Thursday, December 17, 2009

Addressing Governance Issues through an Adivasi lens

New Delhi, 16 December 2009.

Adivasis are amongst the most marginalized groups in India, in spite of constitutional laws devised to protect their interests. In order to discuss ways to improve the political position of adivasis in modern society, the Adivasi Resource Centre, part of the National Centre for Advocacy Studies (NCAS), held a ‘National Consultation on Adivasis of India: Emerging Themes, Issues and Challenges’ at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi on 15th and 16th December 2009.

The key note address was delivered by Padma Shri Tulasi Munda. She expressed her disappointment that even after so many years of independence we are still unable to meet the basic requirement of poor people including adivasis of our country. Shri Tsering Samphel, Member of National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, said that it is sad that even after 62 years of independence we don’t have a vision for adivasi development. However, he thanked the constitution for giving the tribes, opportunities for higher education through reservation. Activists from various states of the country during the consultation raised issues affecting the tribal people of the country like dispossession of land, violence, poverty, loss of identity. Draft National Tribal Policy which was supposed to provide vision for Adivasi development, was being questioned by the panelists. Ganesh Devy, Director of BHASHA commented whether it is a Policy for the Development of the Tribals or a Tribal policy for National Development?

PV Rajgopal from Ekta Parishad said that “British had colonized us and we have colonized the adivasis. We are destroying their supermarket (forest) to build our supermarket”. He said that there lies a huge challenge in front of us how we are going to help the tribals from dying due to State violence. It is also a challenge not only for Adivasis but for all sections of the society to save ourselves from the ill effects of globalization and liberalization”.

Other eminent speakers in this Consultation included Shri B.D.Sharma, Bharat Jan Andolan, also Former Commissioner of the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Commission, Pradip Prabhu form NIRD, Shri Bhakta Charan Das, Hon’ble Member of Lok Sabha, Professor Virginius Xaxa from the Department of Sociology at Delhi University, Madhu Sarin, Activist, Dr.Mardi from All India Santhal Welfare and Cultural Society, Walter Fernandes, Director of the North Easten Social Research Centre, , Prof. Joseph Bara from JNU , C.R.Bijoy , Goldy George, Roma, Sanjoy Bosu Mullick, Bhanwar Singh Chandana and Mamata Dash from the activist groups , Dr.Archana Prasad from Jamia Millia, Gladson Dungdung an Adivasi activist and writer from Jharkhand, Fr.Vincent Ekka from Indian Social Instititute and Vijayan from Delhi Forum.

Report by:

Swati Swetlana
NCAS, New Delhi

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