Thursday, October 2, 2008

WELCOME BAN ON SMOKING


The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is ready to implement the ban on smoking at public places in India from October 2onwards. The ministry issued the notification for the ban under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution), Act 2003.

At first glance, it’s very clear that the law will make the smokers incapable of smoking anywhere they like. But the question is whether this law will prove more effective as compared to the previous law or not? Central Health minister Anbumani Ramadoss had said that according to the GSR 417(E) declaration of May 30, 2008, the new law, which is going to be implemented from October 2, 2008, is a renewal of the old one. That means the old was not much effective in controlling ‘public smokers’. Then what will be the end result of the new one?

The law imposes strict ban on the smoking at public places like auditoriums, hospitals, health centers, parks, hotels, pubs, government offices, courts, educational institutions, libraries, roads, shopping centers, malls, theaters, stadiums, bus stops, railway stations, coffee houses, bars, airport lounges etc. This time the law is quite hard and anyone caught smoking in public places or private organisations will be fined Rs 200, which may rise to Rs 1,000. Persons in a position of responsibility in institutions shall be authorised to impose and collect the fine against the violation of section 4. The law will also allow any individual to detain people found smoking in public places and take them to a magistrate. So if you find anyone smoking in the bus stop you can make him lose Rs 200. But states like Bihar and Maharashtra have expressed their inability to implement the ban. Now, if a state is unable to implement the law then what can a mere citizen do? Only one or two will raise their voice. So a special squad to find law breakers is necessary. Otherwise, the law would be like the closed circuit cameras placed in public places of Delhi, which were found ‘switched off’ at the time of serial blasts.

The best advantage of the new law is that, from October 2 onwards, common people would be unable to light a cigarette outside their houses. If one wants to smoke, he/she should go to a hotel or an airport having ‘smoking zones’. But, for a long time in most of the hotels and public/private offices there has been a ‘No Smoking’ board. Then who would be ready to make ‘smoking zones’ (except some profit making bars, hotels etc having regular ‘smoking’ clients) as now the law gives them power to say “leave the cigar.” If anyone is found smoking inside companies or offices included in the ‘ban’ list, the penalty should be paid by the owners/mangers/supervisors of concerned organisations. Also, in public places, no one should be allowed to provide ashtrays, match boxes, lighters or anything, which smokers can use.

Central Health minister had said that in the last ten months in England around 45,000 people have quit smoking and he expects something like this to happen in India soon. But the population of smokers and social situation existent in India is quite different as compared to England. So there should be a strict enforcement of the new law. Cigarettes contribute 85 per cent to the total excise revenues collected from the tobacco industry, amounting to Rs 8,500 crores. So the question is whether Ramadoss is ready to cut these profits, given that more than twice that amount, is spent by the citizens of India to cure the diseases caused by tobacco every year. There is no dearth of laws in India. Most of the laws are helpful but fail due to slack implementation. Let’s hope that the new law, which is coming into effect from Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary proves effective for the better health of the nation.

Source:merinews.com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

TOWARDS DISASTER

Film shows how man made problem turned the direction of river leading to

Inter-state conflict and how Industrial pollution and big dams has increased

problems by disturbing basin ecology and violating the reparian rights. Shot in

Bastar region and western Rajnandgaon of Chhattisgarh.

Watch :


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_P6hYdIitys

Friday, August 29, 2008

A FRIEND OF THE TRIBALS....REMEMBERING VERRIER ELWIN


Verrier Elwin, one of the most interesting Englishmen to have worked in India this century, came to his adopted country when he was only 25. A few years later, he moved to a tribal village in the heart of India. He lived most of the rest of his life among the tribals of India, whom he loved and worked for, and about whom he wrote beautifully, intensely and extensively.


His friend, W.G. Archer, who was in the Indian Civil Service before becoming a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, had asked about Elwin: "What makes a man change his nationality, abjure civilization, and, in the upshot, become a blend of Schweitzer in Africa and Gauguin in Tahiti?" That question cannot be answered, but it prompts curiosity about his life.


Elwin was born the son of an Anglican bishop. He graduated from Merton College, Oxford, with a first in English literature and won a scholarship to support his degree, which the family tradition directed to be in theology. A doctorate in divinity had prepared him to be ordained as a priest, but his associations and interests had turned Elwin, while at Oxford, into a mild Indophile, with his heart turned wistfully towards Tagore and Gandhi. At a Students' Christian Movement meeting, which Elwin had attended at Stanwick, he met J.C. Winslow, who had come back from India to recruit young men for his Christian mission. Winslow, a product of Eton and Balliol, had gone to India to spread the gospel, and was so awed by the astonishing richness of Hindu spiritual and cultural heritage and ideas that he thought that Jesus could "take all those elements that were of permanent value and bring them to a richer completion".


Elwin was already looking eastwards and was easily seduced into joining Winslow's Christa Seva Sangha, which drew its inspiration from the traditional ashram ideal of the Hindus, as reinterpreted and actualised by Gandhi's ashram at Sabarmati, a centre of abstinent and religious life, dedicated to the service of the poor.


After a view years of living in the tradition of service to the church and in compliance with the Gandhian ascetic ideals, Elwin felt impelled to break all links with his past. He decided to work among the lively, sensuous, forest-dwelling tribals - materially the poorest of the poor in India, but blessed with a capacity to endure much and enjoy life fully.


They were rich in their capacity to love, in their sensitivity to beauty, in their delightful songs and dances, and in their ability to make fine, strong and beautiful things.


Elwin had not planned on anything other than being of service to these people when he and his lifelong volunteer colleague, Shamrao Hivale, moved to a Gond tribal village in Central India to have their own ashram. The events that followed - shifting their base deeper into the forests, establishing a home for lepers there, doing research work among the tribals as a friend and helper, practicing a "philanthropology" that brought with it a need to defend the tribals against all external aggressions, cultural or economic,and writing volumes about them - appear, with the benefit of hindsight, to be Elwin's unfolding destiny, as were his becoming an Indian citizen, receiving one of the country's highest honours, and becoming a friend and advisor to Jawaharlal Nehru.

Elwin had begun his work in India as a very unusual Christian missionary with Gandhian leanings, unacceptable both to the British Raj and to his own church in India. He soon became disenchanted with the pretentious aspects of Indian spirituality and with Gandhian puritanism and self-righteousness. India's "primitive" tribals won his heart, eventually; and he gave his brilliant mind and devoted his enormous energies, towards helping them, writing about them and defending their rights and their waysof life.


His beginnings were those of an earnest, somewhat uncertain and self-doubting but deeply religious man, and, although he later rejected all formal religions, he never could choose any other than a selfless, dedicated way of life. But the roles he took on were always nonconformist. Consequently, he had to fight powerful opposition and persecution from organized, conventional people all his life.


Although Elwin was able, in his lifetime, to have some influence on India's policies towards its tribal peoples, one fears that, with time, much of what he lived and stood for is in danger of being ignored, misunderstood or forgotten.

Courtesy: Sunil Janah on Guhas book

This great man was born on 29th August......remembering him on his birth anniversary

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

THE JASWANTGARH WAR MEMORIAL


For any soldier of the Indian Army ,the famous memorial of 1962 war between India and China at Jaswantgarh stands taller than even the 14000 ft high Sela Pass along the steep, serpentine mountainous road to monastery town at Tawang in western Arunachal Pradesh.

It is not because of the altitude of its location but for the inspiration it gives to Indian soldiers guarding the frontier with China.

A journey towards the picturesque Tawang through pristine hills of Arunachal Pradesh can't be complete without a stopover at Jaswantgarh Memorial that stands testimony to an Indian soldier's unparallel bravery.

And for Indian Army jawans and officials, it is a must-visit site to pay obeisance to Rifleman Jaswant Singh, Maha Vir Chakra, of 4 Garhwal Rifle, who laid down his life resisting the Chinese Army's march for about 72 hours along with two other soldiers during the 1962 war.

Singh was then captured and hanged at the same place where the memorial now stands, by Chinese invaders. The memorial is about 14 km away from Sela Pass.

It is more of a temple than a war memorial for Indian Army soldiers. The Army has put a section of its soldiers at round the clock duty at Jaswantgarh to look after the memorial which is located about 500 kilometers away from Guwahati, the gateway to the Northeast in Assam.

The temple-like Jaswantgarh memorial has a garlanded bronze bust of Jaswant Singh who is referred as Baba by soldiers, a portrait of the war hero and his belongings including the Army uniform, cap, watch, and belt. The earthen lamp before the portrait of Jaswant Singh burns round the clock.

For his six caretakers from 19 Garhwal Corps of Indian Army, Baba Jaswant Singh, MVC, still exists. They serve Baba bed tea at 0430 hrs, breakfast at 0900 hrs and dinner at 1900 hrs, oblivious of the reality that that the war hero is no more alive.

They make his bed for him, polish his shoes and deliver the mail sent by his admirers. They even clear the mails the next morning after 'he has gone through them'. They change his bed sheets every Tuesday.

These soldiers not only serve Baba. They reneder yeoman service for travelers along the hazardous portion of mountain terrain. Besides coming to rescue of travelers in trouble, they run a snack store where they serve tea, coffee and delicious samosas and pakoras to refresh the tired tourists, charging a nominal price that goes to upkeep of the war memorial.

The Indian Army sentinels at Jaswantgarh complain about the lack of electricity at the war memorial. It is lit up only for two hours in the evening through a diesel generator. They also fear that the roadside portion of the memorial is under severe threat from landslide.

One of the three historic bunkers at Jaswantgarh has already been damaged due to landslide while another one is in imminent danger unless something is done urgently to save it.

For the heroic effort of Rifleman Jaswant Singh, of the 4 Garhwal Rifle was awarded battle honour Nuranang, the only battle honour awarded to any Army unit in the Sino-Indian war of 1962.

Source:The Hitavada

HABITAT OF THE JERDON'S COURSER SAVED


The only known habitat of one of the world's rarest birds has been saved from destruction. Thanks to a compromise between environmentalists, villagers and the Andhra Pradesh government, the 400km Telugu Ganga Canal, which will stretch from Srisailam in central Andhra to Chennai, will be diverted around the only remaining habitat of the Jerdon's courser, a striking, nocturnal bird, the size of a lapwing and found only in one region of Andhra Pradesh. At the urging of the Bombay Natural History Society, an NGO, the state irrigation ministry has agreed to reroute the canal. The government has agreed to add 3,000 acres of adjoining land to the courser's sanctuary. Thrilled by the development, Dr Panchapakesan Jeganathan, a scientist at BNHS who has been fighting the battle for the courser's habitat for the last eight years, said, "This bird is more threatened than the tiger. Now, there is a very good chance that it will survive."

Source: The Times of India

Saturday, August 16, 2008

PAINTINGS OF TRIBALS ON TOILET WALLS



One often sees pictures and figures of tribal men and women adorning gardens, homes,hotels govt. offices in Chattisgarh.Ever heard of them depicted on walls of toilets.?? In Raipur you get to see them . The walls of the Sulabh Toilet complex in Tikrapara , Raipur has paintings of the Bastar tribals, the Bison horn madias decorating them. Is it the idea of the artist who painted these walls or of some intellectual?What I fail to understand is why tribals in such a filthy place?? Why not the face of some political goon or a corrupt neta? Looks like Bastar is the hot topic today..be it govt. websites, text books, politicians speeches or lastly even toilet walls!
I'm sure hundreds of people have used these toilets till date.Why hasn't somebody raised a voice? A particular Indian community in London protested because symbols associated with their community were printed on a restaurant menu card.They protested so vehemently that the cards were withdrawn immediately with an apology. If it can happen in a foreign land why not here..and we have all the reason ..Toilets are no place to depict tribal culture and dance!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

INDEPENDENCE...

Today being Independence Day one can see many children excitedly waving the Tricolour on the way to their schools for the Flag hoisting.What a perfect scene, the youth of tomorrow enjoying their independence and freedom.

On the other hand you would probably even see the other picture of tomorrows youth.Children scavenging the rubbish bins, for some scrap to sell and satisfy their hunger.

These scenes prompt me to think , are we really free???

What does Freedom really mean?Is it just freedom from slavery to a foreign nation?

We have hungry children dwelling on streets, the girl child being killed even before she is born, brides burnt for dowry, wives assaulted by husbands, tribals dying due to political power games, corruption, the common man struggling to have his voice heard......................

Freedom is a farce.

We are still slaves, to ourselves ,to our greed and to all the evils prevalent in our society and system.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SALUTE TO A HERO


Khudiram Bose was a freedom fighter, who was one of the youngest revolutionaries of the Indian independence movement. He was born on 3rd December 1889. Trailokyanath Basu, his father was a Tahsildar of the town and mother Lakshmipriya Devi was a religious lady. His birth place was Bahuvaini in Medinipur district, West Bengal. Khudiram Bose was influenced by the notion of karma in the Bhagvad Gita , and was involved in revolutionary activities to free mother India from the clutches of British rule.

Dissatisfied with the British policy of the partition of Bengal in 1905, he joined Jugantar - the party of revolutionary activists. At the tender age of sixteen, Bose left bombs near police stations and made government officials his victims. On the charges of carrying out a series of bomb attacks he was arrested.
In Muzzafarpur, Bihar,on 30th April, 1908 Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki planned to assasinate the Chief Presidency Magistrate Kingsford.

The magistrate was known for his blatant judgements against the freedom fighters. They waited for Kingsford's carriage to come in front of the gate of European Club and blew up a carriage which was not carrying Kingsford. As a result of this unfortunate incident two innocent British ladies - Mrs.Kennedy and her daughter were killed. Both the revolutionaries fled the crime scene.

Later Prafulla committed suicide and Khudiram was arrested.
On the charges of bomb attacks carried out by Khudiram Bose, he was sentenced to death at the age of 19.He was hanged to death on 11 August 1908.

Source:mapsof india.com

Saturday, August 9, 2008

TRIBALS..........HOW HAPPINESS ELUDES THEM...

"How to marry a tribal and get trees," was the headline of a Bhopal based story that appeared in the Indian Express of January 23, 1997. Based on a secret document by the Bastar collector, Mr Rajgopal Naidu, to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister, the report showed how large tracts of forest land in Madhya Pradesh were being denuded by bureaucrats and forest mafia who were exploiting the tribals in the area.

Indigenous forest dwellers have malik makbuja or tribal ownership rights over forest trees. So government officials, timber traders and politicians, working closely, found various ways of grabbing trees or even whole forests for themselves.

One method was to marry tribal girls, get written permission from them to chop trees and clear vast tracks of jungle. Subsequently, many of these girls were abandoned.

"There are innumerable tribal women in Bastar who have technically more than a million rupees in their bank accounts and yet they live below the poverty line," said the Express correspondent.

The report pointed to the active involvement of Mr Naidu's senior and the Commissioner of the Division. Land belonging to scheduled castes and tribes can only be sold to those belonging to the same groups. But a revenue inspector had bought forestland in which there were trees worth Rs 7.5 million in the name of his wife. Since he was from the Revenue Department, he made a fresh map in which the land was not shown as tribal land, and chopped down the trees. An inquiry was ordered, but the Commissioner gave him the go-ahead while the case was pending in the lower courts.

The story was sensational not only because it highlighted the dubious manner in which large tracts of invaluable teak and sal forests were being cut illegally; it also revealed the large-scale exploitation of illiterate and poor tribals and scheduled castes by the upper crust of society. Three NGOs working for rights of tribals and forest dwellers took up the case and it was brought to the Supreme Court. The corrupt Commissioner was transferred, two Revenue Department officials dismissed from service and another suspended.

A week later, Mr Naidu too was transferred, but he finally received recognition for his courage in exposing the links between people in the government and the timber mafia. The honest government officials, some committed NGOs and the media had worked collectively to expose the corrupt system and the devious manner in which the tribals were being exploited.

Tribals, the indigenous people or forest dwellers, as well as the Dalits or scheduled castes, continue to be second class citizens in India. This is despite the government's efforts to eradicate the centuries of discrimination against them by reserving a quota of government jobs and seats in educational institutes.

There are 636 scheduled tribes, each with their own distinct culture and customs, constituting a population of more than 80 million and accounting for over eight per cent of the Indian population. Some of these tribes are primitive, and have remained isolated from any form of development.

Four of the tribes who live in the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean, south east of the Indian mainland, are on the verge of extinction. The Great Andamanese, the Jarawa, Onge and Sentinelese have lived and flourished in these islands for 20,000 years. About 150 years ago, they had an estimated population between them of at least 5,000. Today, the population of the four communities is not more than 500, though the total population of the islands is about 4 lakhs.

The population of the Onge is down to a hundred, the Great Andamanese just 30. And a trunk road cuts through the Jarawa forest homes, bringing in development that is proving disastrous for the tribe.

As people from the mainland harvest the exquisite timber of the islands, the tribal communities are being systematically alienated from their forests and their land. The migrants from the mainland brought with them infections and diseases to which a large number of tribals have succumbed. The debate on whether these indigenous people should be brought into the national mainstream or allowed to stay in their primitive state continues.

Tribals living in other parts of the country, most of them in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Bihar and Gujarat, are not being driven to extinction like the tribes of the Andamans but they are being pushed out of their shrinking forest homes. Large numbers have been displaced because of dam construction and other development projects in forest areas.

One of the major objections of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (Save the Narmada movement) to the construction of a series of dams on the Narmada River is that thousands of tribals would be displaced in the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. The number of people displaced increases with the height of the dam.

Agitation against the dam has been going on for about 15 years, and it is because of the efforts of tribal activists like Medha Patkar that land-for-land compensation was agreed to by the Central Government. However, the Madhya Pradesh chief minister has gone on record to say that his state does not have sufficient land to give the 41,450 families who will be displaced in Madhya Pradesh alone.

The case has been fought through the courts and finally the Supreme Court of India has permitted the height of the dam to be raised.

The forested tribal hinterlands are also the areas where there is a rich reserve of minerals. According to the fifth schedule of the Constitution, tribal land cannot be leased out to non-tribals or to private companies for mining and industrial operations, but with the government's thrust on economic development, there is constant pressure to mine the homes of the tribals. But movements like the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Jan Vikas Andolan and NGOs like Ekta Parishad and the National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources maintain a check on government and private sector greed.

Yet it would be unfair to say the government has not made efforts for development of tribals. Special provisions have been made in the Indian Constitution for the protection and development of scheduled tribes. Promotion of educational and economic interests, protection from social injustice and exploitation are enshrined in various articles of tribal laws. Tribal land cannot be bought or sold except by the tribals. There is a National Commission at the centre to protect the interests of the scheduled tribes and since 1997, 100 residential schools for tribals have been set up. To encourage education of tribal girls, hostels have been established. Under the government's five-year plans they are being constantly renovated or expanded.

Tribal crafts and their traditional weaves are being propagated in a big way. A special shop in the heart of New Delhi sells exclusive tribal crafts. With the help of trained designers, tribal weaves and handmade fabrics are being promoted.

But the ground reality is that money and status continue to elude them. Literacy levels of the tribals are still very low - for men about 29 per cent and for women 18 per cent. Tribals work as cultivators and agricultural labour and according to the reports of the Planning Commission, 52 per cent of the rural and 41 per cent of the urban tribal population lives below poverty-line. That means they earn less than Rs 11,000 in a year, barely US $28. Some of the tribals in the poorer regions of Orissa still survive on roots and berries. Because of poor health facilities in the tribal pockets in which they live, malaria is a major killer.

There is a 7.5 per cent reservation in jobs for the tribals, but only 3.5 per cent of the posts have been filled. Tribals are missing in the higher echelons of administration. Fifty-two years after Independence, the tribals continue to be marginalised, which is why in October 1999, a full-fledged Ministry for Tribal Affairs was established at the Centre.

Tribal representation in Parliament is sizeable - 41 members in the Lok Sabha and 11 in the Rajya Sabha - but they have remained largely voiceless. Though reservation for SC and ST was initially meant to last 10 years, it was extended decade after decade because there has been poor implementation of the various laws and measures for their educational, social and economic advancement.

Since the early nineties, a group of tribal rights activists has come together under the leadership of the well known writer, Mahashweta Devi, to fight for the rights of some 60 million denotified tribals who are treated as criminals. They are routinely picked up by the police for questioning and beaten up. Many of them die in police custody.

This traditional bias against these tribes, a legacy of British rule, persists despite more than 50 years of government efforts to bring all tribals and other backward communities to parity with the more privileged members of society.

In 1871, the British passed the Criminal Tribes Act. It notified about 150 tribes as "criminal" and gave the police wide powers to deal with members of these tribes. They could restrict their movements and insist they report at police stations regularly. Independent India repealed the Act in 1952. That is why they are called denotified tribes (DNTs).

That term is rarely used, however. They are nearly always referred to as criminals. And it is this view, more than anything else, that defines the ways the DNTs live today, says Dilip D'Souza, who studied and wrote extensively on denotified tribes under a fellowship awarded to him by the National Foundation for India.

Some 150 years ago, a large number of these tribal communities were nomadic. They were considered useful, honourable people by settled societies with whom they came into contact. Many of them were petty traders who used to carry their wares on the backs of their cattle and sold or bartered goods, which ranged from honey, grain and rice to herbal medicines, in the villages through which they passed. Most nomadic people were also craftsmen, making and selling baskets, mats, brooms or earthen utensils.

But the media has been particularly insensitive to the plight of these tribals who continue to be treated and referred to as criminals. "Haryana to flush out criminal tribes" was the headline in the Indian Express of February 27, 1999, followed by "Bansilal orders crackdown on criminal tribes." The Tribune News Service on September 9, 1999, reported "48 Pardhi robbers from Guna held." The Express News Service of November 6, 1999, reported "Stone age robbers: Pardhis know no mercy."

Dr Meena Radhakrishnan, a social anthropologist at the Nehru Memorial Museum, says the spectre of the so-called criminal tribes has begun to haunt the middle class readers of newspapers in Delhi. There has been a marked increase in news stories which claim that a gruesome murder of an elderly couple was committed by a group of Sansis who robbed them of all their valuables. Or that a woman living alone was brutally done to death in the dead of night by a group of Pardhis. Television programmes on the tribes put fear in the minds of viewers, and the words "criminal tribes" have become synonymous with criminality of a mindless, violent kind. Radhakrishnan says the terror being fanned in the public mind has led to lynching of hapless Sansis or Pardhis, with no protest from others.

Most members of these tribes live in dismal conditions - often on the outskirts of a city - and are extremely poor. Even the educated members of these communities, who form the first generation of office goers or professionals, are looked upon suspiciously and insulted.

In 1998, after two custodial deaths of members of these tribes, Budhan Saber of Purulia District of West Bengal and Pinky Hari Kale of Satara District of Maharashtra, activists filed writ petitions in the Kolkota and Mumbai high courts respectively. They also informed the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) about the two deaths. Their efforts resulted in compensation being awarded to the families. The NHRC directed compensation be paid for the death of Kale and the Kolkota high court awarded compensation to the widow of Budhan Saber.

"While compensation is welcome and may act as a deterrent, the really revealing thing about these cases is what they say about attitudes towards DNTs," says Dilip D'Souza.

In February 2000, the NHRC recommended repeal of the Habitual Offenders Act, which had virtually replaced the Criminal Tribes Act after Independence. The Habitual Offenders Act has terrorised the tribes, for under its purview members of their communities are summarily picked up whenever there is unexplained crime.

Dr G N Devy, the secretary for the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes Rights Action Group, who is documenting tribal literature, says "None of the brave fights of the tribals against the British has ever been treated as part of the national struggle for freedom. From the Bihar uprising of 1778 to Lakshman Naik's revolt in Orissa in 1942, the tribals of India repeatedly rebelled against the British in the North East, Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. In fact, the British had to accede to the demands of the Bhils and the Naiks after their revolt in 1809 and 1838."

Source:Press and People

Saturday, July 26, 2008

India should take action against state-backed vigilantes active in the central state of Chhattisgarh, Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.

India should take action against state-backed vigilantes active in the central state of Chhattisgarh, US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) says.Since 2005, security forces and members of the Salwa Judum militia group have killed and raped villagers, HRW says.

Salwa Judum was launched in 2005 to fight the Maoist rebels in the area.HRW also says the Maoists have kidnapped and executed civilians and targeted people suspected of supporting Salwa Judum.About 6,000 people have been killed in violence linked to the Maoist rebels in India over the past 20 years.Eyewitness accountsChhattisgarh officials deny supporting Salwa Judum and describe it as a "spontaneous citizen's anti-Maoist movement".

"Human Rights Watch has found that since mid-2005 government security forces and members of the Salwa Judum attacked villages, killed and raped villagers, and burned down huts to force people into government camps," a new report released by HRW in Raipur, capital of Chhattisgarh state, says.

The group says it has collected more than 50 eyewitness accounts of attacks involving government security forces in 18 different villages in Dantewada and Bijapur districts in Chhattisgarh."Judum and police came to our village... They beat the village official and the priest. They beat others also," the report quotes a villager who fled his village in Dantewada district as saying."The people who came to our village had bows and arrows, sticks, and the police had rifles. From our village they also raped a 20-year-old woman. They raped her and left her in the village itself," he said."At the same time," the report says, "the Naxalites (Maoists) have carried out bombings, and have abducted, beaten, and executed civilians, particularly those suspected of supporting the Salwa Judum."

Human Rights Watch called on the Naxalites "to immediately end all attacks against civilians and allow camp residents to return to their home villages".The report says the violence has displaced tens of thousands of people who are stranded in government camps in Chhattisgarh or in the forestlands of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state."The Chhattisgarh government denies supporting Salwa Judum, but dozens of eyewitnesses have described police participating in violent Salwa Judum raids on villages - killing, looting, and burning their hamlets," the report quotes Jo Becker, a member of the Human Rights Watch research team, as saying.DisplacedThe report - titled "Being neutral is our biggest crime" - is based on four weeks of ground research in Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh in late 2007 and early 2008."The conflict has given rise to one of the largest internal displacement crises in India - at least 100,000 people have resettled in camps in southern Chhattisgarh or fled to neighbouring states, principally Andhra Pradesh," according to the report."Thousands of families have lost their land, homes, and livelihoods, and now survive in crowded and decrepit camps with little assistance," it says."Chhattisgarh officials should help restore the lives of those who wish to return to their homes, and improve conditions for those who fear returning."The report says both the Maoists and the police have also recruited and used children in the conflict."While the Chhattisgarh police have acknowledged this as an error, the government is yet to devise a scheme for... rehabilitating them," the report says

.Chhattisgarh police chief Vishwa Ranjan said the government would respond to the report after studying it.Maoist fighters, who are waging a violent battle in almost half of India's 29 states, have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the single biggest threat to India's security.The rebels are active in states across east and central India.They focus on areas where people are poor but there is great mineral wealth.The rebels say they represent the rights of landless farmhands and tribal communities.

Source:commondreams.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 20, 2008

DISPLACING TRIBALS

It is evident that the wildlife conservation paradigm in India has failed to consider those affected in the process.


For those living in the submergence area of the proposed Indira Sagar Project (Polavaram Dam project) in Andhra Pradesh, the writing appears to be clearly on the wall. To be executed at a cost of nearly Rs 13,000 crore, the project will submerge more than one lakh acres of agricultural land and the lives and livelihood of nearly two lakh people in about 290 settlements and villages. In line with history and earlier experience, nearly half the people to be impacted are scheduled tribes. Another 17.5 per cent are scheduled castes and nearly 15 per cent are from the backward classes.


The issue of the Polavaram dam clearly has multiple implications and significance. One that stands out starkly is the ongoing acrimonious debate over the Scheduled Tribes and other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act that was recently passed and now stands challenged in the courts by ‘conservation organisations’ and ex forest officers on grounds that its implementation will be the final nail in the coffin of the India’s remaining forests.
For those living in the submergence area of the proposed Indira Sagar Project (Polavaram Dam project) in Andhra Pradesh, the writing appears to be clearly on the wall. To be executed at a cost of nearly Rs 13,000 crore, the project will submerge more than one lakh acres of agricultural land and the lives and livelihood of nearly two lakh people in about 290 settlements and villages. In line with history and earlier experience, nearly half the people to be impacted are scheduled tribes. Another 17.5 per cent are scheduled castes and nearly 15 per cent are from the backward classes.


The issue of the Polavaram dam clearly has multiple implications and significance. One that stands out starkly is the ongoing acrimonious debate over the Scheduled Tribes and other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act that was recently passed and now stands challenged in the courts by ‘conservation organisations’ and ex forest officers on grounds that its implementation will be the final nail in the coffin of the India’s remaining forests.


The case of the Polavaram Dam only reinforces that reality. The specific issue in this context is of the forest land to be submerged by the dam - this is about 37 sq km of reserved forest land and another 17 sq km inside the Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary that is itself spread over 590 sq km in the West Godavari, East Godavari and Khamman districts of Andhra Pradesh. The matter has been before the Supreme Court for a while and one of the important submissions to the court in the matter is the November 2006 report of the court’s own Central Empowered Committee (CEC). It can only be a considered powerful reinforcement of the conflicts and contradictions that have come to underline wildlife conservation in the country.



Among the conditions suggested by the CEC for the final approvals to be granted to the dam is that nearly 500 sq km of forests adjoining the Papikonda Wildlife Sanctuary be added to the sanctuary and this then be declared a national park. According to India’s Wildlife Protection Act no one is allowed to live inside a national park and all traditional rights and livelihood dependencies on the forests are completely extinguished. The contradictions are painfully evident. Additional displacement is being created as a condition to ensure that the main displacement will take place in the first instance. “The state (government) has also agreed in principle,” the CEC report says,” for the relocation of the isolated villages falling within the sanctuary and notifying the sanctuary as a national park. This notification would be a pre-condition to any clearance to use/divert sanctuary land.”


While there is no respite for the two lakh-odd people who will be directly displaced because of submergence caused by the dam, an additional category of displacement is being created in the name of wildlife conservation, a “conservation offset,” and the justification, ironically, is that this will create a well preserved water catchment for the region. It is well known that Polavaram is not an exception. A slew of such projects are being proposed, pushed and approved across the length and breadth of the country. In Orissa, for instance, thickly forested hills, sacred to the local tribals and rich in diverse species of wildlife, are being handed over for mining; in the south a huge ‘scientific’ project with an investment of a few hundred crores might come up amidst prime tiger habitat and in the North East, huge dams are slated to submerge pristine forests in a region that is seismically very volatile.
The conservation debate in India has often slipped (even dragged) into being a tribal versus tiger one. The blame for the destruction of India’s forests and the decimation of its wildlife has willy-nilly and repeatedly been placed at the door of the tribal.


What’s happening with the Polavaram Dam project in Andhra Pradesh, in Niyamgiri (and other parts) in Orissa, in the Mudumalai forests of Tamil Nadu, in the thickly forested river valleys on North East India and in numerous such situations elsewhere will hopefully provide us a window into a slightly different reality.

Source: cgnet.in

Saturday, July 19, 2008

LIFE WITH SALWA JUDUM......



A photo essay on the plight of tribals in Chhattisgarh because of the conflict between militia and the Naxalites

Harikrishna Katragadda, Mint

New Delhi On a cloudy evening, Madkam Kose prepares to leave Durla village in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh. She wants to head back with her family to the nearby Dornapal relief camp, her home for the past three years. "There is nothing to do in the camps during the day," she says. "We just come back to our gutted house during the day and pick mahua flowers in the forest."


Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh is a hotbed for Maoist insurgency. Decades of government neglect and oppression by the forest officials gave Maoists entry into villages and a swelling cadre of angry tribals.

To counter the Maoist influence, a government-backed militia—Salwa Judum—was let loose on the tribals in Dandakaranya forests of Chhattisgarh. Waves of forced migration followed when tribals were forced into relief camps, guarded by security forces and paramilitary groups. Nearly 150,000 tribals have been displaced since 2005, when the conflict began. Some fled to relative safety in nearby Andhra Pradesh, while those who resisted were abducted, tortured, raped and killed.


This week, the non-profit Human Rights Watch, an international agency that has been monitoring events in the region, released a report highlighting the failure of governance, and social and economic lapses as the root cause of the Naxal problem. The report documented the violence and abuse of local communities in Chhattisgarh by both Salwa Judum and the Maoists, and recommended that the Salwa Judum be disbanded.

source:cgnet.in

Monday, July 14, 2008

A NEW STRATEGY TO HANDLE THE BASTAR WEBSITE ISSUE

The Adivasi Sangharsh Morcha has called for a rally and peaceful demonstration in front of the Bastar Collector's office, to protest against the approach of the Govt. towards the Bastar website issue.The demonstration is to be held on the 17th of july as announced by the Adivasi Morcha co- ordinatior Shanti Salam.If the State govt.continues its ignore policy, they would be forced to intensify their protests by rallies on 21st in every block of Bastar division and a bandh on 28th july.


Not to be silenced by this, the enquiry committee set up by the govt. , headed by B.L.Thakur has played its trump card. They have called for all the people who had filed an objection regarding the website with adequate proof on the same day i.e. 17th of July 2008 to Raipur , at the collectorate room no 149 at 12:00 noon.A very intelligent move by the beaureaucracy to stall the demonstration and break the protest movement.


Why else would one call for a meeting in Raipur ? Why should the complainants present evidence ?Isnt it the duty of the enquiry committee to delve deep into the issue and gather 'evidence' and 'proof' for themselves?


Since time immemorial, every tribal uprising or demonstration has been crushed ruthlessly by the ruling class, the Koi Revolution(1859), The Muria Insurrection(1876), The Great Bhumkal(1910) to name a few.

Now ,this ploy by the so called 'enquiry committee'..

This shows how threatened they feel by the warriors of Bastar......May their tribe increase

Friday, July 11, 2008

ANOTHER BLUNDER...THIS TIME BY HITAVADA REPORTER!


The July 11th 2008 edition of the Hitavada carried an article on the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Parishad lambasting the State govt. over their passive approach to the 'gotul' issue., where very objectionable matter was on a govt. run website.

The reporter covering the issue has now given rise to a new controversy by referring to the gotul as 'a wedding custom popular in the tribal community'.
The least one could have done was ensured proper information about a sensitive issue as this before reporting about it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

TRIBALS TARGETTED AGAIN....NOW IN TAMIL NADU


Tribe faces eviction for failing to stop forest fire
Kanis Have Forfeited Right To Stay: Forest Dept New Delhi: If one day you ‘fail’ to help the fire service in dousing a fire in your neighbourhood or do not assist the police in catching a dangerous culprit, should you be turfed out of your house in order to be taught a lesson?

The Tamil Nadu forest department seems to believe so. It feels they have the legal power to eject irresponsible citizens from forestlands, even if this were not so easy in cities.

Underlying the move by the forest department to target the scheduled tribe, Kani, on the grounds that its members were lax in preventing a forest fire seems more an attempt to displace them from the forests in violation of the recently operationalised Forest Rights Act than anything else.

In an astonishing notice sent to Kanis of Kalakad Mundunthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) the forest department has claimed the schedule tribe forest dwellers have forfeited their right to stay in the forests as they allegedly did not help the department officials in preventing a forest fire that they are ‘required to do’ under the Tamil Nadu Forest Act. The notice, sent by the deputy director of the tiger reserve, also blames them for not providing any ‘useful information’. In the notice, in Tamil, the forest department has said: “Only those who respect the law and assist the Forest Department are eligible to live and obtain rights in the forest”

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The deputy director of KMTR, C Bhadrasamy, told TOI, “We were short of staff when the fire occurred but they did not come to help se we sent them the notice.” The Kani, now a scheduled tribe, were forcefully brought to the forests under the colonial rule starting in 1910 to run their and the then zamindar’s plantations. Some of these Kani now live in four hamlets in the heart of what in 1962 was declared a tiger reserve and eke a living out of the forest.

But, today Kani are politically more conscious and connected. They sent a reply to the deputy director accusing him of mala fide intent. They pointed out that Act did not apply in the region because it was a tiger reserve. They alleged that the official had criminally threatened them before sending the notice and that the notice had been sent to the entire Kani community and this, together with other Acts, violated the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

But hinting at the underlying motives, they pointed out that rouble began when they protested against declaring the reserve as a critical tiger habitat (which would allow the government to relocate them) under the Wildlife Protection Act, in violation of the laws and by ignoring the recently passed Forest Rights Act, that would gives them legitimate rights in the forests they have lived in now for decades.

Curiously, the deputy director wrote back to them warning that their letter was in English so he presumed the ‘tribals’ didn’t even know what they had written. He warned that if they accepted they were aware of what they had written, he would take action against them for using ‘bad language’ against him

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Talking to TOI, the official presented an odd defense for his action, “They have problems with the non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act by the Tamil Nadu government, but they are targeting me, so I wrote to them this second letter.”

SOURCE: THE TIMES OF INDIA

Thursday, July 3, 2008

HOMAGE TO A GREAT MAN


More than a week has elapsed since the 'birthday' of Bastar 's last king,Pravir Chandra Bhanjdeo and nobody has remembered him. Born on June 25, 1929 he was truly an' adivasi God'.With due respect to Rani Durgavati , her balidaan diwas was celebrated all over.Did anybody recall the sacrifice made by Pravir chandra Bhanjdeo? What makes him very important even today is the concern he had for his praja, the adivasis who are a tormented lot today.Exploited by local businessmen, torn apart by political games like the salwa judum, hunger, poverty ,disease, land grabbing by big industrial giants and finally a great slap on the face by the govt. websites which call them wild and animal like, drunkards and sex maniacs! They have nowhere to go. My homage to a great ruler, who if there today could have changed the entire fate of Bastar!

As a rule hands of clocks all over the world show movements from left to right ,but an exception to the rule is the Gondwana clock.Probably the only one of its kind in the world, this clock moves from right to left.Manufactured by the Gondwana samaj in Bilaspur it has its own explanation.

The farmer while ploughing moves from right to left,even during offerings to agni the offerings are rotated from right towards left.Normally when asked to run around in circles we tend to move from right to left.With all this in mind and according to the gond culture the clock rotates in opposite direction to the other clocks.

The elders in the community claim that initially all clocks moved this way, but the Englishmen changed the original directions.

source: chattisgarh daily

Wednesday, July 2, 2008




The Mawasi Korku tribes of the satpura ranges follow a culture very similar to the madias of bastar.The korkus are also a part of the vast group of the gonds.It is also said that the whole of central india and neighbouring orissa, Maharashtra, Andhra pradesh were all Gondwana landTtherefore the tribals of all these regions share a very similar culture and tradition.

The tribals in Bastar erect memory pillars to honour the departed souls.The Korkus also believe that within ten years of death if a memory pillar,, is not made then the soul of hte deceased does not attain peace.

A plank of wood of mango tree or a stone is shaped into a large tablet and it is inscribed with the name, family name of the deceased.It is also decorated with pictures of elements of nature like sun, moon, birds etc. The entire family then arrange for a celebration , where mahua flows freely,festive food is prepared, music and dance go on till late evening. The tablet is then placed in the sacred place where lot of other families have placed their pillars too.One such sacred place exists in Pachmari where these memorials can be seen.....where they pray for the peace of their ancestors to Gond Baba.A warning sign there also warns tourists against touching any of these sacred items....as one can be affected adversely bu it.

The lure of city life prompts these tribals to live a different life , but death often brings one back to reality!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Land. Water. Minerals. Guns. They are all connected. In India’s heartland, after the last metalled road has turned into a dirt track, there are villages where people have not seen tap water and electricity. They have never met a doctor or gone to school. They live in the middle of dense forests, sharing space with dangerous animals. They live on fertile land, but there is never enough food in their stomachs. Hunger they are familiar with and now they are simmering with anger. They realise that they were never given a chance to live with dignity.

They are India’s original inhabitants - the indigenous people we call the tribals. Now, they are caught in a deadly crossfire between the rebels who claim that they are waging a war on their behalf and the State that says it’s trying to protect them from the Maoists’ mindless violence.

Not sure whom to believe, the tribals are confused. And they wonder why there hasn’t been any change in their lives for such a long time.

In Chhattisgarh, the state with the highest tribal population in the country, even basic civic amenities like roads, health centres and education facilities are lacking. Even the areas in the grip of violence are beyond the reach of the police forces. The wells here are dry. The land is parched. The roads are dusty. The people are famished.


It’s the same story in Jharkhand. Even after seven years of its creation, more than 80% of the tribal villages in Jharkhand are without roads, electricity, potable water and health centres.


There is no irrigation facility in more than 90% of the state. No wonder when the Maoists walk into a village and talk of revolution, people listen to them. No wonder when people hear about the mining companies coming and taking away their mineral wealth, they are enraged.


They want their land back. They want their forests intact. And they don’t want others to exploit their minerals. When they see everything slipping away from their hands, they turn to guns.

Source:The Times of India

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Silicosis silently killing hundreds in MP villages


BADHGHYAR (DHAR, MP): Kailash’s wife is dead. His elder brother is dead. His two sisters are dead too. "Woh charon shaant ho gaye hain (they are all dead)," he says, rather impassively. In his mid-twenties, the resident of Badhghyar village in Kukshi block of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh knows he is next.


Kailash is dying of the same disease as his family members — silicosis. It is incurable. He too worked with them in the Gujarat quartz crushing factories and breathed in silica dust that now covers the inside of his lungs, slowly choking him. He has watched most of his family die. He doesn’t require the doctors to tell him about his painful but short life ahead.

His body has already shrivelled up and his muscles have melted. A skeleton of his previous self, he finds it demeaning but lets his mother bathe him. His lungs blocked, breathless and short of oxygen for his blood, self-esteem is the last of his worries as his body refuses to build new cells while the older ones die. Eventually his system will collapse.


He is one of the hundreds of Bhil and Bhilala tribals in Jhabua and Dhar districts of Madhya Pradesh waiting to die. In a survey conducted in 2007 by a group of doctors in 21 villages of Jhabua, 158 people were found dead of silicosis. "266 others, who have been exposed to silica dust and are sick, will also eventually die," the doctors noted.


All of them had gone across the border to work in the quartz crushing units of Gujarat as unregistered daily wagers. In these factories, quartz stones are first broken by hammer into smaller ones, then crushed and powdered to be used to make glass. Large quantities of dust is generated in the process that the labourers inhale as they breathe deep due to the physically heavy workload involved.


"Initially, the crushing units hired tribals from Gujarat, but when deaths began to hit the tribal region there, the contractors came to Madhya Pradesh in early 2000. Young men and women, jobless in the summers, began to go across the border for what sounded an attractive proposition — Rs 50-60 as daily wages for three to four of the worst months of the year," says Magan, a member of the Khedut Mazdoor Chetna Sangathan, a local NGO which helped the doctors carry out the extensive survey.


But when they returned from work, many died with similar symptoms. The Sangathan has filed a case in the Supreme Court. The local administration and the state government have been mostly unsympathetic to the villagers. The National Human Rights Commission is also hearing silicosis cases from across the country. "The disease may not be curable but it is preventable. The factories should be held responsible for exposing the labourers to silica dust," says Magan.


Munni, a Rordha resident in her mid-30s, has seen 13 members in her extended family die over two years. In all, 28 people have died of silicosis in her village. Those left take care of the orphans and the old. Unable to cope, they find novel ways of resigning to death all around.


"Greed is killing my daughter and others," says Anita’s mother, a resident of Badhghyar. Anita, in her teens, along with Kailash is one of the two surviving from the 14 that went together to work in Gujarat for that extra Rs 10 a day.

Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA

Monday, June 16, 2008

POLEPALLY 13.......................DISSENT AGAINST SEZ

13 cultivators contested polls to demonstrate their resentment at acquisition of their land by the government
C R Sukumar
Hyderabad: Mala Jangilamma is happy.
The 62-year-old and 12 other farmers who contested the recently held Jadcherla assembly by-elections lost so badly that they forfeited their security deposits. So, why is she so happy?

Jangilamma, Etti Peda Pentaiah, Depalli Yadaiah, Bandapalli Jangamma, Kanduru Mogulaiah, Kanduru Jangaiah and others lost the meagre land they owned — two to eight acres each — to make way for a special economic zone, or SEZ. “Victory or defeat was not the issue. I am elated we could draw the attention of people across the state to our struggle against the SEZ,” says Jangilamma.
Mala Jangilamma, who contested the elections, was one among the 350 families that have demanded their lands back.
Earthy demands: Mala Jangilamma, who contested the elections, was one among the 350 families that have demanded their lands back.
The Andhra Pradesh government acquired 7.3 acres she owned in Polepally in Mahbubnagar district, which is part of the Jadcherla assembly constituency, to build an SEZ.
Jangilamma now works as a construction worker for Rs120 a day on the the same land where Hetero Drugs Ltd, a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm is building a factory.
The farmers say the government has short-changed them, and want their land back. They say they got between Rs18,000 and Rs50,000 for an acre for land that is available in the market for about Rs20 lakh per acre.
The government acquired close to 1,000 acres from about 350 families, who were marginal and small farmers belonging to Dalit, backward and tribal communities. Since their protests fell on deaf ears, 13 of them decided to contest the polls under the banner of Polepally SEZ Vyathireka Ikya Sanghatana (Alliance against Polepally SEZ, or PSVIS), to draw attention to their battle against what they say is a grave injustice.
“We did not receive even half of the compensation that the government announced. Officials at every level from the village to the district took commissions (bribes), and we ended up with paltry amounts,” says Depalli Yadaiah, whose family lost five acres. Yadaiah now works as a mason at construction sites.
“We used to cultivate dry crops such as maize, wheat, pulses and oilseeds in our one acre of land. For other essentials, we used to do labour occasionally,” says Etti Lingaiah, another farmer whose family lost four acres of land. “Since we don’t have land anymore, we now are compelled to work as labourers throughout the year.”
Why field 13, when just one representative would have sufficed?
“We had, in fact, initially thought we will field 150 farmers, but we couldn’t collect the Rs7.5 lakh required for security deposits,” says Madhu Kagula, social activist and convenor of PSVIS, arguing that they knew they could not defeat the candidates of established political parties, and this was their way of registering protest.
“Ever since we announced our decision to contest the elections, leaders of key political parties threatened us. Even election commission officials harassed us by slapping notices on us for not submitting the details of our poll expenditure,” says Etti Srinivasulu, another of the 13.
While political party candidates said they spend a couple of lakhs each to campaign for the elections, the farmers say they collectively spent Rs1.58 lakh that includes the aggregate security deposit of Rs65,000. “We are now left with loans of around Rs78,500,” says Kagula.
In 2003, a government led by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had acquired the land in Polepally through the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corp. (APIIC) for industrialization, but it was during the tenure of a Telangana Rashtriya Samithi (TRS) legislator that a Congress party-led state government allocated the land to an SEZ. The farmers are, thus, against all these parties.
They demand that the state hand back their land. “We are willing to give back whatever compensation we received,” said Etti Peda Pentaiah.
Currently, construction works have been taken up in around 100 acres of the 1,000 acres the government has acquired for the SEZ.
“We want the government to give back the balance 900 acres to the farmers and extend better compensation package to them,” says Kagula. “Let APIIC pay to farmers the difference between the cost of acquisition of land from farmers and the cost at which the land was sold to the companies in the SEZ,” he added.
The Jadcherla assembly seat fell vacant after 17 MLAs and four MPs of TRS resigned, saying the ensuring by-elections would be a referendum on their demand for a separate Telengana state in northern Andhra Pradesh.
The sitting TRS MLA lost the polls by a margin of more than 24,000 votes, coming third after Erra Shankar of the TDP, who lost by 2,106 votes. Mallu Ravi of the Congress party won the seat.
Jangilamma polled 1,771 votes, or 3.92% of what Ravi polled. The 13 farmers collectively secured 8,600 votes.
source:TELANGANA UTSAV

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

NOW A HUMAN ZOO.............................


BANGKOK: Thai provincial officials have allowed a new "human zoo" featuring "long-necked" or "giraffe" women to open in Sattahip near Bangkok despite mounting international criticism of the exploitative tourism practice, media reports said on Monday. The residents are part of an ethnic group whose women wear brass rings around their necks as status symbols and for beauty enhancements. They are called the Padung or long-necked Karen in Thailand, but they consider those terms denigrating and call themselves Kayan. Seven Kayan villages are already marketed as tourist attractions in Thailand's northern provinces of Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai, where there is a sizeable population of Kayan, some of whom are refugees from neighbouring Myanmar. But for the first time, a new "village" of Kayans was recently opened in Sattahip in Chonburi province, 100 km south-east of Bangkok and a few kilometres from Pattaya beach resort, the Daily XPress newspaper said. It charges an entrance fee of 25 baht for Thai visitors and 250 baht for foreigners, the newspaper said. Sattahip district chief Narong Thirachantarangkoon brushed off accusations that he had allowed the establishment of a "human zoo" in his district. "I don't think so because the Karen are willingly living here," he said. "This is better than staying in their home region and starving." The rings worn by the Kayan women can weigh 10 kg or more, and over the years, the weight pushes down their collar bones and shoulders, making their necks appear longer and giving the women their nicknames of "long-necked" women. The women, who had originally come to Thailand as refugees, were reportedly lured to a border camp where Thai businessmen created a village to serve as a tourist attraction, or "human zoo". courtesy:the Times Of India
It is indeed very shameful that the Thai govt. has resorted to such gimmicks..It is very harmful to the self respect to these beautiful people..Imagine people paying to see you and peeking at you like you were a curio.Little wonder then , that the tribals all over the world are letting go of their customs and traditions and adopting the pseudo- culture of the so called ' civilised society'.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

CHANGES .....ARE UNWELCOME SOMETIMES

Time heals, time also changes, not just people but places too.Change is inevitable but unwelcome sometimes too.Time and change have affected not just tribal Bastar but large cities like Bangalore too...and for the worse.In the process of these events it is always the local people who are affected, be it Bastar or Bangalore.
A recent visit to Bangalore brought back old memories of a friendly city.A city which is known for its hospitality towards outsiders.Ironically, probably this is what has led to the ruin of its original culture....The masala dosa and the idli vada joints have given way to numerous north indian' chat' and the 'paratha points'.Buttermilk and coconut sellers now have resorted to selling 'baraf golas' and 'nimbu paani'.Except for a few old well known eateries like goos old MTR and others have been able to withstand the change!Others have resorted to catering to the 'uttar bharatiya 'palate.
Talk to an auto driver or a shop keeper in Kannada and almost always you will hear a reply in Hindi, it took me a while to reconcile to the fact that Bangalore is being or has been tken over by the 'north indian 'wave.Who is to blame???The outsiders who are ruling the economy and therefor the city or the locals who have failed to uphold their traditions and language and have given in to the wave and foolishly consider it superior.
They come ,they stay and probably conquer the culture too.Above all they consider the locals inferior.....Its sad that the city has offered them so much and all they do is call anybody living below the Vindhyas a 'Madrasi"!