Sensitive documentary about the Adivasis: “Ab Aur Waqt Nahin” (Running Out of Time) by Abhijay Karlekar – Jharkhand

Frontline, Volume 23 – Issue 13, Jul. 01-14, 2006
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UNTIL the 1990s, when the movement for a separate state gathered momentum, Jharkhand was not in the public mind. Carved out of southern Bihar, it came into being in November 2000. However, the region has a distinct geopolitical and cultural identity that goes back centuries. It is essentially a tribal territory with mainly four communities – Mundas, Hojans, Santhals and Oraons – but as many as 30 distinct tribes engage in self-reliant and equitable agricultural occupation. Over time, “outsiders”, or dikus as they are called, have exploited the people and their forest resources. The process began during Akbar’s reign, heightened during the British rule and continues to this day in Independent India. […]

Between 1970 and 2000 as many as 10 lakh Adivasis have been displaced and 40 lakh non-Adivasis have migrated into Jharkhand, thus transforming the demographics of the region. The destruction of the agricultural and ecological niche that sustained these subsistence communities has resulted in deprivation of their lives and livelihood.

With dried-up water resources and ill-implemented irrigation projects, they have only one harvest a year and eagerly await a good monsoon. During the rest of the year, the Adivasis, including women and children, are forced into daily wage labour in mines, quarries and civil works where conditions of work are hazardous and there are grave violations of human rights, sexual and otherwise.

Seasonal migration in search of occupation has become rampant. The situation becomes particularly acute during drought. As a result, the indigenous people are alienated from their own land and their unique identity stands eroded. Today, tribes constitute only 27 per cent of Jharkhand’s population. Of the 18 districts, tribes are a majority only in three.

Ostensibly, the new State was created for the welfare of the indigenous population.  […]

Ab Aur Waqt Nahin (Running Out of Time), a sensitive documentary about the Adivasis by Abhijay Karlekar, is aptly titled. The 109-minute film, produced by SHAPE, Kolkata, suggests that Jharkhand is in its last phase of environmental degradation and the local population that is dependent on agriculture is on the verge of extinction. […]

The film took three years of research and this is reflected in the effective depiction of the condition of the Adivasis. The tribal population in Jharkhand finds itself at the crossroads of history and in it one sees Jharkhand as a microcosm of several regions of the country, where tribal people are exploited, their rights denied and their habitat plundered. […]

The film is not without hope. It shows evidence of growing self-confidence among the Adivasis. They are far from despondent. They would like to be left to run their affairs without state intervention and partisan politics. They have demonstrated skill in self-governance, have evolved means to manage collectively their resources and even guard forests through Van Raksha Samitis. They have won their constitutional right to run markets for their produce, and are ready, if required, to agitate against mindless development projects such as the Koel Karo project or the army firing range that would displace thousands without any benefits to them. Karlekar argues that the only effective means of restoring the dignity of the tribal people and preventing the disaster that is waiting to happen is through local movements. However, “it is not a path sufficiently taken”, says Karlekar. The government refuses to wake up or lend an ear to these voices in anguish.

Source: Saga of survival
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Date Visited: Sat Mar 02 2013 12:19:31 GMT+0100 (CET)

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

Abhijay Karlekar

Abhijay Karlekar has a Bachelor’s degree in History and started professional life as a copywriter with Hindusthan Thompson (JWT) in India. In 1977, Mr. Karlekar co-founded Shape – a print, film, and later web, communications design and production company engaged in advertising, advocacy and documentary film making. Shape provides services to a range of Indian and multinational corporations and non-governmental organizations.

It has been Shape’s policy to invest a part of its profits in documentation. Shape has so far produced 6 substantive documentaries – 4 of them directed by Mr. Karlekar. Of these, Future of Our Cities and Dharamtalla Ka Mela have had national television broadcast in India, the latter being selected for the Margaret Mead Festival and the Berlin Film Festival.

Mr. Karlekar serves on the Board of Calcutta Social Project, which provides services in education, vocational training, health and shelter to street and slum families in Kolkata; and is an Adviser to KASAM, an organic spice growing cooperative of tribal farmers in Kandhamal, Orissa.

Source: DER Filmmaker: Abhijay Karlekar
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Date Visited: Sat Mar 02 2013 12:36:17 GMT+0100 (CET)

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