Recognising the need to raise awareness and maximise participation from rural communities in the electoral process, the Election Commission of India has initiated ‘Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation’(SVEEP) programme. The initiative is being supported by Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) amongst poor & marginalised indigenous communities of Khunti district in Jharkhand.
I live in the Jamudiha village in the Keonjhar district of Odisha. My village is an archetypical representation of deprivation in this area: rocky landscape, little cultivable land, rain-fed agriculture, high distress migration and desperate labour work in the mines. I am from the Bhuyan tribe, which means ‘children of the soil’. Some believe that our ancestors sprang out of ‘Mother Earth’ miraculously and thus the name.
Rashmi’s children were already adults and students in the school were unrelated to her. Yet she could not reconcile the fact that they were forced to drink contaminated water in school every day. The spark to change in Rashmi had been lit some months back in the trainings on citizenship.