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

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Is sacrilege charge against Punjab Dalits any different from Pak blasphemy cases?

Lakhbir Singh, his wife By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  There is no doubt that Sikhism actually was a revolt against the Brahmanical system and superstition. Guru Granth Saheb is perhaps the only Holy Book which contains matters from different religions as well as those of various Sufi saints, including Kabir, Ravidas, Baba Farid and others. The aim of Sikhism was to create an egalitarian society, and, definitely, Punjab that way is far better than many other States in India, where violence against Dalits is rampant.

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

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".

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

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.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.

Shabana Azmi joins Pak physicist Hoodbhoy to condemn B'desh anti-minority violence

By Our Representative  Several well-known South Asian activists and public figures of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives have expressed “deep distress” by the spate of violence and killings in Bangladesh on the occasion of Durga Puja and Vijayadashami. “Attacks on minorities are a sign of injustice and a matter of shame for any society and bring a bad name to the Government”, they said in a joint statement.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.