Tribal women are achieving the dream of Smart Village
Apart from Kashmir if one tries to identify the disturbed areas in the rest of the country, then the terrain noted will be of the tribal areas. In tribal areas of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Jharkhand and other areas, fear and panic are being spread around with full confidence. Most of the victims of this are tribal. They are getting twice hit. Terrorist organizations have their own politics and the system has its own strategies. The poor Tribals who are ironically called the forest and landowners are still fighting for their own resources from man-exploiting systems. Thousands of years ago, they were struggling for their existence and are still doing it today. Since then they have been looking for a way out. One such way has been discovered by the people of Miharu Block in Jharkhand’s Khunti district and it has been attracting the rest of the tribal areas towards the idea.
Sociologists have believed that thousands of years ago the tribals laid the foundations of ‘development’ while protecting their lives in the forests, mountains and mountain caves. They cleaned up the forests and started the process of cultivating and living a social life.This is the reason why they cannot live too far apart from water sources, forests and land. Today, in 41 Panchayats of Morohu block, the people of 41 villages, especially women, are proving that they are fellow workers and want to make the society happy by themselves without living in the illusion of anyone’s assistance. It is also a good news for the Narendra Modi government that tribal women are realizing the dreams and resolutions of their Smart Village.
Khunti Munda is a tribal area. Munda people have always been attached to their land. They have always been struggling for it. Birsa Munda had fought a long struggle with it. The British government had to bow down before their movement. They had to make land laws, which were named ‘Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act’. But unfortunately, the Khunti land is not able to sustain anybody now. It is difficult to cultivate due to arid plateau zones. Due to this, people migrating to cities has become a routine.
But three years ago, the women of Miharu division started doing the task of making the Smart Village which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisaged today. Two and a half thousand tribal families are engaged in trying to give a name to the state by making use of the facilities provided by Ratan Tata Trust, the force behind it. Taking responsibility for its execution,was the organisation Renjagruti Kendra, an active organization in the area. Women were at the helm of this organization to which more women groups were linked. They were told about the latest techniques of agriculture. The process of growing the saplings from seeds without planting them in soil was started. This was so because many times the soil gets infected while preparing the sapling from the seeds. Saplings are grown by placing them in the dust of coconut peel instead of soil. Experience has shown that this also produces more quantity. Off-season cultivation of tomato, green chilli, cabbage etc. is rising and so are the prices. Earlier there was no cultivation of watermelon but now a large quantity of watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin etc. is being grown. This is proving to be a boon in financial terms. Women are also getting interested in growing fruit which will increase profits. The irrigation system has been modernized. In Pandu village, irrigation is being done through a solar system. The well is made through collective effort.
In this area, scientific methods were adopted to increase the production of traditional lacquer. The maximum use of lacquer is in painting. Buttons are also made from it. In the procurement of lacquer, the whims of the middleman were the rules. But now the tribals have made their own arrangements by setting up Farmers Producers Organizations. This includes the representatives of various women committees. Now nobody has to go to the market to sell lacquer, instead, the Mahajan has started coming to the village. Due to their activity on the Internet, women are aware of the market rates of everything, hence they are not fooled and they get good value for their products.
Satish Girija, the founder of Navajagruti Kendra, points out that “Adivasis have been attached to their land since the very beginning, but in the absence of technical know-how, agriculture has not been the basic work of their life. Now it is changing. Efforts are being made to give better shape to agriculture. “One of the prominent women leaders, Jinit Minj, says that the government provided facilities to us but we put our labour in it. Now we are standing on our own feet. Our success is now motivating other sectors. ‘
Earlier, there was no intention or tradition of borrowing from banks for agriculture in this area. But after awareness came, it was understood that farming can be upgraded by taking loans. People are now using resources received from Panchayats too. MNREGA is also proving to be helpful. Pig rearing was done in the traditional way, now a good breed is being reared with better maintenance. A shelter is now built separately for them and they are not left out. Pigs are being fed straw and greens and vegetable peels. Two pigs, males and females are being provided to a family. Twice a year, they have 12 to 16 piglets. A pig is sold for two and a half thousand rupees. This is cash crop of the farmers. The most important thing about these villages is that women’s groups keep the account for their own income.
These villages have been linked to the internet. For this, ‘Internet Friends’ was started. Not only is every woman using it, but she is also getting acquainted with the rest of the country and the world. There are also plenty of amusement facilities available. But this does not mean that modern technology has cut them off from their tradition. But they have begun to look at their language, culture and social traditions from a modern perspective.
The project which is going on in these villages has been named ‘Lakhapathi Kisan, Smart Village’. Changes in behaviour of people due to economic strength are happening. Most of Jharkhand is affected by the Naxalites but it is believed that as soon as the incomes of the people increase and their reliance on others ends, the effect of the Naxalites too will be reduced. Another big thing is that people are not migrating from here anymore. It is noteworthy that the number of female peasants leaving homes in the search of employment is the highest here. But now better facilities are being received in the villages. Pucca houses are being built due to more income. Toilets are being constructed with government assistance. Women are focusing on the responsibility of maintaining cleanliness. Arrangements have been made in the schools where the teachers were not available.
What is most heartening is that there is a new interest seen in the villagers for the Rural Development Ministry. This is a wing of the National Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Institute of Jharkhand. Jharkhand is documenting it so that the entire country can see how the villages are changing.
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