Arts & Culture Lite Blogs

Traditional, tribal and vintage art

Upcoming artists from across the country: Deval Ambani (Bombay), Tanushree Sarkar and Rukhen Rawla (Calcutta)..reports Asian Lite News

The Affordable Art show is back with its third edition with a whole lot more to offer. Starting April 21, the showcase will include contemporary, traditional, tribal and vintage art.

What makes this show true to its name and even more special this year is the special bargain on art by master artists like Souza and Jamini Roy. The show lends itself as a platform for not only upcoming and promising city artists but also supports artists from the tribal communities of India.

Date: April 21 – 30

Time: Everyday 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., except Mondays

Venue: Method Kalagodha

Shop at:

The artist line up includes:

CONTEMPORARY: Gautam Bhatia, Sasha Sykes, Alberto Palini, Banoo Batliboi

Upcoming artists from across the country: Deval Ambani (Bombay), Tanushree Sarkar and Rukhen Rawla (Calcutta)

TRADITIONAL: Venkat Shyam (Gond) and Mahalakshmi (Mithila) doing a contemporary take on traditional styles

TRIBAL: Suresh Hegade (Warli), Lado Bai (Bhil), Jiyo (sourai)

VINTAGE: special curation of vintage pieces by The Blue Trunk and Beg Borrow Steal.

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India News

Odisha tribals fight against malnutrition

The district has over 53 per cent tribal population, which is among the top communities that report higher incidences of malnutrition in the state…writes Naba Kishor Pujari

Lima Majhi, 35, proudly surveys her 300 square feet kitchen garden at Sushabhata village in Kandhamal, Odisha. The green patch has 14 varieties of fruits and vegetables such as bitter gourd, beetroot, cucumber, pumpkin, drumstick, tomato, coriander, radish, pointed gourd, brinjal, and chilly.

“I have also planted guava, banana, and papaya trees. It not only gives us more nutrition but we also save money on vegetables,” said Majhi, who belongs to the Kondh tribe.

Many villagers like Majhi in Tumudibandha block were unaware of the nutritional value of fruits and green vegetables. They ate their staple of rice often without any green accompaniment. The hilly terrain of Kandhamal has a good number of drumstick trees, but the tribals did not know that its leaves and fruit can be cooked.

Majhi started planting vegetables and fruits in 2017 after volunteers of Jeebika Suraksha Mancha, a people’s collective working in Kandhamal, educated the villagers about the health benefits of eating green vegetables and fruits and the importance of building a kitchen garden. The nutritional kitchen garden initiative, with the additional support of Noida-based NGO, Atmashakti Trust, is helping rural communities in 267 villages under Kotagada and Tumudibandha blocks of Kandhamal district grow vegetables at home. Until now, they have assisted over 2,120 kitchen gardens take root, each growing around 13 to 17 varieties of vegetables.

Rashmita Patmajhi, 30, weighed only 45 kg two years ago. With a poor haemoglobin count, she used to feel tired all the time. “I built a kitchen garden and also started eating fruits and vegetables. I weigh 49 kgs now and now I know the importance of a nutritious diet.”

In Kandhamal, at least, this knowledge is critical.

The official statistics of the Odisha government in 2018 listed about 3,500 malnutrition deaths in Kandhamal in the past five years. The district has over 53 per cent tribal population, which is among the top communities that report higher incidences of malnutrition in the state.

“Undernutrition is more prevalent among tribals in comparison to other communities. In Odisha, where 37.26 per cent of its population is deprived of nutritious food, there is a stronger need for building kitchen gardens, which will go a long way to secure nutritional status for their families,” added Sameet Panda, convener of Odisha chapter of Right to Food Campaign.

Supplementing support

“Malnutrition is more than lack of food, and tribals are traditionally agrarian communities who grow vegetables and fruits. So, there is no visible hunger among these communities,” said Ruchi Kashyap, Executive Trustee at Atmashakti Trust. “But, they do not know what a varied diet is and what fruits and vegetables will meet their nutritional needs. So, we used a behavioural change communication approach to overcome this challenge. We helped communities know food diversity, the technique to grow a kitchen garden, and avail of government schemes such as Mo Upakari Bagicha, Millets Mission, and Iron Plus Initiative to make this effort sustainable and beneficial,” she said.

The state government too has recognised and supported these kitchen gardens over the years. In 2018, Odisha Livelihoods Mission (OLM), in partnership with Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI), implemented a nutrition project called ‘Mo Upakari Bagicha’ to spread the knowledge of nutritional outcomes from dietary diversity by promoting kitchen gardens in rural households across the state.

In June 2020, OLM converged with MGNREGA to scale up nutritional kitchen gardens in all 314 blocks with an additional budgetary allocation of Rs 500 crore from the Odisha government. The aim was to reach 5 lakh households in the financial year 2020-21 with a focus on Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Below Poverty Level (BPL) households, beneficiaries of rural housing, and small and marginal farmers.

Santosh Kumar Rath, District Project Manager of OLM in Kandhamal said in an effort to reduce undernutrition among children, women of reproductive age groups and adolescent girls, “in the last financial year, we have helped over 24,000 families build kitchen gardens in Kandhamal”.

And there has been some progress in this tribal hinterland which has recorded a significant improvement in malnutrition over recent years.

According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-21, stunting in Kandhamal has decreased significantly from 38.4 per cent to 34.2 per cent in NFHS-4 (2015-2016); the percentage of underweight children has reduced from 43.1 per cent to 35.40 per cent, and there has been a marginal improvement in the figures on wasting disease but these figures are all still below the state average.

Delinking nutrition and poverty

Odisha is also rated among the top 10 states with a substantial share of the population living in poverty as per the report of NITI Aayog’s National Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) 2021. One in every two people (44.75 per cent) in Kandhamal is below the poverty line.

“Nutritional kitchen gardens can play the role of inflation insulation for them as vegetable prices remain high all through the year,” said Panda.

Kitchen gardens are vital to cater to the villagers’ nutritional needs by providing access to food that is harvested, prepared, and consumed by family members.

Sindhimai Patmajhi, 55, from Badjal village under Jubaguda Gram Panchayat in Kotagarh block, grows papaya, drumstick, banana, lemon, radish, guava, carrot, pineapple, brinjal, beans, cucurbit, cabbage, cauliflower, and beet nutritional kitchen garden. She said her frequent visits to the hospital have reduced drastically in the past two years after eating vegetables every day.

“The members of Jeebika Suraksha Manch explained to us the nutritional value of each fruit and vegetable. They asked us to grow vegetables and fruits so that we readily get the required nutrition in our food,” she said.

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Africa News Arab News

Clashes among tribal groups in Kirainik renew

The armed clashes among tribal groups in the Kirainik area in Sudan’s west Darfur state renewed, according to local authorities…reports Asian Lite News

No official reports on the casualties were released, but informed sources said at least 15 people have been killed, dozens wounded, and hundreds of houses burned in the recent clashes that started on Friday.

This is the third time in two years that tribal conflict broke out in the Kirainik area, nearly 80-km east of El Geneina, the capital city of west Darfur state, Xinhua news agency reported.

“Kirainik was attacked from all directions. The situation inside the area is very difficult,” Mohamed Zakaria, Acting Secretary-General of west Darfur state government, said in a statement.

The clashes reportedly erupted after two herdsmen were killed on Friday by an unknown assailant, leading to a revenge attack by the victims’ families in the area, according to the Darfur Bar Association.

The latest conflict has displaced nearly 20,000 residents in the area, the association said.

On Saturday, the Sudanese authorities sent military forces and warplanes to resolve the conflict.

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The Sudanese resistance committees, an opposition group in the country, said in a statement on Sunday that gatherings and movements of militias were still seen around Kirainik, adding, “the repeated violations reflect the government’s failure to perform its duties toward the citizens”.

Governor of the Darfur region, Minni Arko Minnawi stressed on his Facebook account the need for the regular forces to perform their duties in maintaining security and stability in Darfur.

For years, efforts have failed to end the tribal conflicts in Darfur, which have become a nagging concern for the people and authorities of the troubled region.

Sudan has been suffering a political crisis after the General Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan declared a state of emergency on October 25, 2021, and dissolved the Sovereign Council and the government.


FATA’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa hinders development

Tribal people who have been relocated in the area complain of delay in hearing of property cases and high expenses…reports Asian Lite News

On May 21, 2018, Pakistan made Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) under the 25th Amendment to reform tribal areas and to bring it within constitutional jurisdiction, but rather than solving the problem, it has become an obstacle in the way of development.

Rifatullah Orakzai, writing in Friday Times of Naya Daur said that despite being mainstreamed under the Pakistani constitution, former FATA remains marred by lawlessness. The vacuum used by terror outfits is still volatile, with the locals being troubled by draconian policies.

Tribal people who have been relocated in the area complain of delay in hearing of property cases and high expenses. Sahibzada Bahauddin, a local journalist from Bajaur tribal district, can’t help but juxtapose the systems pre- and post-FATA’s merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The jirga system was better: money was spent in it too but at least justice was provided immediately,” Bahauddin told Naya Daur Media.

He said the promises made by the government to the tribal people have not been fulfilled, and hence the locals are disappointed. He insists many locals think they have been hard done by and also reiterate that the previous system was cheaper and quicker.

“We used to think that the abolition of the Frontier Crimes Regulations or FCR would solve most of the problems of the people in the former tribal areas, but that did not happen. In fact, so many new issues have been created, and one can’t see any solution to them,” he added.

The FCR, introduced in 1901 by the British, has commonly been referred to as the Black Law. In the former tribal areas, the whole system was run under this law and the convicts had no right of appeal in the high courts. One clause of this law could have bound the whole tribe for many years under territorial responsibility, reported Naya Daur.

“People had high hopes regarding the integration of FATA. The government’s narrative implied that the merger would lead to canals of milk and honey flowing in the merged areas. It was all a sweet deception,” added Bahauddin.

No ledgers are kept of the property in the merged districts. Locals have started to bring years-old disputes before the local courts, which has further aggravated territorial issues.

“A mechanism should have been set up to provide relief but there is no such thing on the ground which shows frustration on all sides,” he maintained.

Moreover, the religious parties Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and Mahmood Khan Achakzai’s Sat Jamaat-e-Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party not only opposed FATA’s integration but also voted against the constitutional amendment on the floor of Parliament. Both the opposition parties had demanded that FATA’s special status not be revoked.

Member National Assembly Mufti Abdul Shakoor, belonging to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the local tribal system had been prevalent in the tribal agencies for almost two decades, under which not only all the tribes were free and independent but it was also, prior to the partition, accepted by the British Raj, said Orakzai.

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“In the tribal system all decisions were taken in accordance with local customs and practices which provided immediate and timely justice to the people. These decisions, it is noteworthy, were also gladly accepted by all parties involved,” he added.

Meanwhile, due to the new problems faced by the merger, tribal elders of FATA in Pakistan are seeking reversal of the decision, saying that it was done without people’s consent. (ANI)

India News Obituary

Tribal rights activist Stan Swamy dies awaiting bail

He added that early on Saturday, the 84-year-old activist — hailing from Trichy in Tamil Nadu — had suffered a cardiac arrest and could not be revived…reports Asian Lite News.

Ailing octogenarian tribal rights activist Fr. Stan Lourduswamy — an arrested-accused in the sensitive Bhima-Koregoan case and awaiting bail on medical grounds — passed away here on Monday afternoon, officials said.

Swamy’s Senior Advocate Mihir Desai brought to the notice of the Bombay High Court judges Justice S. S. Shinde and Justice N. J. Jamdar of the development when his bail plea came up for hearing this afternoon.

“Its with a very heavy heart I have to inform you that Fr. Stan Swamy has passed away,” said Dr. Stanislaus D’Souza, the doctor treating him at a private hospital informed the court.

He added that early on Saturday, the 84-year-old activist — hailing from Trichy in Tamil Nadu — had suffered a cardiac arrest and could not be revived.

Shortly afterwards, the Jesuit Provincial of India said in a statement this afternoon: “With a deep sense of pain, anguish and hope, we have surrendered Fr. Stan Swamy, 84, to his eternal abode.”

Stan Swamy(IANS)

It said that ‘the author of life’, Fr. Swamy, whose mission was to work among the Adivasis, Dalits, and other marginalized communities so that the poor may have life and live to the full, with dignity and honour.

“On behalf of the Jesuits of India, especially the Jesuits of Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, I express my deepest condolence to the family members, friends, lawyers, well-wishers, and all those who stood by Fr. Stan and prayed for him during this moment of trial and suffering,” said the statement.

Fr. Swamy was arrested in October 2020 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with his alleged role in the January 1, 2018 Koregaon-Bhima caste violence in Pune, and related issues which rocked the state and national politics.

Opposition parties and other leaders called out the “inhuman treatment” meted out to the activist after being arrested on charges of an anti-terror law. The octogenarian had been on ventilator support since Sunday, when his health conditions worsened and was being treated at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai following the court order of May 28.

Rights activist Shabnam Hashmi called Stan Swamy’s death “custodial murder” and said that the government has to be held accountable. “#StanSwamy passes away. Fr. Stan Swamy passes away as undertrial in state custody under fake charges under UAPA, NIA, sedition. This is not death, this is custodial murder. Government has to be held accountable,” she tweeted.

RTI activist and anti-graft crusader Anjali Bhardwaj also expressed the anguish in the same vein and called it an “institutional murder”. “With UAPA, the process is the punishment. The death of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy should be recognised for what it is – institutional murder. RIP Father Stan,” Bhardwaj posted on Twitter.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor and Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren also tweeted about Stan Swamy’s death and demanded justice for the inhuman treatment against him. DMK lawmaker Dayanidhi Maran also said that they will be raising the issue in Parliament. “This is a sad state of Indian politics. We are going to raise this issue in Parliament to voice out that you cannot squeeze or mute the dissident voices of people. This is a democracy,” ANI quoted the MP as saying.

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COVID-19 India News Lite Blogs

This tribal area teaches how to give a ‘No Entry’ to corona

A gram panchayat Galiyakot had zero Covid patients even at a time when the second wave of Covid was knocking at the doors in neighbouring villages…reports Archana Sharma.

A small tribal cluster in Rajasthan’s Dungarpur is basking in glory for checking the second wave of the coronavirus smartly. It stands tall for giving a ‘No Entry’ to corona in its periphery and hence can be a learning lesson for all at a time when the third wave of the pandemic remains a strong possibility, said health officials, adding that the villagers here have started collecting money to buy oxygen concentrators.

Oxygen cylinders

A gram panchayat Galiyakot had zero Covid patients even at a time when the second wave of Covid was knocking at the doors in neighbouring villages.

District collector Suresh Ola says that the reason for it is the alacrity and awareness of the villagers who cooperated with the administration to win the war against Covid.

Four villages in this gram panchayat namely Limbadiya, Debriya, Gediya and Ratanpura followed all Covid guidelines. The villagers wore masks and maintained social distancing and hence recorded zero Covid patients.

Zila Parishad chief executive officer Anjali Rajauriya said that the village administration, core committee group and villagers worked as a team to block Covid’s entry in their area and were successful in their attempts.

Besides this, another gram panchayat Saroda also scripted a success story by taking quick steps to check the spread of Covid.

Rajoriya said that three villages namely Saroda, Damorwada and Kesarpura with a population of around 9,000 come under this gram panchayat.

A total of 85 villagers became Covid infected together which set off alarm bells as there were chances that surrounding populations will catch the infection. However, the village panchayat announced a lockdown for 15 days even before the state government. The entire village was sanitised and the first lockdown was announced there from May 3 to 17.

Each household was given masks, oximeters, sanitiser and streamers.

Testing, tracing and treatment followed to check the infection, said village secretary Bhavesh Patidar.

A door-to-door survey was done, helpline centre was set up and medical kit was home delivered when required.

One thousand packets of Kadha were distributed in houses.

In Saroda, a WhatsApp group was organised and Rs 1.21 lakh was collected. These funds were used to buy sanitisers, masks etc.

This village panchayat is also preparing for the third wave and saving money to buy oxygen concentrators, said health officials.

So the combined efforts of the villagers and the administration helped keep Covid at bay which can be a learning lesson for all, they added.

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