By Jyotsna Hans:
Amongst all the angst in our daily lives, the people of Jamshedpur have been joyous and thrilled to enjoy tribal cuisines, art and dances that took place at Gopal Maidan, Jamshedpur, as a part of Samvaad. Samvaad- A tribal conclave was organised by TATA Steel from 15-19 November 2019 and is the single largest platform backed by any corporate house. It is a platform for which draws 1200 tribal artisans, scholars, thinkers, development practitioners and experts annually.
This year, Samvaad commemorates the 144th birth anniversary of tribal freedom fighter and reformer Birsa Munda and Jharkhand’s 19th statehood day on 15th November 2019. As Samvaad seeks to revive, preserve and promote tribal culture, this year’s theme of “Tribalism Today” carefully captured the tribalism and 21st century in an umbrella.
According to Avenue Mail, the theme recognises that the world today is changing at an unprecedented pace, which is raising complex questions, redefining success and eliciting complicated societal responses from across the world. However, there is a limited understanding of what all of this means for tribal communities, as well as an openness to seek answers to some of these dilemmas, which may actually rest with our tribes. The theme also took centre-stage at all Regional Editions of Samvaad, which is to be held in six locations of Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Maharashtra.
The conclave was endorsed by more than 800 tribal men and women from 103 tribes across 18 states. As a part of Samvaad, Tata Steel’s corporate social responsibility division has helped these artisans with the paperwork to list themselves as sellers on the e-commerce platforms like Flipkart; whose own initiative Samarth aims at bringing traditional artisans, weavers, handicrafts to e-commerce.
Gopal Maidan came alive with the beats of the famous folk band of Karnataka, Swaratma, who performed with 60 different types of instruments by 90 artists, from 16 states, on the second day of the event. Different tribal communities, like the Rambha of Assam, Ho from Jharkhand, Oraon, Pahari, Munda, Santal, Bodo from Manipur, Pokharia from Odisha and people from Praja community made a presentation together that everyone enthusiastically danced along with.
Performances by the Baiga tribe of Chhattisgarh, Angadi dance of tribals of Telangana, Karma dance of Madhya Pradesh, Mosaic dance of Tripura were also a part of this majestic event. YouTuber Tom Murmu performed with his team, infusing songs in regional languages with rap, a fusion everybody seemed to love.
Representatives of various states laid down their versions of development before everyone. District President of Betul, Madhya Pradesh, Ramcharan Edpati stated that the people of the village did not do modern farming, which forced them to reach moneylenders for their every small needs. Eighteen years ago, villages were taught how to save money and as of today, his organisation has gathered Rs 50 lakhs. This amount helps farmers without interest.
Radhelal Dhurve of Gondia district in Maharashtra made handicrafts a medium of employment. According to him, his community did not know the power of handicrafts. They created an organisation 20 years ago in the name of Shilp Gram, which currently has a turnover of millions every year. The organisation makes biscuits from Mahua flowers, mushrooms and medicines.
Navali Kumari of the Garcia community of Siroi village in Rajasthan became sarpanch of her village at the age of 21. Navali spoke on focusing on the needs and priorities of the village and prioritising education, water management, and greenery. She formed an organisation by mixing panch-sarpanches of various panchayats and abolished the social evil of child marriage, the practise of widows not attending matrimonial programs and ended the witch practice. Navali has also spoken about her initiative in Australia and Singapore.
When people don’t talk about something, nobody will know about it. This is true in every case, including when it comes to the upliftment of tribals. India is such a diverse country that many cultures are hidden and require to be brought into the limelight. Samvaad has succeeded in fulfilling the first part of the requirement; that is to provide a platform to tribalism, tribal artisans, performers and cuisine. Discussion on the matters of discrimination and development go together when we seek equality and balance in society. I hope Samvaad continues to encourage tribal arts and crafts and discussion around tribal culture with the same vigour in the years to come.
About the author: Jyotsna Hans is a content writer for Adivasi Lives Matter. She is pursuing her undergraduate degree in law. She is fond of good food, good reads and good places to travel. “Through my articles, I tend to bring all tribal goodness in the limelight,” she says.