Thursday, February 24, 2011

An Appeal for An Upgrade

My recent visit to Durgapur and Shantiniketan was great. Met a lot of people, experienced their culture, shared urban legends and folklores. I felt people there are warm or would like to stay warm as there is a circle of dependency and everyone acknowledges and respect every co survivors.

During my travel I came across many visionaries, reformists, not political rebels but just commoners who are good people. Sharing their views about life and things around it was like sitting below the ‘bodhi’ tree and attaining enlightenment. I was going through the various profiles of these tribes and rural communities. Each have their own ways to survive as each carry their unique traditional skill sets.

Most communities in India are profiled on basis of the type of businesses, services or the trade that they involve. Customarily, Damais are tailors, Kamis are smiths, Sarkis are cobbler, Dhobis are washerman, Khumbaras are potters and so on...

This is about a particular set of people who live among us and are now fighting for the existence of their clan and culture.

‘Khumbaras’ are ethnic and indigenous community in India who are almost in the edge of extinction. A group of Khumbaras now live in Aruvakode , Nilambur, Kerala and are said to have migrated to these parts during the reign of Tipu Sultan. They are artisans by trade, men who make their crafts with sand and clay. Their way of life is ancient, one that has existed over civilizations. Courtesy

There is a relation here and that’s why I started with my travel to north east and swung all the way down to the south because I see a connection, to make a small change in things.

Most tea shops and in the trains in south India, as far as I have seen, uses ‘plastic cups’. As per the environmental act, it is against the constitutional guidelines and it must be maintained.

Now the request to the ministry of environment is to replace the plastic cups by these ‘matkas’ that I came across in tea shops in West Bengal. I am sure it is used elsewhere but I liked the idea of these 'matkas'… even if you thrown it on the ground it just goes back to its natural form and no harm.

But that is not the case with plastics cups. Its choking the environment and suffocates the living.

The Khumbaras should be given the opportunity to produce these ‘matkas’ at government subsidized procured materials. This way they can have a stable income to support their family. Children who are highly exploited to labor and house chores can go to school.

There will be a significant enhancement in the rural development through this project. There will be infrastructural developments , hospitals, colleges, better roads, quarters etc. The chain of good events will only lead to good results and we hope to bring the change soon.

There are social workers who are willing to volunteer in procuring, managing and monitor materials and production. The Khumbaras just need to sit back and do the best in what they do.

It is understood that the quantity of consumption is huge however, we can first start with government institutions, offices and government administered bodies. We can even begin this with the Southern Railways.

The government needs to understand that adding many such ‘Act’ to the constitution does not make the constitution meet the global standards unless the ‘Act’ is enforced and shown in results. The change has to start from there and they need to set examples.

Anyone can work towards this, no experience required but needs real dedication and clear intentions to help people in building a better world for them.

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