Gumla, Jharkhand Welcomes the Fifth Edition of Regional Samvaad 2019
Enthused and encouraged by the last four editions of Regional Samvaad this year, the fifth round was organised at Gumla, Jharkhand. The effort was aimed at deep-diving into the stories of the tribal community in and around this area, in partnership with Social Action for Rural and Urban Development Society (SARUDS). The one-and-a-half-day conclave was attended by 223 participants from 16 tribes across 18 districts who had come together to express the challenges they faced, the fears they conquered, the mirth they shared and the culture they lived by.
The session was inaugurated by one representative from each of the 16 tribes who planted and watered a sapling. This was followed by an address by Mr. Jiren Topno, Head, Tribal Cultural Society, CSR, Tata Steel. The conclave explored the challenges that the tribal community faces, initially through two questions: what they were proud of as a tribal person and what remained a cause of sadness or worry for them. The issues that emerged, were along the lines of lack of education that can assure employability, alcohol addiction, deforestation and a lack of livelihood options. At the same time, the attendees celebrated the community’s love for nature and deep connection to their culture.
As the sessions progressed, people participated by adding influencing factors like an overpowering presence of superstitions, lack of quality education and migration. Contrasting perspectives came to light as the young and the old scrutinised the issues and repercussions via different vantage points.
With education coming up as one of the most prominent concerns, solutions for the same were also proposed by participants who have successfully overcome the issue through innovative models in their own villages. The concept of night schools, counselling of parents, increasing the network to expand their reach including bringing in experts from different fields to encourage interest driven career choices came to the forefront. An attempt by many from different villages, was seen, to not just address the theme of education in isolation but also engage with the parents and scrutinise the amount of quality time that the children spent with their own families.
Mr Rejan Guria, of the active community voices at Khunti, Jharkhand, when speaking of the issues that currently pose existential questions to the tribal community said: “These challenges are the tip of the iceberg. We need to deep-dive. Our progress will only be definite if we make foundational adjustments to our lives. It is imperative that we take time out to build interpersonal relationships among family members vis-a-vis the evolving surroundings.”
Mr. Sourav Roy, Chief of CSR, Tata Steel said: “The Jharkhand edition of regional Samvaad has been interesting for several reasons. We got to be an intrinsic part of varying perspectives that were reflective of the issues here. The energy with which we are greeted each time restores our faith in the power of the community that endeavours to bring in change. It is because of our communities that a platform like Samvaad is able to explore challenges and celebrate their uniqueness.”
Samvaad is structured to reach out far and wide through its regional editions; it culminates with an all-India conclave mid-November. In its sixth year in 2019, this signature programme of Tata Steel’s CSR has emerged as a bold, one-of-a-kind platform for cross-pollination of ideas and assertion of tribalism as a sustainable development principle. Each year new innovative paradigms from the grassroots emerge and are shared within the community for further replication in other areas, battling the same issues.
Since then, engaging sessions have been hosted across Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh in partnership with reputed institutes. This year, it is touching Coorg (Karnataka), Kalahandi (Odisha), Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh),Gadchiroli (Maharashtra), Gumla (Jharkhand) and moving to Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) to host its sixth regional edition this year.