Skip to main content

Narmada oustee children hold festival to "keep" spirit of struggle alive

Children participants at a tribal dance
Counterview Desk
The anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has held a unique Balmela or children’s festival for the children of the Narmada dam oustees in order to inculcate a sense of the need for collective struggle among adivasi children, currently living in various resettlement sites. A National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) note, giving details of the balmela, said it was held against the backdrop of dangers posed by the dam’s height to be raised to 138.64 metres from the current 120.94 metres.
Suggesting that this would “threaten: the life of 2.5 lakh people in the three states – Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh – the note said, “The Balmela was an event that inspired the villagers, activists and children to keep up their spirits and struggle”.
The NAPM is the apex body of several rights-based organizations, including NBA. The note said, four Jeevanshalas (Schools for Life), set up by the NBA, were drowned due to “unlawful submergence” and they were “shifted to upper level in the mountain range”, and the children of these Jeevanshalas, apart from five others, participated in the Balmela.
Children display their art works at the Balmela
NAPM further said, while the children in Jeevanshalas are taught government-approved curriculum, they are also engaged in agriculture, forest surveys etc., they are also made “aware of the rights of tribals to land, water, forest and development, environmental sustainability, biodiversity and participate in movement programmes.”
In fact, at Jeevanshalas, they are “made to participate in various creative activities such as house construction and cleaning”, said the NAPM note, adding, “Self-reliance, personality development and widening perspective are their motto.”
“Education in Jeevanshalas is primarily imparted through adivasi language, along with the regional language Marathi and Hindi. NNNA publishes books in adivasi dialects, in Devnagari script, for children”, the NAPM note said, adding, the objective is to “impart education and life-skills to the tribal children, who are affected by the dam and are living in the most interior, hilly areas, neglected since Independence.”
Held on February 12-15 at the resettlement site of the Project Affected Families (PAFs) situated in Gopalpur village of Taloda tehsil of Nandurbar district, Maharashtra, Jeevanshalas are the tribal schools run by Narmada Navnirman Abhiyan (NNNA). For the past 20 years, the Balmela was inaugurated by former Sports and Youth Minister Padamakar Valvi, in the presence of NBA leader Medha Patkar, NNNA trustee Shyam Patil and other social activists, academicians and elected representatives.
Children play kho kho  at Balmela
“Around 600 tribal children and students (studying at primary level) from nine Jeevanshalas participated in the Balmela. There were competitions such as running, long and high jump, archery, essay writing and elocution. Each school had a team comprising of boys and girls that played two major indigenous games – Kho-Kho and Kabaddi”, the note said.
“Each of the teams was known by their village names, Manibeli, Danel, Thuvani, Trishul, Savriya Digar, Bhabari, Bhitada, Kharya Bhadal, and Jeevan Nagar resettlement sites. The Balmela also had various stalls which held exhibitions on alternative source of producing energy such as solar lamps, clay pots and toys prepared by children of the Jeevanshalas, beautiful hand-made drawings, various science games for individual children, photo exhibition, Narmada literature, etc.”, the note pointed out.

Comments

TRENDING

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

UN experts object to GoI move to 'reinforce' trend of prosecution, eviction of tribals

Counterview Desk
In a report sent to the Government of India, three United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs, expressing "concerns" over the failure to ensure "adequate" implementation of the India Forest Rights Act (FRA), have regretted that the Government of India has not cared to reply their previous communications on this.

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

As submergence stares Narmada valley, Patkar says: With powerful in throne, we're helpless

Counterview Desk
Well-known anti-dam organization, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), plans to begin its “Resist Illegal Submergence in Narmada Valley” satyagraha on August 21 at Jantar Mantar, Delhi, amidst news that the situation in the valley is “critical”, with two persons having already died in flood-related incidents in the upstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam.

RTI Act holy cow for Govt of India? Official insists, don't ask why, when, what, where

By Pankti Jog*
The Government of India appears to have begun treating the Right to Information (RTI) Act as a holy cow. Its officials seem to believe that the Act is a sacred law, under which people shouldn't be questioning its functioning. One recalls what Prime Minister Narendra Modi said while addressing an RTI convention in 2015: “Why should government wait for people to ask information, we will have all information out in the domain, we have nothing to hide."

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Kashmirisation of India? Ayodhya communal harmony meet: Activists stopped, detained

Counterview Desk
In a joint statement, three civil rights organizations, Rihai Manch, National Alliance of People's Movements and Lok Rajniti Manch, and Socialist Party (India), have taken strong exception to the Uttar Pradesh government taking "preventive" steps against those seeking to hold a meeting on communal harmony at Ayodhya.