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Hope: The Kondhs Are Here

"Corona or anything is a time to rethink what is that we need? Like are we really choosing the development which mines and destroys forests and lands to create more dependent cities and profiting all sorts of capitalistic giants? Or we can try and learn from the indigenous communities to live in harmony and sufficiency with one another and as a whole with the environment."


A Kondh Girl (Image Source: Survival)

As the world struggles to survive, they lead our lives? The Kondhs are here.


It has been almost two months of lock-down, the urban masses are still stuck in their concrete houses waiting for the food to be delivered from a distant farmer somewhere which could be chemical-free or not.


As the lockdown extends again, villages here and lives here have not changed much. Farmers from a village some 5-6 kilometers away from JK Pur (named after JK paper mill) stand every day, near the periphery of the highway with their vegetable cart full of fresh vegetables.


I spoke to Revati from Tikadpada, a couple of days back. The routine is more or less the same in the village, waking up in the morning, going to the pond for filling the water for daily chores, cooking, and then returning to the farm to check on the vegetables, plough a little, pluck, etc. She says watering is not required as they have enough water on this land.


Also, Padmavati from Bondeiguda called and said that they had enough food for a lot more months and that too in variety. Some 5-6 or more varieties of pulses, millets, rice, and vegetables. She told me in Oriya and Kuvi, they had enough of pulses (Dali) like muga, kandula, biri sabuja, biri kala, kolatha, kating, jhudaga and Paddy (Dhana) varieties like arjuli, lalat, raja laxmi, partikhya and vegetables (Pariba) like Okra, brinjal, bitter melon, tomato, papaya, tubers, etc.


Narendra from Goilkona said the same, he said, “we need salt and oil from outside, rest is here”. And these villages are the ones close to the road, where organizations and several giants are abruptly trying to break age-old ways of farming and living by introducing monocropping, cash crops, hybrid seeds, chemical extensive farming, farming to sell and not maintain their self-sufficiency.


Despite a portion of land being occupied by eucalyptus, BT cotton, etc., they are surviving well than the rest of the world. In the villages more remote with barely any road connection and phone, there are more grains and pulses.


But all of it is at threat with the outrise of the powerful giant of capitalism in several forms, like modern factory schooling and several governmental and non-governmental schemes and unthought interventions leading to damage of land, community, and ecosystem.


For example, in the documentary Schooling the World, it clearly shows how a shift in generation in Ladakh has been done or is in the process because of the modern schooling washing away the essence of a self-sufficient, resilient lifestyle including community living, caring-sharing, healthy sustainable farming, etc. So is the case here, things are changing rapidly amongst the indigenous forest dwellers.


Once upon a time's tiny Muniguda town is increasing its boundary rapidly and is trying to swallow the small beautiful Kondh villages by pushing its market and city lifestyle. With JK paper mill, Vedanta being a major propagator by spreading eucalyptus and mining by destroying lands and forests, and several residential schools by pulling kids into an alien schooling culture leading to disconnect with their land and traditions. Hence, there are migrations. Despite villages potential to be self-sufficient youth have been migrating. There must be thousands of youth from Rayagada district stuck in different districts in India.


They go, but who desires and feeds on the migration of the ill-treated migrant labourers?
We, the city dwellers with the head held high in the system and hand in a popcorn box, isn't it?

So, Corona or anything is a time to rethink what is that we need? Like are we really choosing the development which mines and destroys forests and lands to create more dependent cities and profiting all sorts of capitalistic giants? Or we can try and learn from the indigenous communities to live in harmony and sufficiency with one another and as a whole with the environment.

And what Gandhi said years back about how villages should be, and the kind of education could be a guiding line for the urban masses. With this, I end and urge us to rethink before it's too late to live and let live.


 

About the author: Pritu is a wanderer, dreamer, word weaver, traveler, and a sustainable being. She lives in and around the villages, forests, and streams. Currently, she is learning and working with the indigenous villages in Odisha, India.


Pritu has been working on contextual education with the indigenous communities. The project depends on independent funding. She hopes to raise funds through friends and family. If you want to help her with any amount of fund or other resources, you can reach Pritu- prituvatsa12@gmail.com

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