Twelve-year-old Premlal and his friends spend hours every day in the paddy fields of their village Bhinjain in Chakai block of south Bihar. It is monsoon and the children use an age-old technique of blocking water in paddy fields by putting up barriers. The water is then drained out, leaving behind large puddles. Since fishes reach fields with rain water during monsoon, children can easily catch them. Premlal is a Santhal, member of the scheduled tribe largely concentrated in Jharkhand, Bihar, Tripura, Odisha and West Bengal.
Premlal knows exactly how to hold the fish to ensure it doesn’t slip back into the puddle. After filling up his wide deep plate with many fishes, he rubs each of them in sand to remove the outer skin. Premlal has learned this child-friendly fish catching technique from his grandparents.
In another Santhal village Govindpur, in Chakai, youths are volunteering to teach children in their indigenous language to help them better relate to subjects taught in government schools. It will also help keep alive the traditional practices like fish-catching in monsoons as done by Premlal.