Hear voices from the ground in their own words

Deepa Pawar
Posted May 8, 2020 from India

India has been in a state of lockdown for over a month now. I must say 'Indias' - because a lockdown means very very different things for the different Indias. It is certainly a crisis for everyone, but it is an emergency for a large majority who live on daily wages, and a double emergency for those who were beyond even the margins even in normal times. In the last category, I am referring to the nomadic & de-notified tribes and the adivasis (tribals) - those pushed to the bottom of the hierarchy. I am myself from a nomadic community. These are tribes who had been labelled as cirminals during the British rule, because we had risen up for independance. Till today, our people suffer extreme stigma, ostracization, violence. When everyone is supposed to 'stay at home', these communities have no home because they live a nomadic life; the villagers abuse them if they go inside and the police abuse them if they are seen on the roads. 

These communities, the migrant labourers, daily wage workers are the people who have built, maintained, cleaned and run our cities and villages with too little compensation. Now is the time to stand with them. 

What do they think? What are their demands? 

Hear them in their own voices. My organization Anubhuti, has reached over 1900 families from the highly deprived nomadic & denotified tribes (earlier labelled 'criminal' by the erstwhile British rulers), adivasi and dalit communities with relief, counselling, awareness and advocacy as a response to the pandemic. During this, we are recording and trying to highlight ground voices: 

1. The first video is by youth leaders who are carrying out relief operations with these communities: how we need to be responsible and sensitive towards those more vulnerable in this pandemic.

2. The second video is of a ground activist of a nomadic tribe speaking of his people's situation: a proud community who have never asked anything of anyone, but are now rightfully asking their right to life.

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 11

Log in or register to post comments
Chi8629
May 08
May 08

Thank you for sharing .

Jill Langhus
May 08
May 08

Hi Deepa,

Thanks for sharing your update and powerful videos. I'm so glad that you're helping these people. No one should be cast aside. I hope you're getting some aid to help out more, and that you and your loved ones are safe and well?!

XX

Tamarack Verrall
May 08
May 08

Hi Deepa,
Thank you for sharing these videos and drawing attention to what is happening with the Nomadic Indigenous people of India. Our world economy is upside down, with those doing the most difficult and essential work being paid the least, and treated the worst. There is such hope in the messages from the young people in the first video, and such a powerful call for basic human respect in the second. I hope many will join these young people in calling attention to what morally is the step the Government of India needs to take in this emergency. It is also a message to all countries to pay attention to those worst treated in all of our countries. Otherwise what we are experiencing is intentional genocide.
My love to you for the work you are doing,
Tam

Mahima Rathore
May 08
May 08

Thank you Deepa for sharing this.
You are doing a great job

Anita Shrestha
May 08
May 08

Thank you for sharing

maeann
May 09
May 09

Deepa Hi :) thank you for sharing this video. Keep safe.

Beth Lacey
May 12
May 12

Thanks for sending these videos on. Very important to leave no one out.

Vanora.Lee
May 15
May 15

Thanks for raising serious awareness on the forgotten vulnerable group. Hope the situation is getting better now. Stay safe and well!

Sinyuy Geraldine
May 18
May 18

Dear Deepa, you are the voice of the voiceless here. Yes, we have normadic people in our country and I know what that so spells for them at this time of pandemic Thank you for lifting their voices through these videos. They need help and I pray they get it. Courage dear.

Julie Desai
May 18
May 18

So compelling as I often has been saying that if the lockdown continues , daily wagers will die of hunger!

Paulina Nayra
May 19
May 19

Dear Deepa,
Thank you for sharing the stories on the plight of nomadic tribes in India. This made me think of our own Badjao tribes who used to walk from one city to another. Where could they be this time? Just keep on sharing the stories of your community because you are giving them a significant voice. We hope the government will attend to their plight.
Take care Deepa.
Huggs.