistion for Jindal power plant

Adivasis’ dangerous journey into the urban jungle

Last month two 14-year-old adivasi girls, who had migrated from Khunti district to work in Delhi as domestic help, were found dead in mysterious circumstances, both within two days of each other. On April 19, Jyoti Mariyam Hora died soon after she was brought to the Madan Mohan Malviya Hospital in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar. Two days later, Dayamani Guriya, who had studied with Jyoti till class VI and had migrated to Delhi with her, died in mysterious circumstances at the Ranchi railway station when she was being sent back to her village in Torpa in Khunti with police’s intervention. The … Continue reading Adivasis’ dangerous journey into the urban jungle

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

Glimpses from the protests against rape in Delhi

I was in Delhi last week December. The video below is of some of the people at Jantar Mantar who so creatively took the conversation away from “hang them”, “castrate them” to ‘Kaandhe se hamaare kaandha milaaiyei‘, and ‘Hum kya chaahte azaadi, raat mein din mein kaam karne ki padhne ki azaadi‘. Protests against rape at Jantar Mantar from Anumeha Yadav on Vimeo. The video below is from six days prior at Raisina Hill near India Gate, when the government started using teargas against protesters(*facepalm*): Dec 2012 Dilli protests 177 from Anumeha Yadav on Vimeo. Continue reading Glimpses from the protests against rape in Delhi

Thinking about Baran, December 2010

I got a chance to speak about my experience of reporting on bonded debt among Sahariya tribals in Baran in Rajasthan at May Diwas celebrations organized by Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in Rajsamand district in May 2011. MKSS organizes a mela for May Day every year at Bhim in Rajsamand. 285 from Anumeha Yadav on Vimeo. Roughly translates to: I had first traveled to Kishanganj and Shahbad blocks in Baran in December 2010 after listening to 16 Sahariya agriculture workers at a MKSS dharna in Jaipur for minimum wages in MNREGA. They said they had been in bonded debt … Continue reading Thinking about Baran, December 2010

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

Sterile ban

Primitive Tribal Groups (PTGs) living in Chattisgarh, India, struggle to provide for their families and are forced to lie about their identity to overcome the sterilisation restriction owing to a three decade old order of the Madhya Pradesh government that restricted PTGs from being targeted during the sterilisation drives of the time. Sarguja: A three decade-old Madhya Pradesh government order has several adivasi families in Chattisgarh in a quandary. They struggle to provide for themselves but are turned away by government officials if they try to restrict their family size. “I do not want more children but the ‘mitanin’ (village … Continue reading Sterile ban

Naroda Patiya: A partial sense of closure

Vatva lies 18 kilometres from Ahmedabad, on the eastern banks of the Sabarmati where a majority of the city’s Muslim neighbourhoods are. Naimuddin Mohammed Yunus Ansari’s family moved to this polluted industrial settlement last year from Khanpur, the fourth time they have moved house in 10 years. He says they did not return to Naroda Patiya for years because they have found it difficult to put the violence of the 2002 riots out of their minds and go back. “The mob killed my mother Abida Bibi. They flung my seven-year old niece Gulnaz Bano into the fire. She died. My … Continue reading Naroda Patiya: A partial sense of closure