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Two Manifestations of Tribal Development: An Odisha Case

 

Posted Wednesday July 06, 2016

Odisha, Tribal, Tulasi Munda, Sumani Jhodia  
 
Coming from a modest Paraja Community Sumani Jodia was in the forefront of many struggles and movements fighting for her rights, entitlements and justice. Once she was given the Police Power by the Government to stop liquor business and she broke many liquor shops with the help of tribal women of her area.  
Achyut Das  
 

Mrs. Tulsi Munda gets Doctorate and Mrs. Sumani Jhodia faces Non-bailable Warrant.

We all congratulate Mrs. Tulsi Munda , the well-known tribal woman leader of Odisha for getting an Honorary Doctorate from the Central University, Koraput. She has been recipient of many awards including Padmashree. She is one of the most well-known face of the tribals in Odisha and has been on the podium of many events organised by the Government, Corporate and the Civil Societies. She is the symbol of the crowning glory that an humble tribal can achieve.

 

The ruling power elite have always wanted to put her on the pedestal and have made her iconic. But her critics have questioned her when she has kept mum over many sensitive issues affecting tribal lives and livelihoods. Questions have been raised when she gives an impression of being co-opted by the establishment. Eyebrows have been raised when the entire corporate sectors support her organisation with financial grants, vehicles, buildings, manpower and other infra-structural support. Whatever it may be she has to be praised for her ability to rise to the occasion and be a leader of her community. Surely, there will be many laurels coming in Mrs. Tulsi Munda’s way in future. It is already written on the wall.

Mrs. Sumani Jhodia came to the lime light when late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik had appointed her as one of her Advisers in early 90s recognising her articulation and her profile of courage. Coming from a modest Paraja Community she was in the forefront of many struggles and movements fighting for her rights, entitlements and justice. Once she was given the Police Power by the Government to stop liquor business and she broke many liquor shops with the help of tribal women of her area. She had taken up a range of issues in support of the tribals for rights over land, minor forest produce, tribal self-rule, right to information and for development with dignity for her community. Once late Biju Patnaik offered her a vehicle and she refused politely saying that an ambulance should come to her local hospital. She got prestigious Stree Shakti Award from the Government which she used for the development of her community. In the Tribes Advisory Council she had opposed the transfer of Tribal Land and collided with the power that be resulting in the loss of her membership. She refused an Award by Nalco protesting the Maikanch Police firing in Dec 2000 killing three innocent tribes. Due to the conspiracy by the promoters of industry, Jhodias have lost the tribal status though they are Parajas. Mrs. Sumani Jhodia is running from pillar to post to get back her tribal status and secure justice. At the moment she is on bail from the High Court as she has been implicated in non-bailable cases. Two cases are related to anti-liquor campaign. The third case is where she led a group of people to Block Office to demand better implementation of various development programmes of the Government. She is a symbolic resistance to the attack on all the tribals of this country.

The Tribals to day are at a cross-road – whether to follow the foot steps of Mrs. Tulsi Munda or Mrs. Sumani Jhodia. The choice is absolutely theirs.

[Writer is a noted Social Activist and the Director of Agragami - an NGO that works for all-round development of tribal and deprived communities.]

 
 

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