Recently I have visited Rourkela, Orissa state. It is a small yet beautiful city surrounded by large hills and enclosed by rivers. It is a full of nature and limited in population (about 15, 73,617) and fairly less pollution make it, one of the livable city of India. It is generally known as a Steel city with the establishment of the first of the steel plants in India that is SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited). During my quick search, I was able to find that SAIL has really contributed remarkably to develop infrastructure and development of the Rourkela as a true city. Most of the people living in this city are coming from the outside to do the job; well they are the executive and new comers’ young professional. However my point of discussion is not a Rourkela but the conflicting situation of & for ‘Adivasi’ (Tribal) raised in Orissa due to the rejection of the two Mega project that is, POSCO project and Vedanta bauxite project. The reader should also notice that these tribal people are also a double victim of the Security forces of India and Naxals operating in Orissa State along with few other states. The affliction of the security forces and activities of the Naxals is the different topic to be discussing which is not within the scope of this article.
This article will discuss how could the project would have been useful for the tribal of the Orissa and what other activities (for example, intervention of craft, handloom, may be established in those areas to develop social and economic status of tribal people.) could be suggested for the social, economic, educational and overall development of the Orissa’s Adivasi.
Before we go forward let’s accept it is very clear that Adivasi of the Orissa wants to live a life like a people living in the city with the same quality of education and life comforts. Some people may argue that they wish to remain in whatever they are however the new generation of the tribal people would surely ask one day to the government what they have done in last 63 year of the independence of India to develop their life quality? It would be certainly shameful and unanswerable situation for the India and Orissa government. One of the reasons for increasing violence activity of the Maovadi (Naxals) is underestimation of the need of tribal Adivasi by the State and central government. Government have utilized their land (forest area), eliminated their homes for the industrial projects and also used and employed them in labor work throughout the 63 years, however, they were never given an opportunity that satisfies them or makes them able to live in an advanced stage of the life that generally we are living. Based on one of the articles written by Mr.Sudarshan Upadhya, on 05/09/2010 in Gujarat Samachar, that NGOs working for the tribal may be corrupted and misleading the tribal for the benefits of the corporation. Many staff and employee of these NGOs are receiving benefits in living in a five stars hotels and remain as an agent of the beneficiary while running strike (Andolan for the welfare). Well it is not always the case that NGOs not doing their jobs however It is visible and convincible that there is not noticeable progress made by NGOs and it just becomes mere instrument which can be utilized as a tool and safe guard to conduct business activity in Adivasi area where there’s an influence of the Naxals, local government, media or any other party.
The underlying question to the NGOs, the government of India and its State government and the citizen of India is that how long shall we keep Tribes (Adivasi) as Tribes? Recently Rahul Gandhi said that I am protecting tribal when the environment minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh Rejected the POSCO project (51,000 Carore) and Vedanta bauxite project stating that it violates environment and human rights law. However, there is a need to look and test this matter at the micro level as there are many parameters and political situation involved within the issue. I understand the given reason however for the development of the tribes and their area, employment is essential and in order to employ tribes industry installation is the necessity. It is not possible for the large tribes to move to other places in search of livelihood. It is a responsibility of the government to create a sustainable livelihood, education, and quality of life for them. To build an industry in an area where the tribes are living, the area may be covered by the forest and visibly there seems no option rather than to cut them down. I am myself, against any type of environmental offence however as I said earlier (Micro Analysis) India is a nation of huge population with limited land and when it comes to the people who have been underprivileged and are being used to conduct violence (or simply abused or under paid on jobs or women raped by the variety of the forces etc.) due to lack of education and livelihood. Consequently, they are used by Naxals (Maoist may be using tribes people against the nation and government provoking them that India is failing to provide them employment and quality of life sort of points) Microanalysis is required. NGOs to my understanding, many times raise the issue that brings money in the form of corruption or benefits in legal form to them. In India, One can find many ways to escape from the illegal act of corruption. The general procedure is that when one found guilty, Activist will raise the issue in the media, media will propagate it and in few days who cares? For some people, it becomes a business.
People should not when TATA Singur (West Bengal) project was opposed by the NGOs ( I would not tell it was opposed by the people as the poor farmer might have been misguided), Government of Gujarat did not delay in inviting them and It was being implemented in Gujarat successfully.
|Kutia Kondh people at Ushabali village-Orissa|
Indian is dreaming to be a super power by the year 2020 but where will we see the position of this Adivasi? International reader should note that this Adivasi (tribes) community is the easy and mega opportunity for getting the vote at the time of the election for the government to win the election and as when you offer them something (generally TV, Bicycle etc. or lucrative promises), they generally may vote in their favor. However, it is also evident that the young generation of the Orissa’s tribal area now waking. I could tell this because I visited some of the tribes’ people in Rourkela, They are known as “Kondha” and they were coming from or near “Sambalpur” city which is 321 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar of Orissa. I had word with them at personal level and they’ve openly expressed their views to me and I am pretty sure when the reader will Google the information of this article or go directly to the tribes area and meet awarer and alert tribes they would tell that they want to live like the people living in the city and they want employment that is beyond the labor work. When did I ask them what If they have to compromise on their forest land where the industrial plant would be installed which creates employment for you? They said ‘yes’ certainly. However, they, need support from the government in the form of ‘guarantee employment’ and development promises. Now Government need to follow the half strategy of the SAIL, Rourkela means what SAIL has done in infrastructure sector (Roads and Parks) as a corporate responsibility in Rourkela, then the project (company) like POSCO and Vedanta needs to develop rural and tribes strategy plan for the education and livelihood of Adivasi of the Orissa. Education built knowledge and assures that the next or current generation will make enough to contribute to the economy of the nation which further reduces the burden on the economy. Education will also make them able to understand their situation better than any NGOs or government consequently they will be making an independent decision for themselves. Employment that is proper and sustainable, is a demand of this youth for the permanent survival. Currently, these tribes’ youth and people are working as a laborer on the road side construction or in the forest and women are working in the vegetable market. They are extremely abused by the Indian Police too. The people I had talked with, they have now learned that the government is not honest to them and many of the youth struggling on their own for the proper education from the all possible supports. Some of the youth also misguided by the revolutionary illegal working organization as they provide them food and money which they don’t have at the current stage. I would strongly recommend that we need to give Adivasi a computer in hand instead of the weapons or their own traditional items. (Computer not in the real sense but it is used as a POSITIVENESS or just say Support or progress)
|dhuruba Orissa adivasi lady|
Orissa is a full of many minerals like Aluminum, bauxite, steel and it is also a fact that mineral lies underneath of the land and this mineral is also essential for many activities. Now from the social point of view, If X Company dig the land, it would affect the people living in the land or forest itself, however, the question sometimes rise is logical, that is If X Company would not produce Iron for example, how would society meet their need of decorative items, car and bike, building and construction material and etc. There is a demand and supply chain in terms of the economic view which also needs to be met. Another example is Mumbai city, which was expanded eliminating many mountains and forest area as it was the necessity. Necessity is defined, in my personal terms, something that human needs to survive. Now If large industrial project installed close to the tribes area which If government make terms with the company to provide sustainable development and employment to the local people, what is the comparable loss of elimination of the forest with the advantage that tribes, people may get in the form of better life, education and infrastructure which again reduce economic burden means when we pay tax it also goes for the maintenance of certain population of the nation that in non-productive. Killing Tiger would be a crime and it affects the law but killing chicken or fish is not a crime as there is no law made for it and it is a food which many people can not live without whereas the pain of the tiger may not be different than the chicken. so there is a discrimination at some stage that the intelligent people made while creating human right act and law.
|Kundali Tribes Market – Orissa|
I believe people should come forward and go directly to the tribe people and first educate them and show them the benefits of having such project then consider their opinion what would they want? Mr. Rahul Gandhi should go and sit among them within the environment affected by Naxals and cultivate the understanding what really require for the long term social stability of the tribes of Orissa? In order to eliminate violence done by Maoist and other illegal organization, development and education with employment guarantee are mandatory and for that certain compromises should have been made in Orissa by central government at the time of project approval consideration. If it were about constructing building by destroying forest I would strongly oppose it or even if such project come to Gujarat in urban area at the cost of forest I would again oppose it however when such project bring change in social and economic state of the most under privileged, violently affected people, I, personally, favor it. One of the Tribes told me like urban people who want to go abroad, we want to go to the city as they want that life style and comforts. NGOs and many activities and government itself have put and pushed Adivasi in a very complex issue that is Land. They are being taught that their land would be taken by X or Y person and they would be rewarding nothing or less. The mentality of the tribe people are same as a mentality of the Aamir Khan’s (example) (Bollywood actor) Fan who sometimes believe and may dress as he does in his next film, that mean tribes have influence under/of certain community or organization and the government failed to build confidence in them. This is a totally political situation and interesting parties taking advantage of it. If government approve the project, there is a risk that majority of the tribes would consider it as negative decision and become insecure (losing land) which may affect next election and more than that if tribes become negative it will also be good for Naxals who may provoke tribes increasingly against the nation and motive violent and the situation forever remain unstable and the race for the election winning, political gain and NGOs benefits continuously being produced on the cost of this tribes.
|Basket Market Tribes Orissa – Chatikona|
|Bonda Lady, Orissa|
Tribes get nothing as an income by doing farm work or labor work and it does not bring TV, fridge or comforts to their home. They need increment in their income means saving to buy the comforts. I personally believe and express my views to respected Environment Minister of India that apart from the written constituent law of India, there is a violation of human right by not assisting Adivasi of Orissa constructing their future, fulfilling their educational and economic goal or a goal to become something in a life.(Ethic/Moral Base). If you want to develop tribes area, you must provide the land to any business entity. The issue must be resolved in confidence with the Adivasi of Orissa instead of sitting in A.C office in New Delhi. We may organize many strategies for the new plantation of trees (seeds) to compensate or curb the production of the new car or environmentally affect industrial production which reduces the pollution which also compensate the environmental loss. If central government had wished, it could have changed the situation of tribes of Orissa by approving POSCO and Vedanta project. There shall be a way to negotiate certain issues if it effects seriously. While expressing my views on approval I have not much interest in the benefits of business organization by the installation of this project however it is very visible that how this project directly helps tribes.
Apart from the above view, I have following recommendation to the NGOs, Central Government and State government of Orissa and local people of Orissa:
- Help and educate tribes’ people on their land and welfare issues. They need to learn that there is a life which is feasible for them to live with little support.
- One of the major recommendations I would make is an intervention of the craft and design to the tribes to develop and promote the art, craft and culture of the Orissa creating sustainable income, livelihood and training program. For this, there is no need of such qualification however one needs to cultivate skill and require team leading skill so they sufficient motivation and income generation could be implemented to the life of tribes. People who are creative may train local artisan in tribe area to work on specific design or train them to give an export quality of the product that is easy to sell. If anyone needs more help to set up any project or work in Orissa or any other part that helps Indian rural or backward class to develop, you may contact me on email@example.com) I would be more than happy to be volunteering or advising on it.
- Help to recognize the individual skill of the local tribes and if it is sustainable and profitable make them entrepreneur and instead of making them dependent on such organization, show or team them how to access direct market or find a client to sell or assist them to communicate with the potential client. For this group of people with the same interest needs to be gathering and make a non-profit group. Remember I never advise to run an NGO as many times it loses its path in the middle seeing such personal benefits. However, it is up to the group how they decide to move on. The concept of the NGO is good as long as involved people are unbiased and working to meet the objective.
- Encourage local Municipality, Businessmen, Industrialist or State government to organize an independent or joint project that helps directly to the local tribes in the major area like education and health care. Without education and health, capable and progressive society cannot be built.
- Consider politics as your first right. It is not a bad thing. If you say people in this area are bad then I would say it is because you are not a part of it. Be a part of it, represent the interest of your community and state people. Don’t just fight but fight till you get the justice. However one needs patience and critical analysis for it.
- Negations with Maoist is necessary for the constructive action and violation by the security forces must be eliminated for this Chief Minister, Mr. Naveen Patnaik should organize few hours (say1/2) weekly session direct for the citizen of the Orissa to hear their problem directly through video conference which will bring stress on the police force, security force and other activities to work ethically and it also gives opportunity to build a trust among the community. After all, CM is for the people.
- International funder must ask and take the possible answer for the amount that they fund to NGOs in Orissa for the welfare of Tribes or handicraft project. This is also applicable to a local founder.
- Use RTI Act. That is Right to Information Act. Google it.
- I would not advise young people to come in direct conflict with police or powerful forces as times demand diplomacy and critical analysis in the environment of Orissa. Sometimes it is important to become a part of the system to change the system.
In a nut shell, I, as a citizen of India, have taken a greater interest in the development of any community of India. It has come to my knowledge when I was in Orissa that government did not approve such project so It inspires me to do my bit research and visit the local people who might be able to share their views. It was hard for me to find tribes people in Rourkela city, however, fortunately, I found some of them to share their views. I have also visited the NGOs VISTAAR in Rourkela, Orissa and met reporter Mr. Mishra to learn more about this political situation of Orissa. It is also important to know that, a study by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative using a Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) found that there were 421 million poor living under the MPI in 8 north India states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. This number is higher than the 410 million poor living in the 26 poorest African nations. From the point of view of real welfare for Orissa’s tribes and its economy I believe good opportunity has missed and it is questionable to us, as an Indian that being in democratic country we have right but still few ways to reach and influence the wrong decision taken by government or to analyses the sensitivity of the matter.
|beside the entrance to the painting atelier in Raghurajpur, a village near Puri|
Paintings on the interior walls of the houses of the
Lanjia Saora people at
Rizangtal in Orissa.
For the youth, Oriyas, and Tribes, I would make a recommendation that it is, never late for a good start. There may be other recommendation or amendments in the suggestion I have to make above for the planning and implement a strategy for the development of Tribes of Orissa and the state itself.