When forced away from the forests, tribal culture dies

Jharsuguda (Orissa): Dayamani Barla, a well known tribal woman activist from Jharkhand state stated that today the entire country is fighting for peace, justice, development and harmony.

“Indigenous people are the original settlers and original inhabitants of earth. Adivasi culture, their life, behaviour, languages and ethics have direct connection with the water, land and forests. Thus for Adivasis at large, jungle, water, land and environment are basic and vital. Adivasi culture dies the moment they are displaced from their own land, water and forests. When the indigenous people are displaced in the name of development, their culture, history and identity gets exploited, destroyed, finished off,” said Barla, known as ‘iron lady of Jharkhand.’ She added, “We are like soldiers in our own land. It is our great duty and responsibility to fight for our human rights, to fight for our tribal rights and avail justice.”

She was peaking to some 60 people from all walks of life from different dioceses of Odisha, who shared their personal experiences of forced migration, trafficking and human rights violations at a two day workshop on Mining and Migration .

Bishop Niranjan Sual Singh of Sambalpur, in his inaugural address said, “It is extremely important for us to know the present situation in order to bring about peace, justice and dignity in society. In the name of bringing development, industrialists come to tribal areas. But these industries are the main cause of trouble to the development of the indigenous people.”

“Development of society without the development of an individual makes no sense,” he added. “We may have good roads, railways, housing, and so on but if every citizen of country doesn’t develop, makes no sense. The poor and the downtrodden people need to be given more focus for their all-round development.”

The prelate talked on “Present situations in our own society.” He mainly stressed on the two points, namely: heavy mining and migration. Heavy mining has the greatest effects on human, animals and plants. Rapid mining has been the foremost contributor to environmental degradation and pollution.   The tribal people are fully dependent on their land for livelihood. Sadly, heavy mining has brought big challenge for the tribal and Dalit people in society.”

Prashant Paikray, explained about the impact of mining on lives of Adivasi and Dalit, mostly referring to Khandadhar and POSCO experience. Paikray is the spokesperson for POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, the popular coalition fighting against an industrial project of the South Korean steel corporation POSCO, Jagatsinghpur district, in Odisha.

He shared of his experience in this field. He said that in the name of development multi-national companies are setting up in tribal areas and establishing their mines. These mines are badly affecting the indigenous people. Instead of development of these people, the disaster follows in their lives. “The nexus of money and political power can only be thwarted if people are united and stand as one,” he said.

Fr. Savari Raj, Director of Chetanalaya, social service wing of Delhi Archdiocese, spoke briefly on women trafficking issues out of his experiences. He first mentioned the major reasons of this issue—displacement, lack of job opportunities, and in order to support siblings. He shared the real situation of Tribal, Dalit and minorities in New Delhi. They are not paid full salary, sexually abused and don’t get proper health care. He suggested that in order to prevent this women trafficking, rescue operations and safe migration is a must.

Fr. Charles Irudayam, secretary of CBCI Office for Justice, Peace and Development, dealt with Catholic Social Teaching and stressed on social activism. In his talk, he explained why the church is concerned about human rights and why is it involved in social activism. God has endowed every human person with an inherent and inalienable dignity which entails basic rights. The church is mandated to protect human rights and to educate its members about the dignity, liberty and equality of all humans. Respect for human rights is the requisite for peace.

Quoting Pope John Paul II, Fr Irudayam, said, “Peace and rights are two benefits directly related to each other as cause and effect. There can be no peace where there is no respect for defence and promotion of human rights.”

Fr. Ajay Kumar Singh, director Odisha Forum, presented political environment impacting Tribal and Dalit in India. “If we calculate the percentage of religious minority including Adivasi, Dalit, Muslim, Christian Dalit, the percentage will be around 34 %. There is no single representative of these groups among Supreme Court and High Court Judges. He touched role the role of Jaipal Munda and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in fighting for the tribals and Dalits. He too spoke about the anti-conversion law which is indirectly suppresses the Tribals and Dalits.

Fr. John Kerketta, social service director of Sambalpur diocese, said that the church has been playing a significant role in the field of education, health and social work. He added from his own experience regarding the current burning issue of creation of rifts between Christian Tribal and Dalit and non-Christian Tribal which was an eye opening for the participants to reflect.

Odisha Forum in collaboration with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Office for Justice, Peace and Development, New Delhi organized the two-day workshop on Mining and Migration at Utkal Jyoti Pastoral Centre, Jharsuguda, Odisha, May 19-20.


based on inputs by charles irudayam

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Posted by on May 26, 2015. Filed under Breaking News,Livelihood,Odisha. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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