Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Anonymous people of India...

This Post is part of the contest The Idea Caravan on Indiblogger

What will happen if you wake up out of a nightmare only to find out that your identity is lost?
You have no official address, not even a name of your own.  Just a body wandering in search of its home, sweet home. It’s really scary just to imagine few minutes of such a life. Now think about those people who have spent their whole life nameless. Just imagining about their plight and miseries is enough to give you Goosebumps.  

The focus of this post is those anonymous people whose existence is unknown to the world.
Yes I am talking about the Nomadic, the de-notified communities, which comprise about 60 million people in India. A large section of these tribes is known as Vimukta Jati or ‘ex-criminal caste’ because they were branded as criminals by birth under the Criminal Act 1871, enacted by the British rule in India.
Though this act was revoked by the Indian government in 1952, the condition of these people has never improved. Such is their predicament that before finding a place on the Birth Registers they get a free entry on the Police Registers!

But in recent times I have seen things change and one live example of this comes from Gujarat.
More than 30,000 of these people got their address. There are 26 schools where more than 1000 students are studying. A community where every girl was forced into prostitution has its first ever marriage on the cards. And many more are round the corner. This can prevent these girls from being dragged into the flesh trade.
All this and many more policies are formulated for this non-identified, nomadic tribe.

One woman who has had the biggest role in making all this happen is Mittal Patel.
She has led from the front and formed an organisation called Vicharta Samudaya Samarthan Manch. Along with her organisation, she has worked assiduously for 6 years to give these people their basic living rights.
Hats off to this superwoman! She is a symbol of humanity, an inspiration and a role model for all those who want to work for the welfare of mankind.

But this is just the beginning. We have 60 million people, so a lot of work is still left to be done.
Mittal Patel has devoted her complete life for the upliftment of these nomadic tribes.
It’s time for all of us to play our part and we can easily do that by joining organisations like VSSM (Vicharta Samudaya Samarthan Manch). Or we can open our own organisation and become the pioneers of change.

First let’s ponder upon the various basic problems faced by these tribes:-

1.  No identity of their own
2. Deprived of basic living rights
3. No voting rights
4. Poor health conditions
5. No Education
6. Flesh Trade
7. Declared a criminal right at the time of birth
8. Unemployment

Various points an Activist or Group helping such people should take care of -:

1.      Communication
The first and foremost thing required to understand a person’s problem is your ability to communicate with him/her. If you can’t understand their language or dialect then it’s really difficult to proceed further. So the first step in the ladder is to understand their lingo which makes it easy to convey your thoughts and messages to them.
2.       Proper Name and determined Aim
‘What’s in the name’ doesn’t apply here. The name of your group/organisation plays a very important part in how seriously your policies and reforms will be taken by the government and common man. Also the aim of your group should match your actions.
This will help the government and other helping institutions to have faith in your group and make further decisions.
3.       Leader should be a Role Model
The leader of your group, or if you are working individually then you yourself, should be a role model for others. The determination and approach of the leader will define the success of the group which is directly proportional to the progress of these communities.
4.       Sources of Funds
Money should never become an obstacle while working for a social cause. To keep a check of that we should have ample of sources of funds. Government funds, Corporate funds given by various companies, charity done in the form of philanthropy by various industrialists and business tycoons, funds from charity done by common man , funds generated from various group programs and finally personal funds (money contributed by the group members ).
5.       Contacts and Connections
You will need land and various approvals to open schools and hospitals for these communities. Permissions to organise a rally or conduct a Sabha for them.
For most of the actions your group will take there will be a need for permissions and approvals from government, political and social officials. To make sure everything goes smoothly it good to have contacts and connections in all spheres.

Now let’s discuss the various steps we can take for the social, economic and cultural development of these tribes -:

1.       A Roof per family Program
The most important proof in India is your residential proof. Right from Ration cards to Voter Ids, you need a valid residence certificate to avail them.
So the first step is to get a roof for these people for which different government policies and laws have already been enacted.

2.       Organising Camps
After having a roof the 2nd most important thing an Indian wants is basic living rights.
In coordination with the government, we can organise various camps for these people so that they can get these rights.
A.      Voter Id Camps
In a democratic country which is of the people, for the people and by the people right to vote is one of the most important rights of a citizen.
As these people now have residential proofs, getting a voter id, which is also their identity card, will not be a problem.
B.      Ration Card Camps
C.      Domicile certification Camps..etc

3.       Primary Education to All
After securing rights, the next step is to educate them so that they can at least communicate with the outer world. Make out what is right and wrong for themselves and their family.
Opening primary schools for children and evening classes for the adults should be one of the initial milestones as part of the education programme.

4.       One Employee per family Program
With Education come employment opportunities, where we can implement the skills we have learnt.
Till now nomadic people used to earn their living as snake charmers, sharpening knives and tools, performing different acrobatic feats on the roads or mellas etc.
But with globalisation and modernisation the traditional professions of these people have either become obsolete or have been snatched away.
Earning 2 meals a day is the basic necessity of a livelihood.
So the first milestone is to provide employment to at least one member of the family.
Employment opportunities can range from working in a small/medium scale industry, peon, security guard, clerk, government jobs etc.

5.       Rishte Jodo Program
The biggest problem with women in these communities is flesh trade.
If a girl is not married she is forced into prostitution. Under Rishte Jodo program we will prevent such inhuman actions and perform Samuhik Vivahs of those who have crossed the 18 years age limit.

6.       Caste Certificate Procurement Program
There are many nomadic people who either belong to Scheduled Tribe or Scheduled Caste but are deprived of the benefits which are enjoyed by the more known people of these communities. The main reason is they don’t have a valid caste verification certificate.
So another important step towards their welfare is to procure their caste certificates from government.

Successfully implementing the above steps is just a few miles covered in a long marathon.
There are many more things to be done to make these people attain what they deserve.
But we all also know that Rome was not built in a day. Taj Mahal was the outcome of several years of dedicated and focused efforts.
We too have to build a Taj Mahal, but this time it will be a symbol of humanity. This goal of ours can only be achieved when each and every person belonging to the Nomadic and de-notified community will be considered a Respectful Indian Citizen.
So let’s start right away. JAI HO…

Watch Mittal Patel Share her thoughts

               The link to the video -:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8cZ2iJARPM
                                                   Franklin Templeton Investments
 partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.

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