Pune: Speaking at the first Nomadic Tribes (NT) and Vimukt Jati and Nomadic Tribes Youth Conference, activist Samata Mane said that the budgetary allocation for the issues of the NT-VJNT communities is categorised under the ‘Miscellaneous Expenditures’ section, which reflects the tendency of the government towards these tribes. The conference was held to bring the youth of these communities together to discuss their issues.
The NT-VJNT are some of the most marginalised sections of Indian society. Low ratios of land ownership, a traditionally nomadic lifestyle has not only created a problem with data gathering and identity registration of the members of the community, but also rampant poverty, malnutrition and superstitions.
“When Ashram schools were started for the children of these communities, children who were given Jowar rotis used to collect them and hide them somewhere, thinking that they won’t get another piece of bread the next day. This lesson from begging in villages was broken by the ashram schools and they were given self respect,” Mane said, adding, “But whenever Ashram schools are mentioned, only corruption and stigmas are discussed, but no one discusses two schools in Bhandara getting an ISO certification.”
Mane said that there is a perception problem with these communities. “There is no research data, community information available if one wants to understand the situation of these tribes. Even the budget, which is alotted for the welfare of these tribes comes from the ‘Miscellaneous’ section. Scheduled caste students get almost Rs 5,000 per month as an allowance, while NT-VJNT ashram schools are given only Rs 900,” Mane said, adding, “By such ignorance and stigma, they are prevented from coming in the mainstream.”
Other speakers at the conference included activists like Sushma Andhare, who underlined the importance of assertion of rights, while Vivek Tamchekar, Priyanka Bhat and others narrated the harrowing experience of carrying out campaigns and fighting against practices like the virginity test of the bride in the Kanjarbhat community. Subhash Ware, trustee of SM Joshi foundation too guided the conference.