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Friday, August 22, 2014


The late Dr Ramdayal Munda had coined his trademark slogan ‘Nachi se Banchi’ (Dance to Survive) as an injunction to adivasis all over India not to let go of their core traditions and values, which were being eroded and even ridiculed by the mainstream educational systems. 
The most distinguished and erudite Indian Adivasi, or aboriginal inhabitant, of modern times, a proud son of the indigenous Munda tribe that for centuries dominated large tracts of central India and put up fierce resistance to British rule, Ram Dayal Munda never forgot where he came from: tribal dance and music remained his first love.
 After gaining his Master's in Anthropology at Ranchi University, he moved to Chicago University, where he was awarded his PhD. He subsequently joined the staff of the university's Department of South Asian Studies and pioneered the teaching of tribal and regional Languages. He also taught South-East Asian languages at Minnesota University.

There are more than 600 Adivasi/tribal communities in India and most of them are among the most disadvantaged social groups.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Advanced Studies and backed by the UNICEF published two years ago has revealed Adivasis in India receive the "lowest-cost, poorest-quality and indifferently administered education". 
Not only are the Adivasis marginalised, even affirmative action/reservation programmes for Adivasis (as Scheduled Tribes) in higher educational institutions have not had the desired effect, the report suggests. The study found that mainstream education has failed to recognise the aspirations, needs and predicament of Adivasis. 

The Naxal violence has made it worse, leading to "widespread destruction of Adivasi homes, livelihoods and larger support structure, including healthcare, schools and spaces for civic action". Indigenous adivasi culture, knowledge forms and language find no place in the dominant education system, it notes. The report cites the example of tribal-dominated Chhattisgarh where a significant proportion of the schools are by the roadside or highways, though most tribals live in forests and hilly tracts.

Reviewing a number of educational programmes for tribals in institutes and schools in educationally backward blocks to fully residential Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas and ashramshalas, apart from fellowships for ST students, the report points to how the many tribal specific schemes run by the government are mostly poorly implemented, go un-monitored, and are often parallel and inadequate.

“Government schools teachers in Jharkhand or Odisha hardly bother to learn the local tribal language, even if they have been posted for years on end,” says Rajesh Tirkey a 24 year old studying in Magadh University. So in or order for an Adivasi to be educated, we are forced to forget our own language and pick up an alien one, be it English or Hindi.”

“Several Adivasi youngsters are doing extremely well in vocational and other courses. Education is to broaden one’s mind,” says a Patna boy who's an advertising professional currently in Australia, “but one cannot be insular forever.”

The Right to Education Act also states that as far as possible the language of instruction at the primary school stage should be in the mother-tongue. It is imperative that schools in Adivasi areas should have primary school teachers conversant in Ho, Munda, Santhali, Oraon, Sadri, and other tribal languages. But when will this be implemented? That’s a question that needs to be addressed if our Education System is to have any real relevance for Tribals.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Inner Voices and Autobiographies!

You know what? I think I'm gonna listen to my inner voice and avoid autobiographies ( penned by Indian politicians) like the Ebola virus!

Well, well, well...  this person called Natwar Singh, a so-called Nehru Gandhi 'loyalist', hung up his boots and then dashed off an 'autobiography', which he uses to hit back at Sonia Gandhi for not saving his skin in the wake of the Volkar report on the oil-for-food scam.

Sonia G, he says declined the Prime Ministerial Chair way back in the UPA one day because Rahul Gandhi, her son urged her not to become prime minister or she would in all likelihood be assassinated. It had nothing to do with any 'inner voice' that dictated a moral high road, the man says. It was self-interest, pure and simple.

Washing dirty linen, you may call it. And of course, I for one would expect the BJP and its spin doctors to throw some mud into  the washing machine, and they did , hogging media space and time on a non-issue.

Mrs G is nobody's fool. She didn't need Rahul's advice anyway. After the results were announced and Sonia Gandhi's party having the most seats at the time, would anyway be asked to form the government, and that got a number of 'nationalists' riled. Sushma Swaraj threatened to do a Sinead O'Connor. Purno Sangma and others clearly didn't want a foreign born prime minister and so on. It made brilliant political sense for Mrs G not to step into that particular hornet's nest. And in a brilliant move, she gave India its first Sikh Prime Minister. No doubt she listened to her 'inner voice', which astutely told her that if she wanted the Congress to remain in charge of the rather unwieldy coalition, she needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Which she did, brilliantly!

Natwar Singh - he's credibility challenged!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Hamasculation of Gaza

The Gaza conflict continues. More missiles. More Destruction. The death toll has crossed four hundred and counting.  When will the guns fall silent?  How many deaths will it take for Israel and Hamas to know that too many people have died?

This is barbaric, and the Hamas game-plan seems to be to instigate even more Israeli reprisals so that the death toll on the Palestinian side mounts so much that the international community will finally have no other option but to step in and stop Israel.

Doesn't the killing of hundreds of defenceless men, women, boys, and girls add up to a 'war crime?'

And the answers, my friend,  keep blowing in the wind.

The answers are blowing in the wind.