Skip to main content

Plight of Gujarat saltpan women: Govt admits all-round failure; Kanya Kelavni drive for girl education flops

Counterview Desk
The Gujarat government has acknowledged its complete failure in ameliorating the plight of the women involved in cultivating salt in hundreds of agariyas (saltpans) in the Little Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. A still unreleased “research” study, running into 40-odd pages, the Gender Resource Centre, operating directly under the department of women and child, Gujarat government, has said that, despite existence of large number of government schemes, “there is no change in the economic, social and health related problems of the women working in agariyas.”
Nearly 43,000 men and women from 108 villages situated on the border of the Little Rann work in the agariyas for eight months in a year, living in sub-human conditions, mainly poorly knit tents, without electricity, drinking water, health facilities and education for children. Belonging to other backward class (OBC) communities, they have been demanding recognition as “forest dwellers”, as the Little Rann is a Wild Ass Sanctuary, as it would give them right to own land under the forest rights law.
Admitting that women have to work for longer working hours – 15 hours continuously on an average as against the men who work for 10 hours – the study, titled “An Overview of the Condition of Women Working in Agariyas”, and based on an interaction with 33 women working in agariyas, says that women are not even provided with even “health health facilities”, as a result of which one witnesses “a high incidence of health-related problems among women.” The result is that, there is a “higher incidence of widows among agariya families compared to others.”
“Women begin their day at around 4 in the morning, cleaning up the tent, cooking food, go to the agariyas to work with menfolk, look after children, and sleep at 9.00 pm”, the study reports.
“Skin-related diseases are widely prevalent among agariya cultivators. The emergency 108 service, available in villages, refuses to reach up to them in agariyas, which are situated at least 7 kilometres inside the Little Rann. Nor is there any availability of vehicles, especially during night hours so that they could reach a hospital”, the study says, adding, women further feel discriminated as the “mobile health vans, which reach agariyas just once a week, have no women health workers, and women refuse to reveal gynecological problems to the men health workers.”
The study says, “One witnesses a higher incidence of malnutrition among women and children during the months they work in agariyas. Despite hard labour they do, they face a shortage of of nutritious food. Living in the Little Rann they are unable to access ghee, oil, milk, green vegetables, fruits, and the vicious circle of lack of these food items continues unabated. It is only once in a fortnight that they are able to go to their villages to access food items.”
Pointing towards poor literacy rates among agariya women, with just about one-third of them literate, the study quotes them as saying that they are unable to make their children study continuously. “Many children work in agariyas. They live in the Little Rann for eight months, and go to school only for four months, as a result of which they are often very weak in studies”, the study admits, suggesting failure of the state-sponsored Kanya Kelavni girl enrolment drive. “There is no emphasis on ensuring that agariya girls study”, it underlines.
During group discussions, the study says, the agariya women complained of lack of availability of drinking water in the Little Rann. “The tankers provide water to us next to the agariyas just once or twice a day. They pour water into the tanks put up by us. We bath just twice or thrice a week. Often we must bring water in buckets on bicycles several kilometres away. The river is far away. There is a real shortage of water”, an agariya woman is quoted as saying.
Other problems the agariya women face include no toilets in the Little Rann, drunkenness among male agariyas leading to high incidence of domestic violence, inability to marry girls in non-agariya families, lack of social life, and so on. The study has asked the Gujarat government's urgent intervention, recommending, among other things:
  • Regular supply of water through tanker 
  • Setting up of mobile toilets
  • Provision of all-weather tents which could withstand strong winds and torrential rains 
  • Provision of basic facilities at the agariya doorsteps, including food items, including vegetables and other nutritious food at regular interval
  • Regular visit by mobile health vans consisting of female health workers, with availability of basic medicines needed to address gynecological problems women
  • Provision facilities to vaccinate of infants
  • Provision of mobile schools for out of school children
  • Regular availability of basic information about government schemes meant for women
  • Special programmes to empower especially young women

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).