On a tranquil morning during this year's spring in the Dooars of West Bengal, a meeting of women belonging to three Self-Help Groups supported by DAY-NRLM was going on at the Division Line of Kanthalguri Tea Estate.
Using the label ‘Adivasi’ (and not ‘tribe’ or ‘ST’), meaning ‘original inhabitant’, for themselves was the Adivasis’ proclamation of their right to ownership of the land in which they lived for centuries as well as a signal, to all those who passed by, to back off!
Conducting a study on the status of Adivasis has brought to the fore several ground realities, opening up the scope for discussion, dialogue and analyses among those who aspire for inclusive development on matters concerning the Adivasis
Rather than depending on mega projects that will bring water to the villages, it is far more beneficial is it to have multiple, small water-conservation structures dotting the villages, ensuring not just its perennial source but also generating alternative crop and livelihood options, as experienced in the villages of Chhattisgarh
Persuading the women farmers to set aside some land for creating water harvesting structures seemed a Herculean challenge initially; however, when they saw the numerous benefits and ways to increase their household income, they became crusaders espousing the project and encouraging others to follow suit!
With a little bit of support and encouragement, the women of the community prove to be natural leaders, stepping into the unknown, being capable of taking decisions, and carrying forward the work of improving the standard of their lives, physically and economically. The women of Majhidi-Gokulnagar exemplify this in no uncertain terms.
Identifying the aspirations of the rural youth, helping them look at the world of possibilities and providing training and guidance in their preferred choices is one way of ensuring the optimum use of the human potential, leading to nation building
Collaborating with PRADAN and organizing virtual field visits is a creative way to bridge the gap, in current times for students, between theory and practice; this may well-nigh be a complementary methodology that can be continued even after the crisis brought about by the pandemic has abated
Imposing developmental solutions in a language foreign to the villagers is a pitfall that Development Practitioners must avoid. True transformation happens when practitioners communicate their knowledge and wisdom in the local language and with deep understanding of the traditional culture and practices of the tribals they are engaged with