Skip to main content

Tribal women of Gujarat's Devgadh Baria speak up for their rights at public hearing

Demonstration by tribal women of Devgadh Baria
By Our Representative
Are the tribal women of Devgadh Baria, an eastern-most hilly taluka of Gujarat, coming out of their long-standing fear and beginning to speak up? It would seem so, if a public hearing organised by civil rights organizations Anandi and Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) next to the office of the sub-divisional magistrate (DSM) on December 10, International Human Rights Day, was any indication.
The public hearing saw about 650 persons, most of them poor women, boldly represent before government officials, called to listen to their grievances, which included failure to get ration at the public distribution system (PDS) shops, poor availability of food for children at the pre-school anganwadi centres, erratic distribution of widow pension, lack of disbursement of amount payable to pregnant women, and so on.
Ahead of the representation, a survey carried out among 26 villages suggested that of the 345 respondents, 107 had antyodaya ration cards meant for the poorest of the poor, and 117 were below poverty level (BPL) card holders. The ration distribution for the months of August, September and October 2019 showed that they received close to 52% and 46% lesser amount of wheat and rice than what they were entitled to.
"In numbers, 4810, 4876.5 and 4853.5 kg of wheat has not been distributed to entitled card-holders in August, September and October 2019, respectively. Similarly, 2303, 2350 and 2335 kg of rice has not been distributed for August, September and October 2019, respectively", the survey report, "Rozi Roti Lok Jumbesh 2019-Bariya Report", said.
Survey of 37 anganwadis in the 26 villages showed that only 16 of them had adequate space for activities, 16 had functional toilets, 12 had access to electricity and three had fans. Further, seven anganwadis did not serve breakfast and lunch as they should be serving. Distance of anganwadis was the most frequently cited issue by the respondents, the report said.
Aadhaar card related issues were the most frequently cited reasons for not getting maternity benefit
Further, in 26 villages, data was collected from 110 pregnant and lactating women. Out of 46 eligible pregnant women (first pregnancy), 35 had not received their entitlement, while five had received it. Further, out of 43 eligible pregnant women (next pregnancy), 23 had not received their entitlement, and 13 had not not applied for it.
The report states, "Aadhaar card related issues were the most frequently cited reasons for not getting maternity benefit. Many did not receive because they did not have bank accounts. Other reasons included name not included in the ration card and election card. Father’s name instead of husband’s name in official documents were also reasons for not being able to register for the maternity entitlement."
Then, the report says, data was collected from 489 persons who were eligible for pension -- including widow and old age pension. Only 125 of these had received pension. As many as 153 respondents said they had applied for pension but not received any communication, while 51 said they had not applied. Reasons included not having the aadhaar.
Representing before the officials, women said, they often did not receive ration despite the fact that they had the eligible card. The ration shops were often found to be closed or without adequate food supplies. They were supposed to get coupon from the panchayat office which would tell them the amount of ration they should get, but they were never given this coupon, as the printer all the time would be out of order.
A grassroots activist complained the pre-school anganwadis for their children were offering food only twice a day instead of three times, as stipulated. Some of the anganwadis were as far away as three km, and despite applications for opening a new one anganwadi in the village, there was no reply.
Widows said, they were not getting their pension for six to seven months. In fact, they often found that they were not getting the full amount they were entitled to, and suspected the post office staff appeared to be siphoning off a part of the amount they were to get. In many villages, the postman kept the passport with him, refusing to part with it, and threatened them with dire consequences if they complained.
MAGP's Pankti Jog said, "This is for the first time that I found tribal women speaking up fearlessly. Earlier, they wouldn't utter a word, fearful of the retaliation they might face. Credit for this goes to Anandi, the organization which has been working with tribal women of the taluka's villages for the last about 25 years."

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India sees 62 journo deaths, 4th highest, amidst pandemic: Swiss media rights body

By Our Representative The Switzerland-based media rights body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has noted that India is the fourth most affected country as far as mediapersons’ death on account of Covid-19 is concerned. According to Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC, the global tally of casualties among media persons in the Covid-19 pandemic has reached 1,036 journalists in 73 countries till date.

Liberating Bengal Hindus? Worst flames of communal division, lessons from the past

By Shamsul Islam*  The whole thrust of the RSS-BJP election campaign for 2021 state assembly elections in West Bengal has been to save Bengal from the rule of Mamata Bannerjee who is allegedly not a ‘Hindu’. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist, as usual set the polarizing agenda. While addressing the first election rally, he called upon the electorate to overthrow the ‘nirmam’ (cruel) rule of Mamata by showing a ‘Ram Card’. He did not name Hindus directly but there was no confusion about the religious identity of the electorate Indian PM was addressing to.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Rs 5 crore 'demand' for India Today anchor: What about 52 lesser souls who died in April?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  A well known Hindutva protagonist masquerading as journalist passed away recently resulting in messages of condolences and tribute right from the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to progressive liberals expressing grief of his untimely death. It is said that he passed away due to cardiac arrest, though the fact is, he was also Covid infected. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister termed him a ‘brave’ journalist, insisting, his passing away has left a big ‘vacuum’.

Pradeep Bhattacharya, who spent his life for the cause of working masses, rational thinking

By YS Gill*  At 11:30 pm on May 3, 2021, I lost my best friend and comrade Pradeep Bhattacharya. He spent his life dedicated to the cause of the working masses and rational thinking. A person of thorough scientific outlook and a well-read student of Marxian thought, he was a walking encyclopedia and could speak on a wide variety of topics from art and culture to science, philosophy, history and politics.

Modi's Hindutva 'ensuring' empowerment of rich, disenfranchisement of poor

Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The Hindutva socio-psychopaths are neither nationalists nor patriotic people. These medieval reactionary forces don’t understand the idea of citizenship, justice, liberty, equality and humanism. Indian democracy is merely an electoral transaction for the Hindutva forces. Hindutva forces neither follow science nor understand the sufferings of fellow human beings. These core qualities are common among the Hindutva forces in India.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

India's Covid-19 'nightmare': A product of majoritarian Hindutva ideological praxis?

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  Indians struggle to find place and time to bury their dead due to the devastating effects of the second wave of Covid-19 in India. The crematoriums in the capital cities are overflowing with dead bodies. People are dying without oxygen and basic medical support. The cities like Delhi and Mumbai are struggling to cope with the rising number of infections and COVID-19 led deaths. The deaths and destitutions are products of a defunct BJP government led by Narendra Modi.

Indian media persons collapsing to Covid disease as fast as 3 per day, third highest

Yogesh Sharma, Shailesh Rawal  By Our Representative  The Switzerland based media rights and safety body, Press Emblem Campaign ( PEC ) has said that it is “alarming for Indian journalists”, who have lost at least 107 colleagues to Covid-19”, noting, Indian “journo-colleagues” have been collapsing to the Covid-19 complications now as fast as three scribes per day. In a statement, PEC said, “India with 107 media corona-casualties has already placed itself on the third position just below Brazil (181 dead) and Peru (140) in the list of Covid-19 victims among journalist.”