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Who Are The Adivasis?

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By Venkata Siva Naidu N:

How much do we really know about the Adivasis in India? Do we need to know about them? What role do they play in helping the country flourish? Do they add to the diversity of the nation? Constituting more than 8% of the population, Adivasis in India and their successes and issues are usually under reported, portrayed in stereotypes and neglected. We want to change this narrative, or at least attempt to do so.

India has a rich history of flourishing civilizations, empires, and rulers. The sub-continent of India has witnessed wonderful eras under different empires. This resulted in cross-cultural exchange among people. Through all of this, there are groups of people that are living in this country who migrated here during the time of early inhabitation. They are called Adivasis. Adivasis have been living in India from as early as 2000 BCE. The word ‘Adivasi’ is derived from Sanskrit and means ‘the earliest inhabitants’. Adivasi is the word coined to represent indigenous people of India, is widely used in India and Bangladesh. Experts say that Adivasis arrived in Indian sub-continent region during the great human migration from Africa. At present, they are spread over the Indian sub-continent: India, Nepal, Bangladesh and in the Andaman Islands. Nearly 90% of Adivasi people in this region live in rural areas.

Majority of them live close to nature – in mountains, forests and hilly areas. The occupation of Adivasis varies from working in farms, fishing, and collection of forest produce. Most of them depend on forests for their livelihood and less than 10% of them depend on hunting and gathering for the necessities. In rural areas, Adivasis work as daily wage labor and few of them involve in jobs and services. Adivasis are often called as the guardians of the forests.

The government of India has coined a constitutional term for Adivasis – Scheduled Tribes (ST). According to Article 342 of the Constitution of India, there are over 700 scheduled tribes in India and as per the 2011 census report of India, there are around 104 million indigenous people in India. Adivasis comprise 8.6% of the total population of the country. 

Who Are Adivasis? | #KnowTheAdivasis

Who really are Adivasis? Where do they live in India? What do they do?When schools don't tell us about Adivasis, when people around us don't speak about them, it's obvious that we don't have the answers to these questions. Let's change that, shall we? Watch the video to educate yourself about the indigenous people of India, and SHARE it so others can do the same!#KnowTheAdivasis #AdivasiLivesMatterA campaign in association with Youth Ki AwaazShare your views, thoughts, and experiences on https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/adivasilivesmatter/Adivasi Resurgence Ayush | adivasi yuva shakti Adivasi Voice Adivasi's – The Aborigines of India Survival International Truly Tribal Cultural Survival Feminism in India Amnesty International Adivasi Ekta Parishad Ekta Parishad India Resists Oxfam India Conservation International Jai Adivasi The Rising Adivasi

Posted by Adivasi Lives Matter on Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Central Indigenous Belt in India stretches from West Bengal in the east to Gujarat in the west. This area includes states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. Majority of the indigenous population live in this region.

Odisha has the highest number of Adivasi communities, with 62 tribes living there. There are about 75 small Adivasi communities in India called the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG); these include communities like the Jarawa, Chenchu, Korwa, Lodha and Bonda.

Approximately 480 languages are spoken by indigenous and nomadic people in India. According to a UNESCO report, 42 of these languages are critically endangered and are on the verge of extinction.

Adivasis in India have consistently contributed to the diverse culture of the country. They are experts in wildlife and nature conservation, have knowledge of various sustainable agriculture and living practices, ethno-medicine and have a rich culture of stories, literature, art and dance forms.

It’s time we change our perceptions about Adivasis from myth to reality. The campaign #KnowTheAdivasis is an attempt to make that happen. Follow along for more facts and myth busters about Adivasis!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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