Amarkantak MLA PDF Print E-mail

MLA: These tribal communities live in and around the forest. They prefer staying in the hills and forests and distancing themselves from the mainstream society. They have their own language, culture and traditions. They have their own problems too.

Student: Someone told us that even theirRamayana is different?

MLA: There are different communities within the tribal population. Gond, Baiga, Bhariya and so on are the various communities. Now the Gond community believes that they are not Hindu. Some worship Lord Shankar. They are called Bhole Bhandari and they are of the belief that they are not Hindus. They have their own guru. But the Ramayana is the same. Only the language is different.

Student: We did not even think we would get the chance to meet them.

MLA: You will find it a whole new world since you are from an urban place like Pune. The real India is in the villages. These people are happy with what they get. They will sleep under the stars happily. They work hard and reap the fruits of their labor. They have no clue about the outside world. Even today there is poverty. There are houses without door. There is 1 person earning.

Student: The tribal communities you mentioned live in the forests?

MLA: The forests are being cut down rapidly. A majority of the tribal communities prefer to live in and around the jungle. They need wood for fuel and the produce of the forest for food. Now if the forests are cut down, where will they go? In our village, there is a hill with heavy vegetation. Now everything is cut down and we are in limbo. Our ancestors; we are presently the second generation, they used to stay entirely in the forests. My grandfather used to stay in the forest as well. I am a Post Graduate, but still I have been in the forest to cut wood for fire and I have ploughed the fields as well.

Student: Why did you decide to come to the city and study?

MP: We started meeting a few people from the outside society. And slowly and steady we were brought out into the open, the mainstream society. Then I contested the elections and was elected the Sarpanch and now I have a bigger opportunity to grow. But yes, I had to struggle a lot to study and learn. At my times there were no scholarships. I have studied and done hard labor at the same time. There were no books in the schools. I have worked and studied. I have studied with the help of a kerosene lantern till I was in the ninth standard. There were no roads. We had to walk 10 kilometers to the school every day. I was the first person from my village that was educated. Now the rest are getting education as well.

Student: We have been told that the tribal people are very simple.

MLA: Yes, they are very simple. They have a lot of love and respect for others. If you are their guests, they will honor and respect you. But if you harm them or cause trouble for them then they are merciless. They have tremendous respect for outsiders. They are very protective as well of their own people. They are used as laborers now. Even if you will not pay them they will still be happy at the end of the month.

Student: Why is it so?

MLA: They do not understand our world. They aren’t educated or literate. They lack social sense. I am a prime example. I am one of them. But I am educated and literate. I struggled to reach here. I have made them aware of the larger picture. Now people like to side with me. But still at the lower rungs, extreme poverty exists.

Student: Do you interact with the Government?

MLA: Yes, we discuss critical issues. We try to voice the grievances of the people and what can be done to address them.

Student: What has been done as of now?

MLA: The poorest people are the tribal. The most oppressed are the tribal. You can study a lot, learn, grow, and get a doctorate or a degree. But a tribal even today is the tribal of all these years. Unchanged. Till today there is poverty. All these years post independence a lot of measures should have been taken. All the people in power for all these years after independence should have thought of plans for betterment of these people. But they chose to ignore them. We have around 1 crore 62 lakh tribal out of the 6 crore population of the state. No one has done anything about this large chunk of population. There are no health measures, no education, no money and no food. Unless you are educated you will not think. They do not want us to be educated and happy. Like I can understand all of you and I can understand what you want to know. If you ask the same to a tribal he will not understand. They cannot think. A lot of people want the situation to remain as it is because of the vote banks. They give a person `100 and ask him to vote for a particular person. The tribal does not know the value of that one vote. They just want to vote. That is the thought process there. Someone should raise this point.

Student: Is the population on the decline in these tribal communities?

MP: There is one such community called The Bhariyas whose count is on the decline. The others still are at a healthy population. But there has been no progress. I will tell you about this one village located nearby in the middle of the forests and hills. Till today they used to drink unclean water, which they used to dig up. Now we have installed pumps for them. There should be a social movement towards this objective.

Student: Are the tribal communities ready to accept this change?

MLA: Why will they not be ready to accept change? Even they want clean water to drink and education. A good house to live in, clean clothes to wear, good food to eat and education are the fundamental needs of anyone. Some people think the Government will start all of this. They are wrong. The Government only loots these people. You students will love the tribal communities and their culture once you go meet them. They are honest and hardworking people. See how they live, how they eat. Do go. It is an experience. We are all working in the same direction for these tribal people. The start to this has been good. The poor tribal people feel that all the rich people with their money are the source of the all their poverty and unhappiness. When a poor person dies, he dies alone. This is the reason they resort to violence and weapons. Even if they are a little education, they will understand the real picture. That is why education is very important. There is a place called Jabua in Madhya Pradesh. Here tribal and normal people fight every day. There are murders committed on a regular basis. Looting is a common occurrence there. They will first beat you up with sticks and then loot you.

MLA: If there is a criminal in the village where the tribal people stay and if he has committed, say for example a murder. Then even in today’s time all the villagers will surround his house; thousands of people and tear it down. These are simple mud houses. If he is caught, they will kill him on the spot. Then they will cremate him along with the person who he had murdered. This tradition is still carried out in the tribal community. The Bhed community till date loots people. But they will not just steal from you. They will beat you up and then steal from you. This is their way of saying we have worked hard. But this is not the correct way. We are from the tribal community so they will not do anything to us. But you cannot go there. Once, a tribal was shot by the police for some reason. The tribal surrounded the police and in self defense the police opened fire and 1 child died. This is the Bhil Community. All of the 2500 tribal gathered and they set out to the police station. They reached the station with the intention of destroying it. This is their mind set. They were not afraid of death. Then the Administration got together to find a solution and they reached a compromise. They were ready to pay ` 25000 to the family.

 

“You can learn a lot from a river; persistence and patience. In the beginning you go around an obstacle and over time you slowly break it down.”