At 6 Narayani is the 1st tribal leader of India

The first time sixty-year-old community leader Narayani Nanu Kolpara walked into a government office, her hands shook.

The first time sixty-year-old community leader Narayani Nanu Kolpara walked into a government office, her hands shook.

Traditionally marginalized tribal communities in Southern India continue to fight discrimination – and wide-spread alcoholism. Despite this, Kerala’s first female tribal leader, Narayani Nanu Kolpara, remains hopeful.

The first time sixty-year-old community leader Narayani Nanu Kolpara walked into a government office, her hands shook.

“I was terrified,” Narayani smiles. “There were so many rooms and so many people.”

…Narayani recalls that she was hardly able to sign the document a government official handed her. The color of her neat white sari and its red trim mark her out as a member of the Katunayaka, one of the many tribes of Southern India.

….Narayani, who grew up in a remote tribal community in the forest in Kerala’s mountainous Wayanad district, has also enjoyed a degree of political success. Her parents were day laborers, occasionally working for the local landowner. They would often venture into the forest to find roots, honey and wild fruits. “We were very poor,” she recalls. There was no school and no health facilities. There was not even a road to the next town.

….Instead, she attended another training course and learnt to read and write. She was put in charge of distributing government-subsidized rice and in 1989 was elected leader of the small community of some 30 families, followed as a stint in the panchayat, the smallest administrative unit in India. It made Narayani the first tribal leader in both her community and the region.

….Narayani spent her first months as tribal leader knocking on people’s doors, drinking their tea and persuading the community that they needed a school. With their consent, she went back to the government office to ask for the permission to build a kindergarten.

….The school, a tiny one-room hut, is surrounded by lush-banana leaves, built and maintained by the community with the support of a local NGO. Only the teacher’s salary is provided by the government. Children sit on colorful plastic chairs under bright posters of the Malayalam alphabet, eating their midday meal of rice and daal.

….and Narayani needs to take some documents to the government office there. She waves a last goodbye with her umbrella, then marches off, purposefully, towards the next village and her bus stop.

Author: Naomi Conrad, Kerala, Editor: Richard Connor

Read the full article in DWSouthern India’s ‘tribals’ take future into their own hands

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Rent-A-Saree: It happens only in India

Gramshree introduces first-of-its-kind saree library that loans

expensive silk and heavily embroidered

Poor women can borrow these sarees not just for weddings but also birthday parties and other special occasions. Gramshree plans to collect 1,00 sarees to set up five libraries across Ahmedabad

Poor women can borrow these sarees not just for weddings but also birthday parties and other special occasions. Gramshree plans to collect 1,00 sarees to set up five libraries across Ahmedabad

Until recently, Pinku Makwana thought her childhood dream of wearing nine yards of Patola silk fabric to a social function would never materialise.

For the domestic help from Ranip in Ahmedabad, keeping a single piece of Patola sari in her wardrobe would have triggered quite a malfunction in her budget.

These saris, which display one of the world’s most complex weaving techniques, come with price tags of between Rs. 5,000 (for a plain Jane) and a deep hole in your pocket (for the intricate variety of golden brocades).

But she did make her sister-in-law burn with envy when she went to a family get-together dressed in a gorgeous Patola – courtesy of a non-government organisation that has started a rent-a-sari service.

Pinku’s dream got fulfilled for a mere Rs. 5 and the expensive sari will be hers for a week.

Of course, she has to foot the dry cleaner‘s bill before returning. But a real small price to pay. Vandana Agarwal from Gramshree in Ahmedabad started this venture after she heard many women workers in the NGO often complaining about their fate – that is wearing the same sari to all social functions.

“Most of the women working with us belong to the low-income group. They can’t afford to buy or keep more than one good sari for social occasions. They would often brood about this fact,” Vandana said.

This led Vandana to open a “sari library”. “The idea is simple. All one needs is a guarantor and Rs.5 to pick up a sari of her choice for a week,” she said.

Vandana has two “libraries” running simultaneously with roaring success in Ahmedabad – one in the Ranip area and the other in Chandlodia. Both localities were primarily inhabited by people of low-income groups.

Proposal for a third one has been on the anvil.

“We have a range of expensive saris such as the Gujarati Patolas, the South Indian Kanjivarams and other silk. Our clientele can’t afford to buy them. At present, we have more than 200 such saris, mostly collected through donations. More are pouring in,” she said.

For the donors, the idea was appealing. “I have collected so many expensive saris over the years and many of them were idling away in my cupboard,” homemaker Hetal Patel said.

“When I realised that my sari could bring so much joy to someone, I just couldn’t resist myself,” she added.

“Thanks to Vandana didi, I can wear good saris just like women from high society,” Pinku said. (courtesy: D. P. BHATTACHARYA & mailonlineindia)

Mamata gags the Dodhichi newsletter

Now, it is the turn of the alternative media in West Bengal to be at the receiving end of governmental intolerance. There is a clampdown on a unique mobile alert service in Kolkata, writes RANJIT SUR in The HOOT.

The Mamata Banerjee Government in West Bengal is trying its best to gag the language media. It is not news anymore. To some extent she is exposed in this regard, and people are protesting against such a move. But gagging a small but very important alternative media centre remained out of sight of the people. It is mainly because the big press or the corporate media have not shown any interest over it. Moreover, most of the media persons even do not understand what alternative media could be. So the news of gagging of  the Dodhichi Newsletter did not find any place in any major publication in Kolkata, in print or on TV media, barring a line or two in a couple of news media.

What is the Dodhichi Newsletter? According to its director, Dr Shyamal Roy, “Dodhichi Newsletter is a Kolkata-based cellphone text messaging service disseminating information, news, and views not appearing in the mainstream media.” It is in operation running since 2010. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Government of India, Dr Ray said: “ Our service provides a platform to hundreds of freelance news-gatherers, social and cultural activists, and NGOs and reaches out to a select list of thousands of message receivers, among them MPS, MLAs, Ministers, political leaders as well as eminent personalities in various fields.“
This writer himself is a message receiver and sender listed with Dodhichi. It’s a unique service, at least in Kolkata. There is no other service of this kind here. During the last two and a quarter years it has provided wonderful service to all the mass organisations and their activists.
Whenever an organisation calls for a demonstration or rally, or any State crackdown occurs on any mass organisation, a single text message (SMS) sent to Dodhichi was enough to inform and mobilise all the activists. Through the Dodhichi mobile newsletter the SMS containing the information reached hundreds of interested persons within seconds. Within a short time, the activists could decide on their duty or they could assemble at the place of demonstration or at the site of the happenings.
During the last months of Budhadeb Bhattacharjee government Mamata Banerjee got the benefit of this service, as it was the time of anti- government and anti-establishment mass movements.
(Read the full article in The Hoot: Dodhichi Newsletter

Useless Vatican missionaries in India

Jorge Monteiro from Mumbai writes in Goa’s only newsletter  Goanet subscribed by around 50,000 Goans worldwide:

The strongest opposition to birth control & population control in the world is from the Pope/Vatican as though planet earth has unlimited resources to satisfy the wants and needs of everyone???? If  Pope/Vatican love more human beings then they should be kind enough to allow 1 Lakh slum dwellers from Bombay to permanently settle wherever there are open spaces in Vatican city! And also instruct the catholic missionaries caritas catholic relief services in India to utilize their foreign funds to hire passenger ships to transfer the 1 Lakh Slum dwellers from Bombay to Vatican city..

The Pope/Vatican should also be kind enough to persuade the governments of USA, UK, EUROPE, AUSTRALIA and NEWZEALAND to allow 500 million people from India to permanently settle in Western Countries without any passport visa travel documents.

Majority of the white people in Europe have abandoned Catholicism due to which even on Sundays the churches in Europe are almost empty; instead of bothering about religious conversion activities in Asia &
Africa the Pope/Vatican should be more concerned with reviving Catholicism in their own backyard.

All Jains in India have Hindu names. All Jains apart from worshipping (Lord) Mahavira also worship Hindu Gods especially Ganpati, Laxmi, Krishna & Durga. Many office bearers & activists of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) are from the Jain community even the International General Secretary of VHP
Dr. Pravin Togadia is a Jain. Many Jain diamond merchants, traders, shopkeepers, builders, Corporates, industrialists donate money to the VHP. VHP has been aggressively involved in anti-muslin &
anti-christian activities all over India for more than 20 years. The cash rich VHP also transfers funds to RSS & Bajrang Dal. Fortunately for the Jain community the Indian news media does not report on the association of the Jain community with the VHP.

The only reason why the rss-vhp- bajrangdal- shivsena stopped bothering Muslims is because many Muslim groups &  youth are associated underworld,etc with the help of Pakistan Army & ISI began retaliating with bombs.

Excluding Goa , Kerala and Nagaland, Christians in all other states in India are under a PERMANENT THREAT from Right Wing Hindu groups & Slumlords & fascist groups & land mafia & hired goons of politicians & some pro-rssvhpbajrangdal hindu ias/ips officers & builders mafia. And are also
finding it extremely difficult to get Central/State Government jobs, govt. housing & other govt. facilities. And finding it difficulty in getting civic facilities. And finding it difficult in preventing the state
machinery from taking away their ancestral agricultural lands. And in the private sector where most of the Christians work they are humiliated & tormented by their Hindu co-workers. But then what is the point in complaining when The command to endure suffering is just another part of a Christian’s life?? Faithful Christians of all ages have suffered; we are not the only ones??We should expect more sufferings to come because we are living in a country where the majority Hindu community is hostile to
Christians.The only sad part is most of the Christian Clergy in India are pre-occupied with misusing church funds, illegally selling away vacant church properties & siphoning off the money, preventing children of poor Christians from getting admission in Christian schools AND most of the Christian missionaries in India are pre-occupied with utilizing their foreign funds to serve poor non-Christians. The Christian clergy & missionaries are turning a blind eye to the plight of poor Christians.

The membership to the Roman Catholic Church in Bombay is good for those who want to live a non-combative non-aggressive non-ambitious unhealthy unhygienic  lazy dormant alcoholic ‘susegaad’ (laidback) politically-inactive & a poor life;  improving the health wealth housing of the catholic community in Bombay is not the priority of the catholic clergy in Bombay. In Bombay Christians
need a different type of church & priests whose mission should be of improving the health wealth housing of Christian parishioners.

Govt. of India can stop the growth of population by strictly enforcing two child policy all over India, abolish polygamy, increase the legal marriageable age from 18/21 years to 25 years. Various NGOs and Govt. depts. have reported that by 2030 India will become the most populated country in the world so expect all these problems to multiply manifold : lack of peace, lack of education, lack of jobs or other employment, lack of hygiene, lack of sanitation medicines and health care, lack of transport, food shortage, water shortage, land shortage, growth of slums, inflation, poverty, anger, fights, beating, shouting, quarrels, crying, breaking of things, arson, rioting, communal disharmony, forced begging, forced labor, committing variety of crimes, various nefarious activities like smuggling, settling personal feuds or in creating trouble during elections, mob mentality and damage and burning of public and private property. “j.m.” <jorgepmntr@gmail.com>

India’s Young Social Reformer: Mittal Patel

Mittal Patel: A journalist and a social reformer.

More than four million nomads reside in Gujarat and approximately 60 million exist in the country. It was shocking to find there was no data or information available on them even in the government departments. Though the government is aware of certain communities, to avail of the benefits, people are supposed to submit a number of documents. These, unfortunately, they did not possess. The benefits, therefore, reached them in a very limited way. We are now working for 40 nomadic and de-notified tribes in eight districts of Gujarat. 

says, Mittal Patel, a young gold medallist in journalism from Gujarat University, has been trying to give a voice to nomadic tribes for the last six years.

Running an NGO, Vicharata Samuday Samarthan Manch, Patel has aided thousands with fading livelihoods, whose existence was hardly recognised or acknowledged by the state or the central government.

Nomads earlier provided services such as sharpening knives and weapons, repairing tools and supplied a variety of goods including ornaments, perfumes and medicinal herbs. During the days of princely states, they accompanied a king’s convoy to help them repair their carts. But due to industrialisation, traditional occupations became non-existent for them.

Mittal has been striving to find alternative employment for men and women and is working towards providing educational facilities for the children. She has been instrumental in helping them claim land rights, getting voter ID cards and fighting with bureaucrats to extend welfare schemes for them.

Click to Read the full interview taken by Nilima Pathak for the Gulf News