Tendu leaves cushion tribals from economic deprivation during COVID-19

. June 19, 2020

At around 4 am, Shamli Devi leaves her home with a water bottle, torch and a clean cloth, walking nearly 5 km to the nearest forest in eastern Madhya Pradesh’s Mandla district. For the next five or six hours, Shamli toils away in the heat, plucking leaves from tendu trees. She carefully collects them in the piece of cloth to avoid breakage because these leaves will be used to wrap tobacco flakes and tied with a cotton thread to make bidis, the poor man’s cigarette.

Mona Singh

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