Creative Gadchiroli: not just a land of disquiet
When a healthy person dies, you bury him/her and if a sick person dies, you cremate her. An eclectic practice like this is certainly not a sign of a so called backward and less developed community. We had noted this practice is come villages of Bastar as well. Why should a body having germs of a disease be buried if you respect the sacred mother earth? Conserving forest and tribal rights under Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 is a challenge. First time, two set of communities led by Devaji Tofa and Devaji Prada have succeed in getting the rights transferred to the tribal communities fully and completely. They now earn money by auctioning tendu patta and bamboo and get about Rs 7-8 crores for village self-development besides using other resources. What has been the impact of this decentralisation and devolution of constitutionally permitted financial and forest rights- a serious check on extremist violence. Further, in almost every village, we walked though during 44th Shodhyatra in Dhanora block, we found farm ponds having been constructed by communities from the income they got under the Act. Many of the ponds built last year had water proving that water can indeed be stored. Some of the villages in this region get cut off from the rest of the district due to excessive rain but the summer months have had water scarcity.
The people keep a joyful demeanour , no matter how hard is their life. The health services provide by SEARCH founded by Abhay and Rani Bang has had a very transformative effect on the health of the region. The maternal and infant mortality has been reduced drastically. But the strength o formal system of medicine has inadvertently also led to erosion of local herbal healing tradition. Rabi Bang had given us a book in which she had documented 150 practices in Marathi used by women during pregnancy and child delivery. This brings us to a continuing unfair and unethical exchange of knowledge and ideas between formal and informal sector of our society.
We had pooled in Hindi several studies done by professional based on the knowledge of Gondi tribal in this region and published elsewhere. But never shared with local communities. SRISTI and GIAN which worked together worked hard to make this shodhyatra possible propose to pool all such studies in share their summaries in Gondi language. GIAN also distributed vegetable seeds developed by farer breeders in different parts of the country for local experimentation.
Poster exhibition displayed in different villages in local languages besides video presentation in every village in the night (thanks to availability of good power supply) generate da lot of interest in trying some of the new ideas like Gopal Bhises cycle plough for weeding, Shakimathan’s pump for draining/irrigating paddy fields, tree climber, and a few other solutions.
We found a very creative use of seeds of garadi tree, calotropis flowers, neem seeds and a few other bitter plant leaves. After fermenting these in water for 15-20 days, extract was diluted and spayed in paddy field for pest control but only by a few farmers. Local farmers used different combinations of these ingredients. Numerous uses of mahuva flowers for health and nutraceutical purposes. We honoured and learned from many experimenters and innovators scouted by GIAN team before the shodhyatra.
There were numerous children innovators we met during this walk about whom I will share the insights next week. Two summer schools on inclusive innovations organised by GIAN for polytechnic students and SRISTI for degree college students concluded on June 20. There were several simple innovations designed by the students mentored by faculty from NID, MIT Boston, Indo-German tool room, Australian design schools, LD engg college, Gujarat Knowledge Consortium and SSIP hub which hosted us with excellent support, etc. Till next week then..